ID 5370748 © Eti Swinford |

I have made a lot of money over my career. I have also lost a lot of money and found myself scrambling back (on more than one occasion) from my least favorite destination: Rock Bottom.   Self employed since I was 23, I have worked in 15 countries, lived in 6, and met some of the most brilliant and inspiring people in a wide range of industries from entertainment to tech to real estate. I quickly developed a passion early on for connecting with people that far outweighed my love for the “deal”. I did the things that excited me with people that were inspiring and I was HAPPY. After the dot.bomb and the recession that followed, my career took a different turn. I wanted something more “stable” than the suddenly vanishing tech companies that once spent unusually large amounts of money for me to build their strategies. I liked the lifestyle I had, and I wanted it back. So, naturally… I landed in construction building homes for the wealthy.

While trying to navigate an industry I knew nothing about, I closed several high profile, high net worth clients who hired me not for my knowledge of construction, but for my direct and honest approach. If I did not know something, I didn’t fake it, I told them directly that I was not sure and would find the answer and get back to them. I built trust because I am honest, transparent and genuine. I wanted to help them accomplish their goal, see their dreams come off the paper into reality. This approach became the cornerstone of who we were as a company and our growth by referral was exponential. My once barely full-time job erupted into three full-time jobs trying to manage high touch relationships and exponential growth. Though we were successful and revenues skyrocketed, it stopped being fun and became stressful – impacting both my relationship, my family and my health. After years working at a non-stop all-consuming pace, I have finally been able to remind myself of one simple truth: Life is not about money, or wealth or having stuff. It is about living. I was no longer living, at least not living anything but my work. I lived and breathed the next deal, making other people happy and bent over backwards to help people achieve their dreams – but I wasn’t achieving mine.

When the whole world stopped and went on lock down, I stepped off the treadmill and it rapidly became apparent how much of an illusion it all is and how little our happiness has to do with “money”. In fact we really only need 5 things to create an amazing life:

Number One: Passion

Do what you love. If your relationship or your job are draining and toxic, it’s time for a change. Life is too short not to be excited about what you are doing each day.

Number Two: A Flock

Surround yourself with people that have something to say, something you can learn from or can contribute positively to your life. There is an opportunity to learn from every experience and most people you come across, but you need a few really solid people who have your back.

Number Three: Instincts

Trust your gut. If it doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t. I knew certain business deals or relationships were going to end badly from the moment I got involved. So, why would I keep moving ahead? In business, the money, in relationships, usually my baggage. Listen to those nagging feelings and follow your gut, it is trying to tell you something.

Number Four: Values

Set clear values for yourself. Know what you stand for and what is important to you, then creates habits for yourself that reinforce those values. It is important for you to be a good role model? What do good role models do, they take care of themselves, they inspire, they take care of others, they act fairly. Embody your values in every way.

ID 150318628 © Jon Anders Wiken |

Number Five: Integrity

Always act with integrity. Integrity is consistently doing the right thing in every situation, regardless of the consequences. It is the definition of how you as a person conduct yourself as a whole in this world. To have integrity requires humility, consistency, authenticity and an ability to take ownership for all your actions – even in the face of another person not acting with integrity. If you have integrity, nothing else matters – even money. Money can be lost, integrity cannot.

Real wealth is happiness. It is the gratitude for what we have, who we have, our health, opportunity, freedom and love. Things may not happen perfectly, some times things will not work out, some people will not act with integrity in their dealings with you. But these 5 things will always bring you back to where you need to be, and ensure you long term success and wealth in character that will always carry more real value than money.