Our parents are both immigrants.
Our mom is from Scotland and our father is from Croatia.
Our mom flew over here - our dad arrived on a boat.
Growing up I got good marks, really good marks actually, until I got my car in Grade 10 - then things went down a little but the fun factor in my life went way up 🙂
During my high school years my parents always guided me to "go to University".
Our mom didn't pressure me very much but because I was getting 80's and 90's in High School it seemed University was the next logical step.
My father was a little more forceful about it. I think because no one on his side of the family had been past grade school that I know of - me going off to University was a big dream of his.
I'm pretty sure he wanted me to become a lawyer.
Anyway, off I went.
I was accepted into every University I applied to and debated going into the Engineering Program at the University of Toronto.
But for some reason I decided to go into the Psychology program instead. I have no idea why, maybe because there were way more girls in those classes, who knows ... and I did meet my wife in that class so it worked out rather well 😉
Anyway, I stumbled around University for a few years finishing up with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
During my University years my friends and I would hang out on "the green chairs" in the common area of the University and debate serious subjects like the value of my grade 6 hockey card collection.
And then it hit me ... hard.
During my last year I realized that I had spent 3 years getting these degrees that were going to be pretty useless in getting me a good job.
I panicked and panicked big time.
I started opening the career section of the Toronto Star and noticed all these jobs for "IT Professionals" with various computer skills .... Java, C++, Visual Basic, HTML, Oracle DBA etc.
The starting salaries were huge and the work seemed interesting.
I called up a couple of the employers advertising and asked what type of experience and skills they were looking for.
And I realized that I didn't have anything that they were looking for.
But then, somehow, I stumbled into an ad for a post-graduate IT school that was opening in Toronto and accepting new students.
You needed to have a University Degree and had to pay $13,500 for their nine month program that taught things like Oracle Database programming, Visual Basic, HTML etc.
When I told my friends at University they said I was 100% insane.
Who in their right mind finishes a degree and then pays $13,500 (at the time that was A LOT of money for all of us) to go to another school.
Madness they thought.
I had gone of the deep end according to them.
I didn't care. It felt right, I saw an opportunity to break into a growing industry and I ignored them all.
And the results were great.
Before finishing the program I accepted a job offer from the Royal Bank to join their huge IT department on Front Street in Toronto.
I was ecstatic.
Good salary, big benefits, big company, RRSP "matching" ... I thought I had won the lottery.
Shortly there after several of my University friends attended the same school and plunked down $16,000 for it ... tuition had gone up by then.
Then, as I started my job at Royal Bank I realized that the excitement of the role was massively misplaced.
My role at the bank in 1998 was to do "Y2K" compliance.
I was in charge of standardizing all the dates in a mortgage program.
Which meant I had to go through mountains of old mainframe programming code to ensure all slashes were pointing this way "/" instead of this way "\".
It was tedious and horrible and I was locked at my desk staring at a screen for hours.
Within 4 weeks I began having major sweaty nightmares.
I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking that my life was a failure.
I had spent years at high school, all these years at University and thousands of dollars at this post-grad school only to find a job that I HATED with a PASSION.
It was a horrible, horrible feeling.
I really felt defeated and thought that I couldn't live the rest of my life starting at that green screen on my desk.
Even climbing the "corporate ladder" didn't seem very interesting to me.
So I began applying to new jobs and because the IT market was super HOT I quickly got a call from Oracle Corporation for a "technical support" position in Mississauga, Ontario.
I jumped on it. And when I did ALL of my friends from that post-grad IT school said I was CRAZY.
How could I leave RBC as a "programmer" to become a "support person".
It was a step backwards according to them.
But they didn't see the big picture.
I looked at it as opportunity to learn valuable Oracle skills from the company itself ... I left them all behind and jumped on board.
From there I did that role for two years and then transferred internally into their Sales department.
And the rest in history.
I learned an absolute ton.
I made great money (to invest into properties!).
And I made life long friends.
And it's funny ... the friends I made at Oracle Support said I was crazy to go into sales ... that I was "selling out".
After a couple of years, six or seven of them, made the exact same move. I think the commission cheques that they saw I was earning were more important to them than "selling out" 🙂
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because we all have difficult situations in our lives.
We all have moments were are lives are reduced to nightmares.
And they often require, what at the time seems like, big decisions.
And your big decisions are likely going to be met with massive opposition.
From friends, from family, from co-workers, from everyone.
And you know what.
You've gotta ignore all that.
Every single time I've stayed true to my intuition and followed my own path it's worked out wonderfully.
I can't even imagine what my life would be like today if I had not made several hard choices over the last few years.
So if you're thinking about investing in your first property and your banker things your crazy...
Or if you're going to "flip" your first property and your family thinks your nuts....
