My Journey From Janitor to World Famous Author Began With a Dream

Rich Habits
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I was 24 when I took my first flight in a plane. Growing up poor didn’t give me much 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.

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. But eventually I found myself at 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, 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 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, 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 also forced me to grow.

My most recent dream was a bold one. I wanted to understand why some people were rich and others were 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 – your daily habits. That dream forced me to grow and learn about the causes of wealth and poverty.

I then had another dream. I wanted 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.

Which led to another dream – writing a book. Dreams are like that. They push you into rabbit holes you never imagined you’d wander off to. So I wrote a book – 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 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 will never forget that interview.

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 me Tom Corley of my Rich Habits before.

My dream continues to pay dividends. I’ve traveled to Australia to speak, 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 about my Rich Habits 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 the University and UNC Chapel Hill to speak.

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 or who you will meet along the way. 

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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!

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