Four years ago I decided to start a website. You know that site as Mr. Everyday Dollar. But what you might not know is that the Chris from four years ago was a different person. He was scared. Scared to put himself out there because that meant being vulnerable.
“What if it’s not perfect?”
“What if it’s a failure?”
“What will people I know think about me?”
So, it was just easier for me if you didn’t know my real name. If you didn’t know what I looked like. If you didn’t know where I lived. Basically, if you didn’t know anything about me.
This went on for two years until I reached out to J.D. Roth, and asked him for advice on how I could improve. After all, he’d started Get Rich Slowly, turning it into a wildly popular site that he eventually sold for a lot of money.
He must know a thing or two about success, right? He did, but I only half-listened to what he said.
After reviewing my site, he told me he didn’t know my real name. He didn’t know what I looked like. He didn’t know where I lived. He didn’t know anything about me. Hmm.
And if I wanted an opportunity to be successful then I needed to be more vulnerable. To open up and share personal stories, the good and the bad, because that’s how people connect with one another.
So, I added my first name to the site, and a picture on my about page.
“Okay, I’m so open now.”
About a year later I decided to publish an article about how I became a millionaire by age 35. I wrote it after someone asked me for a way to benchmark their own path to wealth.
I didn’t want to do it, but deep down I knew if I really wanted to help people with their money, if I really wanted to help them get the life they wanted, then it was on me to do big scary things.
The article went up, even beating out Tony Robbins that day. (I still love you Tony.)
It’s one thing to put yourself out there semi-anonymously on your own site, but it’s another to be featured on a major news site that’s read by millions and millions of people.
You’d think I’d feel like I was on top of the world, right? No, it didn’t feel good at all. I felt sick. I felt shame. I felt unworthy.
And that was the reason why I was hiding behind Mr. Everyday Dollar, because those are the feelings you get from being vulnerable, and they suck.
Shortly after this, Paul Sullivan from The New York Times reached out to me because he was doing a story on people who’d become wealthy. I jumped at this opportunity, because who turns down a blurb in The Times?
We chatted on the phone, and then a few weeks later they sent a photographer to my house. Cool, I’ll get a blurb plus a photo. I didn’t know they’d put a fucking full page photo of me on the front of the “Wealth” section.
Again, I felt sick to my stomach. Even worse this time. But now I knew why, because I’d discovered Brene Brown and the vulnerability hangover.
This time though, people started to thank me. They thanked me for being open. For being honest. For sharing my story. I realized they were thanking me for being vulnerable. And right then, what J.D. Roth had told me a year earlier finally clicked.
“The more vulnerable I am, the more successful I’ll be.”
You see, by trying to protect myself I’d actually been doing a disservice to me. To you. To us. And I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to help as many people as I can because there’s nothing better than getting random thank you notes.
In fact, I just got one. Let me find it. Okay, here it is.
“I want to say thanks for everything you’ve done as I’d have been another typical American otherwise. Even though I’m going slow for now due to my age, I have multiple savings/investing accounts being automated and when I get closer to retirement, I’m confident there’ll be plenty of money to live a nice life on.”
And that’s why I do what I do.
A few months ago I was thinking about killing this site, but then I realized it was because it made me feel like the Chris from four years ago that was hiding. So, I didn’t need to kill this site, I needed to kill Mr. Everyday Dollar.
Last week, I did it. I changed this site from Mr. Everyday Dollar to simply, Chris Reining.
At first I thought that changing it to my own name would make it all about me, and how narcissistic do I have to be to do that? But it’s not about me, it’s about growing as a person. That’s what it’s really about.