One thing I knew early on in life is that I wanted to be the chess player, not the chess piece. If you're reacting, you're the chess piece that someone else is manipulating in the environment.
The first thing I knew I had to figure out was, how am I going to earn more? My great mentor Jim Rohn was the one who gave me that understanding.
I remember looking around me, in my early childhood, and thinking: How is it that we don’t have enough money for food? And my father, my fourth father, Jim Robbins, he's the one who adopted me, he was a good man. He was a smart man. And he had jobs, most of the time. So how is it that we didn’t have money for food?
When I was 17 years old I went to a Jim Rohn seminar and I got a chance to talk to him afterwards. And I said Jim, help me understand this.
And he said something I'll never forget. He said, Tony, we're all equal as souls on the planet, as souls we’re equal. But we're not equal in the marketplace.
He said, Your father is a good man. He asked what he did for a living. I told him that my natural father worked as a parking attendant for 45 years underground, taking people's tickets, waiting around and reading, then taking people's payment. That's all he did. It's all done automatically by machine today, right? It's been replaced.
But if you're going to be valued in the marketplace, you have to be able to do things no one else can do. You have to become more valuable. The more valuable you are in the marketplace, the more value you can add to people, the more valuable you become.
Jim Rohn was the one who told me, Tony, work harder on yourself than you ever do on your job. Constantly find a way to be better.
And so I tried to get my head around why my adopted father, Jim Robbins, was working so hard but not getting anywhere financially. And I thought, just like my biological father, he's a good man, and he was even skilled in his work.
But he was a salesman. He had good times. And when he had good times, he went and spent all the money. When he had bad times he got into a terrible state and didn't sell. He was pretty much driven by however the cycle went in his life. And so we were suffering.
Jim Rohn clarified it more one time: He said, Look at somebody working in McDonald's, what's their value? He said, not as a soul in the marketplace, I mean what is their value in the market? Very low, because it’s a job that anybody can do.
Today, you can train somebody to work at McDonald's in 10 minutes, because everything's got pictures, you don't even have to be able to spell. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as a result, the salary or the income that comes in from a job at McDonald's is not a living wage.
Then he told me about this one hedge fund manager that made $2 billion in the most recent fiscal year. 2 billion. Why? Because he was able to grow his fund 39% that year. That means that every two and a half years, you double your entire wealth.
He's doing that for nonprofits and for individuals. His value in the marketplace was well more than $2 billion, because he's added more value. And so I became obsessed with how to do that myself. How to add more value than anyone else.
I’m not saying that after that it was a clean road to success. I certainly had scary times where I felt I didn't know what I was doing. I was just trying to do the best I could, given the knowledge and network I had at whatever time it was. But I always focused on how to create value. And what kept me alive during those times is the thing that will make you grow financially.
Remember: Your income right now is not a result of the industry you’re in. It’s not a result of the economy. The money you earn is a result of your standards. And there is always another level you can achieve! I encourage you to step up and set a new standard for yourself.
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