Surrounding Yourself with Good People

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In my younger days, my salary was of utmost importance to me.  My goal when I first graduated from college was to make $100,000 a year.  It was a shallow goal, and I am ashamed to admit that that was my sole focus.

 

I had these visions that by making $100,000, I could take luxurious vacations, drive fancy cars and own a luxurious house.  I thought these things would bring me happiness.  Truthfully, I had probably watched too many MTV cribs episodes.

 

While I can afford a lot more material items today, I opt for substance over flashy things.

 

This Twitter post really resonated with me recently.  

 

 

A Generous Offer

This past weekend, a former co-worker “John” had an extra ticket and invited me to a Virginia Tech football game.  He is 30 years older than I am, and honestly I didn’t know him very well.  The only thing we really knew about each other was that we both shared a mutual love for Virginia Tech football.

 

We were at a function earlier this summer, and John invited me to go to the first game of the season.  While I was honored that he would think to invite me, I politely blew him off.  I was nervous at the thought of going to a game with someone I didn’t know well.  As an introvert and a bit of a control freak, spending that much time with a virtual stranger feels like punishment.  

 

However, for the game this past weekend, John was insistent that I come.  He shared with me that one of his friends had committed suicide earlier this year.  John planned to take his friend’s two teenage sons to that particular game.  He thought that it would be nice to have another guy in the group who was a bit younger and more relatable to the boys.

 

I thought it over.  I figured if there was any way that I could help John with being part of the healing process for these two boys, count me in.  

 

Admittedly, I was apprehensive about spending 16 hours with John.  Between the car ride down- 8+ hours round-trip, along with lunch and dinner, I kept reminding myself that if I could help the boys out in any way, it would totally be worth it.

 

Gearing Up for the Game

good peopleI arrived to John’s house bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8 am on that Saturday morning.  He was putting down the top of his Jeep and asked me if I would help cover his car with Hokie magnet and flags.  I could already sense that this was going to be an epically fun day.  The dread that I had been feeling up until that point was melting away.  

 

Since I had never driven in a Jeep for an extended period of time, I was really looking forward to that aspect.  It was a bit chilly at that time of morning, so thankfully I brought a sweatshirt.  So the top was down, sweatshirt on, and the heater and seat warmers were in full effect.  Shockingly though, I got sunburned on the ride down, even though I was freezing.  

 

Seriously, how does that happen?

 

Getting To Know Each Other

We had about two hours until we reached the town where the two boys lived.  We spent those two hours getting to know each other a bit better after some good, old-fashioned small talk.

 

Before getting into his Jeep, this is what I knew about John before we left.  I knew his name, that he graduated from Virginia Teach with an engineering degree, that he is a diehard VT Hokies fan, that he drives an awesome four-door Jeep, and that he loves to bike and ski.  That’s what I’ve gathered about him over the years.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve “known” him for over 10 years, yet that is all I really knew about him.

 

Well, I learned a whole lot more about him on that drive.

 

His Work and Life

It turns out that John is currently the president of his company and is also the largest shareholder in the company.  Talk about stealth wealth.  He basically alluded to being worth tens of millions of dollars, yet he had never let on with a hint of extravagance.  

 

On top of that, he has such a big heart.  He belongs to the Virginia Tech Hokie Club, which allows him to purchase ten tickets each year.  He usually uses only two tickets for his wife and himself, and then he gives away eight of the remaining tickets to deserving people each game.  Oh, and being in the Hokie Club is not cheap.  He pays $10,000 per year to belong to it.

 

Investing in the Next Generation

John and his wife never had any children, so they dote on their nephews and godchildren.  He has given each one of them a vehicle for college and has guided them over the years to find their footing.

 

He mentioned that he had a lot of people pour into him while he was growing up.  In turn, he wants to be able to have a similar impact on others since he is in the position to be able to do so.  

 

When we arrived to pick up the two teenage boys, they were beyond excited and completely decked out in Virginia Tech gear.  John and I immediately started to share with them everything that they could expect.  

 

If you’ve never been to Hokies home game, here is a glimpse:

 

 

It’s an electric atmosphere.  It’s one thing to describe it and another to be there to witness it live.

 

Our Football Experience

When we arrived, the boys couldn’t get into the stadium quick enough to look around.  Having never been a stadium of that size, seating 66,000 people, they were awestruck by how big it was.  They were eager for the game to start to experience what we had described.

