A Millionaire's Story

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Let me tell you a little bit about Jim Young, and then you will have a better understanding of this article. In September 1999, I reached the age of sixty. As I contemplate what I will do with the rest of my life, you can read about it at this link. What I Am Going To Do With the Next Sixty Years of My Life! I have determined that one of my greatest contributions to the world would be to share some of my knowledge of the business world, along with my mistakes, with those who might be interested.

You can access My personal story for more information on me. I worked hard to get a positive cash flow on all of these properties, and even opened my own mortgage company, to finance these properties for some folks. That was great, now that these nice people can bring me money every year for thirty years. My, how I love this country. Needless to say, I do show each of them how they can pay off this loan early, but unfortunately, most never do.

Well after turning two businesses into Million Dollar Enterprises, and creating a nice residual income for myself, I got a little bored, and decided to venture out and do some other things.

Ahhhhhhh, THE INTERNET!!! I was trapped. The first few months, I was mesmerized by this Bill Gates thing, and then as I spent more and more time on it, I saw the tremendous amount of money being made by a lot of people with this new medium.

Wow! People actually do sit and type, and talk to you, and are searching for answers to problems in their lives.

Two big problems emerged as I chatted with folks. Money and Relationships. Folks were looking for a way to make ends meet, and were looking for a friend. Many had broken homes and broken hearts.

My task ahead of me was......How do I help these folks, without sounding like a money grabbing guy, who is out for his own self satisfaction. I can honestly say, that I sincerely desire to help people, and have had much success with that in the past. How do I do that?? One way is to share my failures. Yes FAILURES! I have had many, but I usually don't fail twice at the same thing. It is a thrill to me to help people not make the same mistakes that I made.

Now to the nuts and bolts. I see millionaires, who are basically two types.

Type One: Those who drive around in limos and have chauffeurs, and big downtown offices with secretaries and all the trimmings. Big houses, big cars, big bank accounts, and big headaches. With a big business, you also have big responsibilities and big management problems. In corporate dealings, you have all the backbiting, infighting, jealousy, downsizing, pride, and many other things that make big business machines function.

Type Two: The sole proprietor. One man operations, who usually have just a small office, a bookkeeper-secretary, drives a pickup truck, lives in a modest home, and basically runs the show by himself. Eliminated are the problems with infighting, downsizing, and other things that plague big business operations. The headaches are still there, but are of a different nature. Cash flow is usually the problem in any business, whether it is great or small. One of the characteristics of the type two millionaire, is that while he is the President of the Company, he spends a lot of his time, as the Janitor of the Company. Cleaning up messes, created by the same kinds of people that you deal with in any business, whether great or small.

Those of you who know me, know that I am a type two person. All of the things above described in type two are true. Except for the modest home. I do live in a very expensive home, that I purchased in 1990 and is valued at approximately a half million bucks. But this was the biggest mistake of my life. Purchasing this home, was a product of receiving bad advice from my accountant in 1989, when I had a huge tax bill for personal income taxes, in excess of 150 grand.

My accountant told me, "Jim, you need to find the biggest home you can find, and get the largest mortgage you can qualify for, and get the tax write off for next year." Well, I took the advice of my accountant, and years later, while my tax liability has been minimized, I realized that I had made a million dollar mistake. I will deal with this million dollar mistake in another article entitled "How I made a million dollar mistake and survived."

Well, let's get back to why I believe I have been successful. I must refer to my guidebook now, which has guided my life since Oct 1, 1950. It is of course, the Bible, which contains the wisdom of many people who have greatly influenced my life. Probably the most influential, has been Solomon, who wrote many of the Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. When I committed my life to the Lord Jesus Christ as an eleven year old, I never comprehended the journey that He would take me on. It has been exciting to say the least, and has taken me to thirty countries of the world, and allowed me to meet myriad's of folks from all walks of life. From shaking Dick Gephardt's hand in Wintergreen a short time ago, while he was at a Democratic caucus in a ski and golf resort, where I spend a lot of time, to the young orphans in Vietnam in 1967, where I was privileged to be the first chairman of the Cam Rahn Bay Christian Orphanage Society, I have been most fortunate to learn many lessons in life. My failures have been many, and yet I must keep coming back to the wisdom of the Word of God for guidance in my life.

