I was 24 when I took my first flight in a plane. Growing up poor didn’t give me much of any opportunity to travel. In fact, it wasn’t until I started my career as a CPA that I realized how much I had missed out on. At Arthur Anderson I flew for the first time to Chicago. Woe. I was dumbstruck. Everything about that first trip I remember. Emotions do that. When stoked, they enable you to remember everything.
My initial dream, out of college, was… well honestly, I didn’t have one. I was a janitor. That’s what I was. That’s how I saw myself back in college. A janitor who happened to be going to college. Dreams? Come on. Who has dreams when you are scratching just to get by? Dreams, I believed back then, were something relegated to the rich. And back then, I hated the rich. They were everything I wasn’t. So, no dreams for me.
But I did begin to dream. Slowly at first. I dreamt of maybe working for a big accounting firm after graduating college. It took a few years. But eventually it led me to Arthur Anderson. Anderson was one of the big four CPA firms in the nation. At the time I joined Arthur Anderson, they were the #1 CPA firm in the nation. And that dream come true took me to Chicago. Not once but numerous times. Anderson had a training facility just outside of Chicago in St. Charles. I spent many weeks in training there. I also spent many weeks teaching new hires there. I learned how to teach at Arthur Anderson. I learned how to speak in front of others at Arthur Anderson. That dream forced me to grow.
And then I had another dream. That dream was to become an expert in taxation. So, while at Arthur Anderson, I started grad school. A Masters in Taxation program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I thought, at the time, that if I could get my Masters in Tax it would help me become an expert in taxation. And that, I thought, would lead to something. Maybe a big job working for a big corporation. I realized that dream. That dream took me to Toronto, Canada. It also took me to Pittsburgh, Washington, DC, Louisville and Puerto Rico. That dream forced me to grow.
My most recent dream was a bold one. I wanted to understand why some people get rich and others poor. So, I spent 5 years studying rich people and poor people. My research revealed to me what I now believe to be the cause of wealth and poverty – daily habits.
I then had another dream. To teach people about the habits of the rich and poor. I put on training sessions in the conference room of my office. I must have done about a dozen of those training sessions. A few students had success. They begged me to write a book about those habits.
So, that dream led me to another dream. Writing a book. Dreams are like that. They push you into rabbit holes you never imagined you’d explore. So I did write a book – Rich Habits. I had no experience in writing a book. I was a CPA, not a writer.
Nonetheless, I followed my dream. It was a struggle in the beginning. I learned that successful authors are good writers and great promoters. So, I had to figure out how to promote myself. I don’t like promoting myself. But dreams force us to do things we don’t necessarily like to do but have to do. So, I started pitching the media, 3-5 hours a day, 7 days a week. After 4+ years I got my first media break. Yahoo Finance. They sent an entire production team into my office to interview me for one of their most popular Internet TV shows – Financially Fit. When they released the interview in July of 2013 it went viral. 2.2 million hits within 24 hours. That was 1.8 million more hits than that show had ever seen in its entire history. I sold thousands of books. The interview drew the attention of Dave Ramsey, the number 3 radio host in the U.S. Dave had at the time 8.7 million devoted listeners. He interviewed me for 30 minutes on a Friday. I sold thousand more books. Then CBS came knocking. I ran up to Boston to shoot an interview with CBS. That national TV interview exposed me to over 10 million people who never heard of Tom Corley before.
My dream continues to pay dividends. Last week it took me to Australia, where I spoke to 50 of Australia’s most successful real estate investors. It took me to Toronto where I spoke in front of 188 millionaires and 3 billionaires about my Rich Habits. It’s taken me to several colleges I only knew about from the sports section of newspapers: the University or Maryland and UNC Chapel Hill. I was just asked to speak at an event in South Africa. South Africa! Man. One dream and three new continents.
That’s the power of pursuing your dreams. They challenge you. They force you outside your comfort zone. But it’s only outside your comfort zone that you grow as a human being and evolve. So, I say to every dreamer out there – pursue your dreams. Every one of them. You never know where your dreams will take you. Dreams don’t care where you begin. They don’t care that you’re a janitor.
Dreams don’t see who you are. They only see who you can be.