Today we start the first of a series of interviews. During this series we will be show casing other Freedom Fighters from around the world. I am excited to introduce you to our first guest, Brandon Clay from Trading Story. Read Brandon’s awesome story below. And if you would like to be featured in the Freedom Fighter interview series then be sure to check out the Guest Posting page for more information (it’s open to anyone that is willing to share their fight for freedom: Time Freedom, Location Freedom, and Financial Freedom).
Now I will turn it over to Brandon…
Freedom Fighting as a Podcaster
My name is Brandon Clay. And I am a Freedom Fighter.
Sometimes it takes someone else (like the Gen Y Finance Guy) to point it out. But it’s true. I fight for a freedom. For me, it’s about time, money, and opportunity.
- Time that I don’t currently have because I work a full-time job, run a side business, and am starting a new business.
- Money to provide necessities and modest wants.
- Opportunity for travel, charity work, and other things that time and money can purchase.
As for where I’m at now, I’m currently employed as a marketing director at a small digital marketing agency in Austin, Texas. It’s good work, and I’m learning even more in my chosen profession. But ultimately, it’s not the destination. My medium-term aims are to both own another online business that would sustain me and my family and to trade the financial markets.
More on that in a bit –
My Big Financial Faux Pas
I’ve been on this journey for a while. It started in my mid-20s, though I didn’t realize it at the time. It began with one of the worst financial decisions of my life.
I overheard a commercial on a talk radio show for a greeting card business. I called the number and got the glossy brochure promising riches to be made selling greeting cards in local businesses. The idea is to buy boxes of greeting cards and stands. A salesperson helps place the stands in stores where they didn’t currently stock greeting cards, and you drove around every month to collect a portion from the store owners and restock the cards.
Cool idea for a mid-20 something, but it didn’t work as expected. Sales were much lower than promised and I was out multiple thousands of dollars – nearly half my then-annual salary in debt. I cringe as I think about it now.
I invested over $22,000, wasted hundreds of dollars in gas, countless hours in worry, and the shame of getting taken in a scam. I still wonder why I did it.
There was a strong element of greed. I wanted to get ahead and have a side business while working at a corporate job. I thought this was an easier way to get that jump start. But it didn’t happen. I even took a home equity loan to finance the purchase. Another bad idea! My expectations should have been informed by realistic potential, not pipe dreams. Lesson#1 learned – be realistic.
Moreover, there was a strong element of ‘stupid’. We make mistakes when we’re not educated. I know there were personal development tapes and CDs at the time, but I wasn’t listening to any of them. Had I been more informed about entrepreneurship, I may not have been as naïve. And I may not have been scammed. Lesson #2 learned – get educated.
I wish I could say that was the last dumb financial decision of my life. It wasn’t. However, it was one of the more substantial mistakes that I made early on. From an inflation-adjusted amount, it was the most expensive.
Best Financial Decision – Getting Educated
My mistakes have been more measured since then. I learned some things through that experience. For one, I understand risk more and take smaller gambles. One of those more modest gambles was a career change.
That turned out to be the best financial decision of my life.
About 8 years ago, I was sitting in a job I didn’t like. The boss, who happened to be my dad, was generous and gave me a decent salary for the position, but it didn’t make up for the fact I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t just up-and-quit from my job; I needed to find a place to land.
I needed a new career.
So I took a career test. I considered going back to school. I thought about a lot of things and finally settled on becoming an advertising copywriter – something I’d never done before.
In this instance, I didn’t go back to school. I already had a liberal arts degree. Education doesn’t necessarily have to happen by earning a first or second degree.
So I bought some books, wrote a lot, put together a portfolio, and started pounding the pavement on the side. I volunteered for some companies and non-profits and finally had a modest writing portfolio to present on interviews. About 8-months later, I got hired as a financial writer and copywriter for a small investment firm. That career shift ultimately proved to be the best financial event of my life so far.
Some of the results of the career shift are hard for me to believe.
My income increased some at first, then later more dramatically. My eyes were opened to the world of online marketing, and that new job was the start of me creating several websites, including one that made over $70,000. Not great money, but it was something –
More than that, the experience with that website showed me I could make a side income from the internet. Plus, my new career took my income from around $50,000/year to over six-figures/year within about 5 years – that was solid growth for someone with no previous experience in digital marketing. That was a great financial decision. And the bonus is I finally enjoyed what I do.
Current Plans for Financial Freedom
At this point, I’ve settled on one continued direction and two new directions.
For one, I plan to continue full-time work to support my longer-term goals. Second and third, I’m going to trade the financial markets and run a podcast. My hope is that the trading and podcast will be able to support my family and grow wealth over time. We will see.
I’ve traded before on several occasions and I hope to be able to make it as a part-time or full-time trader within 1-2 years. I launched the podcast on iTunes and TradingStory.com in mid-April 2015. My aim of the podcast is three-fold:
- To interview profitable and successful traders to get their tips to success.
- To chronicle my journey to becoming that profitable and successful trader.
