The work never ends. If you’re going to work for yourself and do so with a mission, then you have to accept that there is no ending. You never really stop creating and contributing. There are only short breaks that last as long as it takes for the next opportunity to arise. And if it takes too long, you have to create it.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ed Latimore.
Ed Latimore is a former professional heavyweight boxer, a competitive chess player, veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, and a bestselling author. Ed’s work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety — all of which he approaches from personal experience, overcoming poverty and addiction. Many of people have learned from Ed’s experiences through his writing and speaking.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up as a typical “at-risk youth.” While I knew my father, I probably saw him once a year and he played no disciplinary or guiding role in my life, so I was effectively raised by a single mother. We lived in public housing and cycled on and off food stamps and public assistance. The neighborhood I grew up in was full of people with a similar backstory. Areas like this are notorious for gang violence, drug use, and high crime rates.
I was fortunate enough to avoid getting caught up in a lot of the traps that keep people stuck in that environment. I mainly avoided falling in with the wrong crowd because I remember hating my neighborhood and the limitations of my lifestyle with a passion. While I didn’t know exactly what “different” looked like, I remember that I wanted to have a different life than the one I grew up with and in different surroundings than all I had known as a child.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have two:
“The difficulty of a task is irrelevant if it’s vital to your success.”
“Give enough time, you can learn anything.”
It’s this combination of ideas that has made it possible for me to improve my life, especially when things were looking bleak. When I was broke, I knew that it was going to take a long time to fix that problem and that it might be difficult. However, I got to work on fixing my financial situation by enrolling in school at the age of 28 and pushing through a very difficult physics major.
When I decided that I wanted to build a following for my writing, I expected it to take a long time to not only build a fan base, but to also learn the craft of writing to the point where I could skillfully communicate any idea to my audience. It takes time to develop these and even longer to get paid for them.
These quotes were useful to me in my darkest hours as I stopped drinking. Every recovering alcoholic understands that it takes “one day at a time”, but this is tested in the face of temptation to take you back to the bad habits you’re trying to rid yourself of. However, I knew that if I stuck with it over time, no matter how difficult it’d become, I’d make myself into someone I could be proud of.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
First, most importantly, I’m willing to take risks. Risks are generally viewed as something that you want to avoid, but that’s only in the case of “pure risk”. Pure risk is risk that can only result in loss. I’ve succeeded because I eagerly embrace what is known as “speculative risk”.
Speculative risk is risk where you can win or lose something. The best version of this is taking a calculated risk by betting on yourself. The worst is gambling by betting on things you can’t control. I take speculative risks — smart bets — on myself.
I remember when I was an amateur boxer, I needed to train with the best coach around but he was 20 miles away and I needed to drive. I drove a broken-down beater to the gym everyday although my driver’s license was suspended, I couldn’t afford insurance, and the car couldn’t pass inspection. Getting pulled over once would have realistically meant jail time. However, I took the risk because I needed to train and it paid off.
Second, you need grit. Grit is the ability to persist towards a long-term goal despite any setbacks you face along the way. Many people give up at the first sight of difficulty. A few don’t give up until they face the second or third set back. But most people eventually give up. Not those with grit.
Despite the fact that I have a physics degree, I nearly failed all of my math classes in high school. I failed calculus three times before I finally passed it a fourth time. I had to retake two classes through my degree, but I stuck with pursuing my degree despite these setbacks and failures.
Lastly, you need to be grateful. Just because things aren’t going well doesn’t mean they’ll always be that way. Being able to look at a situation and realize that things could be worse is one of the most powerful things you can do for your life. It keeps your perspective positive and a positive mind is a powerful asset for solving your problems.
When I lost my first fight by first round knockout, I remember being worried about how I’d pay my bills and dealing with public embarrassment. However, rather than focus on that I looked at all of the good things in my life. I even told myself that one day it would be the best thing that ever happened to me. I truly believe it was because of this mentality that I was able to leverage that experience into a way to grow my popularity as a writer.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
Prior to my second chapter, I wasn’t doing much with my life outside of amateur boxing. I worked whatever jobs that allowed me to make enough money to live but also afforded me the freedom to train.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
The first thing I did was get my alcoholism under control. I’ve been sober since December 23rd, 2013. I consider this the first full day of my second chapter because this is where I made the decision to build a better life for myself. Shortly after, I enrolled in school and set out to make sure that I could do something other than box and work low-level customer service jobs.
These are outcomes of a change in my internal process. I decided that I would stop trying to be liked and try to be respected. People like a person that they can always drink and party with, but they may not respect them. I think it’s important to aim to be respected because it tends to be a better proxy indicator for the progress you’re making in the world.
Being respected forces you to build a life of value and substance. Being liked merely demands you to be entertaining and very often being entertaining forces you to behave in a way that is counterproductive to making progress.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
I remember one night I went out drinking with some friends. I woke up at a friend’s house and I couldn’t remember how I got there. This wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, but I finally had things I was trying to accomplish. I had just enrolled in school, started military service, just turned pro as a boxer, and I had just met the woman who’d go on to be my fiance. I finally had something to lose.
I looked at my future and decided that I wanted it to be better than my past. I always tell people that this moment in my life was akin to the part in the The Matrix where Neo is trying to escape from the car on his way to meet Morpheus and Trinity stops him and says, “You have been down there, Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.”
