This is my story. The good, the bad, the ugly – life has been a journey with many bumps. I’ve tried and failed. A lot. But a wise man once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of hard work and learning from failure.” I think he was on to something.
Maybe you can learn from my failures. Maybe you’ll get some hope out of my story. And maybe we can grow — together.
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, I lived in the midst of poverty. Sometimes the ghetto is romanticized – as if it were “cool” to have come from such a place. But really it’s drugs, gangs, and violence. Nothing pretty and nothing “cool” about it.
We lived in subsidized housing, otherwise known as government-owned apartments rented to people below the poverty line. The crowded housing projects attracted broken kinds of people. Often, broken people don’t build; they break more. We were surrounded by crime.
I have vivid memories of our home getting broken into on several occasions. I was 10 the first time it happened. I was alone. I took the key out of my pocket to go inside when I realized the door had been kicked in. They found our Playstation, some games, a little money… The material value wasn’t much. But they took every shred of security along with it.
My two older brothers and I vowed we would catch the thief. We never did – not then or after the next four robberies. They even broke in one night when we were sleeping. My mom screamed when they tried to climb through a window; she ran toward them and managed to scare them away. I hope I’m painting a clear picture of what living in poverty is like.
My childhood is filled with stories like that.
Those years were a cycle of trauma, fear, bullying and neglect. Abuse. I had no advantage. I don’t say all of this because I want pity. I just want you to know where my story begins.
No inheritance or endowment. No fancy school or good connections. Nothing.
Moving out of the ghetto
By the time I turned 13, we managed to move out of the ghetto into a small affluent town called Lake Orion.
Lake Orion was a town full of big houses with perfect green lawns, state-of-the-art schools, and a crime rate so low that you would question why police even exist there.
Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that we lived affluent wealthy lives once we moved here. No. While it was certainly an improvement from our living conditions in Detroit—we were still poor. The only place my mom could afford to move us was a trailer park hidden away from the richer parts of the town.
However, once school started, and I began befriending many of the rich kids, I got to see what their lives looked like.
Being invited to their homes was always an experience. A big, beautiful, well-kept home with impeccable landscaping—and even more impeccable interior decorating.
I remember seeing my first home theater room. Literally a room, with several rows of theater seats, and a massive theater screen with flawless 7.1 surround sound audio.
Seeing all of this, the big homes, big cars, big money, was overwhelming at the beginning. A culture shock. But eventually, a seed inside of me began growing.
You see, the first half of my childhood was lived in the ghetto. I got to see and experience poverty firsthand. But now, I was experiencing the opposite. I was experiencing what wealth looked and felt like.
This gave me perspective. It gave me a choice. I’ve seen both sides of the picture, which side do I want? I prefer greener grass.
Learning from failure
The public school system teaches us that failing is bad. If you flunk a test or do an assignment wrong, you’re a failure. But in real life, this is the furthest thing from the truth. In reality, if you aren’t failing, it just means you aren’t trying. If you aren’t trying, you’ll never succeed. Failure is THE prerequisite to success.
I started my first official business during my senior year of college. It was simple – a clothing brand out of my little college apartment. My girlfriend’s grandmother taught me about bonding material together. I invested in a sewing machine and created four t-shirt designs. They weren’t bad – solid color shirts with paisley pockets and sleeve cuffs. I sold them on Etsy and Ebay. They brought a decent profit.
But after the initial batch, I decided to shut it down. Day trading looked more lucrative. Maybe it is – for some. I lost a few thousand dollars and decided day trading wasn’t for me. So began my foray into the digital world.
I began a YouTube channel to vlog about the trading experience. I only kept it up for a few months. Little did I know this was the first step on the path to my digital future.
Next my wife and I created an asset and media subscription website. Think of a small scale Envato Market. It was a great learning venture. But it wasn’t quite right for us.
That led to a YouTube lifestyle channel called the HeyMayos. We did all the trendy content with challenges and vlogging. It flopped. But I began to see what was of worth to viewers. What did they need? I began to shift from just providing entertainment to trying to provide value.
I decided it might be time for a web development freelance business. This was the first true success. In fact, Elementor Market still exists. It provides templates for website builders – and a small stream of passive income for me.
During this season, I dabbled with YouTube channels. One offered content for the website business. Another was real estate wholesaling. I started a lifestyle blog called Fine Curate – then two more YouTube channels. There were a few more business attempts in the mix. I tried a lot. They all failed. Miserably.
But failure didn’t scare me so much anymore. That’s the thing about trying. The more you try, the easier it gets.
After those attempts, I started one more blog called MayoFi. It was later named The Investor Post. I gained invaluable lessons about keywords, ranking, and communication that would eventually benefit the YouTube channel that flourishes today.
Those were frustrating years, I must be honest. I couldn’t see the road ahead. But every single failure contributed to my later success. I wouldn’t trade any of it.
One of the promises I made in the first video on my current channel was “As I grow, I want you [my viewers] to grow with me.” And I mean it. True success doesn’t grow in a vacuum.
Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.” I think when you aim for providing something of worth, you gain success in the process. And I know by helping you grow in your understanding of making and building your own wealth, we are both winning.
Who knows what we’ll be doing next year, or five or ten years down the road? What I do know is I will continue to strive for the best, I will continue to care about people, and I will continue giving back any way that I can.
You’re an amazing human being. Despite your past or current circumstances, or how you may feel about yourself, please know that you are capable and powerful beyond words. As cliche as it sounds, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. And if no one else believes in you, just know that I believe in you.
I’m glad to take the journey with you.