Updated: Oct 20, 2018
Mike was a very smart and streetwise dude, who’d graduated from Uni the year before in 2000; he was also two academic years ahead, and so an important peer-role-model for me. Mike was so pumped by the Rich Dad story! He was like a vigorously shaken bottle of fizzy, ready to explode!!! I always have a big smile on my face when I re-play that memory; he totally had my attention! I bought the book a few days later. At the time I was working as a part time relief security officer for blue-chip clients.
Over a 5 year period, I had tremendous opportunities to work in the buildings of some of the world's biggest and most powerful corporations, such as Goldman Sachs (or Ol'man Sachs? hehehe!), Barclays, The BBC, The Daily Mail, Elstree Studios (where Eastenders is filmed), TFI Fridays (Riverside Studios) and meeting celebrities, VIPs, and top executives. That Saturday I was working at British Telecom's HQ, right opposite St Paul's Cathedral in Central London. For practically the entire duration of my 12 hour shift I sat in this tiny, white Porto-cabin reading Rich Dad Poor Dad! I was hooked! I had found the glittering future I was looking for, which I couldn’t quite articulate before. I wanted to be free to adventure! I wanted to be a powerful, wealthy and successful, globe-trotting entrepreneur and investor, not compete for some cardboard-cut-out, corporate graduate-scheme! You got to be true to you! Are you true to you?
I also had the dream of seeing and helping Africa to fully economically develop in my lifetime; I had studied the demographic transition model in geography and economics, some teachers said my dream would be impossible. I was perplexed, the continent of Africa was so richly abundant in resources - gold, diamonds, timber and all other valuable natural resources, but it was perpetually in debt to the World Bank and IMF. What the hell was going on!? Are you aware of Confessions of an Economic Hitman? I had studied development economics, my final year dissertation was on the Miracle of Japan’s economic development and her multinational enterprises (my first choice of dissertation was actually “The Economics of the Hip Hop Industry”). Why was Africa failing to reap the rewards of her God-given bounty? It was to be the beginning of a brilliant, but painful adventure.
So I graduated in May 2002 with a 2:1 in business economics feeling like a total dunce and failure! I felt so stupid! I looked very unhappy in my graduation picture. I’d spent the past 5 years and a chuck of change busting my brains out studying business, economics and finance and I didn’t even know how to start a freaking business! I felt cheated! It’s at that point that I really started to educate myself. That same energy and passion I had dedicated to studying “their stuff” I now put into studying “my own stuff”. I continued in my security role, much to the chagrin of my mother and about million other people. Lol. “You’re going to do what!?” “Arrrh Yes mum!” “Are you crazy!?” “I must be!” hehehe! Smiling to myself.
My education and learning now centred on personal development, the “How to” and the people who founded some of these corporate behemoths. An oak tree was once an acorn; at Uni we studied oak trees, but not where and how they came from. It didn’t make any sense to me! Some great books I studied that year were Think and Grow Rich, Awaken the Giant Within, Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got, How to Be Rich, Masters of Enterprise, Richest Man in Babylon, Science of Getting Rich and many others. I deeply studied the lives of Russell Simmons, Sean Combs (P. Diddy), Shawn Carter (Jay-z), Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John D Rockefeller Snr, John P Getty, Thomas Edison, J P Morgan, Oprah, Bill Gates. In essence I started studying power and success and resolved to do my best to emulate what I discovered.
Around July 2002, I started my first “serious” business venture called “Laptops 4 You”, where I marketed and sold refurbished laptops to mostly university students. After 3-4 months of hard, hard, hard graft and only selling 5 or 6 laptops I discovered that the business didn’t have the potential to make me my millions, or anywhere near it! So much work and wafer thin margins! It was a great learning experience though. In April 2003 massively disheartened, still living at home with my mum on my case understandably so, I “shut down” operations and strategically started my work as a Trainee Lettings & Sales Negotiator at Richard Bruce, a local independent "old school" estate agents in North West, under the tutelage of the late Keith Bransgrove, my former boss and mentor. Oh my gosh!!! Running around like a blue-arsed fly. My basic salary was £833.00 per month before tax! Can you believe it? I was earning more then that doing security, with a lot less effort and a lot more freedom! But as Rich Dad advised, I needed to develop my selling skills which is essential in any business. I had also personally experienced that real estate was an important foundation of lasting wealth.
Working at Richard Bruce wasn't about the money, but it was about the money, which is a very strange paradox. Also within 6 months of me starting work we found out that Keith, who was aged 55 had prostate cancer and Elaine, his admin lady who was in her 60's, had breast cancer. Oh my God! What are the chances!? And there was only one other person in the business; yep me! My performance level went through the roof! I also met and worked with several "old school, low-key and profession" millionaire real estate investors. But would I get cancer too? I was so under-pressure! And so STRESSED OUT!!!
