A little bit about me…
My Name is Kristian Graham and I live in Austin Texas for the time being. I was born and raise here, moved away for 4 1/2 years and moved back. I have traveled to and or lived in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau, Philippines, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, and Dubai. My mom is a flight attendant and took me around the world with her and gave me the travel bug. Now I fly on my own (without her passes) where ever I wish to go. Recently I went to Costa Rica on a free flight that I “hacked” and I’m about to hack another flight over to Japan round trip.
And now about my journey to Financial Freedom…
If you were born in the US in the early 90s late 80’s then you probably heard the old addage “you need to go to college and get a degree so that you can get a safe and secure job with benefits”. Robert Kiosake fans would chuckle at that advise, but I didn’t when I found myself on the receiving end of those words and my parents lecturing me on how that is the best way to have a successful and happy life after high school. I was 13 when I heard those words, and it shaped how I looked at life and success for the next 10 years.
When I was 16 years old I took a job working at a subway out of town, driving my mom’s car on week nights after school to go to work. She was a flight attendant at the time and the agreement was I would drive her to and from the airport and pay half the expenses on the car (gas and payment) and in return I’d get to drive the car while she was gone. I worked for $6.25 an hour and saved my money, studied, and practiced lacrosse during the week and on nights that I didn’t have work. I didn’t party at all because I was deadset on going to college, because that was what you’re supposed to do after highschool, and my parents had reassured me that the better I did in school the better I’d do in life.
Before I even started high school my parents had begun grooming me to be an engineer. My mom’s boyfriend at the time was an Engineer and he made a lot of money, he drove a nice BMW (the newest ones every time they came out) and had 2 really nice houses, one in Virginia and one in Texas we lived in for 2 years.
3 years later I soon found myself getting ready for college, taking college prep courses to try to get into a good school, and applying to every school in the North East with a lacrosse program. The goal was to have academic scholarships to pay for my school and be able to play lacrosse there as well. We applied for a dozen schools and I got accepted to 6 or 7, only 1 of which ended up paying almost all my tuition and then some… Even then it still didnt quite cover the total cost of school, the $10,000 per year of student housing costs and all the money that I would later blow on travel… but more on that later.
The summer right before I left for school I took a job working with a company called Vector Marketing, you may be more familiar with the brand Cutco Knives, and I sold $10,000 in the first 3 weeks. Of course I had a lot of help from my managers, parents, and friends who let me practice my demonstration with them and some who even bougth the knives. In total, I made over $4500 in comission that summer and ended the summer with $17,350 in sales in less than 2 months of work.
At that point I didn’t want to go to Engineering school, I didn’t even want to go to college. I was making more money than my dad who had worked for Motorola during it’s hay day, and earned $60-70k a year plus benefits. So why the hell would I go spend 4 years at school to get a degree that I didn’t really want? Well I still had my heart set on playing college lacrosse, so I went along with it and let my folks talk me out of selling knives for a living and instead going to school to pursue an education.
I did make the mistake though of not going with the school that I wanted to go to, who offered to have me play on the team from day one, in favor of a club that didn’t even really want me to try out… My parents saw dollar signs and the cost of tuition being the most important factor rather than the whole picture for education.
When I got up to school I also didn’t continue to pursue selling the Cutco knives, which had made me such a great income that one summer, in favor of working hourly pay jobs for little to no money on campus. Four years of working for minimum wage was a choice, a choice that I made because I failed to see my other options and pursue something greater.
I will say that the worst part about going to school up in the North East during the winter is definitely the snow. It’s not the white powder that you imagine from the Santa Clause movies, of the soft floaty flakes that fall down in the winter. It’s a frozen, cold, dirty brown slush that moves around the streets and makes piles of brown white eye sores that taunt you while you struggle through the cold in your boots and parka. The average temperature was about 5 degrees F or -15 C… on a good day.
On the plus side though, my school had a very large selection of potential mates, being an engineering school and all, we had a total population about 300 females to choose from out of our whopping 3000 student body. Which meant that literally I had been convinced into going to a university with literally no women (save the female rugby players and the girls lax team), forced to live out a 10 month term freezing to death in the winter of upper state NY, 1500+ miles (one way) from home, all for a peice of paper that said I was a certified engineer. I definitely felt like, for a long time, that I had been duped and that I was being pranked…
On top of that, when I tried out for the lacrosse team that first fall I didn’t even hear back from the coach. To make matters worse, 20 of the people who were added to the team dropped out leaving them with only 18 players that fall and a large loosing streak. This made me no longer wish to play for a team that had a loosing coach, a loosing history, and a team that was in shambles.
This situation was far from a dream life that college was supposed to be. The picturesk Hollywood movie type college, but it did teach me several lessons and offer me great opportunity there as well. Experiences I may not have had this early in my life if I didn’t go to school there.
Ultimately it was my decision to even go there, and my decision to stick it out for 4 full years and make it through that, and it taught me that even though you’re not getting your way in everything in life, sometimes there are better things planned out for you.
I had options when I choose to go to college. I had options when I chose academics over athletics. I had options when I chose hong kong over Europe for study abroad. I had options.
I chose to stick with my college and to go there for 4 full years and make the best out of it and I learned a lot.
I learned to ski again, to snow board, joined the rugby team, traveled and lived in Hong Kong China for a full year, went to Europe 4 times in between summers, lived in Syracuse NY, went to Toronto and Ottowa Canada and saw my first NHL Hockey Game. I stumbled into a Dunkin Donuts in Syracuse and Met Paul Rabil (one of the most famous Lacrosse players in MLL History) and got to shake his hand, met another famous lacrosse player Mikey Powell (still have 2 lax balls signed by him and my ticket to that game) and I got to intern in Dellaware with an international corporation. I joined a brotherhood of like minded men who lifted each other up those four years, and I found a better way to do things over and over again. I learned how to innovate and to create and I learned much about business.
I learned a lot in my 4.5 years of going to college and I definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from going. Whether you want to go to School right out of highschool or if you want to take a year off like so many kids do to find yourself, that’s alright and it’s up to you. I chose to just hammer it out right after and then get it done and I ended up having a blast doing it.
I learned that not everything goes as planned when you first write down that plan, but I can tell you is that you need to make a plan and try to stick to it. When the plan starts to go south you can correct course along the way.
I hope ya’ll enjoyed this little page and got something valuable out of it. If you do find this site to be helpful please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share these articles on social media and with friends.