J.D. Roth on the Power of Personal Transformation

J.D. Roth gave the closing keynote at this year’s World Domination Summit (WDS). I’ve followed J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly blog for some time, but I wasn’t familiar with J.D.’s story. At WDS, Mr. Roth gave a remarkable speech titled “The Power of Personal Transformation“:

One day in algebra class, the girl behind me — Janine was her name — the girl behind me wrote something on the back of my shirt. I kept turning around to ask her to stop, but she kept writing. The other kids kept snickering. After class, I went to the bathroom to see what she’d written. There, in big block letters, was the word DICK. She’d written DICK on the back of my shirt.

That’s who I was. I was the bottom of the junior-high pecking order. I was a nerd. A geek. A loser. The other kids thought I was a dick. And slowly but surely, I began to believe them. In fact, as eighth grade progressed, I sank into a deep depression. I missed school. I withdrew. I became suicidal.

I remember coming home from school after one particularly horrific day — maybe even the same day Janine wrote the word DICK on the back of my shirt — I remember coming home to our trailer house, searching the cupboards for something to eat. I opened one of the kitchen drawers, and there I found a sharp knife. I took it out and sat at the table. For maybe five or ten minutes, I sat staring at the blade. I ran it over my wrist once or twice. “I could kill myself,” I thought. “I could kill myself and this would all be over.”

Fortunately, I didn’t have the guts.

Instead, I put the knife away and went to my bedroom to read X-Men comic books.

That was a turning point for me, a key experience in my young life. As I sat at the table with knife in hand, I made a decision. I knew I wasn’t a dick. I knew I was a good guy. Why didn’t other people? I decided to change. I decided that the next year, when I started high school, I’d do new things. I’d make new friends.

And so I did.

I am happy for J.D.:

After I paid off my debt, I began to wonder how I could apply the lessons I’d learned to other parts of my life. If I could transform my personal finances, could I transform my fitness? My personality? My relationships? Turns out, the answer is “yes”. In fact, it’s a resounding yes.

But the biggest change of all, and the most important one, is that today I’m happy. That’s probably the defining facet of my existence. A decade ago, I was unhappy. Even a year ago, I was unhappy. Not today. Sure, there are things I want to change, but have no doubt: I have an awesome life.

J.D. talked about the three components for making a striking personal transformation:

  • The power of yes. Yes is an open mind. Yes is a willingness to try new things. Yes is allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
  • The power of focus. The ability to focus only on those things that are most important.
  • The power of action. The strength to work hard, to get things done.

It was an incredible speech. I think the video might be available eventually, but for now, the best thing you can do is read J.D.’s speech on the Get Rich Slowly blog. It’s a must-read.

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