Solomon wrote almost three thousand years ago, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working, nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." Eccl 9:10.

Many years later, author Stephen Covey wrote in his excellent book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", that one of his habits is "Begin with the end in mind." Covey takes Solomon's words and puts some teeth into them. He suggests that you find a place to read the pages of this chapter, where you are alone and uninterrupted. Clear your mind of everything except what you will read, and what he invites you to do.

Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor, parking the car, getting out, entering the parlor, and walking down to the casket, and peering in and suddenly coming face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are four speakers. The first is from your family, and the second is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you've been involved in service.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?

What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?

I would suggest you getting Covey's book, and reading the rest of this chapter. Take a minute right now, and jot down your impressions. It will greatly increase your understanding of this Habit #2 that Covey writes so effectively in his book.

So back to the nuts and bolts. Last year, while I was visiting the grave of a well known businessman in my hometown, who had recently died, I happened to walk to another part of the cemetery, and while I was thinking about my life, and what Covey had written about, I looked down at the grave marker in front of me. Interesting things are written on people's tombstones, and I was shocked to see the grave marker of a friend of mine who had died in April 1981. This friend was the music minister at my church, and had suffered a horrible death while cancer had ravaged his body. His faith and encouragement to his family and friends as he went through horrible pain and disfigurement, was an example that burns in my mind, and will be there forever. Inscribed on his grave marker was, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7.

Knowing the man as I did, and watching him die, attending his funeral so many years ago, and stumbling "accidentally on his grave marker", had jolted me back to reality. Both of my parents died a short time ago, about four months apart. I was gifted with a great Mom and Dad, who taught me many of the things that enhance my life today. But death of friends and loved ones, brings the reality of our own mortality to light. I know I am not going to be around forever, so one of my greatest fulfillment's in life is in helping others, by sharing principles of my life that have worked, and being honest enough to share those things in which I have failed.

As a daily reminder, I took a picture of my friend's grave marker, and I carry it in my truck and look at it almost every day. It is a constant reminder, that today, I must decide whether to invest my life in things that are going to last for eternity, or to waste my life on things that will not matter to anyone in the future.

The Bible is very clear folks. There are only two things that will last for eternity. That is the Word of God, and the souls of people. When I spend time with people, giving of myself to them, and then spend time in the Word of God, so I have the guidelines to live my life, worthy of folks being able to say kind things about me, when my time is finally up on the earth.

Contrast that with a funeral I attended a few years ago, where the minister stood up and said some real nice things about a building contractor that I knew, and then his wife stood up in the middle of the oration, and stated he was a "no-good adulterous man, who neglected his family". What a shock to those who were there. Another memory that will be etched in my mind forever.

So back to the nuts and bolts. As I stated earlier, I spend some time as President of my company,but I spend the majority of my time as janitor, and cleaning up the messes. With thirty five rental properties, you can envision some of the messes folks have left, as they vacated the premises, leaving filthy places in their wake. Now, a few weeks ago, I was chatting with one of my friends, and told them that I was going down to my properties and fix an air conditioner problem, and also take care of a plumbing problem, and repaint a condo and get it ready for another tenant. This person commented to me, that I should hire someone to do all of these tasks.

The plumber would have charged me about 100 bucks. I fixed the problem in five minutes. Replaced a three dollar flapper. The air condition man would charge 75 dollars for a service call. The problem was a circuit breaker that tripped. Took me about one minute to figure that out. The painter would charge me 400 bucks to repaint this condo. Took me about 7 hours. Yes, I could have hired these three people to do this. And $575.00 would be missing from my bank account. But I did it myself, in about 8 hours. That calculates to over $70.00 per hour. Not bad, huh!

Now some would argue, that my time would be better spent doing some other activity that would yield me more money, and there are times when that is true. But on that particular day, I had nothing to do. So rather than play golf, or goof off, I stuck 575 bucks in my pocket.

