Bestselling author, leadership coach, and former Yahoo! executive Tim Sanders knows how you feel. His father’s unexpected death put him in a downward spiral for fifteen years—what he calls his “sideways years.” In 1996, a photo of a dusty water tower in Texas finally got his attention. That’s when he realized he needed to go home to his rock—his grandmother Billye, who had taken him in when he was four and raised him as her own.
Rediscovering the lessons she had taught him as a child turned Tim’s life around and, in less than four years, catapulted him to financial security and an officer-level role at an S&P 500 company at the center of the Internet revolution. Today, his promise to himself is “I will never forget those lessons. The price is too high.” Join Tim as he rediscovers the classic principles of confident living that some of the most successful and joyful people you know live by.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||575 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
TODAY WE ARE RICHHARNESSING THE POWER OF TOTAL CONFIDENCE
By Tim Sanders
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Tim Sanders
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSIDEWAYS YEARS
I first met Eric Goldhart in 1997. With his toned physique and strong, confident demeanor, he was known as a "rock star" at his company. As the top producer and de facto sales leader at his dot-com start-up in Dallas, Eric possessed a charismatic let-me-lead-you personality that could convince even the most conservative staffing professionals to spend money with his Internet company. Eternally optimistic, Eric had a ready answer for any prospect's objection. In fact, he loved skeptical clients or tough audiences because he saw them not as obstacles but as opportunities.
Eric and I met when I was asked to give a presentation at his company's annual sales-awards dinner. We hit it off immediately because we had a lot in common: We'd both been raised by our grandmothers. We liked to read the same types of books. We'd both been successful in our fields and had similar dreams of running our own companies someday.
In the months that followed, we spun it up over long lunches, exchanging tips and dreaming about when we would eventually make it big in the business world. And the next year I wasn't surprised to hear that Eric had been recruited by a Seattle-based leasing company as the western regional vice president of sales. As far as I knew, Eric was well on his way to running Microsoft someday.
I didn't hear from Eric again until early 2002, when an e-mail from him arrived, asking me for a few minutes on the phone. I could tell by the tone of his e-mail that something was very wrong. This was not the "rock star" I once knew. This was someone who had lost his way and needed help. I called him that weekend, and we talked for over an hour as he laid out his problem in detail.
Since 2001, the dot-com industry had been under fire from Wall Street, and Eric's region, which stretched from Silicon Valley to Seattle, had been the hardest hit. Each week start-ups of all types were running out of cash and shuttering their businesses, breaking leases, and selling cubicles and computers for pennies on the dollar.
The mood in the industry was darker than the weather, and just as depressing. As survivor companies implemented massive layoffs, Eric found himself pummeled from every side by messages of fear and insecurity. When he worked out at the gym, talking heads on cable television spelled out all the ways the coming recession would likely unfold. Newspapers ran headlines hysterically predicting the end of the Internet era. Even Eric's coworkers were growing increasingly concerned and wondering when the hammer would drop on them, too.
Even though Eric was a long-standing optimist, he couldn't resist the fear chatter. Against his better judgment, he read, listened to, and viewed these scare-lines like drivers who can't look away from a car-crash scene. Before long, his positive outlook evaporated. He began to question his ability and commitment and to wonder whether he had enough talent and drive to survive the impending economic storm. He even started to feel guilty for taking downtime or enjoying himself, attributing the root of the dot-com industry's failures to an overabundance of fun.
Suffering from a shortage of confidence, Eric became doubtful about his own company's chances of survival, even though senior management was holding to a more positive, wait-and-see attitude. Deciding to take on this fight himself, Eric hunkered down and told himself that it was up to him to come up with instant sales solutions.
He stopped going to the gym because he felt guilty when he wasn't working. Leaving work at six in the evening felt morally wrong—inasmuch as the ship was presumably sinking—so he stayed late at the office, missing dinner with his wife and two toddlers.
Even when he was at home, his mind stayed in overdrive mode. He snapped at his wife and kids, locked himself away in the den with his computer, and sat glued to the cable news channels for hours at a time. He stopped having morning devotions—they seemed insipid in the face of reality—and attending church with his family. The only thing that mattered was finding some way out of the mess in which he found himself.
Trapped in an emotional spin cycle and sleeping fitfully at best, Eric started chewing his fingernails and developed puffy circles under his eyes. At work, his productivity plummeted faster than the stock market. He wasted hours rereading the same set of bad numbers from a variety of sources. He pored over an endless supply of downward projections and combed the Internet for more bad news on the horizon.
For every minute Eric worked, he worried for ten. And his outlook was contagious. He badgered his salespeople to work harder because times were apocalyptic. In meetings, he filled his coworkers with personal doubts and fears, which led to a swift decline in personal productivity on their part. Customer sales calls often ended up with a gloom-and-doom session that left all parties worse off than when they started.
At the end of the year, Eric's boss gave him a lukewarm annual review and a warning: "Get your groove back, or I'll have to replace you." Eric had never been demoted or fired in his young career, and now he was on the brink of both.
