- MY BIRTHDAY WISH [OR: Why failure is the most important lesson you will learn on your path to achieving your goal] My 29th birthday was the saddest I've ever had.
Truth be told, I was never the birthday celebration type, but during that challenging year I felt I needed to spend the day with my closest friends. A few months earlier I had broken off my first adult romantic relationship, which up until then had shown signs of being" the real thing". Around the same time, I also resigned from my dream job as a journalist for an Israeli entertainment magazine, which was very well paid and included an annual automatic wage adjustment. I resigned because I felt the creative freedom my editors allowed me was being compromised.
And if that wasn’t enough, the theatrical production of the musical Grease, in which I had a role, was canceled one month before opening night due to the producer's unexpected financial collapse.
Undoubtedly, that much misfortune would have buried even the biggest of dreamers, but that's not where it ended.
The landlord of the apartment I was living in had surprisingly, and without advance notice, cashed the emergency deposit check I'd given him when we signed the lease. He said he had done it to insure himself after he heard that my girlfriend and I had broken up, and that he was scared I'd run off without paying him. Our breakup was also the reason why he terminated our lease and informed me I had thirty days to find a new place to live.
So, to make a long story short, in a short period of time I found myself single, jobless, with nowhere to live and no stable income. Not only was I not making money, I was still paying off old debts and loans amounting to around $45,000. This bleak new reality forced me to find immediate solutions and desperately look for a new job, one that would quickly bring in new income. Not to mention that I had to seriously downgrade my lifestyle.
I moved into a far more humble apartment than the one we previously lived in, and made lifestyle changes wherever I could: I disconnected satellite TV, stopped my subscription with the bottled water company and drank tap water, cut off my internet provider and used the neighbor's Wi-Fi whenever I could, gave up eating out, lived on quinoa and vegetables (it was by far my slimmest year too), and as a treat I budgeted two takeaway coffees per week so as not to feel completely and utterly poor.
On the eve of my 29th birthday I emailed20 of my closest friends, inviting them to a celebratory dinner in my new apartment. The morning of my birthday I went to the supermarket and filled the shopping cart with goodies galore! But when I got to the checkout I had the most humiliating experience: My debit card was declined, and this was after the cashier had scanned all my item and I had bagged them and placed them in the home delivery crates. I took out another debit card while checking the line behind me, hoping no one had noticed this embarrassing incident. But the second debit card was also declined. I wiped the sweat off my fingers and quickly pulled out a third card and with a sheepish smile mumbled something about how it didn’t make sense…the register must be faulty…just yesterday I had no problem paying for a $200 purchase with the exact same card... But sure enough, the third card was declined too. My heart pounded and my whole body was covered in sweat. I clumsily unpacked all the bags and placed the items back in the cart, mumbling to the cashier something about leaving all the groceries there and going to the nearest ATM to get cash out so I could come back and complete the purchase. Both she and I knew I was never coming back. Not just because of how embarrassing the whole incident was, but also because I simply didn’t have the cash to come back with.
I went home feeling desperate and frustrated, and began looking for spare coins around the house. I managed to collect $20 worth of coins towards my impending birthday party, which seemed more gloomy and disastrous as the hours ticked by. Going through my coat closet I found a £100 note in one of the pockets, evoking memories of my trip to London the previous year. On my way to the local grocery store I stopped at the currency exchange booth to convert the pounds into local currency, and with a limited budget and enough culinary creativity to make Martha Stewart proud, I managed to whip up a modest, yet very festive birthday dinner.
The following morning I got a call from my agent: "A production company is looking for writers for a new soap opera. I managed to get you a copy test. They're talking about 120 episodes and potentially a lot of money. I've emailed you notes from the producer. Read them carefully and send me your copy test by 10am tomorrow."
Optimistic and excited, I turned on my computer, and there, on the faded green computer screen (which had been hovering between life and death for months) flickered the note from my agent, which ended with the words: "I trust you! Work your hardest on it because it could open up future opportunities with one of the most esteemed production offices in the industry."
I opened the attachment, read through the guidelines and began pounding out improbable dramatic dialogues I concocted in my head. I was in a writer’s trance, so much so that I didn’t even notice the screen turn yellow, then grey, and suddenly the lines flickered rapidly on the dying monitor, until finally it went completely black. I was so mad I think I cursed it, then begged it, aloud, to come back to life. It didn’t help; nor did punching it, shaking it, disconnecting it, or fiddling with the cables. The screen finally died, taking with it any hope I had for an immediate, profitable TV gig.
I could have knocked on my neighbor's door and asked to use his computer, but I knew I had to work on this copy test for 24 hours straight and couldn't deprive him of his laptop for such a long time. I would have called the bank, as I had done in the past, and asked them to extend my credit limit or provide me with a small loan to buy myself a new laptop. But I gave up on these options knowing that in my current financial situation the bank would decline my request. I was so desperate I rang my agent, explained that my computer had died, together with my writing muse, and that she shouldn't expect from me the awaited copy test.
Back then, I had all kinds of great business ideas such as opening a shop dedicated entirely to the city of Tel Aviv; setting up a website called Show Business that would connect people in the entertainment industry; running a phone service offering parents last-minute babysitting services; and creating a board game for the whole family. But I knew that my financial situation was so rough there was no way I could turn all these ideas into a reality. My perception (which I later on realized was incorrect) was that in order to make dreams or business ideas come true, you need a substantial amount of startup capital. But with no such capital to invest and with a large overdraft I quickly let go of my business plans and I succumbed to the gloomy and dispirited mood that enveloped me with the prickly sensation of a scratchy wool blanket.
That depressing day was the first time I experienced real financial helplessness. Being as depressed as I was, I realized, maybe for the first time in my life, that I had no financial backing whatsoever, and no chance of getting any financial help. I was still fairly young, with a pile of debts and no savings to fall back on. My family didn’t have much money and most of my friends had their own financial concerns to worry about, so I couldn’t ask them for help.
