Your original goal was to be a golf pro, right? What happened?
I had an apprentice position at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach when they first got started. I helped them get their pro shop up and running, and I had my handicap down to about a 4 and I thought for sure I was going to pursue golf as a career. I took the PAT, the player's ability test, a couple of times -- that's where you have to play a couple of rounds and shoot like 150 between two rounds of golf. And I could never do it; my nerves just couldn't handle it. But that was one of the turning points in my life. I sat down with the pro there at the time and asked how long it was going to be before I could really start making good money. I was making $20,000 a year as an apprentice. He said, "I'm going to be honest with you. It's going to be at least five or six years before you can move up." And I said no way, I'm not going to sit here and make $20,000 a year for five or six years.
How did you lift yourself out of the middle class?
Education. I started learning, but it wasn't education in the school system. It was education from my real-world experience as an entrepreneur and taking risks and having some good successes and some failures, too. Those are always tough when you go through them, but I honestly can say, thank God for those, too. Because those are the situations I really learned the most from, so I had some new knowledge to apply on the next endeavor.
Your book seems to strip down dozens of motivational books to their essence.
What I tried to do in my book was to stay away from specific areas like real estate or stocks or small businesses and instead encourage people to pursue their own passion to create wealth. What would they love to do to wake up and make money every morning? That's the key to it. By far, one of the biggest things I learned talking to all these millionaires was they really enjoyed whatever they were doing.
You maintain that the wealthy expect different things from money than the rest of us. How so?The very poor and the poor are stuck in survival mode; they just want to survive. The primary goal of middle-class people is comfort; I just want to have enough; I just want to be comfortable. When you get into the rich and the very rich, their primary goal is freedom; I'm going to do whatever it takes to experience freedom. That's the biggest difference. It's OK to have a plan for survival. It's OK to have a plan for comfort. But just make sure that most of your mental energy is focused on freedom. Then you'll start experientially understanding the old saying, "Seek and you will find." If you seek to survive, you will. If you seek to be comfortable, you will be. But if you seek freedom, you will find it. It just takes longer to create freedom in your life than it does to create survival. Does it take longer to grow a weed or an oak tree? Financial freedom is like an oak tree, where survival or comfort is like growing a weed or a little bush; it doesn't take too long.