 

Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” started to play.  The boys did not hesitate to start jumping up and down as the crowd became rowdy.  Virginia Tech ended up playing very well.  I’m sure a Virginia Tech win helped solidify some lasting memories for the boys.

 

On our drive home, John highlighted to the boys what they would need to do in order to go to Virginia Tech, or any other good college for that matter.  He shared some advice that I thought was great.  

 

College Life Lessons

He said that in college, you learn three things.  

  1. You learn how to manage your time in order to study and succeed in school.  
  2. You learn how to manage difficult relationships, sometimes between roommates or other friends that you make.  
  3. Finally, you learn what makes you happy, without the guidance of your parents.  

 

He said that you need to achieve all three of these things in order to graduate college as a well-rounded person, not just the first in order to obtain a degree.  

 

John then mentioned a quote he heard from Jim Rohn.  “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”

 

He encouraged the boys to seek out good people to surround themselves with.  After all, bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).  After we dropped the boys off, John turned to me and confessed that he hoped if they took nothing else away from that day, that they would remember that quote from Jim Rohn.

 

Humility in a High Position

Even though John is the president and the largest shareholder of the company, he doesn’t receive the highest salary in the office.  He said that he is humble enough to take a smaller paycheck and chooses to surround himself with hardworking people who deserve higher paychecks.

 

He shared that when his co-workers do well, he, in turn, does well.  The more money people make around him, the more money he ends up making.  Essentially, their success ends up being his success.  

 

To John, life is much more than making money.  It’s about spending time with people that you enjoy and making memories with those who make you better.  While those boys may not have captured everything that John said, I certainly was listening, and much of it unexpectedly resonated with me.

 

So readers, have you ever dreaded a trip or an event and had it turn out differently than you expected?  What do you think about some of John’s advice?  Share your thoughts below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.



54 Comments

  1. The worst things in my life never actually happened. Mark Twain

    I had a new years Eve party two years ago that was a similar deal. Ended up having a blast and still hang out some with one of the guys I met there.

    John’s advice is super solid. It is funny how you get to certain point and realize that just making more money isn’t going to douch for.
    Grant @ Life Prep Couple recently posted…GUEST POST: A UNIQUE GIFTMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Grant!!! I agree the anticipation is always worse than the actual event. Especially when you are dreading. Honestly, I hope to hang out with him soon again 🙂

  2. What a great trip that ended up being, and what great life lessons you overheard! It’s hard to let your guard down sometimes and let people in, but I’ve seldom regretted doing it. I was regretting a car trip of parents driving about 2 hours to chaperone my son’s field trip, but the three of us ended up having a wonderful talk and I learned a lot more about them and their families. I love that Jim Rohn quote and I believe it, too. I recently have started spending time around someone who’s so positive, and constantly asks questions of others to learn more. I love being around her, because I want to be more like her, and be an interested (versus an interesting) person. Choosing your friends is really important.
    Laurie@ThreeYear recently posted…A Year of Good Habits: Practicing GratitudeMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Laurie!!! I have found over the years that being around negative people brings me down and I have been conscious to try to spend as much time around people that build me and others up. Definitely has drastically improved my life 🙂

  3. What a great story. Somewhere subconsciously I think you knew it was worth pushing past your comfort zone to spend the day with John, and to be part of an unforgettable experience with his friend’s teenagers. I’m so glad it turned out to be special.

    The Jim Rohn quote reminds me of why people in the personal finance community seem to connect so easily. The friendships lift you up.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Second Wednesday of the Month Politics: Public Educators Heal ThyselvesMy Profile

  4. A truly heartwarming story. It can be hard in this day and age to really get to know some of our acquaintances. Isn’t it amazing how a bonding day like that can accelerate a relationship way past years of office greetings and gatherings?
    Beetsandlilacs recently posted…Frugal Wins of the SummerMy Profile

  5. Sounds like a great trip and a great experience. It’s always nice to have supper successful people in your circle. As an introvert myself I sometimes get uncomfortable letting my guard down.

