The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Interestingly it is one of the main drivers that forced me to finally focus and create the business and lifestyle that I desired.
Most of the companies that I worked for in my corporate life were small manufacturing companies. I typically sold capital equipment to large manufacturers and that meant that the end of the year was a huge push to squeeze every last sale out of my customers.
Every company I worked for finished their fiscal year on the calendar year so the last month of the year was utter mayhem. In the last few years of my job as director of sales I lead a team of a half dozen hard-charging sales folks.
The Corporate Grind
From Thanksgiving to December 31 I was on the phone trying to motivate, support and just plain will the sales in to existence. Year end bonuses were on the line. Bank commitments were made by the owner of the company and revenue targets had to be made.
This time of year also represents a very specific time in the ‘other half’ of my personal life. My wife has always had a career in education so the last month of the year is usually a bit of a break. My son, of course, was going to school through those years and he also had a lot of free time.
As a kid I loved spending time with family during the holidays and my dream was to have a career where I could enjoy the break with my wife and son. What I ended up doing was build a career that was exactly opposite of this schedule. I had to push the hardest, be on the phone the most often and be mentally present in a completely different place during the time of year where I most did not want to be spending mental energy… ‘work’.
What is Your Why?
This became my ‘why’. The idea of spending time with family is a bit of a cliché answer to the question “Why do you want to build a successful business?”. It is a good answer, but spending time is a bit too vague. I knew that I needed a specific goal in mind and I knew that I wanted to set my own rules, goals and targets and the time of year where I most wanted to simply hang out and reflect on the past year, travel to extended family and share in the joy of toys under the tree.
The holiday season of 2012 was the last time that I had to deal with the year-end ‘push’. By that time my career was on the fast track to, most likely, a Vice President position and beyond. That meant I needed to really perform and get the most out of my team. Calling people late in to the night on the day before Thanksgiving, grinding late hours when I saw my young son asking if we could play a game together… I realized that my time was not my time. I was beholden to someone else and that was a feeling that I never wanted to have again.
It was exactly that moment where I told my wife that I would spend every free hour I had in the next year and build a business to allow me to make my own schedule. I launched an Amazon business and with absolute laser focus I committed to learning what it takes to maximize revenue and profitability to allow me to break free of the corporate game and set my own rules.
December 31, 2013 I had achieved my goal and I have never looked back. I built a business that was highly profitable and my time was 100% my time. Sure, I worked hard, but it was me who set the schedule. We are coming up to my favorite time of the year and this is the last year that my son will be around for most of the season (he just put his deposit in to his college of choice yesterday) so I am going to take time with my wife and him to enjoy the holidays, reflect on the year, embrace the holiday spirit and talk about the next phases of our respective lives.
Expert Secrets, Inc. Was Born
This is also why I formed Expert Secrets, Inc. and operate as Expert University. I wanted to create a learning environment where people could come, whether a former corporate guy like me, or a budding entrepreneur, and work with people who have actually made this dream of living the laptop lifestyle a reality.
Find your why. More specifically, find EXACTLY what your why is. More money, more time, more freedom… those are great reasons. But what, specifically, would you do with time, money and freedom. Associate those abstract concepts with specific people, events or objects. Go build the life imagined. Start today with the first step and never waver from that goal. As always, I’m rooting for you and I’ll be waiting for you on the other side.
– Chris Keef