I AM SELF- MADE. WHAT A POWERFUL THING TO BE ABLE to say. Especially as a woman and as one who was not born in this country, who was not (until recently) a college graduate, who did not have an obvious skill or talent, and who did not invent a multibillion-dollar product. I am an ordinary woman who has had an extraordinary life, not because I went to the right schools or had connections, but because I took success and happiness into my own hands and became financially self-reliant by thinking like an entrepreneur.
To be able to say “I am self-made” is an honor. To be self-made is a new way of defining success for women. A self-made woman is free because she is financially independent and on her way. A self-made woman acts as if she has an owner’s stake in every aspect of her life-because she does. A self-made woman is empowered, self-reliant, and rich in every way.
You don’t have to look up to find a self-made woman. Just look around you. She’s the stay-at-home mom with a baby who runs an online boutique out of her apartment; the cleaning lady who books through her website and charges through PayPal; the freelance nurse who processes payments through Square; the franchise owner who employs her whole family; the corporate employee who sells her jewelry designs on Etsy; the empty nester who rents out rooms in her house through Airbnb; the baker who promotes her one-of-a-kind cakes on Instagram; the woman who makes Vine videos for corporations with her teenage child; the millennial who is paying off college by driving for Uber. These are all some of the women I have met on the road over the past four years, they are the embodiment of becoming self-made, and they are the inspiration for this book. These women are changing the economic future for themselves, for their families, and for generations to come. Self-made is a call to action, and it is a leap forward in the economic evolution of women. This is our moment to choose empowerment.
Never before in history has living an entrepreneurial life been more attainable for all of us. The digital age has revolutionized our ability to get started; you don’t need much more than a smart phone or a computer. You can start a business from your home, in your pajamas. You don’t have to quit your job. And you don’t have to do it alone! You can get your kids to help because they’re already good at social media (and as a fringe benefit, they’re less likely to grow up entitled). You can enlist your husband or a friend and pool your resources and talents.
Here is my wish for you: I want you to live a rich life in every way. Rich in money, rich in family, rich in love, rich in time-abundance! It’s not just about having money, but financial empowerment is where it begins. It means getting out of survival mode. It means getting out of that state where you are just one problem away from financial catastrophe. It means changing your mindset from instant gratification to goal orientation. In time, it means being able to work because you want to and not because you have to. It means being able to reward yourself and your children with things like an education, trips, and owning a home. It means being able to sleep at night without worry.
We are told that money doesn’t buy happiness. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely believe that’s true! Money should never be an end in itself. But until you are financially self reliant, you are not truly free. There is no true empowerment until you have your own money. I am not telling you to quit your job and start the next Zappos–at least not right away. But I am going to show you how to think like an entrepreneur and an owner in the job you have now, no matter what you do.
Self-made is about having a dream, and the desire and discipline to work toward that dream. I have to tell you: One of my favorite words is “sacrifice.” I know I can convince you that buying things to make yourself happy doesn’t even work in the short term. You have to put your money where it can grow so that you can make your dreams come true. Once you do this, you will be able to move on to bigger ideas and even bigger dreams.
Self-made is a state of mind, and it’s about thinking even bigger than getting a good job, or a promotion, or the corner office, because you can have these things and still not be self made, or feel self-made inside. When you embrace the self-made mindset, you will not feel victimized or disappointed, because you’re taking power into your own hands, and you understand that no one else can do it for you. You are the captain of your ship. You make your own success. You determine your own value, not a man, or a boss, or a corporation.
I’ve learned in my life that the only person you can change is yourself. And when you change yourself and are fully in your power, people around you change because a grounded and secure aura emanates from you, without the need to say anything, without having to be aggressive or off-putting. You send a message that says, I am complete. I am not going to allow you to treat me in a way that I don’t deserve.
In this book, I want to teach you everything I wish I had known when I was younger. I’ll share some advice and guidance–with a few secrets and tricks thrown in. With the help of some amazing women (and a few men), I ‘ve also created a website becomingSELFMADE.com that houses an incredible amount of information and resources to anticipate and answer your questions, give you the tools you need to crunch the numbers, and put you in touch with organizations that can help in a wide variety of ways. And if I’ve done my job right, you will be inspired to start an entrepreneurial business or project that you own–right now!
My personal goal for every one of you is to make it to the finish line–to create a life that is rich in every way, to build a secure future for you and your family, to sleep peacefully at night.
The scholar Joseph Campbell wrote about “the hero’s journey” –a classic storyline in which the hero embarks on an adventure, faces trials and adversity, triumphs over them, and returns home transformed. I want you to recognize that right here, right now, as you read this book, you are at the start of this process. You are embarking on a heroine’s journey, a quest that is about choosing yourself, putting yourself to the test, reaping the rewards of your new way of life, changing your view of what’s possible, achieving your dreams, and then passing the torch to your children and your community. Because one of the greatest rewards of a self-made life is seeing how the sparks from your personal revolution can light a fire in others. When you become self-made, you become an evangelist for the cause; you want to spread the gospel of self-reliance and help others get there too. So come–let’s begin. The revolution starts inside of you.
Excerpted from Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant and Rich in Every Way. Copyright 2016 Nely Galan. (Spiegel & Grau, May 31st 2016)