F’ing the desk can mean a lot of things.
In Lewis Howes’ case, it meant having his dream of playing in the NFL fall apart, picking himself up off his sister’s couch, and discovering other passions he could follow as his own boss without a college degree or business education.
How do you go from eating your sister’s Mac & Cheese to building a 7-figure company and inspiring others?
Lewis was kind enough to give me some tips.
Lewis’ bio points out that he was picked last for dodgeball as a kid. Tall and gangly in grade 3, he thought he was a natural first pick, only to find himself eventually standing alone, deflated. Determined to never get picked last again, he threw himself into athletics and years later was in the NFL draft.
He didn’t make it.
No problem. He’d play pro football until the next draft. Two games in, he busted his wrist and his career was over.
The economy was tanking, he had no plan B, and he’d left college to pursue his football dream. Now what?
After 6 months of feeling like a failure, living with his sister, and scrolling through jobs on Craigslist, he did something I think is pretty interesting.
He was getting ready for an interview at a great sports marketing company and changed his mind. He didn’t go. Somewhere deep down he knew he’d get it and turn it down. It wasn’t his passion. He had a lifestyle in mind, and to get there he needed to be his own boss, leverage his competitive nature, and inspire people.
What started as helping people beef up their LinkedIn profiles for $50 a pop turned into running LinkedIn networking events turned into bringing in a million and a half dollars a year offering webinars, courses, books, videos, and online tools for small businesses to improve their sales and social equity.
Sounds like Lewis got fed up with a situation he had no control over and got laser-focused on making something great of himself again. He attacked it like an athlete who wouldn’t settle for his own mediocrity and started to see the rest of his life like a game. Becoming an internet entrepreneur was the way he chose to challenge himself, make connections, and design his own success.
Before all that hard work paid off, what did he keep in mind when things were rough? It seems so simple. And maybe it is:
But how did he know this was the right path for him before he succeeded?
So there you have it. A couch-crashing pro footballer with a broken dream made a new path to the life he wanted in just a few years and has been featured in Time, FastCompany, Business Week, Washington Post, and Forbes. His story teaches:
- Take responsibility for your own education. If you don’t know what you need to know, go learn it and do it.
- Get a mentor. Surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you makes you learn.
- Act on what you learn.
- Nurture your relationships. Use and improve your network – whether it’s your family or business colleagues.
- Offer value. When you over deliver, people are more open to buy what you’re selling.
And it’s his birthday today! He just turned my age. Holy crap.
Explaining why his dad didn’t let him celebrate his birthday after he was five, Lewis says:
“You aren’t going to celebrate your birthday because I never want you to focus on time as a limiting factor in your life. You have the knowledge, power, and ability to do anything you want in your life, but for most, they let their age dictate when they will achieve what they want.”
Instead of taking presents, he’s taking donations for Pencils of Promise.