Since I was a little kid in Athens/Greece, I was fascinated with building things. Actually I loved breaking things down and then trying to build them up again to see how they work - which most of the times ended up with a lot of broken stuff.
I had an unhealthy obsession with programming because I could mess up all I wanted in my own little universe of variables and conditions.
It didn't take long figuring out that I was actually good at this. Really good.
And then I had my first revelation.
Knowing your "tool of the trade" really well is the first step in being in control of your life. And to tell you the truth I didn't even know what that meant until many years later when I decided to start my first company.
My first company was building websites and eshops in Greece. Tons of work. Tons of fun. I am sure that there was noone else running a company while still studing Computer Science. But it was getting a toll on me. I remember seeing the sunrise while I was still working on building a huge eshop and I thought "holy fuck, why I am doing this?". I had to find a way to have many customers and one product. I had to find a way to scale.
For a year, I won (or ended top 3) in almost every competition that had a prize. From building virtual machines to social wellness websites, if there was a prize, I would crash the competition, get the money and start building. Tons of work. Tons of fun. I learnt how to build products very fast, test them out and then ... fail. Fail painfully hard.
When you are from Europe, failing is a death sentence. You are done. You are a loser. Go and work in the public sector. Why you even tried in the first place you idiot?
As I learnt after a while, I was an idiot. I figured out that if I wanted to progress and become the best, I had to possess one skill that noone else around me had: Fail.
And that's what happened. Like a skinny guy going to the gym for the first time, I was ready to fail. Actually I was craving to fail like when you put too much weight on the bar and you are sure that this won't work but because you are prepared you make it. We grow by failing and keep pushing until we fail again.
I knew that I had to go to Silicon Valley. I wanted to be among the best. I wanted to learn more. Learn from people that have no problem in "failing".
When I arrived to the US with my third Startup, I had $300 in my pocket, no permanent VISA and two weeks to find funding. Oh, did I mention no network? Good luck competing for funding with people that just finished Stanford and go for drinks with the VCs on a weekly basis.
Me and my small team of four (everyone working for free) had to walk everywhere and attend every single hackathon to build network (and eat free pizza). Damn, I loved that times.
Long story short, I met tons of super smart people, learnt in two weeks things that would have taken me months to learn in Europe, we got funding (just $100k - pocket-change money for the US) and got ready for the pain.
That company got acquired after 2.5 years after annihilating the competition (that raised $100M) and brought me to the US.
I made it in the big league.
In less than five years I sold my Startup to a public Silicon Valley company, learnt how to fly (and land) a real plane, won the North California powerlifting competion, created a new type of database that handled data from 500M mobile devices per day, became the Director of Engineering in one of the best companies in the world with a 7-digit salary/bonus/stocks, left that company to start a new one, run the first statistical arbitrage algorithm on blockchain, started a Wealth Management company to manage other people's money, raised $1M in one week, started a Fund that was giving zero money and was getting zero equity but provided an insane network and saved a country from economic meltdown.
I did some after stuff like interviewing Ice-T, helping United Nations identify illegal nuclear explosions and tons of other things that I never even thought that are possible but my drive wasn't vanity.
It was and still is learning. Oh and having fun.
It is fine having plans but it is idiotic believing that they are "the future". Plans are just your opinion.
The Universe doesn't give a fuck about how you finished college and you should find a job. It is up to you to learn, evolve and help others achieve the same things as you have.
I am not a self-made man. I was already crazy wealthy before all of these started.
I got wealthy from love and support from my family.
I got wealthy from the education that was given to me (for free) from my country.
I got wealthy from inspiration from my friends and collegues.
I got wealthy enought to be able to come to the US with $300 and kick everyone's ass.
I was wealthy but more importantly I was never alone.
Things will never be perfect but always be grateful about the things and the people you already have.
No boring, ordinary stories.