I stood opposite the old mirror in my bathroom, looked right into the eyes of the worn-down man looking back at me, and swore to both of us that this was the last time we'd ever feel this way. I told myself that this moment must never be repeated; that I had to learn from all the financial mistakes I'd made due to my lack of financial knowledge and basic understanding. At that moment, I promised myself that I would learn how to take the entire treasure of business ideas bouncing around my head and turn them into a viable, financial reality.
If you read The List, which also began with a formative experience– my accident and consequent temporary disability that changed my life – you will realize by now that I perceive every failure or setback as an important step on the journey to achieving the next goal. I make sure to embrace my failures and grow from them.
The first decision I took to get back on my feet was to learn the basics of economics and financial management, and as a birthday present I wished myself to turn my list of ideas and business dreams into a fountain of money that would help me to continue dreaming, realize my dreams and live modestly but comfortably, and most of all - independently of employers.
I never wanted money for money’s sake or to become rich and wallow in my assets. I wanted money as a means of continuing to dream my dreams and inevitably turn them into a reality.
Cutting down on my living costs wasn’t an easy task, but it taught me a lot about the importance of being satisfied with less, of appreciating what I have in my life and the joy of creativity and improvisation. It also taught me a fair bit about the significance of money in our lives. But probably the most important lesson I learnt at the time, and which I hope to impart through this book, is the fact that everyone has the right to dream, regardless of their financial circumstances. And that everyone has the ability to turn a good idea into a viable, financially rewarding reality.
It's been ten years since I had that formative financial experience, and I am now nearing 39. I am writing these words in a luxurious Berlin hotel room, on a top-of-the-range, expensive laptop with a removable screen that also functions as a tablet. Ten years after my forced period of austerity which was later followed by a financial crash, I can definitely say I am having a successful year, and not just financial success, but success resulting from the fact that my life looks exactly how I've always wanted it to look. I earn a living doing only what I love doing, and I do it my way. I've learnt how to turn good ideas into a reality (every day I give some thought to The List idea and how to continuously improve it). And I make a living by giving ideas to others in one-on-one meetings or through annual guidance plans.
When people ask me today: "What do you do for a living?" I reply, half smilingly, "I work at making my dreams come true."
There are small dreams (what some people call ‘chores’), such as downloading photos from my Smartphone, redecorating my bedroom; big dreams, such as turning The List into an international company offering a variety of products and services for self-fulfillment and accomplishment; creative dreams, such as writing the book you are now reading, writing a play or a on a one-man show that will go out to the world two years down the line; A legitimate dream may also be simply deciding to take a "day off" each month to spend with friends and loved ones– only I don’t need to ask anyone's permission to do that.
"A man is successful if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do," said Bob Dylan, and I, of course, completely agree. But it was a decade-long process until I reached the day I could wholeheartedly say that I don’t compromise on how I make my living.
Yes, I still definitely remember the sense of helplessness I felt when I had the dream of setting up a design shop entirely dedicated to the city of Tel Aviv and Israel. I was so lost: How do you set up a store? Where do you buy the merchandise? How much money do you need? Where do I get funding for it? How do I manage my suppliers? And above all, how do I put together all the pieces of this puzzle? I knew I had a great idea, but I had so many questions and no answers.
Dreams are like apps. They can always be updated, and are not limited in age, ideas or challenges.
Sure enough, there will be bumps along the way, you will make mistakes, even major ones; you will fall, get up, keep walking, fall again, walk a little faster. Just keep moving forward, and start doing, today. Now.
This book was born out of thousands of conversations with dreamers who had brilliant ideas, wanted to turn them into a reality but didn't know how; business owners in strife, wishing to turn things around; people who were fired from their jobs due to cutbacks, lack of appreciation from their bosses or the ageism that has taken over the world; people who simply wanted to be their own boss without selling their talent and energy to someone else, without having to ask for days off or provide sick leave certificates; to make their own decisions and control their own lives.
First off, this book will present you with more questions than answers. Some of the answers you will find later on in the book, and some you will have to search for yourselves on your journey of The Idea. It's time to get off the couch and turn your idea into a reality.
It's time to realize that your idea will not turn it into a startup by just shouting it out.
In order for something to happen, in order to turn your idea into a reality, you need to take action.
READY? SET? GO!Personally, money was never a consideration or a motivation when choosing a professional role or project; it was a means to get closer to my dreams and aspirations. I am not a billionaire, but I can proudly say I burst through the financial glass ceiling as well as my own personal "fear ceiling", and learnt how to make money off my dreams.
Since my quinoa and carrot days, I have set up the Made in TLV design shop at the new railway precinct in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, and immediately after that I opened Magnetic, a designer magnet shop on one of Tel Aviv's most popular streets. I also set up a writing school three years ago, which to date has 250 graduates (half of whom are directly or indirectly making a living as writers. I recently let the school go to make room for new ideas I have, and also so I could teach creative writing at home, in my free time. When we realize ideas we also need to know when it's time to kiss the cocoon-turned-butterfly goodbye and move on). I'm a silent partner in a few ventures and the owner of a multi-branch business called The List (this book is another step in its development).
I didn’t set up any of these businesses thinking of ways to make money. I set them up because I had a real desire to see them get off the ground. It's always the idea, the business venture, the product and the dreams that set me in motion and push me forward. And yet, I admit that as I got older, I became a family man and a dreamer who loves turning his private lists into a reality. I've learnt the importance of financial freedom and its contribution to helping me realize more and more dreams, both my own and those of my partners.
The List journey I embarked on five years ago exposes me on a daily basis – via the lectures I give, the workshops I conduct and the emails I receive – to tens of thousands of lists written in almost every language. Some of the lists include very original dreams (learn how to do the splits at the age of 30, draw a full-length animation film, set up a hostel in Thailand), but the three most common dreams all over the world and at all ages are:"to be slim", "to find a loving relationship" and "to set up a business".
In order to be slim we need to eat wisely (in my experience food lists are a great tool for a healthy diet), join a gym or run along the beach. In order to find love we need to go on dates and create opportunities that will bring us closer to the person that's right for us. And in order to turn a business idea into a reality, we need to invest a lot of money. That, at least, is what most dreamers think, right? Well, I've got news for you: Creativity, prowess, thorough research, connections, advice from experienced people in the field and a lot of faith are what you need to turn your business idea into a reality even when your pockets aren't filled with cash.
