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When looking at entrepreneurs who inspire admiration and respect, it’s easy to think that they have always been where they are. In reality, that is almost never the case. Every successful entrepreneur has overcome tremendous adversity to get to where he is today, and despite what it may seem to the public, he still faces tremendous adversity every day.
Budding entrepreneurs must understand that behind the carefully crafted public image, the world of entrepreneurship is difficult, frustrating, and courageous. It is also incredibly rewarding.
Today I am going to share the story of Charles Payne. Most people know him as the host of a popular Fox Business show, Make money with Charles Payne. But what most people don’t know is that in addition to being a financial brains and television host, he is also a tremendously successful entrepreneur and an Air Force veteran who has overcome tremendous adversity throughout his life. And that ability to overcome adversity, combined with his financial prowess, is the reason he’s accomplished so much.
It started at a young age when Payne grew up with two different childhoods. One as an Army brat, on the move every year but living an incredible life, and later, one of poverty and violence when his parents separated and his mother moved him and his siblings to Harlem, New York.
It was at that moment that Payne realized how lucky he had been.
A tumultuous early life
“Growing up on military bases, particularly in the 60s and 70s, it protected you from everything that was happening in the world,” says Payne. “I immediately saw the harshness, the poverty and the frustration. It was a culture shock. And the other part was the financial challenges. “
Payne admits he was naive, and when his family got their first apartment after moving in, they spent their first winter without heat or hot water: “I never thought where the heat or hot water came from. Up to this point, I thought every place came with a fresh coat of paint, heat, hot water, and the things most of us just take for granted. “
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Payne says poverty and violence were the parts that really stuck with him. He remembers running over addicts on the sidewalks on his way to and from school. But he wasn’t about to wallow in self-pity, so as the eldest son, he stepped up and went to work to help support his family.
“I did everything I could,” says Payne. “I started cleaning windshields at traffic lights and finally got a job in a warehouse, which was great. We were so poor that I started to really think about money, and I had never thought about it for a single day of my life until then. I felt a responsibility to bring the money we needed as a family. It was then that I thought of the stock market. I think we all think of Wall Street when we think of money, so I started reading The Wall Street Journal. “
However, things did not change immediately. As Payne explains, “It was very tough. If people could go back and look at what the old man Wall street journal It used to be, it was just a bunch of tables and lines and no explanations. It took me a long time to know what was going on. “
When he was 14, Payne told his mother that he was going to work on Wall Street. He bought his first investment, a mutual fund, at age 17, enrolled in the Air Force that year as well, and shortly after turning 18 he went to training camp. While enrolled, Payne enrolled in college and completed his degree. Upon graduation, he had a wife and son and $ 1,000 to his name.
A time for change
“When I got out of the Air Force, it was my wife, my daughter, and I living in a one-bedroom apartment,” he recalls. “It was as if I had come full circle to where I had started, so I immediately started working two different jobs while still going to college.
That’s where he said everything started to change: “I got the call for a job at EF Hutton, and that was one of the 10 best moments of my life. It was $ 13,000 per year, which at the time was all the money in the world to me. But now he was working on Wall Street. I was the shortest man on the totem pole, but I was there. “
He continues: “I was working in the research department, which wasn’t a lot of money, so when the opportunity to become a broker presented itself, I jumped at it. But the thing is, being a broker has a 100% commission, so it was really scary. When I got my first check, my daughter had been wearing the same pair of diapers for over 24 hours and we had a can of food in the house. Honestly, if it weren’t for my daughter, I probably would have given up. “
But this was just beginning, because being a broker means selling every day. Usually your leads come from old phone books that other brokers have cold called hundreds of times, so you face constant rejection. However, there was one call in particular that changed Payne’s perspective on sales.
“There was a guy I looked up my first week or two who said, ‘Okay, you can read fine, but what do you want?’” Recalls Payne. “So I threw out the script and just talked to these people. From there, I was instantly successful. In my first full month in business, I had the most new accounts in the office. “
Payne was on his way, but this wasn’t exactly what he thought it would be. He had dreamed of being a broker and finding incredible stock buying opportunities, but despite generating more business than any other broker in the firm, he was making less money. That’s because he was selling the stocks he believed would be the best for his clients, while the other brokers were selling the house stocks, which they made the most money on.
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The entrepreneurial spirit comes calling
After a few years as a broker, he plucked up the courage to start his own research company, called Wall Street Strategies. Payne ran this company from a one-bedroom apartment in Harlem, where he handled sales by day and research by night.
Getting started was tough, but it got to the point where he was able to hire an employee, and soon after, he was able to move the company to Wall Street. Soon enough, Payne’s reputation began to spread and he received a call from CNBC wanting to have him as a commentator. That created additional opportunities at CNN, Bloomberg and Fox.
“Along the way, I learned that the peaks and valleys, particularly in an industry like Wall Street, are sharp,” he says, stressing again that the more successful we are, the greater the problems we face become. Great, they are great, but when they are bad, they are really bad. I’ve seen both. I started my business hand in hand and got into trouble when the market exploded during 2000-2001, so we basically worked hand in hand for about three years. “
At that point, Payne had built his business to about 50 employees and now he had to start laying off people. He recalls a particularly difficult case in which he had to fire a young woman who first came to his company as a high school intern.
“Her teacher had given her the assignment to write about an American who had inspired her, and she wrote it about me,” she says wistfully. “That moved me a lot. When I had to fire her, that was the only time I cried because she was an amazing young woman who held me in such high regard. “
His company was decimated from more than 50 employees to just seven. Throughout these ups and downs, he faced financial difficulties and even declared bankruptcy. Payne says it’s easy to give up, though he never did, and he never felt like he was going to fail, even though he fell pretty hard every now and then.
Payne credits his mother and father for that mindset. His mother, he says, because he never gave up and persevered through all the adversities that life threw at him, and his father because of the military discipline he instilled in him. And while he once modeled his thinking and actions on the basis of his parents, he now sets an example for others on the path to success.
And Payne is no stranger to helping others be more successful. In addition to sharing their financial knowledge, as well as the knowledge of other expert collaborators, in Earn money, his most recent book, Unstoppable prosperity, you are helping people make the right investment decisions in their lives. Payne is also working on another book that he hopes to have finished shortly.
Payne is committed to the mission of helping ordinary people take control of their financial independence, a mission that has played a tremendous role in their ability to overcome the adversity they have faced as an entrepreneur. And it just encourages the obviousness that when we focus on ourselves, it’s easy to give up when the going gets tough, but when we focus on serving others, we can overcome anything.