    On a side note, I have come to find that Jeep Wrangler is a car many millionaires select. I think I read that in Millionaire Mind also. Wonder what gives? I actually wanted one, but doesn’t work well with infant car seats.
    Turning Point Money recently posted…A History of my Son’s Disney DRIPMy Profile

    • I definitely agree that Jeep Wranglers are the stealth wealth car that many millionaires choose to drive. I’ve come across more people that drive them that are very well off. Who knew 🙂

  6. Wow, I just had flashbacks to being at University of Michigan football games. That stadium holds over 100,000 people. It’s like a city in the shape of a donut.

    Thanks for sharing such a great experience! I find the older I get – I’m 57 already – the more I want to spend time with the people I like and love. And the less I care about material stuff.
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…Investing attitudeMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mr. Freaky Frugal!!! Like you, I’ve found as I get older I want to create more and more memories and pass on the material things, although opening up presents at Christmas is still fun 🙂

  7. John’s advice is very sound and aspiring. In a way, I would rather spend my free time coaching others rather than lounging aroma me when I achieve financial freedom.

    I think that for many young people having a great mentor to show them the rope is so important and it could probably change their lives. I hope that I can be in this position in a few years.

    I truly believe that successful people become that way because they help others around them become successful.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com recently posted…Overcoming Your Money Management ExcusesMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Leo!!! I definitely think it’s important to get a mentor to show you the ropes and help get you to where you want to be. It’s only easier when somebody has blazed the path rather than going it alone.

  8. Sounds like an incredible day for everyone involved. I’ve heard the Jim Rohn quote many times, sounds like John is one of those five. That’s why the personal fiance crew clicks so well, generally good people who are willing to help others.
    Brian recently posted…Has Your Blog Jumped the Shark?My Profile

  9. Great post, thanks for sharing.
    All of what John said is great advice and when you break it down, it is about being happy. I can also say I had the same goal as you, making $100K/ year. It hasn’t made me any happy, it hasn’t got me any additional material things, but it has let me grow my savings account and establish goals for FIRE. It has also given me a lot of stress, has me spending extra time at work, and also lost sight of my health. I like, Erik mentioned above, have been doing some soul searching and I think additional changes are to come. The move down south might have just been the beginning.
    Smile it is contagious!
    FIbythecommonguy recently posted…Net Worth Update #5 – Aug ’17My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing FIbythecommonguy!!! Sounds like a couple of us are doing some soul searching 🙂 Who knew that what we thought would make us happy really wouldn’t 🙂

  10. John sounds like one heck of a guy. 🙂 I guess I’ve had the opposite experience, being just 4-5 years removed from college. I’ve tried to hang out with old buddies, but I realized I didn’t want to surround myself with them. I think this is the part of my life where I need to be making entirely new friends instead of reaching out to people I once knew because it’s familiar.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend! September 17My Profile

    • I had to do something similar after high school and really pare back on some of the folks I hung out with. I wasn’t running the same circle and it was time to unfortunately move on…

  11. This reminds me of a time when I went on a road trip with somebody I didn’t know very well to a state high school baseball tournament years ago. It went better than I expected and had a lot of fun. We actually became good friends through that mutual interest. Being an introvert, that usually isn’t something that I like doing but it worked out well!
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Lifestyle Creep Is A Perpetual BattleMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Mr. Defined Sight!!! Isn’t amazing how confined situations normally make people get closer. It’s always a lot better than you thought it will be 🙂

  12. Absolutely, we become like those we spend time with. I’m currently working on a balance of maintaining old friendships virtually, since we all live far apart, and building new friendships where I live now. What a great story, and your friend John sounds like a keeper.

    • Thanks for stopping by Adriana!!! I definitely agree, John is being rarer and rarer these days which is unfortunate. However, I’m glad that he’s available as a role model 🙂

  13. That’s a long way to go for a football game! I don’t think I would be that committed to drive 8 hours to watch a match, but fair play to you.