- To grow a following of interested traders.
I have not arrived.
In fact, I’m just getting back into trading as I write this post. But I’ve seen success before in a career shift and I think I will see success again. At least that’s the aim. When I start seeing more full time income potential from either the podcast or trading (or both), I will feel more comfortable quitting my full-time position. We’ll see how that plays out.
Favorite Quote Wrap-up
My current favorite quote is not catchy, but it’s true. And it’s something I’m trying to internalize. I heard Tony Robbins on another podcast a couple months ago talking about his new book, Money: Master the Game. In the interview, Robbins said,
“Whether it’s the world’s top hedge fund traders like Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones or entrepreneurs like Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and Richard Branson of Virgin; without exception, these billionaire ‘insiders’ look for opportunities that provide asymmetrical risk/reward. This is a fancy way of saying that the reward is drastically disproportionate to the risk.”
My overall financial goal would be to invest that way.
I want lower risks with the potential for much more upside. The more of those risks I can make whether in trading, life, or business, seems to be a good way to stack the odds in my favor for success. At least some billionaires think so.
Brandon Clay can be found podcasting at TradingStory.com.
Email Brandon – Brandon (at) TradingStory.com or Tweet him @TradingStory.
Awesome interview and totally inspiring
Thanks, Debtless –
I’m working to achieve your handle as well!
Thanks for the post Brandon.
It was awesome to kick off the series with you. Really been enjoying your podcast too!
Glad you enjoyed it Brian.
Brandon is a really cool and inspiring dude. I know he is going to reach great heights in both is podcast and trading. He is a real go-getter.
What’s sad is those “scams” or “pyramid schemes” that promise people lots of money are targeted to young people, especially college students who don’t know better. I remember many of them at my university. At the time a “friend” was telling me how stupid I was for not partaking in one of them, and then a couple months later he was asking to borrow a hundred dollars from me because his venture had yet to yield him any income. One piece of advice I give people is if someone is soliciting “investments” or “businesses” to make YOU money, be wary. In most cases, if it was so great and lucrative they’d be making enough money themselves and wouldn’t be soliciting it to you.
I totally remember one of those companies that came around when I was in college too. I almost got sucked in. I can’t remember the name of the company, but they came and gave a talk during one of my fraternity meetings. They took down names and numbers of people that were interested in the business they were pitching. Of course they made it sound very alluring. Then they set up in person meeting with each of us at a Starbucks, and used an interesting tactic to try to close us. They almost had me.
The guy that originally presented there came with a beautiful girl who actually walked me through a printed out presentation of the opportunity. Great sales tactic for college dudes that are just thinking about ass and tits :)
Then after an hour long presentation after they have you drooling over the girl (I mean the opportunity), they call someone else to get there “approval” to bring you into the company. It was quite an act. Then they tell you, you are in, and that all you have to do now is invest $450 into your new business…which they had already convinced you that you would make back in the first couple of weeks.
At that point my BS meter went off. I had a hard time just telling them no. So I told them that I keep all my money in an online savings account that I would have to initiate a transfer to my checking and that it would be at least a couple days before I could make the investment. They really got pushy. Then I said that if it’s such a sure thing that I will make my money back in a few weeks, why don’t I just pay them once I make some money.
To make a long story short, they ended up being really pissed off when I told them that I decided it wasn’t for me.
You definitely had a better BS-o-meter than me, GYFG. Thankfully, mine’s a bit more developed these days.
There’s also all the slightly less scammy ones but largely revolve around selling to friends and family, like NW Mutual or Cutco.
Awesome work on creating a career out of nothing for yourself.
It can be done, Adam. Takes a little faith and a lot of heart, but it can be done.
Interesting life story to read. You made a great come back after being scammed.
The career switch you made via copy writer into online digital marketing is inspirational. Should keep me motivated to keep my own blog experiment running.
Just checked out your site and the timing is great. Today while working in the garden I realized I could use some podcasts to combine with gardeing. This problem is now solved.
thx for the story and good luck with the plan
Thanks, Amber – it was a tough blow back then. And I’ve had a couple more since then, but not that disheartening. There’s just something to be said for persistence. That, and prayer too :)
Nice to meet you Brandon. Good luck with the podcast! I plan on giving it a listen.
Sounds great, Brian – have a good one!
“The only thing that is more expensive than education is ignorance.” – Ben Franklin
Brandon, thanks for sharing your story. I admire your ambition, and perseverance. That ‘lesson’ you learned has a special meaning for me. One of my financial mentors also invested in this greeting-card ‘opportunity’. He did not sell a single card in nine months, before he folded his tent and re-sold his inventory for 10 cents on the dollar. This happened to him in…wait for it…1988. Ugh. But, like you, it turned out to be a cheap education though it seemed devastating at the time. He also buckled down and continued pursuing ‘freedom.’
My pursuit has been anything but a straight line. More like bursts of inspiration. But something about this time feels different. Keep driving, JayCeezy!