Success takes time, courage, hard work…and going a little crazy, says John Schneider of the Debt Free Guys. Here’s how embracing insanity led to a thriving business.

“But we’re never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy”—Seal

We work hard for other people’s dreams, don’t we? Employment gives us a sense of security, a regular paycheck, insurance, and other perks. But I recently decided to pursue my own dreams, and quit my day job to work for myself.

Of course, this first required that my husband and I endure a bit of insanity.

Follow Your Passion

We were in financial services for a combined total of 15 years when we first met. Despite this, we had $51,000 in credit card debt between the two of us. We applied our theoretical knowledge and gained practical knowledge to become debt-free.

After we had eliminated our debt, we wanted to help others like us. So we wrote a book, telling our story, sharing what we learned professionally and personally, and outlining the strategies we used to solve our financial problems.

We incorrectly thought, though, that writing a book was the hard part. We shopped it to several publishers who all rejected it, despite liking our story. They rejected it (and us) because we didn’t have a platform.

We didn’t let their rejection stop us. It motivated us. We knew then—as we know now—that helping people was our passion, and we were determined to succeed. Therefore, we started to build a platform.

We put ourselves out there as writers, speakers, podcasters, and money experts (even before we were confident in those roles). It took us three years, but now others hire us as experts—and we’re running a sustainable platform.

Join the Insane Class

Success takes time and courage. Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, was a physician raising young children when he first started to write fiction. Writing and telling his stories was Hosseini’s dream, but he had responsibilities. Therefore, day after day, he woke early in the morning before anyone else in his house and he’d write. Then, every day, he went to work to care for his patients. He’d return home to spend time with his kids. He’d then go to bed to wake up and do it all over again.

Similarly, for two years, my husband and I both managed day jobs as we built our business. We each essentially had two full-time jobs. We did our 9-to-5 jobs during traditional hours and managed our business during early mornings, late nights, and weekends.

Our lives were spent in cubicles and kitchens. With our commutes, weekly chores, and maintaining relationships, our lives felt like an insane Ferris Wheel of early mornings, long days, and late nights. But we did it.

Be Insane—but Smart

Our passion was our guide, not our demise. It was scary to quit one job without having another lined up. To prepare for this insane leap, we added an extra $10,000 to our emergency savings over two years by cutting back and eliminating non-essential spending.

As we did to pay off our debt, today we’re buying groceries that are either on sale or for which we have coupons. We’re cooking at home rather than dining out. Boxed wine is replacing bottled wine because it’s cheaper and stores longer.

Our reduction in quality of life won’t last forever. We know we can live frugally today to grow our business because we lived frugally yesterday to become debt-free. Many of our friends and family think we’re insane for “going backward,” but temporarily going backward is worth it to fulfill our dreams.

And we see the results of this insanity: Our business is growing faster than ever. We have our platform and are helping more people every day. Has it been easy? No, but we were insane enough to see our problems and rejections as opportunities, and that’s paid off.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Not only did we put on the overalls, but we also put on flannel shirts and leather gloves and got to work.

Embrace Insanity

One of the best parts about quitting my job is watching the emotional cycle my friends and family go through when I tell them I quit to build my own business.

Their eyes open wide when they first hear the news that I left the 9-to-5 grind, beige cubicles, and fluorescent lights. They then drift into a daydream as they ponder, “Could I quit my job?” Their emotions evolve into mild trepidation as they consider losing a regular paycheck, insurance, and other perks.

The truth is they, too, can take insane steps towards success. It’s just that success first requires a bit of insanity. Are you insane enough to make your dreams come true?

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Read more stories from John Schneider and David Auten at

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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.

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