Meet Chris Walden, an amazing entrepreneur with one of the most inspiring stories of strength of will and determination we’ve had so far on the podcast. After Chris quit high school and moved to Florida at the age of 16, he went through some of the toughest times that included multiple sales jobs and a crucial motorbike injury. However, he didn’t give up and fought his way back to the top. Today, Chris is a thriving entrepreneur and a role model for all of us going through tough times.
From Dropping Out of High School at 16, Moving to Florida
Back in his hometown, Chris simply felt stuck. He didn’t see any opportunity for himself to grow and prosper, and that simply didn’t suffice his ambitions.
So, just like any 16-year old with a bit of common sense, Chris Walden took all of his savings he made from his job at the art gallery, bought a one-way ticket to Florida and never looked back.
At first, he landed in Tampa, where the youngster was looking for any job he could get. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to beg for money on the streets – he got a job in telemarketing. While not too successful at selling to people through cold-calling, Chris made enough money to get himself through the first year and got some invaluable experience as well.
Following that was a series of sales jobs that lasted for a few years. “I think I even sold vacuum cleaners for 6 months door-to-door. They would put us in a van, take us to a neighbourhood…” – Chris shares details of his humble beginnings.
Chris didn’t particularly enjoy these years: “For me, at a young age, I’m in here with all these seasoned vets, it was always a challenge.”
However, what kept Chris going is the determination not to call his parents and ask them for help. Or, even worse, go back home and admit that he failed.
The Breaking Point
However, despite the young man’s effort, a motorbike accident put him in a slump that eventually forced Chris to call back home: “I went through a transition period of time where I couldn’t work so what ends up happening is I can’t pay my bills, so on and so forth. So I end up making that phone call at 18 years old to my mom.”
Back at his parents’ house, while he was healing from the injuries, Chris didn’t really have much to do with his time. What did he do? He spent his days reading. He read all of the self-help and ‘how to make money’ books he could get his hands on.
However, that didn’t lead him to immediate success. Quite the contrary – his first job back at the hometown was doing busy work at his friend’s real estate brokerage company: “I spent probably about a year or so just greeting clients, copying paper – basically, all of the busy work none of the agents wanted to do.”
Rising Back Up
Most people would give up right there. It wasn’t meant to be. Life’s not all about winning. That’s what most people would tell themselves to justify their surrender. Not Chris Walden, though. What seemingly was almost a depressive state for Chris didn’t kill his entrepreneurial spirit: “I had an opportunity to continue to educate myself. I said to myself ‘I can do what these guys (real estate agents)’ are doing. I’m seeing them meet with clients, and I told myself ‘if he can do it, I can do it.”
“I was nervous. I failed the test the first time, barely passed the second time.” – Chris continues on his story. – “At that point, I had an opportunity to become an agent. From there, I was like ‘ok, I got my real estate licence, what’s next’? It was a long journey to get that first client. It took 6 or 7 months of cold-calling, hustling.”
However, the struggle didn’t end even when Chris got the first person interested in buying from him: “Everything that could’ve gone wrong with the transaction, went wrong. From termite damage to – you name it – appraisal issues. It was just a nightmare, but we finally closed and I got my first paycheck – being a brand new agent I made around 35%. So I’m holding my first paycheck which was just shy of $5000, all at one time, in one lump sum. It changed me.”
To hear the rest of Chris’s story, tune in to our podcast at the top of the page!