Several years ago, I had charge accounts all over town, and several credit cards. I owed huge balances on these accounts, and before I knew it, I was $140,000 in debt. Now with my assets tied up in real estate and accounts receivables, it was an endless cycle or "robbing Peter to pay Paul" to keep everyone happy. Breaking off a corner of a property that I owned to pay a bill was not possible. Today, thanks to a fine program that I purchased from a company in Wisconsin for 79 bucks, which included a tape series and a workbook on getting out from under consumer debt, I am totally debt free, except for my real estate holdings, and my utility bills. I have learned that charge accounts will eat you alive, and through this fine course, I learned to pay cash for everything. It might surprise you to know that I drive a 1990 Chevy Pick up and a 1988 Dodge Caravan. But guess what. I have no car payments. And personal property taxes and insurance bills are less. I have found it easier to pay repair bills on older vehicles, than fork out 350 bucks a month for one car payment. Last year, my repair bills on these three vehicles, totaled about $1300.00. From a practical standpoint that means that on the average, not counting gas and oil, it cost me $36.11 each month to keep these vehicles on the road. And I am the guy who used to buy a new Ford Pickup, completely loaded each year for about 15 years. I have one credit card for emergencies. My balance is Zero.

Now let me tell you a little bit about my drywall business. This past winter I decided to take an extended vacation at my Condo in Wintergreen, Va. I skied about sixty days, going up there on Friday, and coming home to check on the business on Wednesday or Thursday. Well after a fun winter, construction work picked up and I was searching for mechanics to do the hanging and finishing of the drywall, but I was pressed into strapping on my tools and doing several difficult jobs myself. As owner of the company, I could have just delayed the jobs, until we got caught up, but since most builders are on a deadline, I jumped in, and caught the work up, and made the builders and homeowners happy. I was extremely pleased this week, when a homeowner couple in Williamsburg, came in a thanked me for a nice job that I had done on their intricate ceiling construction in their den. It was a difficult job, 19 feet in the air, and required many trips up and down the scaffold, but hearing their comments made my day. It reinforced my belief that I need to add positive comments to all who do work for me. In Proverbs 25:11, Solomon writes, " A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." So I guess bottom line, is whatever it takes to make the business work, you have to be willing to do. Being President is more glorious than being Janitor. But the janitors of the world are the people that keep it cleaned up for the rest of us.

The last thing I will deal with in this article is the matter of integrity. One of the lessons that my Mom taught me, is contained in the verse in Proverbs 13:11. "Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow".

It is our inherit nature to cheat. As young babies we begin to figure out how to "beat the system". Those of you with children are not astounded at this truth. Sneaking seems to be built into us, and it continues into childhood, as we try to get over on our teachers, our peers, and our parents. Then on to adult life, and we have even come up with nicer names for cheating and lying. Fudging the truth, little-white lies, bending the truth, and just going so much over the speed limit, because we know that policemen rarely stop folks unless they are going ten miles or more over the limit. Travel any Interstate Highway in America, and drive the speed limit, and watch the cars whiz by you.

It is the same in the business world. We are always looking for ways to cut corners, save money, get the job done quicker and cheaper. Never mind the principles of honesty and hard work. Networking on the Internet is much the same way. We try it for a few weeks or months, and because we do not see instant results, we quit and go off on another venture. Sticking to something and seeing it through is almost nonexistent in America. We truly have a "microwave mentality", and if we do not get it quick and now, we get so impatient that it upsets us. Think of your frustration in the fast food line at the person in front of you, that has several multiple orders, and takes much longer than you had hoped for. Do you find yourself mad at them? Most of us can identify with that.

Well, Solomon said "little by little". Integrity is built on one experience at a time. A business is built the same way. Most people who read this article will not pay the price and take the time to succeed financially and in other areas of their life. It is a sad commentary on life in America today.

But perhaps you are not that person. I want to be associated in business and friendship with the positive people who want to learn and grow in their life and business.

I would close with the words of Solomon again, in Proverbs 24:3,4, out of the Living Bible, "Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts."

Jim Young





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