From Janitor to Respected International Author Began With a Dream

Rich Habits

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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.

But I did begin to dream. Slowly at first. I dreamed of maybe working for a big accounting firm after graduating college. It took a few years of wandering the wilderness, but eventually I found myself at Arthur Anderson. At the time I joined Arthur Anderson, they were the #1 CPA firm in the country.  

And realizing that dream took me to Chicago, on a plane. Not once but numerous times. Anderson had a training facility just outside of Chicago in St. Charles. I spent many weeks training and teaching new hires there. I learned how to teach and to speak in public at Arthur Anderson.

Pursuing and realizing that dream, helped me to grow.

And then I had another dream. That dream was to become an expert in taxation. So, while at Arthur Anderson, I went to grad school at night, pursuing a Masters in Taxation.

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 promotions and more money. Maybe a big job working for a big corporation.

I realized that corporate dream. That corporate dream took me to Toronto, Canada. It also took me to Pittsburgh, Washington, DC, Louisville and Puerto Rico.

That corporate dream taught me how to prepare very complex consolidated corporate tax returns, how to do a tax provision, how to handle the tax consequences of mergers and acquisitions, how to resolve complex audits, and how to manage many people.

Pursuing and realizing that dream, helped me to grow.

My most recent dream was a bold one. I wanted to learn the secret to creating wealth. More specifically, I wanted to understand why some people were rich and others were poor. So, I spent five years studying 361 rich people and poor people. My research revealed to me what I now believe to be the primary driver of wealth and poverty – your daily habits.

That dream helped me to learn about the root causes of wealth and poverty.

Pursuing and realizing that dream, helped me to grow.

I then had another dream, once I completed my Study. I wanted to teach people about the daily 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 my Rich Habits.

Which led to another dream – writing a book.

Dreams push you into rabbit holes you never imagined you’d wander into.

So I decided to write a book called Rich Habits. I had no experience in writing a book. I was a CPA, not a writer.

Nonetheless, I followed my dream, like following crumbs. It was a struggle in the beginning. I learned that successful authors are all good writers, but more importantly, they are 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 of fruitless effort, I got my first 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 with 2.2 million hits in just 24 hours. That was 1.8 million more hits than that show had ever seen in its entire history.

I sold tens of thousands of books.

The Yahoo interview also caught the attention of Dave Ramsey, the number three radio host in the U.S. Dave had at the time 8.7 million devoted listeners.

The pursuit of dreams often have unexpected consequences. Some good, some bad.

This was a good one. A very good one.

Dave was supposed to interview me for one segment. In the radio world, one segment is about six minutes.

Our interview lasted 30 minutes. Dave loved my Rich Habits research. I will never forget that interview.

I sold about ten thousand books thanks to Dave.  

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 and his Rich Habits.

Once again, I sold thousands of books.

The best part?

All of those book sales helped me to pay for college for my three kids – a cost of about $405,000, at the time.

My dream continues to pay dividends.

I’ve traveled to Australia four times to speak at Michael Yardney’s Wealth Retreat.

It took me to Toronto where I spoke in front of 188 millionaires and 3 billionaires at Robin Sharma’s Titan Summit.

It’s taken me to Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to speak at The Achievers Congress, along with Mark Victor Hansen. I even had dinner with Mark and his lovely wife, Crystal.

It took me to many universities around the country to speak.  

That’s the amazing power of pursuing your dreams. They push you outside your comfort zone, which forces you down rabbit holes that help you to grow and improve

To every dreamer out there – pursue your dreams. Every one of them. Go down every rabbit hole.

You never know where your dreams will take you and who you will meet along the way

But more importantly, when you pursue dreams, they transform you into a new and improved version of yourself.

A better you emerges on the other side of your dreams!

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  1. Jose Alfredo Sanchez on June 28, 2021 at 7:56 AM

    Inspiring!! dreams are as storms in our life, suddenly are with us, full of flash of lightning, thunder to get us out from comfort zone, these could be scaring or hopeful but the most important is that after these always is a rainbow to guide us to the dreamed golden pot.

  2. khadija on June 28, 2021 at 3:42 PM

    Truely inspiring! Especially when one struggles with limited monetary means, you think how will i ever make it? Will i be a success? “I just need money” is the common belief people have about getting an opportunity or getting breaks in life in order to succed. Inspiring stories like these prove this common notion wrong. Your daily habits are what make you who you are. So we as humans can’t keep making excuses for ourselves claiming “if only i had money, i too could conquer the world someday!” We hear stories on tv how people in dire situations made the choice to take the first step to change their lives for the better & it all starts with an idea. Thank you sir for sharing this story.

  3. Michael on June 29, 2021 at 12:24 AM

    Good stuff Tom! Glad your journey has taken you here!