    I would have been a little antsy about the long day with a relative stranger but usually it’s always unnecessary worry! It’s kind of like going on a first date, you’re extremely nervous in the build up but once the date begins, you wonder what all the fuss was about and just enjoy yourself.
    Money Miser @ Money-Miser.com recently posted…Business Life Part III – What’s Your Strategy?My Profile

    • I was really worried about the time in the car as well but it ended up being a lot better than I anticipated. Time seemed to fly on by and I found myself really enjoying the ride. I didn’t think I’d ever say that 🙂

  14. That’s a great trip and some really great life advice for the boys. It’s easy to stay comfortable and miss out – I’m glad you took a little risk and ended up much richer as a result!
    Paul recently posted…Dances with ChickensMy Profile

  15. That was a great story. I imagine you will remember that trip forever. It is so true, that we become who we spend time with. If we spend time with good people, we will do and achieve good things. If we spend time with people who are not positive, they will hold us back.
    Dave recently posted…Schwab 1000 Index Fund (SNXFX)My Profile

    • I totally agree with you Dave!!! Spending time with people that build us up definitely help propel us to the next level. That’s why I love working with positive people 🙂

  16. That’s such a great story and it reminds me to get out of my comfort zone more often and make an effort to get to know some new people. You never know what great takeaways you will get out of it!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…ChoicesMy Profile

  17. What a great story. I could not agree more that who you surround yourself with dictates your own actions and thus personality. I have had friends come and go, the ones that I have kept through it all have a similar moral ethos and kind heart as me.

    As for John, he seems like quite the guy. A true citizen, contributing to those in his community. Thanks for sharing.
    Dads Dollars Debts recently posted…The cost of private educationMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by DDD!!! Like you I feel like I have certain friends for seasons and others that obviously last much longer which took me awhile to fully comprehend 🙂

    • Sounds like you have an amazing role model Lily!!! I honestly don’t know the reason why they don’t have kids but I’m sure they would be wonderful parents if they had 🙂

  18. John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire mentions that quote at the end of every episode. It always inspired me to try and up the quality of individuals I spend my time with.

    Unfortunately, outside of my wife and son, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with people who I feel lift me up. It’s something I’ve seeking for a while. That’s why I think these online communities are so important. You need to be with like-minded people. It’s something I’ve been searching for off and on since college. It’s tough to recreate that in adult life when you’re working every day.

    I pray those kids learned something and understand one day how crucial John’s advice was.
    Dave @ Run The Money recently posted…5 Important Training Tips from a USATF Coach and Race DirectorMy Profile

    • For me one of the best things that I did was get involved in a Bible study through my church to find like minded people. It helped tremendously in connecting with folks and while I was apprehensive at first I am so glad that I did.

  19. What a learning experience! I’m glad for you that John insisted that you join him, and for such a good reason, too. I’d be really interested to learn more about him – how he thinks, how he motivates people, etc.

    I’ve got a good mix of friends but I don’t know if I could exactly pick out my top 5 because I keep in touch with many of them by text or email, and I’ve always had the sense that the saying applied to people you spend time with in person. Maybe not?
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Living spaces: how much and what do you need?My Profile

    • I have a friend that is overseas and I still lean on them for advice and help. So he’s definitely in my top 5 list even though I haven’t seen him in awhile 🙂 But I may not be applying it perfectly…

  20. What a great experience you had. You probably had a sense that it was going to be a fun day when John was decking his Jeep in Hokie gear. I know what you mean about that, you can’t really describe it, just the feel you have.
    John sounds like a humble guy, he gives great advice about college and wants everyone around him to succeed. Its great to be surrounded to be with people like him, you can learn a lot from people like John.

  21. I am so glad you went!! Especially for those kids. They will remember that game forever and maybe it distracted them, if just for a few hours, from the reality back home. Plus, that advice was spot on and they need mentors now more than ever.

    Like you, I hate being put in positions that make me feel out of control or awkward. In the past few years I have taken some steps to slowly get myself out of that frame of mind. In the past, solo hiking was my favorite thing to do. I have no problem being by myself, but I was limiting my opportunity to do more. Some of the trips I wanted to go on were group trips. I pulled the bandaid off and signed up for a 6 country hike in 2014. 30 people going the same direction for 3 weeks. It was….challenging. But I made a few great friends out of the ordeal. Last year, I signed up for a group volunteer trip in Thailand. Less difficult and I loved almost every minute of it. This year I did Camp Mustache and had a blast! Being in groups is not something I get nervous about anymore. I guess you just have to push yourself out of your own comfort zone..you may just turn out to love it!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…The Do’s & Dont’s of Walking the Camino de SantiagoMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Miss Mazuma!!! Congrats on pushing yourself. I’ve slowly been doing it but it hasn’t come super easy for me. Although it is coming along easier 🙂

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