It's true, anyone setting up a new business needs to have an initial lump sum to start off, but contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be an astronomical five figure number. You can set up a business with as little as a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, depending on the type of business you wish to set up. Another misconception is that anyone opening a business has a rich dad. That is not the case, and if you ask me, I think most business owners have a poor dad, not a rich one.
Real sums of money can also be loaned from the bank, friends, relatives or via crowd-funding campaigns which are very accessible online these days. Publishing this book was made possible thanks to hundreds of readers who pre-purchased a copy within 45 days, yielding an advance check of about $65,000 with which I produced the best book possible.
You can also find creative, low-cost and even free marketing and advertising solutions. For example, I advertised my previous book with very little money, but it still made it to the Israeli best-sellers list.
The process of setting up the shops was also something I got better at over the years; the expenditure gap between the first shop and the third was considerable and amounted to more than a 90% saving from the budget! I will openly share the numbers and processes with you later on in the book.
Actually, why wait? Here's a true story about the way in which stakeholders want us to believe the system works, and why it's best for us to rid ourselves of these false, limiting thought patterns.
Isn’t it true we all think that setting up a business demands tens of thousands of dollars? Why do we think that's the case? Because this is what 'they' want us to think. Who are 'they'? You're about to find out.
For years, every time I read an article in a financial magazine about the opening of a new designer shop or a new expensive restaurant, I felt so utterly frustrated at the impressive, if not astronomical numbers mentioned in the article. "$100,000 invested in opening a new clothes shop", "restaurant chain opened on a $1,000,000 investment", and other dramatic headings. I felt, like many others, a sense of frustration and helplessness.
Like many others, I also heard over the years about the work of "angels" (investment angels, who invest money into a project they believe in, against a portion of the profits), "sharks" (they are definitely generous investors, but they sure know how to bite back at the profits), investors, partners and raising money from funds, scholarships and grants. But I've never been able to find any concrete evidence of their existence, nor did I know how to trace the people or the money sources behind them in order to finance my dreams.
Every time I read such an article I thought to myself: "There's no way in the world I'll be able to raise such huge sums of money to set up my new shop."
You know what I found out over the years? Many of these financial headlines and news articles are intentionally fabricated or exaggerated in order to give the people behind them the image of being successful.
Over time, when I set up my second Made in TLV shop in the old city of Jaffa (which I closed after a year due to a bad location choice), I hired the services of a PR woman who was very experienced in dealing with companies with an annual turnover of millions of dollars. I asked her to issue a statement to financial media outlets that I had opened a second shop, and overnight, I became the owner of a chain of designer shops. Before she issued the statement, we sat down to meet and get to know each other, I laid out my business plan for my chain store, and gave her additional financial data that would help her in writing the press release. Two days later she sent me back the first draft of the press release with the headline: "Made in TLV has opened a second shop with an investment of $140,000 and is due to open three more shops this year".
I gazed at the document, and didn’t quite know how to respond.
I immediately rang the PR woman. "You've got it wrong! My investment in the second shop was only $ 28,000, which is, by the way, a huge saving compared to the first shop I set up, which cost me $70,000, which I loaned from the bank in full.
I learn from experience how to cut down the setup costs, and it's important to me that people like me, who have no background in business or finance will know that setting up a business in reasonable amounts of money is a feasible, doable thing."
"Don't you get it?" she laughed at the other end of the line, "This is how it works for everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e inflates the costs. You really believe that setting up a restaurant costs $28,000? You truly think that a model gets $100,000 for a two-day shooting? She's lucky to get $20,000, and even then it's when she's really super famous. It's a matter of branding. When you advertise big numbers it impresses the clients, positions you next to other successful businesses and mainly brands you as a success, as a winner."
"But it's a complete lie," I replied, rejected her scholarly explanation. "And most importantly, it makes people who wish to set up a small business think of it as a mission impossible. I'm proud of having set up my business at a reasonable cost, and I'd like everyone to know that."
The PR woman explained this was not how she worked, and I explained it wasn’t how I work either. At that point, our professional ways parted and at any interview I got by directly approaching media journalists I found on Facebook, I made sure to proudly share how I had set up the business at a very reasonable cost. My third shop by the way, I set up at an even lower cost.
Let me share a secret with you: I have a shop that looks amazing, but its set up cost was only $7,000 due to the fact it was made out of hard cardboard. I have a colorful shop thanks to its range of designed products and merchandise, and it is environmentally sound since the furniture is made of recycled materials. This little trick, as well as other tricks I will reveal in the book, I learned while on the go.
And it's also one of the main reasons for writing this book.
The Idea isn’t just a book that focuses on taking professional, business oriented dreams and turning them into a reality– it also a necessary follow up for anyone wanting to continue and promote their dreams, ideas and lists as they’ve been crystallized while working with The List.
But most of all, The Idea will expose you to the truth about the business world, that plain, simple truth that big businesses don’t want us to know. Why? Maybe they just don’t want more competitors.2. THE IDEA BEHIND THE IDEA [OR: why this book isn’t about money, but could improve your financial status] While writing this book I discussed its contents and essence with a few close friends. I explained the idea behind the book: "I want to teach people how to turn their unique ideas and professional dreams into a new reality, without needing large sums of money"; "I want to help people make money, with they, in turn, could turn into more money"; "I want to help people stop being afraid of talking about money".
One of my friends, a busy, wealthy achiever of his own dreams warned me the book is heading in the wrong direction: "Don't mention the word 'money'; it's a scary, dirty, aversive word" he exclaimed.
"This is exactly why I'm writing this book! Because I want to be able to talk about money in an open, honest way" I said.
"The magic of The List”, he continued, "was that you simply said that everyone has the right to dream, regardless of their age or profession".
"Which is exactly what I want to say in this book too", I continued, "I want to say that anyone, regardless of their liquid cash or bank credit rating has the right to take their brilliant idea and turn it into a prosperous business".
My friend looked at me somewhat bewildered, and I decided to leave the conversation there. We agreed to disagree on the money issue.
