In Career, Discussions, Entrepreneurs

How and what makes me successful

I would like to ask what traits and characteristic you think you have that made you successful?

Being independent, free from debt, and being a freelancer (risky) and making great $$$. Honestly, you are considered like top 10%!

By the way, I noticed you like to wake up early. That is probably one of your traits that makes you successful.

Aside from this being a super flattering email (*preens*), I had to really think about what traits and characteristics I’d say make me the way I am.

ON WAKING UP EARLY…

The waking up early part, is due to the Emperor Toddler, not really to any part or desire in wanting to wake up… at least, not at this point because I would say I am more an Early Bird than a Night Owl, but it’s hard to say at this point.

My face every morning when Baby Bun wakes me at 5 a.m.

I’d love to sleep in if my toddler would you know.. parent and raise himself.

TOP 10%? REALLY?

My immediate reaction at first was: No way …top 10%!?… but I guess it depends on how you classify this 10%, either by money or just free time.

I suppose it’s true.

I’d need some benchmarks though, so I searched “Top 10% in Canada”, and got this StatsCan document:

The top 10% of Canadians had incomes over $80,400

According to the 2011 NHS, 10% of CanadiansNote 1 had total incomes of more than $80,400 Note 2 in 2010,Note 3 almost triple the national median income of $27,800.Note 4 To be in the top 5%, Canadians needed to have a total income of slightly above $102,300 and to be in the top 1% required just over $191,100, nearly seven times the national median income.


The top 10% of Canadians made an average income of $134,900, with the top 5% making one third more ($179,800) and the top 1% almost triple that amount ($381,300). Meanwhile, the bottom 90% had an average income of $28,000.

Okay. So when I work, I am in the top tiers, and if I worked the whole year, I’d be in the top 1%.

When I don’t work, like last year and this year, I am at the bottom. Is that possible?

My average income over the years of working and not, is about $86,410 – $252,213 depending on how you slice it.

So yes, I concede to saying I probably am in the top 10% but it doesn’t feel like I am.

Now to try and figure out my “success”.. well, I guess I can point it to a couple of things happening. As late Steve Jobs said in his now famous 2005 Commencement, you can only connect the dots when you look back.

Here are my dots.

I was bullied when I was younger

Total 180 right?

I was bullied, made fun of, teased, you name it.. I went through it. I was awkward, ugly, shy, fat, etc.

It’s why I have such a soft spot for those outlier children, the underdogs and the ones that are “weird”. I was that kid.

All throughout elementary, my goal was just to be the best in class because that was the only place I could actually control something that happened to me.

I had a few close friends but was at the bottom of that school chain.

In eighth grade, all of my friends were all put in another class and I was by myself with all of the meanest, pettiest girls in a class who were considered the most popular and therefore had a lot to lose if they didn’t maintain their social status by ruling with an iron fist.

It was kind of a catastrophe waiting to happen, and I immediately saw the situation for what it was, withdrew into my shell, and tried to disappear, keep my head down and not make waves to bring even more attention and taunting to myself.

My homeroom teacher casually classified me as a future serial killer or an “at-risk youth” due to my anti-social (defensive) behaviour.

The way I see it, I was just trying to protect myself by not letting anyone in.

Classic defensive behaviour.

To cope, I set a structure on myself, scheduled my life and kept myself disciplined and did all the things Tiger Parents do, but … to myself.

After years of this, it wasn’t until near the end of school that I realized something profound: I would never see these people again.

Sometime broke free inside of me when I realized that.

All those anxieties, and stressful feelings of not being popular, liked, etc, melted away. I stopped caring what they thought, and … I sort of came out of my shell. I became a completely different person almost overnight.

I decided that if ANYONE from now on, wanted to treat me like an outsider, I wouldn’t care because I was strong in my convictions to live the way I dictated and wanted to, not just because someone else (popular or not) pooh-poohed my decisions.

I finally felt like myself.

I was finally who I always wanted to be, and I let go of that intense caring, pressure to be unobtrusive and nice, and most of all, the desire to be liked by everyone all the time (a losing proposition, really).

College wasn’t any better, to be honest.

I tried to re-invent myself in a new world and city, but that “Lone Wolf” mentality had seeped in, and going to a school where you are only with super rich kids who were more than likely super popular as well, did not help.

It was kind of the same thing all over again, just .. with different teachers and subjects an a lot more free time.

I was working full-time to pay for school, going to school full-time and was not into drinking or partying. I felt like I had too much responsibility, and was (and still am) quite serious.

I think the word a mother used to describe me after a few months is “intense“.

Naturally, it isn’t until you are much older and wiser (?) that you realize that everyone is just as scared and as nervous as you are about being liked. They were just better at faking it than I was at the time.

Worldview was shaped by manga and fantasy sci-fi

Geekery squared.

