He was born Taino Adrian Lopez, but is better known to most as Tai Lopez. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ve almost certainly seen his face, particularly if you found yourself watching YouTube around three-or-four years ago. Tai’s “Here in My Garage” ads, in which he encourages you to visit his website to learn how he amassed his millions of “freedom units” (dollars to you and I), were seen by millions. If you were not among them, you might be the only one.
Tai is a bit of an enigma. Estimates of his net worth vary quite a bit, though most seem to place it somewhere north of $5 million. The less-skeptical put that number closer to $50 or even $60 million.
So what does he say? Well, he doesn’t, but he did imply on a podcast with Logan Paul that $50 million would be underestimating. In one webinar he responds to a live comment that claimed he only makes $3-$5 million a year—“If I make three million in a month, I’m gonna have a heart attack.” He currently lives in a Hollywood Hills mansion worth about $44 million.
Lopez’s entrepreneurial endeavors, like those of many great success stories, began in childhood. He was born in April of 1977 in Long Beach, California and raised by his mother and grandmother. His father was in prison throughout Tai’s childhood.
Tai’s first business venture began at the age of only six. While helping his mother to sell her cherry tomatoes for 25 cents a bag, he learned the importance of demand. He saw very quickly that not many people wanted to buy those tomatoes.
With the optimism of a child, Tai decided to try selling “lemonade with sugar” instead of tomatoes. That paid off for young Taino—in the time it took to sell a single 25-cent bag of tomatoes, he could sell $2.50 worth of lemonade. Even with the math skills of a six-year-old, he recognized that lemonade made him more money than cherry tomatoes could. Through that experience, he discovered the value of taking risks.
As many fans of hip-hop know, Long Beach has a high gang presence. As a fairly shy child, Tai had a hard time making friends, and rather than involve himself with the gangs that were expanding rapidly in the ‘80s, Lopez instead turned to books.
Reading Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics led Lopez to his ideas of the “Good Life,” which he considers a “balance of the four major pillars of life – health, wealth, love, and happiness.” Wanting to learn more, and looking for a path to that good life, he turned to one of the more successful people he knew—his grandfather.
Tai’s grandfather made his living as a scientist, and at the age of 16 Tai wrote to him in hopes of gaining some of Grandpa’s wisdom. The response he got might have been a bit disheartening: “Tai, the modern world is too complicated. You’ll never find all the answers from just one person. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a handful of people throughout your life who will point the way.”
Discouraging as it may have been, a seed was planted—look for that “handful of people.” Find mentors.
Soon after, that letter was followed by a box “containing an old, dusty set of eleven books,” with an admonishment to “start by reading these.” Tai’s grandfather had curated several books that would fuel Tai’s lifelong desire for learning and his passion for reading; the passion that would ultimately lead to his “book-a-day” habit.
Beginning with those 11 tomes, Lopez pursued his journey of self-learning by poring through “thousands of books from the most impactful figures in history,” including business icons like Sam Walton and Charlie Munger. His reading helped to inspire a desire to travel, in part to meet people like those in his books.
To fund that travel, Tai worked odd jobs, socking money away as he continued his voracious reading habit. Soon, he’d pack his bags for a journey that took him to 51 countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and India where he worked for a time at a leper colony.
Back in the states, he spent over two years living with the Amish, where he learned the “simple and practical” lesson, “Do the hardest thing in your day first.”
He also learned that the Amish don’t make a lot of money. In his TED talk he shares that at the end of his stay he “had to do the thing nobody wants to do.” He moved back in with his mother. She didn’t have a room for him in her mobile home in North Carolina, but she did have a couch.
In addition to his youthful entry to the world of business, Tai shares another trait common among entrepreneurs: He’s a college dropout.
As with some of the most successful people of our time, Tai learned through experience. Experience, and of course, a lot of books. Books, in fact, are a highlight of his “Here in My Garage” video that arguably made him famous. In that video can be seen, alongside his new black Lamborghini, seven shelves filled with thousands of books.
His love of reading led to a practice of “reading” a book a day.
Considering how prolific he’s become, it’s easy to wonder where he finds the time to get through a book every day. For many of us, even one a month is a challenge.
He addresses this in his TED Talk. He explains that most books only have a couple of valuable pieces. Tai focuses on those one or two nuggets. He starts by reading the table of contents, then skims through the book a page at a time, then finally digs into one chapter. “See yourself like a gold miner just looking for that one nugget.”
He advocates, as well, reading and re-reading the same few books. “I recommend you find… 150 you can read over and over for the rest of your life.”
While living on his mother’s couch, with $46 and a clunker of a car to his name, he recognized that his travels had not given him much in the way of marketable skills. With a car that barely ran and hardly enough money for gas, he recalled his early realization that he needed to find a mentor who would show him how to make money.
Not knowing exactly where to look, Tai browsed the yellow pages. In the finance section, he found “this guy” by the name of Mike Stainback who headed a local insurance firm. After digging out an old, ill-fitting suit that he found in a closet, Tai got a ride to go visit Mike.
When he arrived, he told Mike that he was willing to work for free if Mike would teach him what he knows about making money. “I figure you must know a lot about money if you can afford a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages.”
By chance, Mike was looking for someone to mentor who had the ambition Tai demonstrated. He’d been hoping to find such a person for 20 years. From this relationship, Tai learned how to cold call and how to sell. In the meantime, Lopez continued educating himself through seminars and more reading. Google AdWords was fairly new at the time, and Tai learned to use it for generating leads.
That self-education paid off, as Tai began closing 20% of the leads he generated, earning $1,500 in commission for each $200 he invested. Stainback, recognizing Tai’s talent, introduced him to the regional head of GE Capital where he became a Certified Financial Planner. In short time, Tai was outselling GE Capital’s top salespeople.
Tai clearly understands the importance of learning and mentorship. Since mentoring with Stainback, he has gone on to create his flagship online training program called “67 Steps,” a monthly subscription program that promises to teach you the 67 Steps to “The Good Life.” When you watched the “In My Garage” video and clicked the link within it, 67 Steps is the program you were offered.
That video brought Tai a lot of attention, and he has leveraged his fame—some would say notoriety—to develop his brand. Through his website, he now offers several additional training and mentorship programs including a high-ticket “Business Bootcamp.”
Along with fellow entrepreneur and former NASA scientist Alex Mehr, he also co-founded Mentorbox—another subscription-based program. In this unique twist on the idea of a book club, well-known authors “teach” their books through video, along with written summaries and notes.
Tai Lopez is a well-established social media influencer, too, with over 6 million fans on Facebook, 3 million Instagram followers, and 1.3 million subscribers to his YouTube page. Entrepreneur Magazine ranked him #1 on their list of “Social Media Strategists to Watch in 2017.”
Tai isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and like many of his predecessors he’s amassed a fair number of “haters.” He doesn’t seem to be bothered by that, though. His accomplishments have certainly shown that perseverance and hard work, along with a deep desire for knowledge, can get you over just about any hurdle.
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