Another friend, who is also a business partner, warned me about creating the false impression that setting up a business is easy, and lead those who are inexperienced straight into trouble, not to mention financial debts.
"Not everyone is ready to be a business owner, or turn a good idea into financially viable income source" he said. I immediately logged onto Facebook - the most reliable focus group I know and asked my friends: "Can anyone turn an idea into a reality? Be a business owner? Sleep at night even when the business is rickety and the bank is calling to say they're reducing the business's credit limit?"
The pessimistic answers were quick to come. "Not everyone is ready for it, especially not in Israel".
"If you don't have financial backing, there's no chance you'll be able to turn an idea into a reality".
"Generally speaking, no. But it has a lot to do with your one’s will power and desire to grow and learn".
"Only people who can handle pressure can become business owners".
"No! You need a supportive partner whom you can rely on mentally and financially".Wow. Why are people so quick to give up? Why do so many of us wallow in our own pessimism and limiting beliefs?
It's tough going through life with the [fundamentally wrong] belief that we can't do the things we want to do, or not have the power to change and create change. If a man who weighs 350p can lose weight and become a muscle man; if a fifty year old woman can give birth to two healthy babies thanks to the wonders of western medicine; and if anyone can purchase a PHD without having any prior knowledge in the field – why not learn how to turn a good idea into liquid cash?
"When there is a will there's a way" says the old proverb, and I want to throw in my own addition: "When there is no will, even a good idea won’t help you".
So no, I have no interest in sending anyone into deep financial debts or make anyone jump recklessly straight into the business world and crash, but I do wish to teach you how to swim like true professionals and cross the river successfully. Actually, why just the river? Why not the big wide ocean?!
Why? Simply because it's possible. Simply because you can!
True, it's not going to be easy. A thorough preparation work is needed; you will need to research your chosen professional field, as well as practice swimming against the stream and not getting caught up in it. You may find yourself drowning, swallowing water or gasping for air; at times sharks may come your way and rip you to pieces (as happened to me when I tried to set up a social network aimed at culturally minded users, only failed to take seriously an already existing social network called Facebook, ingesting every potential opponent in sight).
But at the end of the day it's going to feel so great reaching the other side of the river, standing on solid ground, looking back at the journey you've taken, looking ahead at the road not taken yet, knowing you’ve made it. You went after your dream and reached your destination.
A moment before we jump in the water, this is a good time to remind you that everything you read in this book is written based on my personal experience, and the experience of all the dreamers who agreed to share their journey, and should be treated as suggestions only. I warmly recommend seeking the help of professionals who will guide you through your journey and help you make the right decisions for you, as you journey towards achieving your goal.
WE ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY, WITH THE FIRST FOUR LISTS YOU NEED TO FILL OUT.EXERCISE
Open your Smartphone contacts list; take a look at your email contacts list; scan your friends' lists on each social network profile you have and fill out the following blank pagesFriends who are experienced with running a business, who could help turn my idea into a realityA list of creative, brilliant people I have in my lifePositive, optimistic people I know and can consult withFamous people whose work and achievements I respect and would like to meetAt the end of one of my lectures someone approached me and asked to bring to my attention the fact that I am encouraging people to live the 'American Dream'. Since I live in the humid, scorching Middle East I didn’t quite understand what American dream I was promoting.
"Well, you know… You are encouraging people to succeed. What's wrong with living humbly? The way they do in South East Asia?" he pushed.
"I never encouraged anyone to succeed in order to become a rich man, nor did I lure anyone into bragging about their wealth to their friends and family. I encourage people to fulfill their dreams, whatever they are: big or small, spiritual or material. We don’t all dream of meeting a Hollywood star like I did, and not all of us dream of opening up a business. Success is a personal matter and the actual act of fulfilling the dream - that in itself is success".
So let's make it clear once and for all: this book isn't about how to become a millionaire [the market is full of such books, written by tycoons who know the answers far better than I do].
This book is about how to turn a dream into a reality, and how to actualize our ideas.
This book is talking about using existing funds, about taking small risks [or big ones], fundraising or finding available funding sources that will help you turn your dreams into a reality.
A reality that could yield an extra income for you, allow you to reinvest in your dream and help it grow bigger, then yield a bigger, steadier income, and eventually lead you, step by step, towards financial prosperity.
This book offers creative tools to help turn your idea into reality.
Speaking of turning ideas into reality, I am often asked: "Why did you rush ahead and realized another one of your dreams? What's the hurry? Why aren’t you taking a break?"
My answer is short and simple - and often frustrating for the person asking - "Because I believe it's a waste of time not to turn a good idea into reality, and think It's a shame to go through life feeling like you're missing out on good opportunities. I don't like doing anything by halves".Ideas are a bit like babies – they are born small, undeveloped and formless. They exist as a kind of promise, not as a ripe result.Innovative Senior Managers don’t dismiss an idea as being "stupid". Instead they ask: 'What needs to happen in order to turn this embryonic, half-baked, silly idea into a reasonable, viable opportunity for us?’
Peter Druker, an Austrian philosopher.Now, let's do a little exercise together.
When you're alone, where no one can hear you, do you dare say to yourselves you have a little dream of having enough money to live life without constantly worrying about it? That you must find a way to finance the development an idea you've got lying around in the back of your mind for quite a few years now?
So why is it that only so few of us dare shout out their dreams aloud, in front of other people?
How do I know? Here's an interesting pattern I noticed during my work with The List method in the past few years: apart from one or two people, I never came across someone who dared saying "I want to make money", or, God forbid, "I want to be a millionaire". As if dreaming about bags full of money which allow a certain freedom of thought that's hard to achieve when we busy ourselves with survival alone; or cases filled with banknotes laid in neat piles, which can come in handy when setting up a new business – counts as despicable, obscene and even corrupt.
Often, at the end of a lecture when the box office staff comes to pay me my for a lecture, they take me to a quiet, far corner whilst quietly slipping me an envelope with a cheque in it as if was stolen merchandise. I remember a similar thing happened in my childhood too; my beloved grandmother Sophia, who was a great dreamer in her own right, used to take me to her bedroom and carefully plant, without my grandfather seeing, a humble $5 note in my pocket, as if a serious crime had just taken place.
