It May be the Industry That Sucks and Not You


Tom Corley boats - crop

Back in early 1991 I was really just getting starting in my career as a corporate tax specialist. I had recently passed a rigorous three day, 22-hour exam and was awarded the prestigious CPA designation. With that CPA in hand I was able to secure a higher paying job as a Tax Manager in a large cement manufacturing company that was on the precipice of going public (issuing stock to the public via one of the stock exchanges) in the U.S.

Along with my new responsibilities as a Tax Manager, I was spending 3 nights a week attending graduate school to get my Masters degree in Taxation. I was also working  15-20 hours a week part time as a tax preparer for a friend’s CPA firm in order to pay for graduate school.

I was burning the candle at both ends but I was happy because my future looked bright. Once my company went public, I stood to make a lot of money in the form of stock bonuses and stock options.

Then the recession hit. My company lost $20 million dollars in 1992 because of that recession. Upper management issued a company-wide memo, informing all employees that salaries would be frozen for at least one year.

I remember sitting at a bar with my boss shortly after the news hit. We had both worked so hard the past two years organizing our tax department, hiring the right staff and putting smart systems and processes in place. We invested our lives in our company, at the expense of family time. We were both very down and we decided to drown our sorrows with some beer. We talked about the situation we found ourselves in. I naively suggested to my boss that things would turn around and everything would eventually work itself out. My normally optimistic boss looked me in the eyes and said that the loss likely meant our company would not go public. Then he looked down at his beer, then back up to me and said,  “it’s the industry that sucks, not us.”

I learned an important lesson from that experience. You can be the best, brightest, hardest working person in your industry, but if that industry is shrinking and not growing, all that hard work and smarts doesn’t matter. Becoming successful requires much more than working hard and working smart. You have to work hard and work smart in the right industry. Hard work and smarts are rewarded in growth industries.

Just look at those smart hard working people at Google, Apple, Uber, Facebook, or Netflix, many of whom are now multi-millionaires. Then compare them to those smart hard working people who worked at Kodak, Blockbuster, Shearson Lehman, or Barnes and Noble. These companies were all in industries that have been disrupted by technology and are either bankrupt, shut down or in steep decline.

Success isn’t easy. You have to forge the traits, habits, thinking, work ethic and good decision-making of self-made millionaires. While all of those success traits are important, good decision-making is probably the most important. It requires that you make choices in life that offer you the best chance for success. One of the biggest decisions you can make in life is in picking the industry you will devote your working life to. Make sure that industry is one that is exploding and not imploding. Plant your flag in the right industry and not just any industry. Life rewards you when you make good decisions and punishes you when you don’t.



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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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