At this point, Eric was running on empty. He was in a full-blown personal recession. He was shrinking as a person, drinking far too much, and chasing away everyone in his life. He knew things had to change, and on New Year's Eve he made a resolution: I'm going to get help, and I'm going to make a comeback.
That's when he wrote to me.
As I listened to Eric talk on the phone that afternoon, I had to admit that his story sounded eerily familiar. He described 2001 as a year he failed to move forward in any part of his life; in other words, he had experienced his first "sideways" year. At that point, I knew I could help him. He'd only had one of those years. I'd had fifteen of them in a row. My sideways years had stretched from my early twenties to my midthirties, and I was proof positive that you can fill your tank back up and come roaring back.
I knew that the way for me to help Eric was to share my story with him, one that I'd always been reluctant to tell.
* * *
It was late summer 1981, and I was out for a spin west of town in my candy-apple-red Pontiac Astre, rocking out to an eight- track tape of the band Yes on my new car stereo. The song "Close to the Edge" was playing, and I was singing along at the top of my lungs when I noticed flashing headlights in my rearview mirror. When I pulled over, I recognized my uncle Jim's black Monte Carlo rolling up behind me. We got out of our cars, and when he approached me, he put his hand on my shoulder and said with a heavy sigh, "I don't know how else to say this. Your father's been murdered, Tim. I'm so sorry."
I stood there on the side of the road in shock, mumbling the words back to him, "My father's been murdered...."
As I followed Jim back to the house, a slide show of times with Dad played in my mind. I could smell his aftershave—he always wore Brut—and feel his whiskers pressing against my cheek as he hugged me. Fighting tears, I tried to distract myself by changing tapes in the car, only to hear Diana Ross and the Supremes sing "Someday We'll Be Together." I had to keep my eyes glued to Jim's taillights for the rest of the way home to avoid driving off the road.
Even though I had spent only a week or so with my dad each summer when I was growing up, he had made a big impression on me. He had been forced to give me up twice: first to his wife (my mom) and then later to his own mother (Billye) when my mom decided she couldn't raise me. My dad had a jack-of-all-trades career and a big-city lifestyle, and he knew I would be better off with Billye. Even though we were apart, he called me often, mostly to tell me how much he loved me.
The week before his death, my father, Tom Sanders, had accepted a writing position with a television production company in Los Angeles, the same city where I was attending college. It was the first time we would be living in the same city, and I had been looking forward to getting to know him better. He was funny, smart, and sophisticated and had always been one of my biggest fans.
Now, it was all gone. Our reunion seemed to have been canceled by fate.
When I got home, Billye was there, surrounded by friends and family. She knew I would be a wreck, so when she saw me come through the front door, she stood up and extended her arms toward me. She was ready to comfort me, as she always did during my difficult moments. Billye had always been my rock. Her solid faith and serene confidence had inspired me to achieve so much during high school and my first two years in college.
For years Billye had taught me confidence lessons as I sat perched on the edge of the bathtub. While she shaped her beehive hairdo, she shared tips I could employ the next day. Her lessons had paid off in my life. I went from being labeled a "discipline problem" and being placed in the local special-education program in second grade to returning to public school and making the honor roll in sixth grade, in spite of being called "Short Bus Sanders" by the other kids. By my senior year of high school, I was on a roll: class president and state champion in debate. Just a few months before my dad's death, I had received a debate scholarship to finish college at a prestigious school on the West Coast, after winning several junior college national championships. Yes, Billye's hard-won life lessons on confidence had turned my life around.
Yet on that day, something inside me snapped. As Billye tried to get me to join her prayer circle of family and friends, I snarled, "Why would God do this to him? Why would he do this to me?" She was crestfallen and hurt. She didn't have the energy to pursue me. All she could do was bow her head and begin to pray.
Billye's words about a loving God didn't make sense to me anymore. In an instant my faith had been shattered. Suddenly, I no longer trusted anyone. Since all of Billye's principles were based, in some part, on her faith, her teachings no longer had the ring of truth to me.
When I left Clovis to move to California later that month, rejecting everything Billye had taught over the years about how to live life, I didn't take a single book from the family library with me, even though Billye offered them all. I didn't even bring my Bible.
As I went through the motions of my junior year in college at Loyola Marymount University, everything was different. I no longer cared about earning good grades or making something of myself. I skipped classes, took shortcuts in my research, and coasted along, just getting by with what little confidence I had leftover from the previous years.
My sideways years had begun.
When I moved to Tucson to attend graduate school, my attitude shifted from a simple lack of faith and trust to one of full-blown negativity. I decided that my championship years as a debater had been little more than dumb luck, and I figured I'd better take whatever I could get in terms of a job. When I landed a consulting position at Hughes Aircraft, I again assumed it was a fluke. Since I couldn't imagine ever being successful in business, I didn't take the position seriously.
Instead, pursuing my passion for music, I joined a local band and settled into a month-to-month lifestyle that eventually left me in a broken-down school bus in an RV park just east of Dallas, Texas.
