“I need Andy Dew to come with me, the principle would like to see him”. It was one of the front office ladies at my school.
face body turned bright red. I knew what was coming. I was about to be kicked out of 7th grade and have my life ruined (at least it felt that way at the time).
A few weeks previous, I had been talking with a friend and apparently his brother said he could get us a “decent amount” of marijuana. Now, I wasn’t very interested in getting high, but I realized something…
I was in a unique position.
Everyone at school would want some, and no one had a way to get it. I could buy this stuff at a decent price, mark it up, and double my money in no time. Plus, if I didn’t smoke any, I’d have that much more to sell! It was my first real arbitrage experiment gone horribly wrong.
I am incredibly passionate about making money in creative ways. I’ve been this way from an early age. When I collected Pokemon cards, I didn’t play the card game, I built myself the most valuable collection in all my school. I made strategic trades with people, not based on what looked cool, but off the listed resale value in my card guide. Sadly, the cards were banned from school and labeled as bad distractions for us kids. A widespread murder of hope and desire.
Even as a 6th grader, I would go to BJ’s wholesale with my mom and buy Juicy Fruit Gum. I would then sell them for $0.50/pack at school. I was doubling up my money in a day!
Around the same time, I had a friend who built miniature toy guns out of mechanical pencils and rubber bands. You could launch a crumpled up piece of paper across an entire room with the right set up. I proposed to him, that he make the shooters, and I sell them. We’d split the sales 50/50 (my first JV partnership!). People LOVED our shooters. We even had a competitor right before everything was shut down. The shooters looked like this:
It took the teachers almost a week to catch on, and sales of all kinds were banned :( I got into trouble for doing this, and was disappointed, but it was nothing compared to the PokeBan of 1999.
Flash forward a year, and you have a 14 year old who can’t help but creatively make money, has been discouraged by authority at every turn, and is full of hormones. Not a good combination if you ask me.
Ultimately I made the very poor decision to be a small time, middle school drug dealer. I didn’t even get my hands on the “inventory” before I was being pulled out of class, searched, and practically interrogated about my illegal business endeavor. Some might say I was a “small time, middle-school drug dealer wannabe”.
stupid smart enough to have a piece of paper on me with names of other kids and how much they were supposed to pay me. I had to keep track of it somehow right? iPhones weren’t a thing yet and I’m a very forgetful person. All my friends were thrilled to be featured in my little piece of paper after I got caught.
I did in fact get expelled and it added to the growing insecurity I had in my own desires and my way of thinking about the world.
From a young age, I was diagnosed with ADD and a learning disability. In 7th grade, I was taken out of my Algebra class, and put into “Math 7” where some of the kids were actually mentally handicapped. Not the biggest self-esteem booster when you’re 14.
All throughout middle school and High School, I was told (often in subtle ways) that the way I thought about life was inferior and not practical. Throughout High School, I got C’s and D’s. I actually had to sit out one basketball game because I was failing Algebra (damn you algebra).
Getting kicked out of school wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it taught me some very important things.
1. Being a Stay at Home Mother is way harder than most jobs. I had to help my mom around the house while not in school.
2. You can never be happy if you care too much about what people think. News of my expulsion was published in the local newspaper.
3. My desire to make money wasn’t wrong at all. It was just the way I tried to achieve that desire that was the problem.
It wasn’t until years later I realized how much I could learn from my experience. I was attending Ohio State, getting A’s and B’s and had a girlfriend who actually encouraged my desire to creatively make money. She even thought it was cool that I took Philosophy of Logic because it counted as a math credit. Take that Algebra.
I started leaving behind fear of my past failure, and being honest about my current desires.
It was shortly after this moment in my life, I started making money online, buying and re-selling products via Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). It’s only been more of an adventure since. I made past failure my bitch.
I had to reject all the negative aspects of my past failure and embrace the positive learning experiences. The desire to make money is good. Dealing drugs is bad.
Selling gum and doubling my initial investment is great. School just isn’t the proper place to conduct business.
Just because I didn’t excel in the classroom at my small private High School, didn’t mean I couldn’t excel in a different environment.
Much of the success I’ve had in business is a direct result of rejecting fear. Fear that often times, is rooted in past failure. Rejecting fear is the entry cost to doing what makes you truly happy. If you want a comfortable life, let fear and past failure keep you in the same place. There is much less risk and excitement involved.
If you want to achieve your deepest desires, you’ll have to deal with the
fear illusion of those desires not being acceptable, practical, good, etc. The desire is almost always 100% pure. Remember, it’s how you go about achieving that desire that can get us into trouble.
Failure is just another stepping stone on the path to living a truly fulfilling and successful life. I now pay attention to my failures so I can learn as much as possible from them and teach others how to avoid the same mistakes I’ve made. It’s the best way to keep achieving my desire of making money creatively online.
Being afraid or ashamed of failure is a complete waste of energy and it kills creativity. Can you think of something in your life you’re a little embarrassed to talk about? Maybe something you want to do, but have never had much encouragement from others? A business venture you told everyone about, only to abandon the entire thing a few months later?
Whether it’s a deep desire, or an embarrassing story, leave a comment below. Don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, you’re talking to someone who once was a middle school drug dealer wannabe.
And yes, that ridiculous kid in the picture is me in High School.