Bankrupt — n., definition: Completely lacking in a particular quality or value, without, devoid of, empty, depleted.
That was me. Empty, depleted. Devoid of any true joy in the work that I was doing. I was a serial entrepreneur and had successfully launched seven businesses. Yet I wasn’t fulfilled. On paper, I was rich. But inside, I was emotionally bankrupt.
Here’s how I came back from it.
I found something I love
Confucius once said, “We have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize we only have one.” Take a second to really think about that.
For so long, I thought my identity was found in money and possessions. When I stopped chasing money, I realized my calling was never about that pursuit. Entrepreneurship is about changing lives, not expensive cars and watches.
I saw my calling in action firsthand when I and my long-time colleagues built SUBTA and its annual counterpart conference SubSummit. Our goal was to bring together a collective of DTC subscription entrepreneurs for networking and connection while giving them the proper tools to optimize their growth. Our success metrics had nothing to do with profit, but rather how many businesses we could help grow. SUBTA quickly became the most profitable company I had ever built once I put the “profit first” mindset to rest.
Why? I was living my truest desire for a life of meaning in my professional and personal endeavors. By striving for inspiration, rather than revenue, I had found my north star.
Too often we live life for others. We think, “if my life could look like that, if I could be that talented, everything would be okay.” That’s no way to live.
If you continuously try to be someone else, you’ll always come up short.
Let me ask you this: what’s the reason you woke up and went to work this morning? If your answer is money, that’s not good enough. Money is the end result. You have to find your purpose, your meaning, your cause. The world will be better for it, and you will too.
I stopped complaining and started being grateful for today
I’ve always rejected the word “pessimist.” Defined as “a person who tends to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen,” this is truly a terrible way to live. Instead, I choose optimism, positivity. There’s good in every situation, you just have to look for it.
This begins when you stop complaining, stop dwelling on what happened in the past and stop making excuses. No one owes you anything.
First, we must find where true happiness is in every moment of our lives. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not in the past or the future. It’s in the present.
Then, surround yourself with authentic, genuine people who lift you up, encourage you and champion you. Don’t settle for the phony people you think you should like. Find people you’re grateful to be around, who know the real you. Life is better when you share it with others.
Give without expectation
If, in your heart, your intentions are not about what you can do for others, you’ve already lost. This is the biggest lesson I learned on the road back from emotional bankruptcy.
Give without expectation, every single day.
First, give to yourself. Wake up each morning and ask: how can I make myself more valuable today than I was yesterday?
Invest in yourself. The way that you feed your mind will shape your future. Dig into knowledge, think successful and positive thoughts and embrace the right mindset.
Then, give to others. If you have a team, give generously to them. Take care of your employees as human beings first and they’ll take care of your business. No one is going to remember you for what you have, but instead for what you’ve given.
Give back to those around you. Identify your cause and donate, even if it’s just a small amount. The more you give away, whether that be money, time, tangible items, pro-bono work, the “richer” you will become.
I had a major turning point last year where the notion “give without expectation” hit me to my core. That realization sparked my decision to launch Get Certified, a streetwear brand whose purpose is geared towards remedying hunger issues in America. I wanted to build something that would change lives, that would truly leave a legacy and, hopefully, one day become a cultural phenomenon for good. Going beyond the 1-for-1 model in my giving, which I have achieved, was important. What we’re doing will be a hundred times more impactful from just one purchase.
We must stop wasting time. Today is the only day that is guaranteed. So, wake up each day and consider how you can improve someone else’s life. You will be better because of it.