Sometime in early 2003, still on my entrepreneurial journey (and still at Richard Bruce), I got involved with “character-building” network or “word-of-month” marketing, also advised by Rich Dad. I became an independent representative for EurExcel Telecommunications and learnt a lot about being shunned, ostracised and handling rejection from my friends, family and the general public. I felt like a total leper! That was until I met and “fell in love” with the beautiful girl of my dreams, who had joined my network marketing down-line. She was obviously thoroughly impressed with my leadership qualities. Feeling thankful for the blessings that God had given me, the young lady and myself accepted an invitation to attend a very musical, new-age type of church called London Victory; it promoted personal development and ideas from Rich Dad and others. A few well-known pop artists, such as Daniel Beddingfield and some members of the 90’s British R&B boy-band “Damage” also worshiped there. I had found the church of my dreams! I decided to become a born-again Christian and I was “dunked” or baptized in rubber paddling pool outside the Church building.
Unfortunately my whirl-wind romance failed 6 months after it began and I experienced a dramatic spiritual descension, with my dreams of love and marital bliss imploding inwards. I was truly hurt and devastated! But I soldiered onward. After about a year of attending this church I began to have doubts and questions that couldn’t be reconciled by the young firebrand and prophesying Preacher, for example if "Jesus was God", why was he praying to God in the Bible I read? It totally didn't make any sense to me! Our Pastor was about 27 years old at the time and I believe he'd been a successful and talented music producer and musician. Our whole church group (50+ people) went to see Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of The Christ at the Ritzy in Brixton. Have you seen this film? It's definitely not bed-time watching, that's for sure!
In August 2004 I decided to leave London Victory and practice the faith I had discovered through reading the bible and other studies. I felt like I was on the beginning of an amazing spiritual adventure. Our telecoms marketing business began to bring in an amazing amount of leads, due to a successful campaign my business partner Richard and I had designed and promoted. I bought an engagement ring and had proposed to the lady I mentioned earlier. That same August, my life turned completely upside down. A series of events happened, I felt like I had entered a parallel universe, nothing was real, all a dream. I felt extremely powerful, unstoppable and yes invincible! It was like The Matrix meets Inception, that's the closest I can get to visually describing my experience. I now know I was having an Ascension Experience.
I was eventually “Sectioned” under the Mental Health Act, being diagnosed with “Bi-polar Effected Disorder”. Hahaha! Madness indeed! My 10 year struggle (Jihad) with the Psychiatry System and other systems had begun. I was sectioned again in August 2007 and again in December 2011, in total spending around 6 months in Park Royal Mental Health Centre. I spent most of that time on a very secure ward being used as a “Guinea Pig” for the “Pharmaceutical Racketeers”, being forcibly injected with powerful “anti-psychotic” drugs against my will. The central garden was similar to a prison yard and had 30 foot-high metal fences; the place didn’t feel like a hospital, it felt like a prison and I felt like Michael Scofield from the drama series Prison Break. I did actually succeed in breaking out a few times, hence why I was put on Hawthorne Ward, a higher security unit; I worked in security remember?
From the garden I could smell the familiar sweet aroma of freshly-baked biscuits from the McVities factory. All was not completely lost. Although some of the “patients” had been in that place for years; a few were doing strange things and looked strange. Would the same happen to me? How could this happen to me? That’s when I really went crazy! Is this a dream? Why won’t they let me out !?! Are these people really nurses? (they were practically all African and Caribbean males aged 30-40 wearing casual clothes) Why are they treating me so badly? How can this be a hospital? Why is the Psychiatrist so cold and unfeeling? (his name was Dr Gandhi, but paradoxically this Gandhi seemed to lack any humanity) Why aren't they listening to me!?! Yeah, it was scary like the movie Gothika! I was absolutely terrified! So I cried and prayed a lot!
I did have lots of friends and family come to visit me. Leslie, one of my other best-friends from Stonebridge, was by side throughout the experience; he helped me keep my dreams alive. He helped keep me alive. On my first spell in the hospital in 2004, after about 2-3 weeks I was granted 30 minutes escorted leave with a “nurse” to go to the Asda Supermarket, which was about 10 minutes walking distance from the hospital. My mum had kindly given me £10 to spend when she came to visit me. In April earlier that year I had been fortunate to go on a family holiday to Miami and Disney World, Florida including sailing through Star Island's Millionaire’s Row. I remember watching the very first season of The Apprentice, starring Donald Trump in the Hotel restaurant. So I enter Asda with the nurse and immediately I see Donald Trump’s book “HOW to GET RICH”, written in big metallic gold letters on the display shelf. It's the book that accompanies the show. I had £10 and the book cost £10! I was in the right place at the right time! And It felt like the right thing to do!
So I excitedly bought the book, much to the chagrin of my terrified mother, when she asked me what I had done with the money. My Little Voice said, "how ironic? I'm not smoking chronic! I'm reading books!" Shaking my head. Anyway, that book was my inspiration while locked up against my will and being treated like trash! It re-ignited my hopes and dreams! I was going to be okay, right? Freedom, adventure and millions is what I was after, right? This weird and surreal adventure was only just beginning.........