In one of The List 10-people dinners I held at home I had the pleasure of hosting Robert Shemin, an American real-estate mentor and author of the international best seller "How Come That Idiot's Rich and I'm Not?". Every participant paid a good amount of money for the chance to eat and talk dreams and ideas with Shemin and me over five hours, in which we tried helping the group realize their ideas and turn them into a reality.
On the introductory round one of the participants said loud and clear and with great pride: "I'm a millionaire, I want to be a multi millionaire and I will be a multi millionaire". When you read this sentence out of context it may sound awfully greedy, arrogant and presumptuous, but hearing him say it with the honesty and excitement of a young child, and a huge grin on his face, is a totally different story. We believed him got excited with him, and after hearing his story we also laughed, applauded him and were as every bit excited as he was. None of us doubted that Boaz Pamson, the brilliant locksmith from Jerusalem will be a multi millionaire. Not because of his field of expertise but mainly because of the flame in his eyes, his devotion to his mission and the great sense of fulfillment he derives from his work.
His story is filled with inspiration, originality and courage, and I wish to share it with you, as told by Boaz himself:
After many years in which I tried to realize my business dreams but failed to become a successful businessman, I was branded by everyone as being a "serial failure". I opened a restaurant and crashed; developed an app no one wanted to use; opened a bike shop which closed after I'd gone into serious debts; went into another business as a partner and failed there too; and eventually bought a small, failing bike shop for which I paid a meager amount in postdated cheques, in the hope of recovering it and turning it into a viable income source.
There was an old key cutting machine there. When I asked the previous business owner why it was there, in a bike shop, he said they were looking to increase their income so they could pay rent. They noticed no one offered a key-cutting service in the neighborhood and decided they would, for $1.5 per cut.
Little did I know back then, that this rickety old machine was about to turn my life upside down.
I began running the small bike shop [a mere 19sqm] and yes, every now and then customers came in to get a key cut. The profit I made from it was so small it was almost meaningless.
One day a customer came in asking to cut a security smart-lock key, which couldn’t be cut in a regular machine. Since there were quite a few people who needed their smart-key cut, I ordered a more advanced machine that could cut those too. That's when my key-cut machines collection started, which eventually included machines for cutting car keys, remote controls and even safes.
As soon as I brought in the shiny new machines I was immediately overtaken by that familiar fear of going into huge debts. My instincts told me I was on the way towards my next business failure, and once I fall again, there would be no way out. While contemplating possible ways of departing this world, an idea sprung to mind: I already know quite a bit about key-cutting. Why don’t I open a key-cutting course and pass the knowledge on? Every client that comes into the shop is a potential course participant; a course in which participants learn to become professional locksmiths while I make a little bit of extra cash.
I took a cardboard and wrote on it "Here you can learn how to become a professional locksmith". The ramshackle, fading little sign attracted eight interested customers that year. I slightly upgraded my financial situation but was far from covering the ever-growing debts I was in.
After two years of running the course I mustered up a bit of courage and put an ad in the paper: "Learn how to become a professional locksmith" was how I drafted the newspaper advertisement. Sixty people made an inquiry about it. But the truly amazing figure was that none of them had eventually decided to enroll in the course. Again, I proved to myself I was a total marketing failure. Clearly there was a demand for such a course, after all sixty people rang and inquired about it, but it made me realize there was something wrong in the way I was going about offering my services. In the meantime I took another bank loan to help me get by, and decided to ring each and every person who inquired about the course. Not to convince them to do the course, but to set a meeting with them and hear from there where I may have gone wrong.
"Hello, this is Boaz Pamson who advertised the ad in the paper about a locksmiths course. You inquired about it but decided not to enroll in it. In fact, I haven’t been able to get anyone to enroll in it, so I would love it if you agreed to meet me at your home for a consultation on how to better advertise myself next time and make the course lucrative, as I am financially broke and need help".
Each and every person who approached me about the course responded positively to my request to meet up. I was completely shocked and overwhelmed by it. It took me two full months to meet up with everyone, but by the end of the that period I had a clear picture of what I did wrong: they all said $10,000 was too expensive for such a course; that the fact the course is taking place in Jerusalem makes it difficult for people who need to get to it from all across Israel; the course duration also deterred many of the prospective participants. Three months was just too much time to learn how to become a locksmith. But at the end of this process I felt I had the keys to success in my hands [pun intended!].
First, I realized I had to offer the course online instead of asking people who are already struggling financially to make time to get to classes in Jerusalem.
I realized the secret to success was to make it possible for anyone to study in their own free time. It also means I’d potentially have an infinite number of students, and not have to get to classes myself either!
I also realized the price was far too high. Indeed, I built a one-on-one course format, over several months, which bumped up the price significantly [considering the wear and tear of the locks, refreshments etc], but I then realized the most I could realistically ask for this kind of course is $1,500.
The next stage was to upload the online Locksmiths' Course onto my website.
Since I couldn’t afford losing any more money, I decided that all I could invest in this project is $9 - the price of the cable I bought to connect my Smartphone to my computer. I held the Smartphone in filming position using a small pair of clams which constituted a tripod, and began filming myself explaining the art of a blacksmith's job. I continued building this online blacksmiths course for a whole year. After watching the footage I had videoed I decided it was better to shoot it professionally. I hired a wedding photographer who did it for $3,000, which I had paid in many installments and postdated cheques. I uploaded the videos online, opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion and the innovative, groundbreaking and high quality product I had just created.
For the first four months I hadn't received one single response. Not one person in the world wanted to buy my course and so I was sure I'd gotten it completely wrong. Again. What the hell was I doing wrong?
In an act of desperation I decided to hire a marketing consultant and approached Balance Point advertising agency in Ra'anana. I asked the CEO "Why can't I sell my course?"
With his assuring voice he explained that even though I am selling people the hope of vocational retraining, becoming locksmiths and making a respectable living, I first need to make sure people see the videos on my websites, and they will only be able to see the videos if they go into my website. He advised me not to advertise online, and so I did; instead I advertised on a local Jerusalem radio station, which brought in forty potential clients.
