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A billionaire paid me $30,000.
Yes, you read correctly! He initially paid me for part of my work – but refused to pay the remaining $30,000. Now, $30,000 is potentially a significant amount of money and could even represent several months or even years of income for some. However, for a billionaire, $30,000 is a relatively small amount and might not even make a noticeable difference in your wealth. It’s like comparing a pebble to a big mountain.
Now, you might be thinking, “How could this happen, AJ? Why would a billionaire care about $30,000?”
Those are two great questions. However, you’ll soon see that we both learned important lessons in the process. And what many would consider potentially devastating – I found to be invaluable. I mean, I lost $30,000 (my lawyer hates that I’m telling him this), so it’s still a hard pill to swallow.
In this article, I’m going to share the lessons I learned from that experience, in hopes that it will help you in business as well.
Related: I was robbed by someone I thought was a friend. Here’s what I learned.
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Now, a billionaire is totally different from a millionaire. You may have seen those graphs that show the difference. That’s it main.
There are only 3,331 billionaires on Earth out of 7 billion people. I want to explain this in case you don’t understand this concept. I don’t mean this in a negative way. Is that in reality, it is extremely difficult to understand this.
That means – if you measure people by net worth – “billionaire status” means you make up 0.00003% of the world’s population. This is a very specific number for an important reason.
Let’s be honest: most people don’t understand what it really means to be a billionaire. Being a billionaire is exactly as amazing as it sounds.
What do you think of first when you imagine a billionaire? It’s probably things like sickhouses that could fit entire neighborhoods, a giant yacht off the coast of Monaco, beautiful people everywhere like you’re in your own music video, and a dreamy aesthetic that fills every moment of your day.
And you would be right.
We were taken to the home of the billionaire who conned me. It was epic. His guest house alone is worth $10 million – more than 95% of millionaires can afford. looks like something off architectural summary, including custom cabinetry in a palatial bathroom, a beautiful covered lanai and spectacular sea views.
Although he owed me $30,000, he spent more than that on non-durable goods. He didn’t skimp on things like towels, napkins and sheets – everything had to be of the highest quality. That, and it also had to be of a high thread count!
I’m told he bought the main house – in one of the most expensive areas in the United States – it was the highest price ever paid for a house in that state! The price: $60 million.
The 295-acre property wasn’t even on the market at the time. So he did what any billionaire with money to burn would do: paid more than twice the appraised value of the property value. Not to be outdone by the guest house, the main house features 5 baths and 3 bedrooms and comes in at 7,400 square feet!
Clearly, this man was not short of money. Now that I’ve given you some insight into the person who made me tough, let me share a little bit about myself as well.
I’m a gurus maker
I run a social media content creation agency in Los Angeles called The Limitless Company. I study entrepreneurs, I am an entrepreneur, and I work with world-class entrepreneurs. Basically, I’m a creator for gurus – and I create content for thought leaders. I worked with 1% of individuals to grow their digital branding business.
I make them famous for the things they’re really, really good at. Then, I take that fame (or attention) and turn it into cash, book deals, sponsorships, and more.
I call it ROAC: Return On Attention Created.
We create short vertical video content for our clients and help them get engagement on social media. But it’s not just music videos. We help our clients create truly interesting and culturally relevant digital brands – brands that have the power to influence consumers with content to drive commercial activity.
Over my 15-year career in digital marketing, I’ve helped my clients generate tens of millions of dollars through physical products, digital products, branded deals, joint ventures, and more. Currently, with the few clients we work with, we are reaching millions of people every month. And all that attention we help our clients create is monetized.
In short: I film people who own their domain. But no, not in seinfeld sense. It’s more like someone who is creating their reality – someone who is already a force of nature.
I come to help you consolidate your personal brand as a “GURU” in your industry. I do it for television stars, business tycoons, tech founders, and high-profile individuals.
They go from being leaders in their industry to being leaders for your industry.
Related: 3 Business Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way
I learned a valuable lesson in the process — and the billionaire (maybe) too
We were hired to help this person produce short vertical video content. I spent time educating your team on the value of short vertical video. I explained that it’s about connecting with modern culture.
If you want to be a successful American company, I told them, you need to be connected to American culture (and pay your bills). Social media cultures represent real life in many ways. It is the lens through which people see first – when they perceive reality. I tried to convey to them how important it was to understand this correctly in context.
But unfortunately, he got in his own way. We gave the videos to his team. They asked an overseas team to review it and were confused as to why we didn’t incorporate logos, intros and endings throughout the entire video. While previously known as “best practices,” these aren’t the types of features in a video that get attention on social media. All these features consume valuable time, interrupt flow, decrease engagement, and make the video less authentic on the platform.
I also want to mention that even before signing the contract, we allocated resources and time to the project. But that didn’t matter to him or his integrity. Because, you see, when you reach that kind of level, you technically don’t have to worry about anything.
A big lesson for him and all billionaires: just because they had that unicorn grand slam doesn’t mean it will be repeated. This new company was different from what had done he a billionaire. Clearly, billionaires fail too – and this was just that. Also, for me, seeing a billionaire try to navigate a company and industry they didn’t know made me realize how much power I have. It made me see the true value of skills in the digital world.
The billionaire story is a classic example of how things can go wrong even at the highest level. But, as I said at the beginning, for a billionaire, $30,000 might not be a significant amount. It’s like a drop in the bucket for them. So it takes a special person to be that stubborn.
I later found out that this particular billionaire had a reputation for not paying his bills. Even when I signed the contract with him at the beginning, I thought to myself, “I won’t have any problems getting this money.”
I usually charge in advance. However, this agreement was written by your company and for your convenience I have just moved on. Big mistake. In the end, we both learned valuable lessons from the experience. I’m probably the only one who did something about it.
Victim or creator? Which one of them is you?
Now, this wasn’t the first time I was “screwed”. I’m not the same person I used to be – a victim.
I realized that there are two types of people in life. There are people who are “victims” – they sit idly and watch life happen to them. And the other group is the “creators”. They are people who see life happen for them. They are the cause. They believe that life happens to them – to create.
The fundamental difference between the victim mentality and the creator mentality is where they place their attention. For victims, the focus is on what they don’t want. Problems constantly preoccupy their lives, and they fear loss of control or loss of purpose.
Creators put their focus on what they want. Instead of focusing on problems, they find (or even create) solutions. So when this billionaire guy toughened me up, instead of making me a victim, I chose to use it as a lesson. And I take this lesson to Limitless. I help people do one very specific thing: create a “guru” brand. This is a “vehicle” that accelerates your career.
So, just like any vehicle needs to go to the gas station and pay for gas in advance, that’s how I set up my company’s services. I’m fueling their brand in the digital world the way gasoline fuels a vehicle in the physical world.
Related: 8 Ways to Prevent You and Others from Being Scammed
Use this as a lesson for your own success.
There are three main things I want you to take away from my experience. First, you need to value your time as a creator. Get paid upfront for the work you do. Don’t be a victim of your circumstances – or someone else’s.
Second, never let your own success be your undoing. Get out of your own way. As a guru in any field, you have a huge responsibility to yourself, your team, and your audience. Take it seriously.
Third, digital world skills have become so valuable that everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status, needs them. So get really good at it.
Remember: To be exceptional, you must be an exception. As you create and build your brand, share that greatness with your customers.