A Crazy (Yet Common) Trait of Many Wildly Successful Internet Entrepreneurs
If you’re at all like me, you are constantly observing people around you (especially those who you admire), and you’re always wondering what makes them tick. Success is everywhere, and it’s made up of so many different factors that it’s nearly impossible to create a sure-fire path to success. Luck, determination, intelligence, and subject matter all play an important role, and the importance of each individual factor varies from person to person and situation to situation.
One thing I noticed that seems to be present in many examples of success (in particular, with internet entrepreneurs), is that their success was born out of some kind of chaotic situation: they were laid off from work (or fired), they were faced with unexpected, life-changing events (new child, death in the family, etc.), or were otherwise up against extreme conditions or several instances of failure. In these examples of success, the individual in the “chaotic situation” emerged from it stronger and better equipped for success.
An examination of this seemingly common trait brings me to this question – Can “forced chaos” lead to success?
Some Real Life Examples / Case Studies
I think it makes sense to look at some real life examples, in case you’re thinking “What the heck is Eric talking about?” These are bloggers/internet entrepreneurs who I follow, and their stories have made an impression on me.
1) Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income
You may be living under a rock if you haven’t seen or heard Flynn on his blog, YouTube videos, or iTunes podcast. The man is everywhere, and for good reason – his content is exceptional, and he does it all in a charismatic way.
- Chaotic Moment: In October of 2008, Pat was laid off from his job at an architect firm.
- The Rebound: Fortunately for Pat, he was already earning a decent amount of income from his Green Exam Academy eBook (in the month he was laid off, he made close to $8,000 online). Although Pat calls the layoff “one of the best things that ever happened to [him],” his readers will probably agree that it is also one of the best things that ever happened to them. Now, Pat regularly makes between $10,000-30,000 per month from passive income sources online.
- Bottom Line: Pat had all of the characteristics necessary to crush it as an internet entrepreneur, but was simply limited by his time (consumed by his “9 to 5” job). Once he dealt with the chaotic moment of being laid off, he was free to work toward his real potential.
2) Chris Guthrie from Make Money on the Internet
Chris also plays in the online passive income game, but earns his income primary with niche sites that utilize Amazon’s affiliate program. He recently released Niche Profit Course to explain how he’s made over $64,000 as an Amazon affiliate (I’ve actually purchased this product because I believe in what Chris does, but I haven’t gotten through it yet to the point where I can officially review it).
- Chaotic Moment: In October of 2009 (is October the preferred month for layoffs?), Chris was laid off from his job as an IT sales professional.
- The Rebound: Chris was already into building money making websites before he was laid off, but it’s no surprise that his best earning month in 2009 came after he was laid off – in December, he earned over $13,000 (okay, part of this was due to the holiday season, which is the best time for Amazon affiliates). In addition to having more time after being laid off, he attributes a lot of his success to the Xbox game Halo (you’ll have to read his blog to find out why). Now, Chris is a six-figure internet entreprenuer, and his growth will undoubtedly continue.
- Bottom Line: Similar to Pat, Chris already had the groundwork laid for a successful career online. All it took was a little bit of chaos to push him into it full time, where he now is seeing massive success.
3) Jeremy Schoemaker from ShoeMoney.com
Jeremy is a big time affiliate marketer who has been in the game for several years now, and he does everything at a larger scale than most affiliate marketers. He also launched AuctionAds, an eBay affiliate marketing service, which was later purchased by a marketing company. He’s a big player in the “make money online” niche, and can be found attending and speaking at many of the top blogger/internet marketing events and conventions. “Successful” is probably an understatement.
- Chaotic Moment: Prior to his great success with ShoeMoney.com, Schoemaker was a website creator victimized by the dotcom crash in the early 2000’s. To quote Shoemaker on this chaotic point in his life:
“I spent every last dime to pay web hosting bills, and to the real world I headed working for different banks and big corporations. It never ended well and I was fired from every job. At the age of 28, I found myself overweight (about 420 lbs.), $50k in debt, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and sleeping on my friend’s couch.”
- The Rebound: Shoemaker rebounded in a huge way. He attributes his rebound to his wife, and in 2003, he started his own business and started blogging on ShoeMoney.com, which now receives over 30,000 visitors per day. He has since earned more than a million dollars online, and one of his famous moments was receiving a Google Adsense check for over $130,000 in 2005.
- Bottom Line: Despite his skills, his lack of motivation and the existing poor economic climate caused him to fall into a deep hole. All it took was some motivation and he found his way to extreme success, and is now arguably a big internet celebrity.
An Important Side Note
Although the above examples of successful people (and many other examples that I’m not discussing here) fit the “chaos to success” mold, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many more people who face chaotic life situations and it puts them deeper into a hole, often in a devastating way. It’s clear that chaos on its own is not a cause of success – these people who have found success after chaos also possessed other important qualities (passion, dedication, intelligence, etc.). Without these other qualities, chaos is mostly a detrimental factor.
The Idea of “Forced Chaos”
Now, let’s get into the primary question of this article. Let’s assume that you (or I) possess most or all of the “important” qualities, but have yet to find true success. Up until now, we’ve been fortunate enough to not get tied up in chaotic situations, or at least, none that are highly significant.
What I’m wondering is, does this chaos have to come naturally, or can you force it and achieve the same result? One example of this would be to quit your day job without any real planning – you obviously wouldn’t do it unless you had some ideas or projects in progress, but you wouldn’t have another job lined up.
After quitting your job somewhat spontaneously, you would be forced into a chaotic situation of sorts where you would need to succeed in order to survive (similar to Pat, Chris, and Jeremy above). Instead of pursuing your side projects simply to “make some extra money,” you would be doing it to pay your rent, mortgage, or to provide for your family. You wouldn’t have anything that employees often take for granted, like health and dental insurance. You would need to pay these expenses out of pocket, or obtain insurance on your own. The stakes are much higher, but so is the motivation. It seems to me that one thing holding us back is our comfort level with our current lifestyle. Sure, you want more money or more free time, but you don’t need it. Is this an essential ingredient for real success (the necessity of succeeding)?
I’m not quite sure. I don’t plan on being a test subject for that question right now, but maybe I will in the future. Even if I were to quit my day job, I would still lean toward getting another job in a field that interests me more, but doesn’t have the rough hour requirements of my current job (and probably wouldn’t pay as well).
Can “forced chaos” lead to success? Or is it simply a mask for reckless behavior? I’m very interested to see what you think, so please comment!
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