Damian Pros is a college dropout (chemical engineering) who founded his own consulting firm at 19. Having dealt with adverse financial situations due to the financial crisis in his home country Greece, he quit college and decided to blaze his own path.
Driven by the lessons he learned when he won Greece's National Kickboxing Championship at 17 and when he came 2nd in a worldwide dance contest, he ignored the naysayers and didn't take the "standard" path he was supposed to.
That decision lead him to a streak of successes like becoming a consultant for 7-figure companies, making mid 6-figures on Fiverr, running 3 businesses with several employees at such a young age and moving from his roach-infected dorm room to a Dubai penthouse. He helps other youngsters change their lives via his website, Dare and Conquer.
Q: What are some challenges you faced when developing your venture?
When you hear stories about entrepreneurs making it big and changing their lives, you always expect them to have overcome massive challenges, right?
Well, that’s indeed true in many cases, but you are not always going to face a frightening challenge or a death or die scenario. While you will certainly come against difficulties, the biggest challenge an entrepreneur faces is the “inner challenge”.
It’s not easy to stay committed to a cause for long enough to reap the rewards.
Being self-disciplined and committed to your venture to the point of obsession is the biggest challenge of all.
Undoubtedly, cash flow problems, betrayals, lack of capital, government policies, market crashes and other things might stand in your way.
But the one that’s the hardest to deal with is the “inner challenge”. That’s why so many entrepreneurs struggle and ultimately fail. They stop being excited when they wake up in the morning and feel like “oh another day of the same boring stuff, let’s better stay at bed a little longer”. Eventually, the venture collapses.
Apart from that, the funny thing is that real, massive challenges may come to you in disguise. For instance, I dropped out of Chemical Engineering at 19. My family’s hope and biggest desire was that I would become a great scientist.
I quit and kept it as a secret for almost 1 and a half year!!
I had bookmarked my faculty’s homepage on both my phone and laptop, so I could quickly run over there and check the class schedule when they would ask me what I had done that day at the university.
Why? Well, my father was unemployed, my mother worked hard every day for less than $1000 per month and thus my uncle and grandparents had to help with covering my expenses. They were all financing my studies. How could I ever tell them that I dropped out?
Not only would that tear them apart, but it would also lead to unprecedented nagging and fights that would ultimately distract me from my goal of financial independence.
Remember what I said above about commitment to the point of obsession?
Thanks to that, I managed to become financially independent in just about 6-7 months. I would make more money in a month than my uncle who is a doctor. I didn’t need their support anymore. So, at this point I knew they started feeling free from the burden of having to support me.
When my businesses grew exponentially months later, they were not in a position of power to doubt my calls, since I managed to accomplish more in a few months than they have ever done.
After all your family wants you to live a good life, regardless of how you manage to accomplish it.
By the way, that taught me an insanely valuable lesson about having leverage. Whoever has the most powerful leverage in any situation, is the one whose desires are satisfied.
Q: Was there any point when you thought it was over? That you were going to fail?
And whenever someone mentioned that possibility to me, I would immediately stop listening. You would see me change the topic of the discussion or act as if I was deaf.
Most people start thinking that they are going to fail when others get into their heads and make them believe so.
If you are around a naysayer/doubter, simply do this: “smile, nod, ignore”.
They don’t get it. They never will. Don’t bother to waste energy trying to make them see what you see. They won’t see it until you’ve made it.
Q: As an entrepreneur how important has flexibility been in developing your venture?
Flexibility is really the holy grail of entrepreneurship.
Who wouldn’t like being their own boss and making their own schedule? After all, that’s what makes this “laptop lifestyle” so enticing.
The power to take charge of your destiny, do something that you love, make money out of it and even travel the world while you do that!
At no point ever in history had people been able to do that.
Q: What was was your spark, where did it come from?
My spark was adversity.
When I first joined the university, I had been renting a crappy apartment for about a year, and for the first 2 weeks I had been sleeping on the floor. There was absolutely no furniture in the house.
I would lay some blankets on the floor and that would be it. We could not afford a bed. Not even a mattress. Eventually, I bought a used single bed and mattress from a student who had just finished his studies and wanted to move out. It cost something like $70. Even that was paid with hesitation.
This is just one of the dozens of uncomfortable situations I had to face due to being poor. So, this adversity is what fueled my drive and dedication to my goal of financial freedom.
And it worked!
Had you told me that I would go from sleeping on the floor to Dubai just a few years later, I wouldn’t have believed it.
I mean, I could barely afford going to the grocery store to buy the basics, I had been sleeping on the floor for weeks and even picked up a mattress from the rubbish once. Later on, I was forced to leave the small apartment I had been renting because I couldn’t afford it at all. I ended up at the university’s dorm rooms, that were full of cockroaches and used shared bathrooms.
Despite these adversities, I managed to turn my life around. And these adversities sparked that fire for going after more.
So, if someone out there is in a similar position like the one I was before, they should know that they already have the most powerful weapon in their arsenal in order to change their lives.
Victor Hugo said that “Adversity makes men. Prosperity makes monsters”
Meaning that if you live a phenomenally “safe” and “prosperous” life, this actually makes you weak and deprives you from getting more out of life. You get complacent with what you have and eventually sacrifice what you could have had.
Adversity is a blessing, if you use it as a motive to turn your life around.
You were born alone in this world and you will leave this world alone.
There are no friendships. There are people who have mutually aligned incentives.
Learn that and you learn life. Otherwise, people will take advantage of you or even betray you.
Real friends? You will only have quite a few in your life. If they stand by your side for 5+ years, then they have solid chances of making into the “friendship” list. Especially if they were by your side before you became rich, famous or successful. And even more if they didn’t grow envious of your success later on.
Forget friendships and start thinking about “reciprocal relationships”. You give something to them and they give back to you.
If either party does not help the other’s advancement, then there is no reciprocity and there is no point to keep that relationship.
Move on and find better “friends”. All successful people know that elevating your social circle is a key to becoming more successful. The wrong type of “friends” are going to drag you down. There is no doubt about that.
Negative people, naysayers, those who never work on improving themselves, those who tell you to be “realistic” etc etc. You want to avoid them. Choose your friends wisely.
A one-man operation can only go so far ahead. Delegating the less significant tasks is something any entrepreneur has to do at some point.
When is the right moment? Simply when the work is too much to be handled just by yourself.
If you don’t delegate some tasks, you will burn out, your company won’t grow that much and you will be confined to the results that can be produced by a one-man operation.
Delegation is inevitable, if you want to grow your income past six and seven figures.