The effects of unemployment can be very bad and difficult for many… yet it's what you do and make of it.
Losing my first job planted the seed for greatness.
From that seed grew a whirlwind of learning, personal growth, successes and failures (mostly failures), before finally being in a place I never thought possible.
In fact, I thought it was impossible.
The year is 2011. I am a burnt-out internet marketer who had fought all my life against a barrage of limitations.
A good friend of mine, David Wood, called me to come visit him in Costa Rica, so that I could be part of a new opportunity that he was starting.
Just when I was ready to quit.
He called me. At that precise moment.
The next thing I knew, I was in Costa Rica.
I stood outside, looking at my feet.
David Wood comes outside and asks me what's wrong.
I answer, “It's impossible.”
I grew up in Houston, Texas into a family of overachievers. My family is Chinese, Cantonese to be exact.
Chinese culture, though thousands of years old and thousands of miles away, still very much steered the direction of our lives.
Family was a top priority.
Education was a close second.
There was more emphasis on expectation, not encouragement.
Here is the difference.
Encouragement: Work hard so you can good grades in school. If you get a couple of bad grades, just keep working harder!
Expectation: You will get all As in school… or we will hurt you.
In Chinese families, there are a lot of pressures on kids that are absent in other cultures. There are expectations on everything from who you will marry to what you wear.
In school, I played a lot of sports, and was lucky enough to meet the girl of my dreams.
She was also Chinese.
She was a grade higher than I.
I was very shy and didn't even have a driver's license.
Still, I convinced her to go out with me, and when we went out on dates, she would drive me around.
I couldn't believe how lucky I was.
Just like my parents expected, I went college at the University of Texas – Austin. I actually didn't know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was young, shy and had these expectations on me from my family. I picked engineering. Why? Because I happened to like math and science.
Engineering was a good degree to have, with the potential to make a lot of money. But studying engineering was very difficult. I barely got into engineering school. Barely. After taking their rigorous tests (it was specifically thermodynamics and heat transfer that really got me), I would find a private place, curl up and cry (the closet cause it dampens the sound).
Who doesn't remember the stress of taking a test that you know is going to be tough? Multiply that by 100.
By and by, I graduated and achieved a coveted degree in engineering. I was going to make the big time.
I got my first job.
That girl I was dating? We were getting married.
Then there was the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States. The tragedy killed 3,000 people, and the ripple effect devastated the economy of a jittery nation for years.
I was let go. Just like that.
I faced the cold reality that because I was working for someone else, I was expendable. The fact that I needed money to take care of my family, my kids and my responsibilities did not matter to a large faceless corporation, because I was just a cog in the wheel of someone else's machine. I was at the mercy of whatever they decided my fate to be. From vacations, to taking a break, even whether I would stay or not, was not decided by me.
This planted a seed in my mind. A seed that would later prove very fruitful.
Though I knew I was expendable, I did nothing. Why? I didn’t know what my options were.
All I knew was that I was getting married and I was unemployed.
The effect of unemployment doesn't just affect the person going through it… This was a big deal to my in-laws, who were Chinese and had doubts about their only daughter marrying a man with no job.
It was time to go to them, sit down with them face-to-face, and tell them what my plans were. I had to reassure them that I could take care of their daughter and future grandchildren. If you know anything about Chinese culture, you know that Chinese parents ask hard questions. Uncomfortable questions. Questions that were difficult to answer for a young, shy guy like me.
I was now held to high standards by two families: mine and hers.
I managed to convince them. We went ahead with the wedding and started our lives together on one income.
My wife was an accountant. I drove her to work and returned home to spend the day looking for another job. One that would provide enough money to cover expenses, insurance and a savings. We also wanted to have children.
I did this for a year and a half. The effect of my unemployment was hard.
Finally, I found a job. Everything started to work out. The kids came soon after.
We were both working professionals. We were making decent wages.
Then one day, my financial planner came to me and said, “Lawrence, at the rate you make money now, and the cost of higher education, the odds of you paying for your kids' college education is IMPOSSIBLE.”His projections were $240,000 per child.
I thought I heard him say $240,000 for all my kids….
He corrected me .. .it’s ~$240,000 PER child for state school.
Mass-Mutual estimates if college tuition raises by 6% like it is now historically for years and you enter school in 2022 (my kids enter AFTER that) you should expect$76,333 for tuition with a 4 year education costing approximately $305,000.
Basically, my financial planner was under shooting and STILL thought I couldn’t afford it…Impossible (who can afford that for their kids let alone 3?)
There was that word again. Impossible.
Here was something else I had no control over – how much money I made.
“Big deal”, you might think. “They can always get scholarships and loans.”
It was a big deal, and here’s why.
One day, my dad came to me and said, “Son, they can take away your job, your cars, your house, and even your money, but they can't take away what is in your brain. This is why we focus so much on education in our family. This is why your mom and I have paid your way through college and hopefully you can do the same for your kids.”
I was floored.
My parents were immigrants from Hong Kong. They came to Houston as teens and met while they were here. My grandfather wanted my dad and all of our uncles and aunts to be educated. My dad majored in architecture. He worked hard to pay his way through school. When he graduated, he went on to run his own business in architecture. Instead of doing architecture… he shifted gears into real estate. My parents became leaders in Houston's very large Asian-American real estate community.
My parents held me to high standards and demanded excellence from me. There was nothing I could do to repay them. I couldn't put them through college, or buy them anything. They had everything they needed.