I personally spoke with anyone who was interested in the course, and explained what I was offering. From their responses I learnt what else I could improve in my course. For example someone asked "Isn't there a lesson about safes?" That same day I rang the photographer I'd worked with and we added a video about safes.
"Do you have a police certificate authorizing you to run this course?" someone else asked me. I didn't even know I needed one. Went straight to the police and obtained the necessary authorizations.
Another question I was constantly being asked was whether I provided a certificate signed by an authority in the field? I didn’t even understand the question; we're talking about breaking locks here, not building the atom bomb. I rang one of the women who was interested in the course and asked her what she meant by 'an authority in the field'. Her response was: "For example the CEO of RB Doors". I explained I wasn’t the CEO of RB Doors so she said "Another authority in the field is the Chair of the Locksmiths Association". I believe I owe my life to this woman.
I finished the conversation and ran off to my lawyer, saying I wanted to become the chair of the locksmiths association. "So enlist to one of the existing associations, and within a few years you'll be able to apply to become the chair" he replied. "But I need it now" I said and walked out, he clearly didn't understand my request.
I drove off to the associations' registrant in Jerusalem and asked the administrative staff "What do I need to do to become the chair of the locksmiths' association?"
The woman replied: "You have to fill out three forms, ask seven locksmiths to pick you for the role and set up an association". I took the forms and ran off to seven locksmiths I knew, asking them to pick me as the 'Chairman of the New Locksmiths' Association".
"Why would we do that? What's in it for us?" they asked me.
I quickly realized my mistake.
I contacted ten other locksmiths and called them for an urgent meeting at a café. I ordered everyone coffee and cakes and declared: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to unite, and set up the new locksmiths association. I will personally look out for everyone's interests, get us special discounts for group purchases of locks and work tools, lower the advertising costs by purchasing shared ad spaces, build a shared clients' database and help us make more money and have more clients".
They unanimously picked me as the chairman of the new association even before they even finished stuffing their faces with cake. I was now officially 'an authority in the locksmiths' world', much to the relief of my future clients.
I used the momentum to start a new campaign on the radio: "There are very few certified locksmiths in Israel. There are more than two million calls per year for locksmiths' services, be it for the car, RB doors or safes. My name is Boaz Pamson, and I am the Chairman of the New Israeli Locksmiths Association. Today you too can learn the trade, in a class or at home, get a certificate and start earning money. Look for the Online Locksmiths' Course or call 1800-450-444".
The online locksmiths course yielded an income of $1.500,000 to date. The course was into several different languages and is being taught in 198 countries around the world. I invented three patents in the field, and provide my students wherever they are with the most up to date, state-of-the-art equipment. I wrote the book Try again Until You Make It in which I talk about my successes, built on the ruins of my many failures. I'm a millionaire, and on my way to becoming a billionaire. My profitable business was born out of an idea I had in my head, that kept on developing thanks to the fact that I hadn't given up, I kept on going for it, improving myself and getting better and better, until I nailed it. I learnt that with a bit of effort and faith you can make money and make every idea and every dream come true".
I have a friend who owns a fair bit of real-estate in Israel and abroad. He has a real passion for money, and every time he comes across a sign about a new office building he stops his car, takes a photo of the sign and the building, calls his real estate agent and tries to close a deal. I've watched him go through this initial excitement many times now. He has enough real estate to support many future generations to come but still, he continues.
We sat for a beer one night and I felt the need to ask him this simple question: how do you turn a good idea into a reality?
I asked him about his businesses, his finances, how he made his first million (which often feels utterly impossible, but after speaking with many people I realized that by taking the right steps and writing long, precise lists it’s definitely possible) and asked him to allow me to learn from him about existing funding resources, that can turn someone with a good idea into a businessman. I believe it’s the duty of every person with a potentially good idea to seek knowledge from successful businessmen around them.
He gave me a few wise answers, some I didn’t even understand at the time. Today I know I didn’t have the maturity needed at the time to process the information, and had a strong resistance to money and wealth. For years I claimed money wasn't important, that it has no meaning, and that it wasn't my life's mission to make it.
Today too by the way, money isn’t my motivation. But growing older, I also realize the important role it plays in realizing dreams.
"So how the hell do people make money?"I asked myself in the days following our conversation. "Where do you start making money?", "Does it require special traits or a particular personality type?"; "Is it a natural gift or an acquired skill?"; "What prevents people from making money?" and especially "I wonder how many more dreams I could realize if I knew how to create more sources of income for myself". These question and many other regarding money have been on my mind for over two decades now, ever since I left home and started my independent life.
I have a feeling they've been on your mind too.
On your journey to realizing your dream and your business idea you will have to work hard, overcome all sorts of barriers (inner, psychological or external resistances from people around you). You will also clearly need to risk a sum of money, but once you get over the fear and hit the road you will realize it's a lot less scary than you first anticipated. You will also discover and experience the addictive pleasure inherent in realizing your dreams, and realize you really don’t want to go back to working at realizing other people's dreams.
Most of us spend a third (or more) of our day at work (by the way, it's usually not our own work space, it belongs to our boss or to our boss's boss, as mentioned in The List: "Those who don't work at making their dreams come true, work at making other people's dreams come true"). Sometimes we even take work tasks home with us and in today's reality, when we are constantly available for taking calls and receiving messages and emails around the clock – work is often with us any time of the day until even our partners and children feel neglected.
In my early twenties I realized that if I was going to dedicate so many hours per day to work, I want to enjoy what I do. Another decision I took in my younger years was that dramas and high octane action is what I do at work, while my personal life will be run quietly and calmly, without background noises. Recently I've started turning off my phone and computer during Shabbat (Saturday), in an attempt to strike a balance between my 'doing time' and my 'rest time'. I realized that if I wanted to turn an idea into a reality, I better learn how to do it right.
ARE YOU READY TO LEARN TOO? 3 What kind of dreamer are you? A 'tick off person' or a 'go-getter'? [Or: Can a Fincher become a Doberman?] When I began my journey with The List back in 2011 I wanted to explore the impact of social networks, the meaning of sharing, and find out how far my personal list of dreams can go once I post it online.