I loved Lone Wolf and Cub (pretty gruesome now that I think about it, with very adult issues addressed and NOT AT ALL meant for children, comic or not), and the principles taught in there.

I also loved (and would recommend) a more kid-friendly manga called Usagi Yojimbo, which has the same sort of principles and values being taught, but in a less bloody & sexual way.

I plan on introducing that manga to Baby Bun as he gets older, along with classics like Tintin and Asterix & Obelix.

I also read books by David & Leigh Eddings with the Belgariad & Malloreon series.


All these books, looking back, shaped my worldview of these principles:

  • work hard
  • do a good job at everything you put your hand to
  • nothing it too good for you
  • be fair and impartial as much as you can
  • things are not always what they seem
  • it is okay to be alone sometimes but never lose your sense of self & heart

Subconsciously, I find myself following these values even to this day. I was much more enamoured with living the right way that is truly fair and equitable than I was in whatever kids were interested in at my age at that time.

I don’t even know what it is, I’m guessing celebrities, pop stars, experimenting in drugs & sex, and drinking probably.

I truly have no idea, I was a lone outsider back then, which is why I am a bit scared raising Baby Bun because I don’t know how to deal with things I have never dealt with before. I guess I’ll have to reach out to my partner for help on this part of childhood/teenagedom 😛

MY MOTHER WAS & IS ALWAYS MY #1 FAN

From the time I was a little girl, my mother praised me, but in a genuine, sincere manner.

She would exclaim about how clever we were, fast we were, and of course, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy because you don’t want to let your mother down but also because you started to feel like you were what she said.

From there, the confidence built from praise, becomes part of you, and as a result, you are that person who has a steel spine and fights for your rights.

I just didn’t exercise any of that latent inside of me until I let it out.

My mom also on a whim had me do a palm reading, and the “prophecy” that came out basically nailed me to a “T” – business-minded, lucky, friendly … you know, all that flattering fortune cookie stuff.

Whether or not that palm reading helped reinforce what she was telling me, or if I was really that person to begin with, is a chicken-and-egg thing I can’t begin to unravel.

Even today, my mother is still my #1 fan.

She tells me she can’t believe how I turned out because she feels like she’s the opposite of me, but in actuality, she is far more successful than I ever will become, having gone from nothing to being in the top 10% of earners in the country.

I AM AN ENTJ “COMMANDER” PERSONALITY

Recently, I took this personality test and came out an ENTJ, dubbed “The Commander”.

Again, whether or not it is who I am or who I think I am now, influencing my answers is another chicken-and-egg thing.

https://www.16personalities.com/entj-personality

The Commander has a number of flattering and unflattering traits, and they are all true (at least for me they are).

From the site:

ENTJs are natural-born leaders. People with this personality type embody the gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal. But unlike their Feeling (F) counterpart, ENTJs are characterized by an often ruthless level of rationality, using their drive, determination and sharp minds to achieve whatever end they’ve set for themselves.

Perhaps it is best that they make up only three percent of the population, lest they overwhelm the more timid and sensitive personality types that make up much of the rest of the world – but we have ENTJs to thank for many of the businesses and institutions we take for granted every day.

Notice the part I bolded and highlighted in red. I guess me and my fellow ENTJ’s are only 3% of the population.

Thank goodness, I say.

I couldn’t live in a world with more people like me, I’d be exhausted fighting with them for world domination. 😛

That is not to say that people who are not like an ENTJ or myself are not great, because I envy the folks who have a more sensitive, diplomatic touch with others, amongst other things (all the traits I do not possess and now must work to cultivate!!!).

I AM A TYPE-A, COMPETITIVE, MUST-WIN-ALL-THE-TIME TYPE

Even when I was in school, I remember my parents giving me ZERO motivation by way of money, rewards, treats, etc.

If there was a reading competition, I had to be the first if it killed my eyes, reading at night.

If it was a typing competition, I practiced until I was the fastest.

If someone knew something better than I did (e.g. a math subject), I’d study until I was just as comfortable (preferably better) than they were.

I was just internally motivated to be #1 in school but only if it appealed to me.

It’s good…. but exhausting which is why I am trying to take the foot off the gas pedal with Baby Bun and not trying to force him to be like me per se but I am still not giving him money.

He is who he is and I want him to develop as his own Baby Bunness but he will be taught basic things about life.

Fast forward to today, and even with my two previous blogs which I talked about selling here, I put so much pressure on myself to do it ALL on BOTH blogs, posting at least 3-4 times a week each, that I felt burned out at the end, which is why I am going “easy” on this blog.

I have no team in place, nor posting for me on my behalf, or even writing my posts. I am a one-woman show, with of course, grateful help from friends like Ramona Jar when my blog goes futzing and I think: WTF IS THIS!

