7 Million 7 Years – Best of the Best Blogger Series

Next up, in the 48th edition of our Best of the Best Blogger series, you’re all in for a special treat. I had the opportunity to speak with Adrian Cartwood, owner of 7Million7Years.com.

As a business owner and fellow blogger, I really gravitated to Adrian’s personal story. His journey really began back in the mid-1990’s when he had an epiphany about his personal finances. As a small business owner who was deep in debt and struggling to make it, he suddenly realized that money, or making money, wasn’t that important to him. What was important to him was personal success, living the life he had imagined.  He suddenly realized that financial security was simply one of the legs on the chair of personal success, and while it might be an important leg on the chair, it was still only one leg of the chair, it wasn’t the chair itself.

Adrian’s transformation began by trying to figure out what his life’s true purpose really was. Starting with the “end in mind”, he framed his dream life by figuring out exactly what financial means he would need to live the life he had dreamt about.  The number he came up with was $7 million dollars.  As it turns out, having a very specific number in mind for personal financial success is one of the cornerstones of achievement according to personal finance and self-help patriarchs such as Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.

So, Adrian immediately went to work.  He quickly discovered that he had very little knowledge about building wealth and personal financial success so he had to educate himself … and he had to do it quickly.  He started reading everything that he could get his hands on about about finance, investing and the various methods of growing your personal wealth.  He knew that he wanted to do something tangible and meaningful with his pursuit and soon gravitated to the real estate market as his most logical choice because of his passion and interest in the subject matter.

And alas, 7Million7Years.com was born.

Adrian has been incredibly successful because he had a burning desire to escape the rat race and live the life he had imagined, he then prepared himself adequately and pursued his vision with maniacal intent.  I truly admire people like Adrian because they combine the right balance of mindfulness, ambition and singleness of purpose.

We sat down with Adrian recently to talk about mental breakthroughs, quantifying your dreams and the dangers of sugar-coated advice.

Tell me about the genesis of 7million7years.com and how it all started. How has your measure of success evolved since making that first $7 million?

Back in 1998, I was a struggling small business owner, barely breaking even and $30k in debt. It was then that I made the mental breakthrough that utterly and completely changed my life: I realized that my life wasn’t about money, money was simply there to support my life.

That started a whole self-discovery process that I am about to share in my first book (to be released soon) that began with finding my life’s true purpose. It also showed me exactly how much money I would need to support the kind of life that I was dreaming of.

Once I realized that I needed to be rich – $7 million in 7 years kind of rich – it triggered a whole set of follow-on actions, the first being the realization that I actually knew nothing about money: how to make it, how to keep it, how to invest it, or how to grow it.

So, I read a whole lot of books. What I quickly realized was that these books were written by people who only became rich because they wrote books about how to become rich.

I resolved to change that, firstly by making $7 million in 7 years, the so-called ‘hard way’ (mainly through real-estate investments), then by sharing my knowledge freely with others through my blog, and soon through my book.

You’ve indicated that you’re primary objective is to try and help people figure out their life’s dream, quantify that dream with a dollar value and then pursue it with sound, logical financial strategies. How does quantifying your dreams with a very specific number make it easier to attain?

The chances are that the work you are doing now, and the amount of money that you have or are currently earning, has very little to do with supporting the life that you really want.

For example, if you really want to take the spiritual path, how does working for 40 hours a week help you? Maybe, you should simply pack it all in and live on an ashram, eating bowls of rice and that will make you truly happy. For you, more money means less happiness.

For me, and I believe for most people in America, the opposite is true: I believe that what most people want from life requires time, money, and freedom from the day-to-day grind. This can only be achieved by setting aside a large chunk of money, enough to support an early retirement, and soon.

In my case, once I realized the enormity of the financial goal in front of me, and the probable sacrifice of my life’s dreams if I didn’t get there in a relatively short period of time, I was galvanized into massive action. That included picking up my entire family and moving from Australia to the USA.

Without that huge emotional tie in of understanding how my life’s true purpose was inextricably linked to an very large amount of cash that I would need to have sitting in a bank account very soon, I could never have taken the hard steps that transformed me into a multimillionaire in such a short space of time.

Before reaching your goal of making $7 million in 7 years, you started out $30K in debt. What have been the most effective strategies for you early on in your successful climb out of such deep debt?

Well, I had a business that was breaking even at best. So, for me, the answer was clear: I needed to increase my income, and fast. So, I suddenly became extremely motivated to find ways to turn my losses into profits, then invest those firstly into eliminating that $30k of debt, then into income-producing investments (in my case, real-estate).

For others, this may mean begging for a promotion and salary increase or taking on a second job. Even better, it may mean starting a part-time business. In this, the Internet era, there’s no excuse for not being able to start a business on the side. My son is in his Senior year at high school, yet he still finds the 30 minutes a day that it takes him to maintain his Internet business that nets him $15k a month, and is still growing.

How much debt could you pay off, and how quickly, and how many investments could you make with an extra $15,000 every single month?

Who have been your biggest influences that you can point to on your financial journey?

I was greatly influenced by two books: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki because that book taught me that an asset is something that puts money into your pocket, but a liability takes money out of your pocket. That put a whole new perspective on buying a bigger house to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (hint: don’t do it!).

The other book was the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, which showed me how to work on my business instead of in my business.

My other greatest influence was my Grandmother who survived the transition from wealthy European pre-war, to destitute immigrant post-war, and back again.

What’s surprised you the most about your blogging pursuits on 7Million7Years.com? What’s disappointed you the most?

I continue to be greatly surprised that I have an interested and growing audience, as my view is quite contrarian and I don’t often sugar-coat my advice.

I’m probably a little disappointed that I haven’t translated that into a series of books quite as quickly as I had planned.

Are credit cards a useful tool or are they just plain “evil”?

Neither. There’s nothing ‘evil’ about a piece of plastic or even the banks who offer them at seemingly usurious interest rates. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ debt … there’s only ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’ debt: you should eliminate expensive debt as quickly as possible, but you should only pay off cheap debt if you have nowhere better to invest your money.

Credit cards are almost always expensive debt, so should mostly be avoided or paid off.

Where they can be useful is in the rare occasion where you can make a higher after-tax return than the credit card company is charging you. Whilst this is difficult, it’s not entirely impossible: for example, if you need to start a business, it may be that you need to take a loan on your credit card to supplement the capital that you can raise from outside sources.

If that’s the difference between being able to start a highly successful business or failing, I would say that the credit card has been far from evil, in fact, highly useful.

But, that is quite a rare and extreme example. In general, I would avoid credit cards if you can’t pay them off in full, as the payment falls due.

I’d like to thank Adrian (once again) for taking the time with us. It’s been an absolute pleasure sharing your story with my fellow readers. Looking forward to hearing more about your phenomenal success in the very near future!

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