I thought of it as an online social experiment, testing our need to "pay it forward", and the power of sharing, our new sign of the time. I mean today, you could argue, that if you don't share - you don’t exist.
Back then, in 2011, my wildest dream was that my online list, which started it all, would be passed around to a few friends, shared to social and professional networks and that would be it. Never have I imagined that my list would find its way to so many people, all over the world.
When writing a book, a film, a play or a symphony our creation is never complete. Ask any artist and they'll admit they could go on making lots of changes to the work, long after it's been completed.
Both the physical and virtual contact I've had with readers, letters and emails I received, questions I've been asked, comments, reservations and compliments – have all got me thinking. Even the fact I give The List lecture almost every day, see people writing lists, "shout out" their dreams and sharing their stories with other people, has sprung new insights and conclusions to mind, all written in this book.
But there is one major insight which I keep coming back to, and I feel the need to share it right now (sharing is caring, right?). No matter if you already read The List or not, or attended one of my lectures, it's an insight which is a kind of a key to understanding your personality type and the sort of motivations that push you forward.
When I started manifesting my lists I tried to understand why I have managed to manifest some of the items on my list ("Publish a book", "Move to a bigger apartment", "Land a role in the theatre"), whilst haven’t managed to make some of the smaller, lighter tasks come to fruition ("Learn to paint", "Learn French", "Go to the gym").
I can think of quite a few answers to this question, which can be found in The List. But recently, I've understood that one key answer is the difference between people who write lists and people who act on their dreams and follow them up, or more importantly - people who tick things off their lists and t-h-i-n-k they are doing the work, and people who p-o-u-n-d on their lists and not let go until they see all their items and dreams come to fruition.
In one of the lectures I gave a 55 year-old man got up and shared his dream with the audience: "I'm an amateur photographer. Over the years I've taken hundreds of photos I believe could make for an interesting exhibition".
"For how long have you had this dream?" I asked, as I always do when someone shares their dream with me.
"Around five years", he replied.
"And what have you done to realize it? What have you done to make it a reality?" I kept on asking. You need to ask yourselves this question by the way, every time ideas or old dreams gnaw away at you.
"I emailed five galleries in Tel Aviv and approached the local municipality for help", he replied.
"Why did you approach only five galleries? Why not fifty? Why not all the galleries in Israel? Or overseas? A precise Google search can lead you to thousands of galleries around the world, and since photography is an international art form you could easily find yourself exhibiting in Bulgaria or New York and becoming an international photographer".
"Why don't you go online, contact galleries around the world and send them your portfolio? True, it's going to be a month of hard work, but the results may surprise you. I mean, it's a matter of statistics. I imagine that out of thousands of galleries there'll be at least one gallery that will love your work and invite you to exhibit it. It may be in Ruanda or Russia, you'll fly over there to present your work, come back to Israel as an 'international artist" and new doors will open up for you".
The talented photographer, who up until now only "ticked off" the steps required to achieving his dream, went silent and retrieved to his thoughts.
Another woman who came to the lecture shared her dream of working as a musical editor in a big radio station with the audience. She carries this dream for over fifteen years now (!). When I asked her what she had done about it over the years she replied; "I sent an email to my favorite radio broadcaster".
"And did he reply?" I was curious.
"No, he didn't", she said, disappointedly.
"Well, surely you realize it doesn’t reflect in any way on your favorite broadcaster. Perhaps the email address you had wasn’t his personal email, or maybe he was so inundated with work he didn’t have the chance to reply. In any case, what I was curious to know was why you sent only one email over fifteen years? How come you didn’t wait for him outside the radio station? How come you haven’t sent emails to dozens of other broadcasters in other radio stations?"
The woman went quiet, thinking about what I’d just said.
One of my closest and dearest friends is a talented artist and arts teacher. Like many others, she's great at marketing other people's products. She'd bend over backwards to help people around her achieve their dreams, and is always very supportive of my work, but is completely helpless when it comes to marketing her own business. When she needs to market herself a range of mental and technical barriers arise, some are more logical than others, preventing her from spreading the word about herself and what she does, and "shout out" her dreams so loud that her studio is filled up with students all day long.
I guess some of you are familiar with this feeling. I too, for years, was shy about marketing and promoting myself. Even today I sometimes feel embarrassed or worried about what people are going to say. It's a perfectly normal, human and natural fear, which can be overcome with just a little bit of courage.
We often sit down for a drink, chat about life, gossip, laugh and share our professional experiences with each other. We've been doing it for years now. And during all this time I've been listening to her complaining about how difficult it is to promote her business. She has been given so many creative ideas from professionals as well as friends on how she could promote herself, but still struggles to go ahead and actually do it.
One morning she rang me excitedly and said: "You're going to be so proud of me! Last night I finally took up one of your suggestions, created a really sweet promotional flyer, printed a hundred copies of it and stuck it on the windowpanes of cars in my neighborhood".
She expected a barrage of compliments and positive reinforcements (as I normally give), but this time around I chose to present things a little bit differently; "Why not a 1,000 flyers? Why not 5,000? Why not 10,000? You distributed a hundred flyers that's fine, but had you printed 10,000 flyers and got your friends to help you distribute them around town, we'd have been more than happy to help out. Even just statistically speaking, out of 10,000 flyers you'd have enough new customers to open three new groups at least!"
What are you doing to promote your dreams and ideas? Which group do you belong to? Isn’t it absurd that most of us are so good at 'promoting' our defaults and lack of abilities, whilst finding it so hard to promote our talents and ideas?
Are you one of those people who write a list, invest a minimum amount of effort in making your dreams happen and then say to yourself "oh well, at least I tried" as you journey on, leaving a trail of missed opportunities behind you? Or are you the pouncing types? The kind that writes a list, sets eyes on a target, believe in the 'statistics of trying' (meaning, if you approach 1,000 people, surely one of them will yield some kind of a response, right?) and doesn’t let go until you reach the desired outcome?
How do you turn a Fincher into a Doberman? How do you generate the motivation to pounce on your list? Simply by improving your writing technique. And, most importantly, you memorize the most important rule: Kill the shame! Don’t be embarrassed to ask your family, friends and even friends of friends for help, both personally and by utilizing the power of social networks. And of course, consult with whoever you can, including professionals, who will be happy to help you overcome any obstacle you may encounter along the way.
