For much of my life, I believed that the definition of success was financial freedom—not having to work for a living. There is some logic to this belief. If we're financially free, we've made it. If we don't have to work for a living, we're free to do all the things that we enjoy or whatever is most important to us.
As I got older, this belief became stronger and stronger. By the time I finished college and began my career as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, achieving financial freedom became a very high priority for me. In fact, I had a goal of achieving financial freedom by the time I turned 30.
With this goal of financial freedom in mind, I became very focused on money. I spent a lot of my spare time studying investment in stocks, bonds, futures, options, and real estate. I studied entrepreneurship and business and management. If I thought it could help me become financially free, I was interested.
Then came the conversation that changed the course of my life.
It was the fall of the year 2000, and I was on deployment with my unit, headed for the Middle East. On this fateful day, I was on liberty in Singapore, hanging out with a friend of mine who I hadn't seen since officer candidates' school. My friend, who we'll call “Bob,” was a finance officer. He was in charge of all the money we had on ship.
We were both talking about how although we liked being Marines, we weren't really enjoying our jobs, and we weren't really happy. Suddenly, Bob ...