All they asked for me was to put my kids through college. So that my kids would have educational assets that no one could ever take from them, no matter what happened to the economy.
I had to come through.
A Positive Effect Of Unemployment in My Journey
In 2008, I started looking for a way to make money online. Like so many folks out there, I got my start on eBay.
This was a pivotal moment for me.
I had transitioned from the logical, numerical world of engineering and jumped headfirst into the emotional, unpredictable world of sales.
Not just any sales. Internet sales.
Back in 2008, the idea of selling on the Internet was still relatively new.
Engineering and education were solid institutions that had been around for centuries.
The idea of going to school, getting a degree and getting a good job was an idea that was about 80 years old.
Just now it’s less likely an engineer will retire from the same company they joined… It’s an extremely rare to have a 30+ year career in the engineering field anymore.Overseas outsourcing, baby boomers retiring, younger talent willing to work for less.
Little did I know, by the simple act of selling online because of a basic desire to make money, that I was growing into the money-making internet in the 21st century.
Bit and bytes.
Binary code. zeros and ones
These could be used to tap into the emotions of people I would never meet, in places I would never visit, into actual money. All passively.
Once I discovered this, there was no turning back.
Eventually, I was making up to $3,000 a month with eBay, while working full-time.
Most people continue with their businesses, until they expanded or burned out.
I knew that the costs to run an eBay business were high. There had to be something else I could do to cut costs. Ebay issues I ran into dwindling
inventory, Paypal costs, Ebay fees, refunds and fake buyers, shipping costs, personal time to ship items, seasonal competition, new competitors pricing incorrectly killing their own profits.
I took it to the next level – automating online income.
Around this time, WordPress had taken the blogging world by storm, making it EASIER to build a website. Yet, it was still not easy.
There was hosting.
Search engine optimization.
I had learned how to combine three elements:
1. A Blog. (a easy to update website searchable by Google)
2. Search engine optimization. (placing higher on searches)
3. Affiliate programs. (selling other people’s things much like Ebay)
To create this mini ATM of passive income that would pay over, and over and over.
Another big shift had happened.
I started to learn everything I could. I would get up at 5:30am in the morning and go to work early so that I could work before my regular work shift.
I listened to audio books, written by entrepreneurs, on the way to work. How to work. What to expect.
During lunch, I would go outside so that I could be on the phone, in the extreme heat and mugginess of Houston summers. (you don’t know mosquitos until you come to Houston)
I worked after I came home from work until midnight. Like clockwork.
The next day, I did it all over again.yes, it strained my relationship with my wife. She didn’t understand why I was wasting my time making a couple hundred here and there….she said “just get a better job”PFFFFFT was what I thought.
I wrote a lot of articles to drive traffic to my websites.
I did it all wrong.
I wrote them again.
Then I found out about something called outsourcing.
This is where you hire someone to do tasks for you. Bam. I could now be in two places at once. My writer would write articles for me, while I worked on building my business.
I learned that if I provided something of value, I could attract more people to my websites and help others learn something to help them make money.
So I set up a website with my name and taught people how to use SEO with a whiteboard and a black marker. I could teach people something once and thousands of people could watch them whenever they wanted, as much as they wanted.Much like teaching at the university. Teaching as a classroom.
I joined network marketing companies and started to make more money. Using internet marketing.
Here was the problem. I was working all the time. I still worked full-time. My wife was upset that I wasn’t spending time with the family. The money I was making wasn’t consistent or sustainable. Making $12,000 in a month was possible… but was NEVER possible in back to back months for years I have been in business.My personal magic income number (profit) was $12,000.I didn’t see it… It looked impossible.
That is when David Wood called me and asked me to come down.
As I stood outside his home in Costa Rica, he asked me what was wrong.
I said, “It’s impossible for me to make $12,000 a month in back to back months. It’s just not possible.”
I was wrong.
I bought into using marketing for one big push in 2011.
I applied all of my knowledge and skill that I had built up in my spare time and I saw it…
It’s NOT impossible.
This shy, introverted kid was on stage speaking in front of 1500, 3000, 5000 and 7000 people.
At one event, I got so fired up that I brought a room of 5000 people to their feet for a standing ovation. The real reason? My dad was in the front row. I could see how proud he was of me.
The most money I have ever made was $84,000. In 14 minutes.
I left my full-time job and now make more money than I ever made – part-time.
How do I do it?
I outsource. I leverage my time and skills. I build a team of driven people who work with me.
I built an online business.
Most importantly, I no longer work a job where I trade time for money.
Business owners no longer trade time for money and they are the ones who drive Ferraris and own huge yachts.
My dream is to just hang with kids and travel the world showing there ARE options to living.
I can send all three of my kids to any college they want to go to (prepaid already). I reward my wife by retiring her from Accounting and making her a full time mom and PTA volunteer.
I travel the country and do speaking events for people who want to learn how to make money online part time.
If I can do it, then you can do it.
It takes hard work, determination and belief to build a business. You may have heard that before, but really let it sink in. You must be willing to put in the work.
You must be willing to start over when things don’t work out.
You may not think you have it in you, but if you make a decision to change in an instant, then you can decide to have control over your vacations, your income, where your kids go to school, where you live and what kind of car you drive.
Basically there are many effects of unemployment but learning to navigate through them and understanding how you can maximize on the situation is really important. Time will pass whether you do something or not… so might as well do something.
The question is,
Are you willing to participate in your own success? Or not?