Watching your family struggle financially isn’t easy, especially when you’re growing up and can’t do much to help. Is the conventional family...
Watching your family struggle financially isn’t easy, especially when you’re growing up and can’t do much to help. I am from a family of Canadian coal miners. When my parents were growing up, the coal mines started closing, and the work vanished. When my mom was pregnant with my older brother, they decided to move to Western Canada for a better life.
My mom ended up raising my brother and I on her own. She lived with my alcoholic father. She slept on a futon with me to give my brother a bedroom. She worked three jobs to provide for us. She’s sacrificed everything to give us the best opportunities. These are things you don’t forget. From a young age, I knew that I would have to financially retire my mom. We have retirement saving options in Canada like 401Ks and Roth IRAs, but she was more concerned with the next day, and making it until the next paycheck. When I was turning 23—and she was facing the loss of her job—I set a deadline to make sure she could spend her aging years not doing the work she had had to do for so many decades.
On January 1, 2012 I set off on a two-year challenge to earn one million dollars to set my mom up for retirement. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I promised myself that I would do everything I could. I love my mom. She defines strength for me. This is my way of giving back to her.
I began my challenge by calling my mentor, the CEO of the Canadian Property Stars, a property maintenance company I used to work for. He gave me two books to read and introduced me to another entrepreneur in the mobile banking industry to interview.
I posted my challenge on Facebook and Twitter, and I was shocked at how many people started following it. My inbox flooded with people expressing how they were going through the same things. That’s when I realized I was adding a lot of value by sharing what I was learning along the way. I realized there are a lot of young, driven people who want to better their situations, and those of their parents, friends or kids. They were looking to be steered in the right direction. I started filming vlogs about my experiences on my iPhone. When I received positive feedback from that, I sold my car to buy better equipment and decided to turn it into a documentary.
I’m now 18 months into meeting my goal to retire my mom, and I’ve started several start-up businesses, interviewed nearly 20 outliers and millionaires, and guest lectured at McGill University to share my story. Since the start of the challenge I’ve launched two apps businesses, one of which will be valued at six figures by the end of next month, and a recipe e-Book business that has a cook book available on Amazon’s publishing platform. I make entertaining apps for iOS and Android too. My first app, Scare-ify, has been downloaded over 10,000 times. Since then, I’ve released 11 additional apps between the two businesses. My functional app, Paint Color Pro, allows you to select and discover paint colors and themes for your home or business. I’ve learned more useful knowledge self-educating over the last 18 months than I did in my last 10 years of formal schooling.
If I want to have a fighting change of hitting this thing, I have to re-invest all of my earnings back into the businesses so I can develop more e-Books and apps and make the businesses grow. I can’t afford to hire a production company to continue filming my story. I’ve created a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to continue the filming of the documentary until its completion at the end of the year.
On either Christmas or New Years this year, I’m aiming to buy my mom a house, her dream car (this old 1972 Saab), and send her on a world trip (she’s never traveled). I want her to travel with a friend, and visit her periodically along the trip. She turns 50 this year and I want these years to be the best of her life.
With this film, I aim to inspire 18 to 24 year olds to set ambitious goals, find mentors, and go after dreams. I’m planning a college speaking tour in the first and second quarter of 2014. Beyond that, I would like to start investing in, and advising young entrepreneurs who are looking to make a positive social impact. If you’d like to be a part of filming my story, check out my Indiegogo campaign.
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