Introduction Looking Out While Being Locked Down 

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” —Bob Marley 

So, there I was, either glued to the television or trapped in this vortex of newsfeed regarding the pandemic. Although I remember living through the first case of SARS in Toronto, Canada, this was a completely different animal. Airplanes were grounded. Restaurants shut down. People were forced to hunker down in their homes, not knowing what would happen next.

I remember seeing empty shelves in the grocery store as the community braced for an apocalyptic scenario worthy of an HBO series. Toilet paper rolls trumped gold bars and became the next hot commodity. I guess when we are stuck in our homes, there’s nothing to do but sit on the toilet and scroll through social media.

Headlines graced every newsfeed and referred to this pandemic as the worst since the Spanish flu. Not only did this pandemic kill people, it murdered people financially. Many felt the economic disaster would echo the Great Depression. No one knew what was real or what was an exaggeration. I remember standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2008 wondering if this was the end of society as we know it. This time felt different.

Close to a year after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, as death tolls continued to rise, the hardest hit was not the health of global citizens but the financial health of people. The truth is, we still don’t know what lies ahead. Mentally and financially, the world suffered and continues to suffer. Many feel like they’ve been in a 12-round title fight with someone two weight classes above them. 

The knockout punch hit the economic lifeblood of any society— the small-business owner. The smaller business owner didn’t have the deep pockets to ride out months of closed doors while continuing to pile up expenses. Even as governments provided stimulus and subsidy, much of this was a financial Band-Aid that would only temporarily stop the bleeding. Businesses failed. They shut their doors permanently and contributed to the downward spiral of mental illness and financial despair. 

As I saw this happening, I dreaded opening the mail. Bills piled up. Calls from banks and landlords continued. I stopped answering my phone when I saw unknown numbers. The financial hardship hit many people, including me. My other businesses and income streams were creating just enough income to cover the hemorrhaging from other highly sensitive businesses, such as my restaurants.

As a multi-property real estate investor, I was banking on the concept that my real estate would generate passive income or be a source for refinancing. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work. Where I live, my real estate properties took a massive hit, so the equity I had in them wasn’t nearly as much as it had been prior to the pandemic. That nice, juicy nest egg I thought would help me weather a storm wasn’t prepared to ride out a full-blown economic tsunami. In desperation, I remember selling a property to cover expenses, only to suffer a 20 percent loss. Ouch! That one hurt. 

At the height of this pandemic, I did whatever I could to survive. I went all-in on what I knew would make money, and out of necessity created other income streams to stay afloat. While staying locked down, I remember seeing my wife post random stuff from our house that we didn’t need on Facebook Market. 

One thing I learned from sales guru Grant Cardone is that there is nothing beneath you when it comes to generating money to put food on the table. Sell something or die, he would champion. And that’s just what I did. I used resources and skills such as sales, business creation, networking, digital marketing, and so on to add a few extra income streams to my portfolio. 

I couldn’t help but think about my business colleagues who invested their entire life savings only to see it vanish in a matter of months. I was lucky, but how many people around the world were not? How many hard-working entrepreneurs held on and are still holding on by a thread? This book is for those who haven’t lost hope. 

I can’t promise some mystical pill to create a massive windfall. Nor do I profess to solve all the economic problems we face. But I will highlight the mindset needed to survive, the maneuvering needed to execute a plan, and the stories of some creative entrepreneurs who came out stronger than before. I am not a business guru with a magical formula to fix your financial woes. If I was, I’d be on a beach sipping piña coladas while doing Zoom calls. What I am is a straight-up entrepreneur who got hammered by this pandemic and saw hope when many may have lost it. 

The lessons and stories are things I personally did, read, or saw first-hand that inspired me to continue pushing forward. The stories written by others are their unfiltered words and experiences. The culmination of all of this is not just additional income streams but an overall maturity, sense of gratitude, and perspective that I believe can help you regardless of the fastball to the head that life throws at you. 

Change is inevitable. If it’s not COVID-19, it’s some other crisis that will hit you when you least expect it. This book is meant to build resiliency so that you have the best fighting chance to survive and thrive in any economic situation.