Hello fellow Steemians, how are you?
Now I feel it's time to continue the story I've been sharing on this blog, the journey I decided to post here. This will show you that I mean it when I say my life has not been all easy cruising as some might think and I've had to endure my fair share of troubles just like everyone else. These problems though allow us to construct the right mentality, strengthens us so we can face any challenges that can present themselves.
Continuing from "My first Big Mistake"
When I was 25 years old I had amassed a debt of 1 million dollars, and that was a monumental sum for any age, imagine for a 25 year old. This presented a lot of weight for me psychologically because when we are young, we tend to think those things will never happen to us, we believe ourselves to be powerful, inmortal. It's not until we hit the first wall that our maturity comes to be tested.
Of course I had a lot of things in my mind, but it was not just the sum of money that tormented me, but how stupid I felt for having fallen into that error. I spent many nights not being able to sleep, but at the same time I had to make sure that in the public eye it was not obvious that I was going through some rough times, especially with those who I did business with.
When we are in a situation like this is important that we don't show that we are depressed, or upset, or play the victim in front of those that we do business with. I can guarantee that if you allow any of that to happen it will bring many problems, because humans can have this capacity of distorting situations and plenty of times begin to badmouth you: "Oh, this guy is broke, we can't do business with him" When it would be nice for them to extend a helping hand, specially if you had a long working relationship with them.
So it's important to shut your mouth around those who are not really your family if you are having problems, and only talk to those who you know have your back, those you can trust, but those I can guarantee are very few. I would say that even with family it can be difficult because you can create anguish in them and sometimes they can't do anything to help you anyways, but that is a personal decision for you to make.
In my case I could not bring myself to tell my parents of my problem, I was a son of a working father, I was not born in a golden cradle and my father had a modest salary. How could I tell him that his son had accumulated a million dollar debt? How could he help?
I knew I would just make him miserable, specially because those numbers were beyond his capacity and I found myself staying quiet.
You are probably asking: How did you get out of that debt?
The first thing I had to do was to dominate my emotions, and work on my emotional intelligence, not make any rushed decisions. Because it's like being on a plane that is having problems mid flight, what good would it do for you to scream where is the exit at full lung? Nothing, so you have to calm your mind.
I went into my office and started to write down some ideas to develop more revenue, because my problem was in financing, that is where my focus went. I have to say that Brazil is a very hostile country for business, with interest rates that are so absurd they don't seem real. For reference a %400 APR is pretty standard here and it has been ridiculously high for decades.
So what did I do?
1.- I grabbed all my open orders and projects that were quoted on one side and made a big pile, added them up. You know why I still had work? Because I never let anyone know of my situation.
2.- I grabbed all my debt invoices and accounts and made a separate pile on the desk.
After working out the revenues and cash flows I ideally needed to be able to pull this off, I came to the realization that it would at least take me three years to get back on my feet, keeping in mind there was almost no room for error, everything had to be precise.
Because the problem was finances, my focus was on developing a good cash flow for the companies. Cash Flow is something very important that everyone should learn about, but the subject is quite extensive, so that might be another post down the line.
I started to renegotiate all debts I had with each Bank and Institution, my attitude had to be assertive because Banks are not too willing to negotiate too much in Brazil.
I personally called every single Manager asking them to see me, and managed to bring down the monthly payments by 20% of course extending them, but I needed the money to stay in business. In other words 80% of my revenue went to pay all the debt I was paying off, so to make up for it, I had to focus on increasing productivity, that would be the only way of getting out of the problem faster.
When I tell you that my attitude with the Bank Managers was energetic and assertive, I'm going to share with you one of the experiences I had with one of them.
The Bank manager was sitting in my living room, and I was showing him my proposal of repayment of debt, he looked at me and said: "This is impossible!" I quickly responded "Oh yeah? I'll show you impossible"
I had a jar full of mints on top of my table at this point, I look at the jar, look at him and say: "Do you see this jar of candy?" he of course nodded.
I continued "that is pretty much how many Institutions I owe money to, each candy represents one bank, But do you see the candy on top?" He nodded again "Well, that's you and I'm telling you I'm going to do my best to give you priority and repay my debt as soon as possible.... But if you tell me it's impossible, then I will have no choice to put the mint that represents your Bank at the bottom of the jar, and then this debt will be the last of my priorities"
I continued. "Go talk to your supervisor, and make sure he understand that you don't want to be the last mint inside my jar"
One week later they took my proposal to re-negotiate my debt, and we signed all the papers. And this little tactic continued in one way or another until I restructured the whole thing.
I want to be clear about something, I never stopped paying my debts, but with that attitude I made sure that it was possible and I had to do it to be able to have an adequate Cash Flow to stay in business. It's about giving yourself your place.
What I'm trying to tell you with this message is that no matter how hard the situation can be, you must stop defaulting to just complaining, you have to learn to dominate those emotions and focus on finding a solution.
I wish you all much success, until next time