My name is Brian Lee and over the last five years, I started to realize that everything that I knew about the world was wrong…everything about Corporate America, success, retirement, money, debt…you name it…was all wrong.
The worse part is that the majority of my views were formed by family, friends, teachers, classmates, and colleagues.
But it is not really their fault. We have all been misled by a financial system and structure that is set up to reward a few and encourage the rest of us to be loyal and work for the wealthy.
Like many of you, I was taught to go to college, get a degree, work hard and you’ll be successful.
So I went to college at NYU and worked a ton of internships and part-time jobs in New York City while in school. Then, I went into Corporate America and worked hard, generating a ton of revenue for my employers.
The Reality of Working in Corporate America
I outworked and outperformed a ton of colleagues, but for years I kept getting passed up on growth opportunities. It was even more frustrating during my last couple years in Corporate America since I worked in sales organizations, where your performance is quantifiable in terms of dollars.
I brought in a ton of revenue and as the famous Jay-Z quote says. “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” It was to the point where I could tell that colleagues did not quite feel comfortable or felt there was something wrong when they were all getting promotions and I was getting passed up.
Now, I am by no means perfect and there are a lot of things that I have worked on improving over time, but the problem is that the flaws of others (which were in many cases worse than mine) never prevented them from moving forward.
Why is that?…I think it is a couple reasons.
Climbing up the ladder in Corporate America is not about how good you are at your job or how intelligent you are.
In many ways, it is more about how you are perceived by others, how well you click with others, and what you can do to make yourself appear better than your colleagues.
At times, it almost reminds me of a high school popularity contest.
In this way, people like me are destined to be held back from realizing their full potential for a number of reasons:
- I am not a fake person so I don’t try to crack corny jokes or do a lot of schmoozing with people at work
- I did not share a lot of the same interests outside of work or like the same things as my colleagues. People in companies tend to reward people they like and relate to on a personal level
- I was not willing to lie and throw others under the bus…even people that may have done the same to me
After almost 10 years in Corporate America, I finally came to the realization…
As someone who is different, I cannot be myself if I want to be successful working in the normal corporate environment. I would need to be fake or pretend to be someone I am not. For anyone who knows me, I only know how to be genuine and real.
Ironically, this genuine persona is what helped me drive a ton of revenue with clients. Clients began to trust that if I recommended something, it was because the strategy or tactic was going to generate results…
So the money would flow in whether they liked me or not, whether I was someone that they would hang out with in their personal time or not because I was able to make them look good and they would be able to take the credit for that performance.
However, within the organization that you work in, it will be difficult to have success as someone who is different unless you are in a position of power.
But that is ok…
Dare to be Different
As I began to really reflect on everything and started to understand more about our country, I came to the conclusion that I needed to start planning out my future on my own. I had always planned to have my own company from the time that I was in high school, but it is easy to get distracted when you are giving all your time to a company because you are caught up in the false hope of working hard and being rewarded.
I became very serious about branching out on my own a few years ago though, as I watched many great colleagues and clients be laid off by companies. We live in a time where everything is about short term results for shareholders, as opposed to building long-term sustainable businesses. As a result, companies are making rash decisions on cost savings and also buying up other companies to try to take shortcuts. When this happens, there are usually lots of layoffs.
I worked in several companies where others were laid off, but I was not naive to think that it could not happen to me because sure enough I was eventually affected.
Surprisingly though, it was sort of a relief for me. My boss kept asking me why I was so calm about it…probably because I am usually passionate about my viewpoints and perspective on what needs to happen from a business perspective. However, I was just tired of being frustrated and disappointed with the situations that I had been put in at work.
I had also realized a long time ago that companies aren’t loyal so I was not caught off guard.
For those of you that think that you are secure in your job, think again. I’ve seen companies get rid of people that have worked there for 10, 15, 20 years.
In my case, I got laid off when I was leading a team that was generating tremendous results during a period of uncertainty, where other groups were not growing their revenue.
I was laid off during a time that I had a 6 month old infant!
I was also not as devastated with the layoff because I started to put seeds in place over the previous couple years.
I did not spend any of my commission checks for a year or two and invested that money into real estate. As a result, I had some cushion to take a break and figure out what I wanted to do.
Additionally, I had also started an e-commerce business selling product online and on Amazon which also added some more cushion.
My situation illustrates the true benefit of wealth. To me, wealth is not just about money, wealth is about having the freedom to live the life you want to live and make sound decisions that are not impacted by a lack of money. I do not have a ton of money, but I know that my mindset is going to take me to where I need to be.
While running my e-commerce business, I conducted an enormous amount of research on the market, including the mass consumption of ebooks, audio books, podcasts, articles, Facebook Groups, and more…
One of the common themes that I kept hearing from the most successful sellers is that they were part of masterminds and/or had others that shared knowledge with them and alerted them to new business opportunities.
Sharing of knowledge was the differentiator…
These were people all over the country who in many cases had limited experience and intellect, yet they were driving an enormous amount of revenue because they had someone teach them the game and in some cases got in early before the market was saturated.
I then began to think about myself and the black community. Most of us do not operate in an environment where we are sharing knowledge and/or life-changing opportunities as much as we should.
At the same time, I was starting to get tired of only seeing gossip, entertainment, and World Star information being distributed by our people across social media.
Consequently, I started Black Health & Wealth and I originally purchased the domain around the end of 2014 after being fed up with what I was seeing, but I had already been toying with the idea for a couple years prior. Unfortunately, I held off on getting things started because I was unsure if my people would actually be interested in engaged with such a site. So often we say we want to do better, but our actions say something different.
Nevertheless, the site is up and running and I am glad to have you here. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t already done so and make sure to get involved with the Black Health & Wealth community.