I looked into the future of someone on a path of continued drinking and decided that I didn’t want to be there. Then I started to change.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
I learned that my unique talent is teaching and writing. I learned that I really enjoyed using my platform to help people deal with the challenges and making similar life changes and overcoming substance abuse. I originally started by simply writing articles on my experiences with sobriety and the benefits I gained from it in my own life.
This was primarily therapeutic, but then people started to tell me that they were using my articles to help them in their journey. Seeing the effect I was having just by casually sharing, I decided to write a book about dealing with the emotional changes that accompany sobriety and the positive benefits that come with it.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
The best part about living a life where I use my platform, experience, and writing to help people with the same problems I’ve overcome. I’m consistently receiving messages from people on social media, giving me credit for them making it one year without alcohol. Even better than that are the people who say that my books gave them the courage to walk away from alcohol.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There is no particular person who helped me get to this level. There are several people who are responsible for the success I have. First, I’m grateful to all the people who recognized that I had a problem and they called me out on it. While I’d like to think I would have made the changes in my life on my own, I’m grateful that I had people around me to help out.
I’m grateful to the people who have taught me everything about SEO and online marketing. Without those skills, I’d never be able to grow a following, make a name for myself, and make a living being able to help people. It’s not just enough to have something to say. You also need to be able to make people listen to you.
I’m grateful to all of the platforms and people who have given me opportunities to discuss my work and my story and believed in me to recommend my work to their audience. I would not be anywhere without all of these influences.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I always told people that I’d be more famous as a writer than a boxer. I don’t think I even appreciated how true that might be. I’ve learned to not mention where I’m traveling to if I don’t want to turn people down for meeting up. This has happened in places where I figured no one had heard my writing. In places like Juneau, Alaska, or Marrakech, Morocco. I even got waived through by the TSA once because the agent at the airport gate recognized me.
I don’t tell these stories to brag. I am *far* from famous. I only mention it because it’s pretty interesting and special that I can have this type of far-reaching effect by simply trying to help.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
I’ve never really struggled with believing in myself because I don’t believe in notions of talent. I know that if I apply myself to whatever I’m trying to achieve, then it’s basically impossible to fail. At the very least, it’s impossible to not make any progress and learn something that will help get me closer to my goal.
Because I lean on this idea, I never struggle with believing in myself. I’m confident in my ability to learn and I know that I won’t quit, so there is no doubt that something good will happen from me sticking to the goal.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
A support is nice, but isn’t always feasible. I was very much “baptized by fire.” The two major rebirths in my life were both without support systems. When I got sober, there was no one around me who was not drinking that I could ask for advice. I didn’t know anyone who stopped drinking so late, went back to school so late, or joined the military so late.
Likewise, when I started the transition from professional boxing to my writing career, I didn’t know of anyone who did that either. The connections from one world don’t really translate well to the other world. Therefore, I figured out a lot of “best practices” for self-promotion on my own.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
While I enjoy writing, a lot of my most successful content has been through the audio or video medium. I am still struggling with making the transition because writing is comfortable and relatively easy for me, but I can’t deny the power of reaching more people via these other mediums. I will continue to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace them even more.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Your effort and reputation get you the opportunity, but your follow through and results are how you keep it. When you start any new venture, you don’t have any previous results to rely on. Instead, you have to rely on your reputation and some marketing. This is how I got some of my first coaching clients. They read my writing and decided that I could do a good job helping them solve their problem.
- Quality insight that comes from experience will help someone out. I have some high-profile clients and my first thought used to be “How can I possibly help you? You’re far more successful than I am.” The reality is that no one is perfect and sometimes the area where you’re successful is the exact area that someone needs help in.
- Leverage will allow you to do more things faster, but you’ve got to learn how to let go. Every content creators and business owners are deathly afraid of letting someone handle any part of the business. However, the only way to make progress past a certain point is to bring in help and learn to depend on them. This requires you to become more like an employer, but this is an inevitable step if you want to continue to grow. I would not be able to run my memberships, website, and programs if I did not bring in partners and hire people to outsource to.
- The more money someone spends, the more forgiving of mistakes they tend to be IF they don’t happen often and you fix them immediately when they do. This is a surprising observation. The more money someone spends, the more laidback they tend to be and less anxious about immediately getting a return on their investment. This is almost certainly because to get to a position where you can spend a lot of money, you likely learned that it takes time to produce a sound outcome.
- The work never ends. If you’re going to work for yourself and do so with a mission, then you have to accept that there is no ending. You never really stop creating and contributing. There are only short breaks that last as long as it takes for the next opportunity to arise. And if it takes too long, you have to create it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’d want people to practice forgiveness and come to a deep understanding of it. We need to realize that justice and forgiveness are two separate things, not meant to replace one another, and both are needed to progress our world and to heal it.
Our greatest problem right now is that we can’t let go of the past.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
I’d love to have lunch with Naval Ravikant because I’ve enjoyed the major insights that he’s made on social media while also picking his brain about how he sees the future. A successful venture capitalist is likely to have a unique perspective on the direction the world is taking and how to prepare for it.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
https://edlatimore.com/ is where I host all my content. I’m also very active on social media. Both my Twitter and Instagram handles are @edlatimore.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!