Or if you're going to buy a student rental property and your co-workers think it's a bad idea....
Ignore 'em all.
Make your own decisions. Follow your own heart. Listen to your own voice.
There will be challenges ahead for you for sure.
But those challenges will make you stronger and they'll bring you bigger opportunities.
Handling stress and pressure is a valuable skill.
Most people avoid it.
But you shouldn't - you'll never accomplish what you want without facing opposition, stress and unexpected turns.
If you're at a point in your life, right now, where someone is telling you not to do something - it may be time to ignore them!
You can accomplish anything you want.
Hard work. Stress. Pressure. Unexpected turns.
They're all part of the journey.
And they make the journey much more fun.
Fight those nightmares head on! Slay those dragons.
You're not alone.
There's people all around you that are going through similar challenges right now.
And your dreams are closer to you than you can ever imagine.
Here's to Your Life on Your Terms!
Thank you for your Sweaty Nightmare story. It caught me eye because i am currently having sweaty nightmares just before i close on another student rental property.
Thank you for reassuring me with your words of wisdom and experience......and that i am NOT alone.
I will slay the dragons and Live Life on my Terms!
Great story and advice provides a lift of inspiration thanks for sharing it guys / Mike
Thanks for the story. Those sweaty nightmares have now turned into small grins and a great beggining to new adventures. For only just yesterday, we're called into a meeting with the worries of being let go from our day jobs. Thanks to Rockstar (including yourself, the team, and the club members--to many names to mention) I could go in smiling, knowing not all would be lost for myself as I have already moved on. Now that the Dragon has been slayed--everything worked out fine, and now look forward to putting another deal together soon to carry on with a great motto--your life, your terms.
Great story Tom. One generation removed nothing's changes [I'm from your parents's generation]
Coming from a Northern Ontario dead end city filled with dead end mining jobs I learned to keep my burning ambition to own businesses, rather than just being a grunt to myself and rather than risk ridicule from family, in laws, outlaws. neighbours, workmates and other assorted naysayers, you name it. I still keep formative plans to myself, even well meaning family members. I found the solution way back then was just to move away from all that cultural negativity, to the much reviled big smoke, no less.
I found after several missteps and being laughted at but affluence began to show it was met with scepticism and "slumlord" comments and that I somehow was well on my way to spending a stretch in Kingston Pen for my alleged criminality.I thought that they would be happy for me. It was time to "defriend and defamily" I still practice that and clean house periodically and recommend it to all new real estate investors. Keep your ambitions and plans to yourself. Let your affluence speak volumes, surround yourselves with go getters, attend all Rock Star events and network, network, network and continually build up your contact base. Tom and Nick are on to something and provide a helpfull and much needed forum. Just go for it.
Great story, Tom...very inspiring as usual. And Gord hit the nail on the head, "Keep your ambitions and plans to yourself". It has been my experience that to share your ambitions with friends and family are a sure way to get shot down (no, not literally) and all sorts of unwanted advice to "be realistic". Tom is right, screw'em all. Set your goals high, keep focused and stay the course. Pick up good properties when you can and don't look back. Success tends to happen a bit more slowly than people might like, but I have found that real estate investing is the best way to achieve financial independence, and Tom and Nick have done a great job in inspiring and educating others.
Further to my previous post, especially in connection with my commentary on 'defriending and defamilying"
Brian Tracy in his great book on goal setting mentions it but also includes "despousing".
Several years ago I joint ventured with an associate in booming Austin Texas. My partner puzzled me since opportunity abounded but he somehow seemed listless until one day, out of the blue a wedding invitation arrived. It was puzzling because he was married, happily I thought, not so and he had despoused.
Drastic action to be sure but at least no small children were involved.
Since then he's been hitting the ball out of the park and swamping me with offers to co venture. He attributes it all to his new 'tude, spouse, several small children, great and growing business, a happy home life and a go getter spouse every bit a firecracker that he is. I'm not recommending nor am I passing judgement, I'm just saying.
You weren't that good at sales Tom... Unless you are happy with 300% of plan or whatever it was you did in your first year! 😉
Great post Tom!!
I've been there too! Leave cushy corporate job at Big Blue to join a small brokerage nobody had heard of.... I'm Chinese and took a ton of flack but I'm so much happier for it.
Keep up the awesome work!
I had a lot of great people to learn from.
And it really was a "fat patch"! 🙂
Love the fact that you had that sort of mentality walking into a meeting like that. Awesome.
Great post - Couldn't have said it any better myself - The toughest thing to do in life (I think and feel), is to follow your own voice.
Thanks for sharing. It's uplifting to read these types of stories. You'll never walk alone.
wow i am going through the SAME EXACT THING AT MY WORKPLACE. how interesting!!! i just sold my first investment home to buy more.. hope it goes well, made 70k profit.