I started learning things about life at a very early age.
I come from a modest family.
My parents always worked focused on my education and my independence.
I will always be grateful for this kind of education.
My life changed whenever I told my parents I preferred to receive a “one week’s pay” rather than ask them for money.
My independence started at that moment. I was 7 years old. I began to work on concepts such as money and savings.
I remember that weekly payment was €0,60 more or less.
Just using my basic knowledge of math, I could understand I wouldn’t get very far with that amount of money. 30 euros a year? That was almost nothing, even 37 years ago.
I started to understand that earning money isn’t just a matter of not spending but to look for additional cash.
I still apply that essential rule to myself and my 3 companies: look at your outcomes and try to reduce them as much as possible, but better focus on your incomes, trying to make them grow. The former has limits (there’s a time when you can’t cut your costs anymore), but the latter are endless.
The opportunity appeared when I met a guy, 3 years older than me, who told me he could make us earn money. Let’s call him Joseph.
Incomes were my goal, so I was all ears.
At that time, you could earn money searching for empty glass bottles in the street and selling them to the stores. Depending on the type of bottle, you received €0,03 or €0,20 for every kind of bottle.
So we decided to start working together. We will share our earnings at the end of the summer. Joseph decided to manage the money we earn. As he was older than me, I had no choice…
We started working for the whole summer. I can still perfectly remember working in the street at more than 40ºC (104ºF) for the entire summer.
I can’t remember how much we could earn, but I can tell you that we didn’t stop working any day for two months (10 hours a day).
September arrived. It was the moment of sharing our earnings.
As you may guess, there was nothing.
My “dear” Joseph had spent all the money.
It was my first real lesson in my life. One of those moments when you feel like a complete fool.
One should always try to avoid these types of moments. They’re not recommended.
I didn’t know anything about stoicism at that age, but I thought something that day:
I won’t let anyone manage my money anymore.
When you’re a child, everything seems to be engraved in your mind with much more intensity.
Your world is still tiny.
Your experiences are just a few.
Your height is low enough to think everything that surrounds you seems enormous.
You never forget those kinds of lessons. It’s the best way to learn. Those things go directly to your long term memory. You don’t need spaced repetition to remember them.
One is just enough.
Lesson ONE: never delegate the management of your company’s money.
If you’re bad at numbers, or you just hate them, be sure to look for someone you trust 100%, divide the management between several people, set as many control mechanisms as you can.
I’ve known many entrepreneurs, with great ideas, creative people, very good in sales, hard workers, who were spoliated and ruined by their business partners, turning their lives into a tragedy.
It’s not easy to find people with strict core values. People with integrity. People who see millions of euros or dollars passing and not touching a cent.
Time passed and just 5 years ago, 30 years ago from that “dramatic experience”, I went into a restaurant and: guess who the waiter was?. You’re right: my “dear” Joseph.
He didn’t even recognize me. That usually happens with fools. I felt even worse because I had been fooled by a fool (double tragedy).
Joseph’s life was a mess. He hadn’t a cent. He hadn’t a steady job. He was sharing an apartment with 2 more guys (he was almost 44 years old).
Obviously, I didn’t mention my today’s situation. You never have to be cruel in life.
Sinners and fools have enough of their miserable lives.
You just have to focus on your life. Forget about anyone who ripped you off, stole you, or defamed you. Your time, energy, and positive thinking are much more worthwhile.
Lesson TWO: long term always beats short term.
Forget about specific misfortunes.
You can have a bad day, a problem. But that’s just one.
Life is long enough to overcome them. Time is always by your side.
Focus your energy on compound interest. It always works.
Base your life on doing the right things for a long time. That’s all.
Life is as easy as that.