An inmate at San Quentin in California, incarcerated for the crimes of robbery and murder, has found light at the end of the tunnel through education and financial literacy. He’s begun teaching other inmates the importance of personal finance, and how to make money in the stock market. He’s even had Robin Williams’ son, Zak, reach out to him to assist in teaching his class in prison.
It’s my prediction that we’ve just begun hearing about this man, and his influence will only grow in the future. Also, we can all find inspiration through an individual like Curtis Carroll, who has overcome such staggering circumstances, to go on and create wealth for himself, and others.
In Curtis’ Ted talk, from prison (how cool is that?), he recites facts about the state of American finances that could surprise anyone. However, it especially amazed Curtis himself, who always believed growing up, that most people who didn’t grow up in poverty, just kind of, “knew what they were doing”.
Facts such as, only 60% of Americans have $1000 or more in their savings accounts.
In a way though, Curtis claims, that gave him hope. He could educate himself and still get a leg up on the competition.
So, that’s exactly what he did. At 20 years old, he taught himself how to read, and then how to trade stocks. He hasn’t looked back since. In fact, I would argue, he’s accomplished a hell of a lot more from prison, than most people have on the outside.
So what lessons can we take from this man’s experience?
First of all, We Must All Understand the Power of Time.
Something often taken for granted, time allows for people to make real progress as long as they’re consistently taking action at whatever they’re working towards. It’s the most valuable resource in the world, and the only one you can never get back once it’s been spent.
If Curtis has had one thing in prison, it’s been time. He’s been locked up now for over 20 years, so just imagine how easily he was able to think long term when trading stocks and educating himself.
The ironic thing is, it should be easier for us on the outside to think this way! We aren’t facing a life sentence in a Californian prison!
We wake up every day and get to make whatever decisions we want. We’re totally free to make whatever financial decisions we want. Yet most often, we waste this precious opportunity!
All of us who still have our freedom to enjoy, must realize that we can use this same long term mindset within our own daily lives. And in fact, we should be able to make much more dramatic progress than someone who is incarcerated. We’re certainly getting paid more than 30 cents an hour.
If you could just take one major lesson from Curtis, it’s my opinion that this is the absolutely most important of them all. The value, and power, of time should never be underestimated. In fact, it’s power can be harnessed. Whether that means you’re going to workout for just 30 minutes a day, keep at it for long enough, and your life will change significantly. Maybe you decide you’ll just save another $50 a week, and invest it. Over the course of 20 years, with just an average return rate of 10%, do you know how much that would become?
Now that makes the idea of early retirement seem just a little more real, am I right?
Especially with money and finances, the power of time and exponential growth should never be overlooked. Pull up your bootstraps, and force yourself to be just slightly more disciplined, over a long period of time, and absolutely anything is possible.
(Just for fun, let’s say you can invest $200 a week for 15 years, what do you think that’ll be? At the same return rate, over $340,000!).
So readers, don’t allow yourself to become trapped and distracted by the day to day battles, don’t get stuck in the rat race, just endlessly chasing after the next piece of cheese. Sit back, evaluate where you’re at, and understand that this thing we call Life, is a long game.
Play it accordingly.
You Can Learn Anything
If an inmate can learn how to read at the age of 20 years old, and later learn how to teach others, while changing the world from inside the walls of a prison, it’s easy to assume that if you’ve graduated high school, you can pretty much learn anything you put your mind to, and at the very least you have a major advantage over someone like Curtis, who wasn’t one inclined to succeed in traditional school, to put it nicely.
Also keep in mind, it’s 2018, and you aren’t sitting in a prison cell.
We have access to this amazing thing called Google. Type anything you want in that search bar, and learn.
Don’t sell yourself short, whether it’s internet marketing, fitness, chess, or yes, even finances, read books. Listen to seminars. Consume as much content as you can on your chosen topic and in no time you’ll be an expert in your given field. If you’re ever doubting yourself, just remember. You aren’t in prison, and you could read before the age of 20 years old. If Curtis can learn to become a badass stock trader, you can become a badass anything.
Take Responsibility For Your Life
When you listen to Curtis speak, you can’t help but be impressed by the way he takes full responsibility for every aspect of his life. Whether that means taking responsibility for his crimes, teaching his classes, or just behaving in prison. He’s not one to make excuses.
In fact, Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll himself admits that the more educated an individual is, the harder it is to make excuses. As a result, he’s quit making any of his own.
Give yourself the power to change your life. While it’s easy to sit idly by, and watch as things happen to you, all the while crossing your fingers and making excuses as to why you aren’t where you wish you were, it’s much more freeing to admit to your shortcomings, and work every single day to compensate for your prior behavior, or lack thereof.
Taking responsibility for your life, while sounding like something that should be stressful, is really the exact opposite.
Why give circumstances the power? Why sacrifice your control to another individual?
If you don’t like your current set of circumstances, it’s on you to change it.Completely and totally on you. Let’s start by realizing that.
Your professor sucks and graded your report a B when it so clearly was A quality work?
That’s on you. Learn, adapt, and improve.
You just can’t save any money after your expenses are paid?
Really now? C’mon, I’m sick and tired of hearing this narrative. Everyone I know has Hulu plus or Netflix. Everyone I know eats out at least once or twice a week.
Either you need to stop spending as much, and figure out where you can save some money, or go out and get a second job. It may not be totally your fault where you’re at financially, but you better damn well accept that it’s your responsibility to fix it.
I know from personal experience how hard this can be. I’ve lost $50k literally overnight, in a completely and totally irresponsible financial play. While events out of my control are what triggered the loss, why would I sit back and whine? What purpose does that serve me?
It’s been just six short months, and I’m back up $10k. I’m making money passively online, and building a real business that’s much more practical than the one I was running before.
I’m just a 21 year old kid who graduated high school with a 1.9 GPA, and dropped out of tech school for crying out loud. I’m not trying to brag and teach anyone how to live their life, I’m simply displaying the power of self reliance and learning from mistakes. Patience and the long game, especially with finances and business, is what separates the winners from the losers.
I pay just as much as anyone else does in bills, if not more. What I’m getting at here, is that if I can do it, I’m confident that anyone can.
However, you can only accomplish your goals if you play the long game, decide to learn and improve your own mindset, and take full responsibility for everything in your life. Both good and bad.
Take it from my man “Wall Street”. Anything is possible if you simply believe it, and work day in and day out to make your dreams a reality.
Let’s all take a dose of inspiration from the inmate at San Quentin who grew up in poverty, who’s now speaking on TedX from prison!
Thank you Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll. Can’t wait to hear more about you in the future.