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Invest Now, Experience Returns Later

Ian Smith December 30, 2014

No. I am not talking about your financial portfolio or your financial literacy. I am not talking about index funds, mutual funds, hedge funds or your Roth IRA.

If you were expecting a quick rundown on how to properly invest your earnings for future wealth, welp, I’m sorry….but you are SOL.

What I am talking about is far more important…

I am about to reveal to you the meaning of Life….

HA. Kidding. But I digress…

Rather than just telling the purpose of this post I would rather illustrate it with a story from my lovely past, because everyone loves stories…right? Here we go!:

I was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Yes, that means I love the Bengals and the Reds 🙂 )

My father was a chemical engineer and my mother was a teacher. Both of them raised me to always be a person of integrity and a hard worker.

At the age of 13 my father set me up with my first job as a paper boy…figuring this would teach me what it means to be a hard worker. There were around 75 houses in my route that I was responsible for. My job was simple: once a week I would deliver a paper to each house that was highlighted on the route map and at the end of the month I would walk door-to-door and collect the money that was owed to me, which back then was only $2.50.

I would then go back to my house and dump out all the money in my pockets onto the kitchen table. Out of each house I collected from I was allowed to keep $1.25.

I followed this same process for a while until I started getting tired of $40 something per month. I wanted more which meant I needed to convince more houses in my route to start buying the paper.

Upon looking at my route map I realized that more than half of the houses had a Black X over them meaning they didn’t want to receive the paper anymore. This left me very perplexed as I loved reading the paper!…or at least looking at the pictures as I was only 13.

I kept thinking…..and thinking….and thinking….of ways I could solve this problem.


It finally came to me…if I wanted to get more houses to buy the paper, I would have to show the “Black X” houses how great the paper actually was. Turns out….around the time I had this idea, the local high school football team had made the state playoffs.

What a great opportunity! I would give the paper to all of the “Black X” houses with a note inside saying “FOR FREE! -Ian” so everyone in my route could see how the local football team was progressing in the playoffs. This way they would see how great the paper really was and maybe….just maybe…change their minds and start buying the paper in the future.

So that is exactly what I did…for 4 weeks I delivered papers with hand-written notes inside them to all of the “Black X” houses. I ended up losing money that month.

However, on the 5th week, the 1st week of the next month, something magical happened. I’ll never forget it.


Our corded home-phone (yes those actually existed at one point) would not stop ringing! All of the houses who I had paid for to get the paper for free kept calling, asking me to sign them back up to receive the paper!!

What an awesome lesson I learned that week. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]If you want to experience returns you first have to invest…[/inlinetweet]

Your most valuable commodity is your life. We each have a limited amount of time on this earth…invest your time in activities that matter.


Every startup founder in the world has their own story of how they worked 20 hour days for weeks on end…how their diet turned into Monster energy drinks and pretzel sticks….how they sat staring at a computer screen until they started drooling down their chin…

These are the facts. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]If you want to be successful in business, in industry or as an entrepreneur you MUST force yourself to begin investing your time[/inlinetweet]…because you simply can’t get it back.

Here is my top 5 list of items you should be begin investing your time in for the 20 and 30 somethings:

(in no specific order)

1. Reading

I used to hate reading books. Sitting in one place for multiple hours only to flip one page after the other terrified me. However, after giving it another try I can honestly say reading is one of the most valuable habits to get into. Imagine sitting at the dinner table with potential future employees who are experts in their field…everyone begins talking about macroeconomics and socialism vs. capitalism. You sit there in silence for 30 minutes because you honestly don’t know what the hell everyone is talking about. Believe it or not, this can have a major effect on your image and whether they decide to leave their jobs to work for you. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] Know a little about a lot and you’ll do just fine.[/inlinetweet]


2. Relationships

This goes hand-in-hand with expanding your network. The vast majority of jobs are actually found through personal relationships…not through submitting your resume online or placing it in your University’s Career Services dropbox.


3. Education

For the love of God…stop playing video games 6 hours/day and begin educating yourself. Start teaching yourself and increase your skill-set and I promise you that you will look back and wish you had started earlier. Learn photography, Adobe Photoshop, what goes into creating a website, how to solve a Rubik’s cube…..the list goes on forever. And the beautiful thing is all of this can be found by a simple Google Search.


4. Financial Literacy

This is always a tough one. Simply put: everything in life costs money. In order to maintain solid financial status you must develop a strategy for handling your income and your expenses. Know what your monthly expenses are, know what you spend money on, create a budget spreadsheet…if you are looking for a place to start I always love recommending Rich Dad, Poor Dad.


5. Experiencing the World

Guess what?! There are 196 countries and over 4,000 religions in the world we live in. Experience as many of them as you can. There is a world out there beyond the comfort of your bed.

A few others that are well worth your time include:

  • Mental Health

  • Discovering your Passion

  • Being Physically Fit

  • Forming Good Habits


At the end of the day…It comes down to a choice.

Choose to sit on your couch with a bag of Jalepeno Cheddar Cheetos watching seasons 1-3 of Game of Thrones or get out there and begin experiencing life, begin creating and begin investing your time in activities that will pay dividends in the future.

If you are still reading I assume I have at least said something that resonates with you. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Don’t shove that drive and energy you feel now into a box…harness it and let it fuel you.[/inlinetweet]

“It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.”

-Steve Jobs

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