The $36,000 Man

Sitting in Chipotle, a little Mexican chain restaurant just outside of Kansas City, I was shocked at what I was hearing.

The two men sitting across from me were telling me all about their “great” business. They have a “perfect” location, nice digs, great employees, all the right equipment … the works.

Just one problem, they said … no profits. That’s why I was there. They had asked me to come look at their copy and their marketing to see what needed to be tweaked so they could make some “real” money.

As is my custom, I paused the conversation at this point and said, “So what do you want? I mean, how much money would you like to pull out of this business as profits?”

The man to my left took a deep breath. The man to my right swallowed hard. “Well,” said the one, “I’m taking home just under $36,000 a year right now. If I could bump that to $50,000, I’d be really happy.”

Oh. Humm. Well … Suddenly the conversation took on a whole new meaning to me. These days, I can make those kinds of profits in a couple of months, sometimes … sometimes on just one project!

But I do it without employees, without overhead, without equipment and without an amazing location. Just my home office, my Mac and a bunch of screaming children running around.

Now, it’s not like I’ve forgotten the days when I was scrambling to make $2,000 each month to provide food and shelter for my dear wife and 6 children … but, I was shocked that these men worked so hard, to make so little.

I decided to help out. Scooting my chair forward, I grabbed the notepad and a pen. In about 5 minutes I sketched out a way that they could eliminate their employees, get rid of their nice building (and it’s depressing overhead), and still make well over $100,000 each in the coming 12-18 months.

Can you say AWKWARD? Both of them sat there with their jaws down, and total, utter disbelief in their eyes. After a very long pregnant pause, the one said to me, “You know, we just wanted you to help us grow the business, not tell us how to run our lives.”

I guess he didn’t like my idea.

After lunch was over, we got back in the car and the one man took me back to my house. On the way, he said, “You know, not everyone is like you. You’ve got it figured out. But I’m too old to do stuff like that and I just don’t believe anyone would pay me over $100,000 to do that stuff you were talking about.”

I remained silent this time. I had already pushed his emotional financial thresholds past their limits at lunch. I was not going to do it again, now.

I knew in my heart that, unless this man changed his perspective on life, he would never get ahead. He was a $36,000 man and he would remain a $36,000 for the rest of his life … and he’d fight tooth-and-nail to stay there.

But, in my mind, I thought of you, dear reader. Yes, you – reader of The Golden Thread. You’re reading this because you’re interested in having a life with lots of money, lots of time, lots of success, and a bit of recognition from those you love, yes?

That’s why I originally hooked my wagon to AWAI.

I thought of you because my guess is, if you’d been at lunch, you wouldn’t have told me not to run your life. You wouldn’t have shunned an idea that you could make well over $100,000 each and every year sitting at home in your PJ’s or while traveling around the globe, would you?

No, I’m pretty sure you would have perked up and said, “Really, you can do that? Let’s roll, baby!”

So, I’ve decided to bring that lunch at Chipolte’s, to you. At least part of it.

I can’t really tell you all of it here, in this one little article, but I can give you the foundation and show you how to get the rest of the conversation from me … perhaps even talking with me 1-1 on the phone … or sitting down over lunch …

To give you the foundation of what I told the $36,000 man, let me point out what was holding him back and how he could have overcome it … I call it the 3-M Foundation for Financial Freedom.

(Oh, and if any of these barriers sound vaguely familiar, the solutions will work for you, as well.)

  • Mental Safe Harbors. Would you believe me if I told you that every human being on the planet will only do activities that he or she believes are “safe”? But what about sky divers, Navy Seals, and other wild and crazy dare-devils? Yep, even those guys only engage in things that deep-down feel really “safe” to them.

    My friend felt safe scratching out a living and making $36,000. Or as Joe Vitale says – he felt like he deserved that kind of a life … and not a penny more.

    Therefore all other options, business strategies, or ideas that took him out of the “safety zone” were considered dangerous … even offensive.

    The funny thing is this … “safe” can be anywhere you set it at. $36,000 a year … or $3,600,000 a year. You set it and it becomes reality. The trick is understanding how to set it.

  • Modeling. My brother is a Master Chef … and I do mean master. I’ve eaten at some of the better restaurants in the world and I’ve rarely enjoyed anything as good as what he’ll whip up at family get-togethers.

    One day, I was in the kitchen cooking with him and realized that if I made stuff the exact same way he did, my food would taste like his. So, I tested my theory with his famous white sauce. The results were impressive to say the least.

    Everyone is modeling someone. The $36,000 man is taking modeling and social cues from those with $36,000 thinking. He acts like, talks like, and lives like they do. No wonder he has their same income.

    As the old saying goes … choose your friends wisely because you’ll become like them.

  • Mentor. On the surface, mentoring and modeling might sound like the same gig, but actually they are vastly different. The difference is what I affectionately call “whip-cracking.”

    It’s one thing to watch my brother make prime-rib and then try to duplicate it … it is quite another to have him standing over me correcting the slightest little error in my culinary efforts.

    It should be obvious that having a master at your side, guiding your hand, motivating you, and shining light on your blind spots, is, by far, the fastest way to actually achieve your goals and get everything you want in life.

    Nothing is worse than being in the fox-holes of life alone with a good user’s manual. And nothing is sweeter than to have a seasoned commando officer covering your back when times get tough.

That day at lunch, I gave the $36,000 Man the opportunity to have all three of these things in his life: A system for resetting his Mental Safe Harbor … a Model for making over $100,000 a year … and a Mentor to help guide him.

He turned me down – and that’s OK.

But, consider this …

I’ve put together a brand new program, exclusively for AWAI members (that’s you … ). It’s called Monday Morning Jumpstart Reloaded. If you’re curious about how to reset your Mental Safe Harbor, get a solid Model for Success, and having a Mentor at your side to accelerate your growth, then you just might want to check it out.

One final thought … It’s a challenge really …

The $36,000 Man is happy to live life far below his ability and potential. It’s a shame, though, in his own way, I suppose he’ll be happy.

My challenge to you is this … When you look in the mirror, consider what kind of man or woman you are. Then ask yourself what kind of person you could be. If your potential is greater than the person you see, then I would gladly welcome you to join Monday Morning Jumpstart.

It’s a world filled with courageous individuals that have left the old Harbors behind and are venturing out to become better, live happier, and enjoy the greatness that’s been sleeping far too long inside of them.

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Published: February 8, 2010

2 Responses to “The $36,000 Man”

  1. Hei from the fjord,

    Thank you for this article Joshua.

    Curious to see how you'll go about "reloading" this "old dog" with some new tricks! :-)

    Looking forward to exploring that with you.

    All our love to you and yours from your friends in Norway!

    Timothy Bert Owen

  2. If no people desired to build restaurants, where would those who desire to eat out go?


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