I paced back and forth on the sidewalk, looking at my feet. I glanced up–this was a cookie-cutter neighborhood in the heart of the suburbs. Every house looked similar, and they were lined up along the street no more than ten feet from each other.

It was a nice day. It was cold, but the sun was out. That was rare for February in Ohio. I could see my breath.

My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it inside my ears. It reminded me of the feeling I got before hopping in a freezing cold shower. In what seemed like half a moment I made a split decision and started up the driveway. Before I knew it, I was on the porch knocking on the door.

Clipboard in hand, I hoped with every ounce of my body that nobody would open the door. I was muttering the script I came up with the night before. I heard footsteps. A man opened the door, and my mind went blank.

I can’t tell you exactly what I said, because frankly I don’t remember. It’s all kind of a blur. What I can tell you is that after whatever had left my mouth reached his ears, he looked at me as if I was crazy.

“Not interested,” he said, and I felt helpless as he slowly closed the door on me.

After the door clicked shut, something unexpected happened. The most overwhelming sense of relief came over me. I did it. I had just made my first cold call. 1 minute ago, I wanted to curl up into a ball and roll home–now, I felt exhilarated. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I wanted to do it again.

I marched over to the next house, pounded on the door, and gave it another shot. The rest is history.

That was the story of my first-ever cold call. It was the first of my marketing efforts for my painting business when I was 19. One month after that day, I closed my first $2,500 deal. Five months later, I wrapped up my first $60,000 summer.

I learned a lot of lessons that year, but one in particular stands above them all. This lesson stands so firm that I decided to write a book about it. I have doubted it many times, only to be repeatedly reminded of its importance. Are you ready? Here it is:


Yes, work. Work has been the answer to every problem in my life. It has been lead domino that has led to every success I’ve experienced. It is the common thread between those who succeed in the real world and those who fail.

There’s a lot more to it than you think. I’m not talking about putting in more hours in order to get more done. I’m not saying you should prioritize your work over other important things in life like relationships and play. I’m not telling you that getting a second job will solve your problems magically. It’s much deeper than that.

Call it self-initiated motion, call it taking action, call it being proactive, call it stepping in the driver’s seat of your life–I call it work.

It is the thing that all successful people have in common. They put themselves into motion decisively. They aren’t always sure where it will lead, but they think, decide, and act quickly. They don’t mull over what else they could be doing, and they don’t let wait around and wonder what will happen or what could happen. They accept the uncertainty of their circumstances, and they get to work.

I’ve talked to a lot of successful dropouts. None of them are prepared. None of them feel as if they have all the knowledge and experience necessary to do the things they want to do. Instead of trying to get to that point, they just get started, trusting they will learn as they go.

They all have a sense of self-confidence balanced out by a sense of rationality. They know they’re under-prepared. They don’t pretend like they know what they’re doing when they’re starting something new. They trust their ability, not to know exactly what to do beforehand, but to figure it out in the moment. They aren’t afraid of putting themselves on the spot.

This doesn’t strictly apply to careers. It applies to relationships, free-time, hobbies, and everything else in your life. If you want something, put the work into make it happen. Nobody else will do it for you.

P.S. I’m writing a book this summer. Click here to join the pre-launch list.