In his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Obama declared keeping the “American Dream” alive to be “the defining issue of our time.” At a time when a large percentage of the working population finds itself questioning whether if it will ever recoup the lost income, property, earning potential and savings lost in the aftermath of the greatest recession of that last 75 years, I talked with one man who says we need to create our own opportunities and stop waiting for our ships to come in.
Don’t just look for a job; make a job! Financial success is linked to thought, so get creative. – Willie Jolley
Willie Jolley, host of the Sirius XM talk show, The Willie Jolley Wealthy Ways Radio Show and author of Turn Setbacks into Greenbacks (Wiley, Hardcover, 2010) has been dubbed “America’s Comback King” by Success Magazine. I asked Willie to share his formula for jumpstarting the American Dream. Warning: His irrepressible positive outlook is infectious.
Cindy Ratzlaff: I’m noticing a lot of fear in the entrepreneurial world. Financing is tight, spending is weak and people are saying this isn’t a good time to start a new business. How can we keep the American Dream alive in that kind of climate?
Willie Jolley: People are still spending money on things that provide value and that make them feel good. Movie tickets are at an all time high, but people are still going to the movies because they make them feel better. Apple just released their earnings statements for 2011 and they had a banner year. People are buying ipads and Macs because they provide value and they make them feel good. Warren Buffet said that tough times are the greatest times to start a new business and I agree. There are two kinds of animals in the dessert; vultures and humming birds. Vultures focus on dead things and hummingbirds focus on life. Focus on it and you’ll find it.
Cindy Ratzlaff: The press has talked about the “uncounted underemployed,” those people who have simply given up looking because they can’t find a job that pays what they are used to earning and they just can’t let themselves take a job that’s beneath their previous positions for fear of stepping down the ladder permanently. If we stop progressing in our earning potential, how can we continue to uphold that American dream?
Willie Jolley: Don’t let your pride poison your prosperity. Stop trying to put up a façade of success and get real. Any work that is moral and legal is honorable. I knew a man who built an IT firm from the ground up. He had 600 of the brightest IT employees and he was doing great. But hard times hit and he had a choice to make. So he took the money he paid himself as CEO and he paid his employees salaries to keep the company going with the talent it needed. He worked a full day at his own business and at night he drove a trash truck. And he kept those employees and because of that he kept that company afloat and later sold it for $600 million. Here’s what you have to remember. It’s not personal. It’s not permanent. Get over it and do what you need to do. Don’t just think about today or tomorrow. Think about the tomorrows down the road and get over it. Do what has to be done.
Cindy Ratzlaff: Close friends and family might logically tell you that this is not a good time to start a new business. What do you say to people with a vision and a dream but no idea how to make it happen?
Willie Jolley: Stop commiserating! People who sit around and commiserate are the people who would rather complain about problems than do anything to fix them. Stay away from negative people. Sometimes those people are right in your inner circle. Read and listen to something positive every day. The news will tell you the economy is down, gas is up, terrorism is here. It’s all doom and gloom. Turn it off. Surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams and turn the rest off.
Cindy Ratzlaff: If you could give one last piece of advice to a new business owner or entreprenueur what would that be?
Willie Jolley: Stop waiting for your ship to come in. Financial success is a choice you must make happen, not a chance that you sit around and wait for. There’s nothing stopping you. People have lots of excuses like “I only have a GED.” I say so what. Lots of people only have their GED’s. That can’t stop you from success. They say, “I have an idea but all my friends and family think it’s crazy.” I say “stop talking to them about your idea. Talk to people who share your vision and encourage you.” People have “possibility blindness.” If you spend all your time talking about your goals with them, all you’ll get is discouragement. Don’t just go through tough times. Grow through them. Take control of your ideas and dream. Think like the CEO of Y.O.U. Figure out how what you know can fill a need for others. And get yourself into the right frame of mind to believe you can succeed.
Have you started a new business during a down economy? I’d love to hear your experiences, lessons learned and ideas for beating the odds as an entrepreneur in a down market.