A few years later, I met Jacqueline, who became the love of my life. I was a mess at the time, but she saw something beneath my black rocker clothes and penchant for pessimism. Her son, Anthony, was four years old at the time, and I fell in love with him, too. Still, I didn't have the confidence or ambition to strive for more than living paycheck to paycheck.
I found a sales job in the cable television business that leveraged my gift of gab. And even though I made good money, I always found a way to sabotage my path toward management. I was earning a solid income, but I still wasn't happy. I had no goals other than to be discovered one day by a record mogul and stop working for "the man."
By the spring of 1996, I was near the breaking point. I quit my job, cashed in my 401(k), and devoted my energy to getting a record deal—even though I knew deep down that it was a next-to-impossible feat. I took odd jobs to help with the rent, and we ate on the tips that Jacqueline made as a hairstylist. Each day I became more disappointed in myself, and one afternoon while driving home, I had a sudden impulse to jerk the car's steering wheel to the right and drive full speed into the concrete freeway barrier. The compulsion was so strong that I had to pull the car over and stop until I regained my composure. It wasn't the first time such a dark thought had crossed my mind that year. When I told Jacqueline about it that night, I cried uncontrollably, shaking in her arms as she tried to console me.
I was far away from the wide-eyed kid Billye had taught to love life and achieve great things. I knew I needed to find a way out of my sideways years, even if it meant going backward—back to a time and place where life made sense.
Chapter TwoTHE AWAKENING
Eric and I had our second coaching phone call the week of Valentine's Day 2002. I began our conversation with a question: "What are you not doing today that you were doing when I first met you?"
"I'm not sure what you mean," Eric said, laughing nervously.
"What investments in yourself and others are you no longer making?" I asked. "What daily or weekly practices for a better you have fallen by the wayside?"
If Eric could answer these questions, I knew he could pull himself out of his negativity and get back on track. There was power in these words. How did I know? I was living proof. Billye had asked these exact questions of me in 1996, just months after I had nearly rammed my car into a concrete wall.
* * *
I had been emotionally disconnected from Billye ever since my dad's death. In my mind, I wasn't that little kid sitting on the edge of the bathtub anymore, listening to her spout life lessons. I'd gone off to college in Los Angeles and learned how to doubt. Now I was "worldly."
But when dark thoughts of worthlessness and suicide began to be part of my daily routine, I knew it was time for me to reconnect with my rock in life—Billye. During the Thanksgiving holiday, Jacqueline and I flew to Lubbock and rented a car to drive to Clovis. We bought a disposable camera at the local Walgreens, and I gave Jacqueline a tour of my hometown, taking pictures of places and things that had meant something to me when I was growing up: the wheat farm, the cemetery where my father was buried, the high school I attended. Billye encouraged me to take pictures of my debate trophy collection in my bedroom, which she had left proudly on display, but I refused.
"That was a hundred years ago," I snapped. I had little confidence of ever returning to the glory days of my earlier years. To me, those types of achievements would remain in the distant past forever.
Once we were back in Dallas, I turned in the camera for developing and got back twenty or so prints. As I flipped through the photos—snapshots of the farm, Billye sitting at the kitchen table, the cemetery where my dad was buried—the last picture in the stack nearly stopped my heart. It was a picture of the water tower in Sudan, Texas—the very spot where Billye took final delivery of me after my mom had abandoned me in a hotel. It wasn't the first time my hapless mom had misplaced me, but in Billye's eyes, it would be the last.
As I stared at that photo, it dawned on me that it couldn't have been a worse time for Billye to adopt a child. In addition to supporting me, she was also responsible for her eighty-five-year-old mother, Hattie. Billye's twenty-year marriage had just broken up, the bank accounts were dry, and her credit had been extended to the breaking point.
Excerpted from TODAY WE ARE RICH by Tim Sanders Copyright © 2011 by Tim Sanders. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPROLOGUE: Billye's Lesson I Never Forgot....................1
CHAPTER 1: Sideways Years....................15
CHAPTER 2: The Awakening....................27
CHAPTER 3: The Good Loop....................35
CHAPTER 4: Principle 1: Feed Your Mind Good Stuff....................45
CHAPTER 5: Principle 2: Move the Conversation Forward....................71
CHAPTER 6: Principle 3: Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle....................105
CHAPTER 7: Principle 4: Give to Be Rich....................137
CHAPTER 8: Principle 5: Prepare Yourself....................171
CHAPTER 9: Principle 6: Balance Your Confidence....................205
CHAPTER 10: Principle 7: Promise Made, Promise Kept....................243
EPILOGUE: A First Step into the Good Loop....................273
About the Author....................287
What People are Saying About This
I always say personal finance is 80% behavior; it’s only 20% head knowledge. In Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders shows you how to unleash those winning behaviors, like gratitude and persistence, to achieve the one thing we all need in order to win: confidence. You can do it, and this book can help.
Dave Ramsey, host of The Dave Ramsey Show and bestselling author of The Total Money Makeover
This is a book for the ages, a new classic, one that rewards anyone with the guts to read it. A page-turner that pays big dividends.