Sometimes the difference between excited go-getters and those who simply tick items off their lists without really trying their best to achieve their goals is in the shape of their ears. Yes, you heard right.
Let’s check - what do you hear?
We are all surrounded by background noises, especially toxic, weakening voices. Sometimes they stem from us, and sometimes from the people around us.
A go-getter's ear is built in such way that it blurts out the weakening voices trying to get in; they often don’t spend any energy at all trying to hear those voices, but instead set up steel barriers to block it all out. On the other hand, a tick-off person's ear is built in such a way that it gathers and collects all the toxic voices that holds us back, weaken and delay us, and eventually prevent us from achieving our goals.
How do you handle all those skeptics who keep explaining to you how your ideas are impossible to achieve or unrealistic? Do you listen attentively and take their words for the truth, or do you email another hundred key people about your idea and tell the skeptics around you to go to hell?
Those who brand the hardworking self-promoters as arrogant should take a good look at themselves, not at others.
Shout out your dreams and ideas shamelessly! Shout out your business's existence! Shout out the prices you ask for the products or services you provide without feeling uncomfortable! If you won't do it in the most truthful, honest and enthusiastic way possible – who will do it for you? A PR person who charges you thousands of dollars to tell the whole world how fabulous you are, the same way they do with any other paying customer? Advertisers, PR and marketing people can be brilliant at what they do, but no one will ever do a better job than the heartfelt, authentic enthusiasm you have for your own idea.
Have you accomplished one of your dreams? Set the wheels in motion? Turned an idea into a reality? Allow the sense of pride to ooze out of you. Feeling good about what you have to offer to the world? Shout it out! Celebrate it! Have a launch, a gala or a special sales event, print out billboard size ads, posters, flyers, organize home gatherings, write posts and share photos on social networks. Spread your message as far and wide as you possibly can.
One can be confident about the idea they have to offer to the world, shout its existence, and still remain humble. There isn’t really a contradiction between the two. Knowing your worth or appreciating the quality of your own idea is incredibly valuable; it doesn’t mean you are any less humble or gracious a person.
What's the difference between major corporations, who inundate us with their marketing agendas, and everyday people wanting to get their own message across?
I personally make a habit of sharing many posts on social networks describing what I do; I don’t do it to brag, or because I'm arrogant - I do it because doing creates more doing, and perhaps someone reading my posts will offer me an interesting offer or a new project. After all there are endless ways to get the wheels in motion. The moment you spread the 'stamens of doing' in the world – the bees will surely come, fertilize your stamens, and new, beautiful flowers will grow.
Self-marketing is too hard? Hire a marketing expert who will work for a cut of the sales, a modest base salary or a base salary + a cut of the sales. If you need to do a thinking tank, hire someone who will brainstorm with you, if you need a helping hand, hire one. Whatever the cost will be, it will only be to increase your future revenue, which will in turn help you develop new ideas.
History is full of go-getters, who managed to make their dreams come true and become leading businessmen and women, win an Oscar, write best-sellers, become rich by turning their ideas into a new and successful reality or live a quiet yet fulfilled life, just as they articulated on their lists of dreams.
Lists and self-fulfillment don’t necessarily mean dreaming big or striving for materialist achievements. Small, modest lists have their place too, and they can easily become a heart-throbbing symphony, provided they are not merely empty words on paper.
REMEMBER – IF YOU DON'T TAKE THE RISK, YOU DON'T STAND THE CHANCE!
Permettez-vous de rêver – Soyez exigeants envers vous-même quant à leur réalisation.
Vous avez une idée que vous aimeriez réaliser mais vous ne savez pas par où commencer ? Vous rêvez de devenir autoentrepreneur et d’accroître vos revenus ou vous voulez donner vie à une idée tout en continuant à être salarié ? Vous avez créé une entreprise mais le rêve menace de se transformer en cauchemar ? Vous recherchez des sources de financement ? Vous n’avez aucune idée du premier pas à faire pour être financièrement autonome ?
« L’idée » est un livre qui vous fournira les réponses ainsi que bon nombre d’outils et de listes qui, dès leur lecture, vous permettront de commencer à réaliser votre rêve.
Grâce à « L’idée – passer du rêve à la réalité », vous vous débarrasserez de cette paralysie de la pensée et d’idées erronées concernant la réalisation et le succès ; vous apprendrez comment affiner votre idée, comment créer un concept gagnant, pourquoi la passion n’est pas moins importante que le talent, comment ne pas céder à la peur, mobiliser son courage. Vous comprendrez aussi pourquoi dans notre monde, les individus qui ont des idées sont les véritables gagnants, apprendrez comment créer une communauté dynamique sur les réseaux sociaux et des campagnes originales pour seulement quelques centaines de shekels, comment il est possible de faire progresser une entreprise sans posséder un capital de taille. Grâce aux exercices, aux listes, aux missions et au travail personnel qu’il vous faudra faire pendant la lecture de ce livre, vous verrez comment ce voyage pour la réalisation de vos idées vous transformera, une page après l’autre, d’un visionnaire en chef d’entreprise. D’un rêveur en une personne qui réussit.
Yuval Abramovitz revient avec un nouvel ouvrage, qui ne fait pas suite aux autres, (mais cependant rédigé dans l’esprit de La Liste). « L’Idée » est un guide actif qui incite à l’action, écrit avec grand professionnalisme, une franchise qui vous séduira et une bonne dose d’humour. Il offre à ses lecteurs des dizaines de sujets de réflexion rafraîchissants, des conseils, des exercices, des histoires extraordinaires d’individus qui ont réussi à couvrir des dettes qui s’élevaient à des millions, qui ont surmonté les échecs et ont réussi à reprendre pied grâce à une réflexion originale, de l’audace et de brillantes idées. Tout au long du livre, vous devrez établir des listes individuelles qui constitueront de véritables challenges dont l’objectif est d’affiner votre idée et de raffiner votre mode de pensée pour la réaliser.