To sum up my life in one sentence, I went from being a troubled missionary and pastor’s kid to a struggling entrepreneur to a happily married man and eventually a highly successful entrepreneur, investor, and startup expert.
I grew up in Brazil as a son of missionary parents. From an early age, my greatest interest was in establishing my own business. My earliest success, however, was as an athlete, which eventually led to my swimming at Ohio State University on one of the country’s best swim teams.
My entrepreneurial aspirations having always been a driving force, I decided that focusing on business was a better use of my time than spending more than 30 hours per week training on the college swim team. At 19, I decided to go back to my high school business and grow it as a full-time venture. So, I launched a new business. The startup grew very quickly. In fact, my vision and sales far outpaced my financial and staff resources as well as my operational processes. Out of pure incompetence, by the time I turned 21 years old, I went bankrupt.
This was a difficult time in my life because it was my first real failure and I had no clue what I was doing. But this failure and real-world experience ended up inspiring me to push myself even harder toward entrepreneurial success.
I returned to college under improved circumstances. This time, I was captain of a smaller division 2 school swim team and was given free tuition as I earned both a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA. During this time, I launched a new business in the same field with a different business model, and did remarkably well as a college student. One summer alone, I earned over $50,000. Not bad for a college student’s summer job.
Major Changes in Life
However, my interests expanded, which led to selling that college business and getting married to an amazing woman when I was 23. Fresh with an MBA, I thought this time would be much easier. But the reality was that the next decade would be marked as an entrepreneurial roller coaster with big successes and big failures while becoming a dad to six wonderful kids.
In every industry that I launched a startup in, I have experienced major success. In most cases, however, I first experienced failure and disappointment. But fortunately, like my first business, I made many needed adjustments and tried again. For example:
- Before I launched Success Magazine and eventually got it sold for millions of dollars, I had a different magazine that ultimately failed.
- My first 20 deals either lost money or didn’t make anything before I began making many millions in real estate.
- Before I made millions in venture capital, I lost millions of dollars in one of my first deals.
Do you see the pattern? It took me a while to see it.
The pattern in my life has been consistent—don’t give up just because you failed. My motto quickly became: “If at first you don’t succeed; you may want to try again” because that’s where success is at!
The lessons learned from difficult experiences are much more valuable than any lesson in a classroom or lessons learned from successful experiences. It not only gives you great insight into business models, people, etc., it molds your core and your character. It refines you as an individual.
Learning lessons by trials.
It is in these difficult trials that this scripture became my scripture:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:2-5).
There are some lessons that can only be learned by “trials”, as well as being humble enough to ask God for wisdom, which is usually a result of those trials. But as an entrepreneur, none of those lessons are ever turned into fruit if someone gives up.
Sometimes you are just one move away from a major failure or a major success. Good or bad, this is a real reality for most entrepreneurs. And eventually, I started to hit my stride and hitting some home runs, even grand slams as an entrepreneur and investor.
After one of my biggest failures, I went back to school to get my PhD so I could study entrepreneurial leadership and entrepreneurial success factors in a much deeper way.
I was fascinated with the key issues that lead to failure and the ones that ultimately lead to success. I guess you can say, that’s my obsession and although I now have my PhD in entrepreneurial leadership, I continue to lead research efforts in our never ending quest to understand the entrepreneur, entrepreneurial process, and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
My real professional passion.
Now my time is focused on building GoodField Investments, an organized way to manage my own resources, while investing in new entrepreneurial ventures.
However, my real professional passion is the work I do with the GoodField Foundation, which is my Ministry Investments group focused on entrepreneurial research, education, and funding high impact entrepreneurial ministries. Most of the same lessons that can be learned from studying entrepreneurial success factors, can be applied to new entrepreneurial ministries that will someday change the world.
In terms of the future, you never know where God will lead you, but as for me, I will continue to do my work and research with GoodField while eating, sleeping, and breathing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ministry. I hope to continue to help as many people learn and succeed from my personal experience, my research, and my capital.
But my most important focus is and will continue to be on my family, and helping mold my children into the people that God has called them to be, but also just enjoying life with them.
– 8,000+ microloans funded
– 100+ deals and 10,000,000+ sq. ft. in real estate
– 20+ startups funded
– 200+ jobs created
– Bachelor’s, MBA, and PhD