Starting from Scratch – Part 2

scratch_beginnings

Today on The Bigg Success Show, we continued our discussion with Adam Shepard. Adam is the author of the book Scratch Beginnings, which describes his year-long real-life experiment to see if the American Dream is still alive. Last time, Adam told us about the initial stages of his experiment and what it took to begin his path toward independence. Let’s get back to the conversation …

georgeAdam, have you ever thought about becoming a Wall Street investment banker, losing all your money and turning to the government for help?

___

___

adam_shepard
I have not.

___

___

marylynnMaybe that would be an interesting experiment! Adam, there was a guy in the homeless shelter who said something to you that helped you get a job that paid well. Can you tell us about that?

___

___

adam_shepardThat’s my favorite part of this story. That was really the turning point for me in Charleston. I had been applying for jobs and two weeks in, nobody was hiring me. I was having spaghetti dinner at the homeless shelter one night and complaining about the economy. I mean, here I am – Adam Shepard, the king of the American Dream, “you can do it,” I’m proving the Dream – and I was complaining at a homeless shelter! The great thing about the shelter is that nobody is afraid to share their opinion; they’ll tell you what they really think. There was a guy – Phil Coleman – who piped in and said that I had to go out there and get the job. They weren’t going to call the shelter, which was the number I had put on the application. So I went to the moving company the next day, just like Phil Coleman had told me. I said, “Kurt, my name is Adam Shepard. I’m the greatest mover you’re going to find. So hire me or not. I’ll come in and work a day for free.” I just gave him this speech and he hired me on the spot. What’s interesting is that I took advice from a guy at the shelter who I wouldn’t have looked twice at in my “real life.” So that was a great humbling experience and it helped me turn the corner on this whole project.

___

___

marylynnSomething else – you waited for that guy at the moving company to show up. I think a lot of us expect that phone call. We think we’ve done our part. We went in and filled out the application. Now they need to call us. But Phil encouraged you to go and do whatever you had to so you could have a face-to-face meeting with the guy who would hire you.

___

___

adam_shepardExactly. And the moving company job was a job that I wanted. I was going to do anything possible until he sent me out the door with a definitive no. It’s a job that requires skill, of course, but it’s a skill you can learn if you’re willing to work. I wanted to meet the guys who were doing this work. It’s crazy – everybody’s moved their little apartment or home. But I wanted to meet these guys who were moving furniture eight to ten hours a day, six days a week, week after week after week.

___

___

george
Or maybe even eighteen hours a day, at least once?

___

___

adam_shepardOh, yeah, the eighteen-and-half hour move. That was just crazy, an incredible experience – to start at nine in the morning and finish, literally, in the middle of the night. The great thing about that move, and I won’t get into detail about it now, was that every move after that was a piece of cake! Once you’ve done a move like that, you’re ready for anything. It was tough; it was a challenge for sure, but it prepared me for the next steps.

___

___

georgeHere’s something that intrigued me, Adam. You got a good job but you didn’t move out of the shelter right away. Man, I think I would have booked it. Why did you stay?

___

___

adam_shepardThere are two reasons I stayed at the shelter. First of all, I was able to save money and then when I first moved out, I was able to buy a truck and I could move up from there. But also, I was meeting guys who were so much more fascinating than me. I wanted to be able to tell their story and to really talk to them and see where they come from. That’s what this was all about for me. It wasn’t just to dip into a homeless shelter for a week or two. I really wanted to stay there for a little while. But you’re right – the moving company was a great job to have – because I was able to go out, work hard, make $9 an hour and get a tip now and then. I was able to save a lot of money for sure.

___

___

marylynnWe don’t want to tell anyone the ending, so we’ll stop here with the progression of the story. For anyone who has to go to a homeless shelter or wants to live vicariously through you, what are some tips for living in a homeless shelter?

___

___

adam_shepardOh my gosh, so many tips. Bring your own soap. Bring your own toiletries and towel. When you go into a shelter, you have to keep to yourself. I didn’t go in and act like I was above the shelter. I went in, hung out, and sat in a corner. Eventually, I was able to work my way in to be part of the group. I think that’s what’s so important – I had to humble myself. And the way I was able to connect with these guys was what was so great. Stereotypes are being shattered while some are being proven true. The bottom line … the whole way through here … is that you can’t take anything for granted. It doesn’t matter where you live – in a homeless shelter or on the Upper East Side – you can’t take anything for granted. That’s what this whole story is all about.

___

___

georgeThat is awesome. What I learned from this, Adam, is that it pays to spend money on conditioner but not lunch because you ate Vienna sausages on crackers for lunch. So we learned a lot about you just in those choices!

___

___

marylynn
Even if you’re poor, you can be vain!

___

We thank Adam so much for sharing his story with us. We highly recommend that you read his great book, Scratch Beginnings.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00279-120408.mp3

2 replies
  1. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    I really liked the story as well. A great example here of the advantages of living below your means.

    Also..

    I am pretty sure I would not survive without a credit card, so big props there.

    Reply
  2. Mary-Lynn
    Mary-Lynn says:

    Ryan, I hadn’t even really thought about the “no credit card” thing! I think if your expenses were as low as Adam’s, you could make it without your card. In his book, Adam talks about some of the helpful discount coupons he received at the homeless shelter for his everyday needs. Thanks for adding to today’s conversation.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *