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Starting back from zero

Ramit Sethi

If I had to do it all over again, could I?

If I had to start my business over — with no resources, no money, no connections — could I?

Could I go back to living in a room in Mountain View, paying $800/month in rent, earning basically nothing while I got a business off the ground?

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Yeah, I think I could do it. But it would really suck.

If I’m honest with myself, I got used to being able to buy stuff on Amazon without worrying about the price. It’s no surprise that people get comfortable and more financially conservative as they get older. The surprise is how fast it happens.

So when I think about people who had to start over — going from being the best to a “nobody” the next day — I admire that a ton.

It’s one thing to be starting out from nothing and going through the usual struggles: no time, no money, no idea what to do next. I’ve done that. There’s purity in the struggle, but you also want to get out as fast as you can.

But there’s something especially painful about having been the best…and then having to start all over again.

I remember during the 2009 recession, there was an article about formerly wealthy families who had to give it all up, downsize, and give up their comforts: their houses, cars, sometimes their luxury memberships.

All the commenters were saying “Boo hoo, so sad, most of us don’t make a fraction of that.”

But there’s real pain in seeing the top, then starting at the bottom again. It’s not just about losing a car — a car is just a thing. You lose your status. You lose your identity.

Easy to mock until it happens to you.

Do you think you could do it? If you had to start all over again as a 20-year-old with no money and no connections, could you make it?

What if I asked you that question 10 years from now, when you’re more comfortable, more established? Could you start over again?

Ask your parents. I bet they’ll grimace just thinking about it.

So when I had the chance to meet someone who made it to the top — then had to start all over again — I wanted to ask him what he went through. The things most of us don’t talk about.

I got the chance to ask Bo Eason, a former NFL safety. In 1984, he became a top draft pick.

He spent 5 five years playing for the Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers before his seventh knee surgery ended his NFL career.

What do you do when one day, you were the star in front of 50,000 fans…and the next day, you’re a nobody?

As Bo told me, “Nobody leaves the NFL voluntarily. Why would you?”

I got the chance to ask him what it was like to go from being the best…to starting from zero. I think you’ll be surprised with what he shares. And you definitely will not predict what he ended up doing next.

I want to share one of my favorite parts from our chat. In it, he talks about:

  • How he handled going from being the best…to being a nobody the next day
  • How to out-compete bigger, smarter, and more gifted people at anything
  • How he convinced Al Pacino to mentor him

Check it out here:

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