Back in 2007, I became an entrepreneur. I went from a stable job with benefits to a world of uncertainty—which wasn’t as stable, and the benefits were practically non-existent. I won’t bore you with the details—you can read the extended version of the story here—but I want to talk about what it was that finally convinced me to make the most significant leap of faith in my career.
Shelly and I debated what we should do. We intended to have her quit her job first because Zach was three years old, and we wanted her to stay at home and raise him. But I made the argument that I should leave first, which was understandably met with resistance. She was a manager at MetLife Insurance, highly respected by her peers, and her benefits were far better than mine. You can see why we were hesitant to give that up, and why I made the case to be the first to go.
Then one day, as I was struggling with fear, a thought struck me that pretty much changed everything. For context, I was making $60,000 a year in my cozy, comfortable job—but that required 45-50 hours of my week. In the meantime, I was making $80,000 a month selling premium WordPress themes—and that required far less time per week. And then it came:
It was financially irresponsible for me to keep my job and not pursue the opportunity that was sitting right in front of me. We knew what made sense: I leave my job first, and then we agreed that—assuming Rome didn’t burn to the ground—she would leave her job within six months of me going. It turns out she left her job in three.
The Cost of Unlived Dreams
I love what Ryan Lilly, author of Startup Balanced!: The Balances Startups Strike to Succeed, writes:
“The opportunity cost of an unlived dream is not only that dream but also the dreams the dream was meant to inspire.”
I could have succumbed to fear and stayed at my job. Maybe, twelve years later, I could be making six figures, but I’d be… Working. For. The. Man. I wanted to be The Man.
It felt right, and I knew it could be the start of a beautiful journey. It turns out I wasn’t wrong, and I am still on that journey—and it is beautiful as ever. But imagine what my life would have been like without StudioPress, the Genesis Framework, the Genesis Community, and all of the other projects and relationships I have been a part of had I decided not to risk it all.
More than 250,000 people have purchased from StudioPress, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue. Pair that with the hundreds of folks who have Genesis-based businesses, supporting themselves and their families with products that I helped create.
My life story—heck, your life story—could have been completely different had I passed up the opportunity to pursue my dreams, and the dreams that, as Ryan points out, might inspire you.
Big Yellow Signs
Last summer, I was brainlessly surfing around on YouTube when I came across a video that—to this day—affects much of what I do. I believe that life is serendipitous and I was meant to see it. I may have watched it twenty times that night, and every once in a while, I still do.
Forever inked as “Kiss Guy,” Yayo Sanchez was asked to join his idol, Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, on stage. He was just a random dude in the audience that night holding up a sign when fate intervened. Just watch the video right now. I wrote an entire piece, called Big Yellow Signs, in response to this experience, and it’s sone of my favorite things I have written.
Recently, there has been a flurry of witty memes making its way across the Internet that—for the most part—start with this:
“I don’t know who needs to see this today, but…”
Maybe you were meant to read my words today. Maybe you were meant to see the quote from Ryan. Or maybe you play guitar and were meant to see that crazy video on YouTube. Maybe you are stuck in a job that leaves you unfulfilled. Maybe you feel like you have a gift that needs exploring. Or maybe you—as I often do—are struggling with uncertainty and the fear of the unknown.
I bet Yayo’s life was forever changed that night in Austin. I bet the following day, he woke up and created something awesome. And I bet you want to do the same—but you might need some encouragement.
You are not alone. I have been there, and as I write this, I am here again. The world needs your art. The world needs my art. And what the world needs most is what you and I are uniquely qualified to offer.
So how about we take the leap of faith. Let’s hold up our big yellow signs that say “Let Me Play Monkey Wrench” and jam alongside a music legend. Because the cost of opportunity might be higher than we think.