It’s all too easy to concede defeat internally and relinquish control of a situation to outside factors when faced with an especially challenging set of circumstances. Recently during a conversation with a good friend, I heard a story that greatly illustrates the value in pushing through seemingly insurmountable odds.

My good friend developed a knack for trading stocks in the late nineties. In his late twenties, and working as a chef in a restaurant where work was more like play, his investing started as a hobby. Due to his intellect, and passion for research, he became extremely proficient in his new passion, earning four figure profits in a single day in many of his early trades.

His highpoint came on a day where he made over $60,000 profit with one single sale. As a result of his success, he was extended credit by many lenders, and delivered great returns on their money in short order. It seemed that at every turn there was someone willing to lend a buck to this industrious young man. He had the “midas touch” when it came to stocks, the FOREX market, you name it.

September 11, 2001 changed his fortune abruptly however, as it did for so many others. The resultant changes in the market post 9/11 stifled his methods, which were still so newly developed, and he quickly found himself over $300,000 in debt to many people.

Being that he is from a culture and upbringing in which declaring bankruptcy was considered quitting, and therefore unacceptable, he vowed to repay his debts in full in the most rapid manner possible. He maxed the credit cards that he had (close to twenty at that point) writing cash advance checks out to cover what he could, and then set out to make back every dime that he had lost.

He took a second job at an afterhours spot in Chinatown, working from midnight until five or six in the morning after leaving his full time job where he worked from three until eleven. He ate one free meal at both jobs, split a $300 per month car payment on a Honda Civic that he shared with his nephew, and lived in an apartment near the restaurant with several others. This lifestyle was a far cry from that which he had grown accustomed to as a high roller, but he knew that it was a means to an end.

In addition to his two jobs, he took on any odd job that he could, often driving friends to and from the New York City club scene, in which he had been a regular big spender before. There wasn’t much that he wasn’t willing to do if the price was right.

He was putting more than eighty-five percent of his income to work on repaying his debt. The other fifteen went to his necessary living expenses, and maintaining his child support payments, which he was never late on.

Fast forward six years of working two to three jobs seven days per week, selling back his vacation time, and living on next to nothing, and all of his debts were paid in full.

The most interesting part of this story is not that he simply made good on his debts, but rather that during this process he gained the respect of those who had trusted him with their investments as well as many others who noticed his iron work ethic.

Roughly one year later he BOUGHT the restaurant that he had worked in all of those years with money that he had saved, and money from investors that were more than willing to lend at this point.

Now he works hard behind the scenes, work is still like play, and he has a wonderful family at home who he supports with a fat $350k plus yearly income. Far from a miser, he regularly drops $500 to $1000 on nights out for his friends, many of whom are employed by him at the restaurant.

Simply put, life is good.

In a world where hard work are dirty words to many, and most (statistically) are seeking more and more government assistance and handouts, he proudly lives his rich, rewarding life knowing that he put in the work and laid each brick in his palace.

Foregoing bankruptcy when faced with $300k in debt may seem crazy to many, but I assure you that he stands by his decision today and would have it no other way.

How bad is it?

How far are you really in the hole, financially or otherwise?


Johnny Pain is the man behind StrengthVillain.com as well as the East Coast’s notorious Greyskull Barbell Club and several other ventures. He is the author of several books on subjects pertaining to strength and conditioning. He can be found comically entertaining questions on his Q and A forum at StrengthVillain.com or can be reached for consultations, training seminars, or speaking engagements at john@villainintl.com.

Also, you can follow him on Twitter: @thejohnnypain



3 Responses

  1. Jesus

    Amazing story, I was really uplifted and motivated by a professors lecture today, where he touched on similiar things. Hard Work and Persitance, I had a little setback with my education but no doubt I will finish.

    September 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    • That’s great Jesus, I’m sure that you will.

      September 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

  2. Pingback: How Improvising, Adapting, and Overcoming Can Save You - Mission Realization

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *