Don’t Be Afraid To Be The Black Sheep

Don’t Be Afraid To Be The Black Sheep

The other night I was doing some research on unique business cards. I was looking for something to showcase my business skills and send people to my website.

I came across a unique business card for Jon Acuff. Mr. Acuff is an author I discovered in the past couple of months and a speaker I have watched in the Financial Peace University series presented by Dave Ramsey.

Here is his business card. It’s unique, in part, because his wife reminded him, “We don’t do boring.”

Looking at his business card and reading his wife’s comment reminded me of a conversation I had with a couple of friends at a casino bar two years ago. I told them that the appeal of Las Vegas to me was that you could be from anywhere and be anything. In this town, nobody really cares if you are different.

I am proudly a black sheep.

I have been the black sheep for as long as I can remember. I remember an arts and crafts project way back in kindergarten or first grade. We were all supposed to pick out a egg from a container. They were going to be hard-boiled and we were going to paint or draw on them. Too the shock of my classmates, I picked out a brown egg. I had never seen a brown egg before. I thought it was unique and different.

I am adopted. From a small town (population 2,700) in Eastern Iowa it is a rarity to be adopted. Whenever it would come in up in a conversation with my friends and classmates I would always get looks like I was an alien. I was the only person anybody knew who had been adopted. I never thought it was different.

Forest stopped running. What are we supposed to do now?
Forest stopped running. What are we supposed to do now?

When I was a teenager I decided one day to walk from my house to my grandmother’s house for no particular reason. Like Forrest Gump and his running I just started walking. Eleven miles from my house to my grandmother’s house two towns over. I didn’t take any water with me. I didn’t think about how far eleven miles was. I just put on some tennis shoes and walked all the way there.

When all my classmates went off to Iowa State, Iowa, Northern Iowa, Drake or some other four-year school in Iowa I chose to attend Marshalltown Community College. It was smaller, it was more affordable and I had opportunities to play baseball and be on the school paper as a freshman.

After two years at Marshalltown CC and three more at Northern Iowa (I was not the most dedicated student) I moved to Kansas City. Iowans take vacations to Kansas City. They don’t typically move there.

My entire family still lives in Iowa. My father and one sister live in the same hometown in which I grew up. My other sister and my brother live in towns not more than 30 minutes away from my hometown. They are happy there. I am happy for them.

I live in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. Iowans don’t live in Las Vegas. They might visit Las Vegas once in a lifetime.

I’m 44, and have never been married. One of the reasons I have had so many failed relationships has to do with how many women I’ve dated who just wanted to have a job, a family and go through a mundane life. I tell them I want to be a professional poker player. I tell them let’s rent a jeep and drive all the way to the Florida Keys with the top off. I say lets travel to Macau, Boracay and Spain. And their eyes almost pop out of their heads. They say they want normal. Then I find out later that those normal relationships they wanted instead of being with me failed. Because normal is boring.

I definitely don’t do boring and am certainly embracing my black sheep-ness.

It’s funny to me that the phrase black sheep is an idiom used to describe someone who won’t comply with the group or with society as a whole.

Name me one person who has ever achieved greatest by complying with a group? Different is memorable. Different sets trends. Different is the focus of inventors, architects, scientists and business leaders.

Don’t be afraid to be a black sheep.

Here We Go

Here We Go

In November for the first time in my life I was laid off from a job. Even though I saw it coming, it’s still something that doesn’t really hit you until it happens. When you’ve worked steadily for the past 26 years it is a sudden shock to be without a regular paycheck.

But I am embracing this opportunity. I have been working for the wrong reasons anyway. I was working for a paycheck. I was making just enough money to live. Only that is not living.

Every business in America is basically a pyramid scheme. The top guy (i.e. the owner) makes all the money while everybody else makes a lot less. I’ve worked for three different millionaires and a Fortune 500 company in my lifetime. The only person that made any real money in those companies were the owner or the president (often the same person).

Dream-Job-SignThe only way to ever make any real money is to work for yourself. So that is what I am doing now.

I am resisting the temptation to go back to any job that will tell me what time I have to come to work, what time I get to go home and how many vacation days I am allowed. That is just not for me.

Do I have a firm plan in place? No. I don’t want one. That is part of the adventure. I know I can deal a little poker at various tournaments. I definitely can play poker 24 hours a day in the beautiful city. I have an apparel business I work part-time out of my garage. I want to get more involved in selling stuff on eBay and Amazon. I want to get back to volunteering.

Is it a little scary? Sure. I have a mortgage. I have bills. I have health insurance. I have a beautiful new baby on the way July 28, 2014. But I refuse to cave into the fear. I know I can do this. I know how much revenue I need to make each month or over the course of a year. My retirement is now controlled by me through a brokerage house.

Doyle Brunson, The Godfather of Poker.
Doyle Brunson, The Godfather of Poker.

I played poker for seven hours last night. Playing $4-$8 at Bellagio I started the year off with a losing night. But somewhere in my past I read something that Doyle Brunson, The Godfather of Poker, wrote about winning poker players. He said (and I am sure I am paraphrasing) don’t measure your success by the day, the week or the month. Winning poker players only measure success by the year.

So I started out a $164 loser yesterday. But those seven hours were more enjoyable than any hour I have ever had at a job.

Good luck to all of us in 2014.

Previous bankroll: $1,000
New bankroll: $836

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