Easy, being relative of course because now I am getting restless and posting sometimes twice a day (usually the second post comes around noon), adding new features that take up to 3 hours to prep like my Outfit Remixes.

https://www.savespendsplurge.com/tag/outfit-remix/

To put things into perspective, when I sold the old blogs, I had about 2 years (24 months) of solid posts scheduled on both blogs.

On this blog alone, I am scheduled up to July as of this post, and I’d like to go until August at least so that I have a buffer for when I go on vacation.

I AM.. CURIOUS & LOVE TO BE EFFICIENT

Curious in the sense that I like reading about a range of topics (although I have my favourites such as shopping psychology, you can see all my book recommendations here), so I just like to know.

Sometimes I retain the information and details, and sometimes I don’t. It just depends on what my brain finds interesting enough to file away only to pull out in the middle of a heated argument as a triumphant: HA HA!! BEAT THIS ANECDOTE!

Like when I had put my mind to something vague like: “Learn more about my money and get out of debt” when I was $60,000 in debt from student loans, I went into overdrive and devoured every piece of money knowledge and article in my path.

Until I was confident and efficient, I wouldn’t stop and it led to the creation of The Budgeting Tool and then The Investing Tool (and U.S. & Canada Investing book) to manage my finances perfectly without doing much legwork.

Then I took that knowledge and started blogging and also helping my family & friends in real life. My sister said to me the other day: I can’t believe you taught yourself all of this, that’s amazing.

I like it when things are quick, efficient and well done with as little actual work as possible which again, is both good and bad.

If people take too long to do something I become impatient with them.

For me, I feel a bit like Amy a good majority of the time in this video.

I’ve always been like this, even working when I was younger.

I did things quickly, efficiently without wasting time and if I wasted time doing something, I’d mentally re-arrange the tasks so that I could save time.

What’s the point of working hard? Work smarter!

I’d always be on a lookout of how to cut time out of things and if it were a job making money, I’d weigh how long it’d take me to make that dollar versus the work involved.

…AMBITIOUSLY INDEPENDENT

Following that curiousity, it also means that I like to know what it is I am doing.

I hate meandering about not knowing that I am in control.

If I am at work and I see something in my line of work that I don’t know, I take it, even though it isn’t my area or my interest. I don’t even care if I will fail or take twice as long (especially if I feel like I will encounter it often).

I just want to know how it’s done and what it’s all about so that I don’t have to ever depend on anyone to help me if I get stuck.

If it is something I know well and have done for a while, I like to make sure that I know how to do it from the beginning. I teach myself bit by bit until I gather enough knowledge to do things like start a blog to make $1000 USD a month ASAP or how to invest my money on my own.

Or in my own corporation – I do my own taxes personally and for my corporation because I didn’t want to pay someone thousands of dollars for what I thought could be a simple set of documents to file if I could just come up with the procedure, schedule and take lots of notes.

I went to an accountant once, and I showed him my documents to ask for advice on how I could do better.

He went over the papers, sat back and told me point blank he was impressed because he had never seen anyone do their own taxes with zero accounting certifications especially in a language that they are not native in (French) because of all the little twists and turns that are hidden all over the dang place (to which I said: I KNOW RIGHT!?).

Granted, my partner helps me with the French from time to time, but I do the rest on my own.

No one taught me these things, I just sort of observe, experiment, fail and make up things until I get it.

FINALLY, I LOVE TO WORK

I feel useless if I don’t have at least 2 things on the go, preferably 3.

Again, good and bad.

I can’t shut my brain off at night, I wake up at 3 a.m. when Baby Bun squeals and wants to be comforted back to sleep and it takes me 15 minutes to get back to a drowsy state because I start thinking of other things I could do either to make money, or improve on the blog or my life in general.

I can’t just sit on a beach and veg.

I can’t just read a book and not want to have my iPod or notebook nearby to take notes about stuff I want to read more about, blog about or Google.

I would probably need to be drugged to stop, and as my partner pointed out the other day:

You can’t stop working.

Even if you got millions of dollars and could just sit around and do nothing, you can’t stop.

You love to work.

To which I protested…. and then realized was quite true. If I had tons of money, I’d probably use it to start or buy a business. Or two.

I’d get bored.

So.. that’s it.

It’s stuff I think is beyond my control – environmental/social factors, my mother’s love and confidence from toddlerhood in me, to just being born the way I am.

I can’t say that waking up early has anything to do with it but it does help to have that time in the morning before the day starts.

IN SUMMARY?

The traits & characteristics are:

  • Overinflated sense of self (a.k.a. Confidence)
  • Grit – When I want something, I work to get it
  • Lone Wolf Attitude – If you tell me I can’t do it, I will prove you wrong
  • Determined
  • Disciplined & structured
  • Ambitious
  • Willingness to work hard
  • Impatiently fast and efficient
  • Constantly reading, absorbing and thinking (can’t shut my brain off)
  • Competitive

That’s about it.

 

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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