Thanks to everyone out there who remembered by birthday today and sent me emails, IMs, called me, etc. It was quite overwhelming. Who the hell ARE all you people anyway? I got happy birthday emails from people I don't even know. That's weird. Especially when celebrating birthdays is something you try to avoid. Anyway, I appreciate it.
36.... when I moved from Bundaberg to Melbourne in January 1988, age 17, with a couple of hundred bucks I'd saved up from picking rockmelons over the summer on my girlfriend's father's farm, I promised myself I'd be a millionaire by age 25. The plan was - spend three years working out how the world works, then five years to execute "the plan". I had a high school education and was incredibly naive. I remember, after a week in Melbourne, wondering where you bought coat hangers from. I did my weekly shopping at the local 7 Eleven because I thought it was a supermarket. I lived on bread and tomato sauce for a week because I had no money.
Anyway, I didn't hit the millionaire at 25 goal. At 25 I think I was making about $40,000 a year making corporate videos. So I reset the goal to 30. When I was 27 I landed a job at Microsoft when their share price was climbing. My hiring manager told me I'd be a millionaire in 4 years.
When I was 29 I started my first internet business - it was called Golflounge and we were going to create an online system for booking a round of golf on every golf course in Australia. We even raised $3 million on the back of a napkin. This was about... March 2000. Then Ballmer busted up Bubble 1.0 and we said "hmmm no thanks" to the money. I turned 30 six months later. I was working at Microsoft, making six figure income, traveling around the world, and miserable as hell. Oh and their share price was in a nosedive it STILL hasn't recovered from. I went into a three-year depression. And I reset the millionaire goal to 35.
One year I turned 35. I was running The Podcast Network. I missed my goal again but at least this time I felt like I was doing something with my life. Finally. And you know? The "millionaire" goal suddenly seemed less important. So I didn't reset it for 40. My focus had changed from being rich to being useful. I realized along the way that what I wanted wasn't to be a "millionaire" anyway. What I wanted, what that represented, was freedom. The freedom to do what I wanted, with people I liked, when and where I wanted, and not to have to answer to a boss I didn't respect.
And you know what? That's my life today. Okay - I'll admit, I'd like to have more liquidity. That would take some of the pressure off. But it's a minor point. I feel like my life has meaning today. I am doing something I totally believe in, it's a lot of fun, and I'm working with a terrific bunch of people who I respect and admire and am proud to be associated with. I've got a loving and supportive family.
I remember being at DEMO in the US last year and hearing several people on stage say "Find something you love to do and success will follow." I'm starting to understand that.
Forget about owning the next GooTube. Forget about being a millionaire for a second. Find something you love to do and you are passionate about and you believe in. Hopefully it will also be something that can impact positively on people's lives. Then go do it.
That's my wish for you on my birthday.