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My Origin Story

My Origin Story

How The W2 Capitalist Came to Be

It used to be that having multiple streams of income was a luxury, now it is a necessity. Hey yall, my name is Jay Helms and I want to give you my origin story on how I got to comfortably exit the W2 world and how or really why I started the W2 Capitalist. 

The Backstory… 

During the 2013-2014 time frame I had a trifecta of life events happen. Let me explain. In September 2013, I got married to my amazing and beautiful wife Cassie. In April 2014 the company I was a principal at and spent 10 years growing was acquired. That acquisition was not going well and it was not going well very quickly. By that I mean, resources were being pulled from departments and not replaced, customers were leaving and our new owners, who were backed by venture capitalist, looked at me and a couple other leaders like “well, what happened?” 

Well, what happened is the acquirees were not living up to what was discussed during due diligence and weren’t listening to me and those other leaders of the company they just acquired to right the ship, so to speak.  Now, here comes the pressure of “is my job safe”. So, that was life event #2. #1 getting married, #2 we were acquired so let’s chat about #3.  

About the same time the company was acquired, my wife and I discovered kid #1 was on the way. So all these emotions of: the company, where I was employee #5, which essentially was being ripped apart, customers were leaving and our new owners weren’t listening, made me angry.  But, on the other hand my wife and I had the pregnancy which brought pure excitement, right. Excitement, joy and confusion. I mean I wasn’t confused on how the pregnancy happened, we were trying, but the amount of emotions you tap into on the verge of becoming a new parent for the first time are overwhelming. You don’t even know those emotions exist until you find out there is a bun in the oven, and quite frankly I learned more about the female body in those 9 months that I ever really wanted to know about.  So the excitement of becoming a dad, concern over my wife’s health and the baby’s health, the anger of what was going on at work, it was bonkers, it was nuts. And in the back of my head I’m thinking, if I get let go from work, we have the baby on the way…what will we do? I felt stuck. Especially since I wanted to be a VP one day of a HUGE company.  

What I wanted to Accomplish… 

I remember being at college and trying to figure out who and what I wanted to be in life. I graduated from college in 2001. I was a Computer Science major, minor in Business Administration, I was a walk on for the football team, aka tackling dummy and the more I studied business the more I really tapped into this idea of being an amazing business man. I even taped up this section of paper, in college I had one of these book shelf beds, a book shelf as the headboard, so there was a little bit of a hangover so when I laid down and looked up I could see the underneath of the bookshelf.  So I taped up this piece of paper that read Manager -> Director -> VP. So every night I went to sleep I’d see that and think about it. For years I fell asleep thinking about this career path, even after I graduated from undergrad, moved to the big city of Birmingham grab my first corporate job and for several more years I had that same bed, piece of paper was still there. Falling asleep each night thinking of ways to climb the corporate ladder to full fill my dream.  

So now in 2013-2014 I had hit this wall… 

I hit this wall of realization that corporate America actually sucks. This thing I had been dreaming about for well over a decade, actually sucked and I no longer wanted to be part of it. I no longer wanted to climb that corporate ladder because well quite frankly, my morals and ethics wouldn’t allow me to. So, this wall I unknowingly had barricaded myself behind was being stuck in corporate America at a job I no longer wanted, working for a company I no longer wanted to work for and extremely dependent on just one stream of income. It is a horrible place to be especially if you have this realization when your wife is 6 months pregnant. and for some of you listening to or watching this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It is a terrifying place to be.  

The Epiphnay 

But then I had an Ephiphany. I started applying some google magic, came across a few sites that discussed real estate investing, which at the time I thought was only a rich man’s game and then I was eventually led to discover the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. If you’ve never read it, it is an absolute must read. But the RDPD book is now the #1 gift I give to expecting fathers because this book had such a paradigm shift on how I looked at making money and building wealth for my family. Prior to having this epiphany I felt the only way to really build wealth was to climb the corporate ladder and after 12 years of doing so, my salary had increased slightly, I think my first true salaried position out of college was $33k and at the point of the acquisition in 2014 I was a little over $100k. but, during that time frame I had went back to school and grabbed my Masters in Business Administration and became a certified Project Management Professional but even though my salary grew, my net worth, now my families net worth was actually negative.  

So, my epiphany was I needed to stop worrying about climbing the corporate ladder, stop worrying about impressing the CEO and my boss with the idea that I was going to gain this huge pay increase or increased stock options that were going to catapult me out of a negative net worth and start focusing on truly building wealth. In reality, if I impressed my boss, chances are I would gain more responsibility without any financial compensation. Corporate America just does not proactively reward loyalty. Now, during this epiphany I realized just who was going to take care of me and my family financially. Regardless of what was happening around me, this was MY responsibility and the way I was trying to accomplish building wealth was all wrong. Back in the day, we referred to this as Manning Up. So I needed to man up to the one stream of income from a disloyal venture capitalist group that saw me as a corporate drone who needed to work harder with less resources and selling me a bill of goods like “what’s best for the company” That is an equation for a horrible way to try and have a successful life. And I fell for it and I fell for it for way to long. Not only did I fall for it, but I lacked the confidence to stand up to, man up to those guys or really to that way of living. If I‘m taking full responsibility for this, it is completely my fault for not finding the courage to take that first step outside of that lifestyle. So here’s the Plan.  

The Plan… 

So, I finally did it. With the help of my always supporting wife, we started focusing on surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who want to build wealth and multiple streams of income by buying cash flowing assets, SO THAT, one day I could walk away from being a corporate drone. Now, that day came a lot sooner than expected with COVID19 layoffs, but all those emotions I had just 6 years earlier over concerns of being laid off and having a family, and how I was going to financially provide for them… I didn’t have those. As a matter of fact, this last week in the W2 Capitalist mastermind, where I’m surrounded by uber I mean super uber motivated and successful people every week, we were talking about going big or going bust. One of our members, Adam Z dropped this line, which I found extremely motivating was…he said “either I’m going to be a billionaire or I’m going bankrupt.” Now Adam and I have a lot of similarities in that we’re both successful in our W2s have young families and have these huge BHAGs, these Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Super motivating and you need people like that in your life. Which leads me to the next topic: Conflicts.  

The Conflicts… 

The conflicts that I run into are simply threefold: my personality, my risk tolerance and the people that I let into my circle. So, what do I mean by personality? Every personality test out there that I’ve taken, I’ve been classified as an introvert. I’ve noticed and my wife has noticed the changes in my personality in the last 6 months or so to be more extroverted but I’m still an introvert. If anything, I’m an introvert who now recognizes those flares that push me into being an introvert and instead of running away from them, I run toward them. For example, doing this video.  

Second thing…I’m a pretty risk adverse guy. I only like taking well calculated risks and quite frankly this past week I labeled that part of my personality as why I’m not more successful. Going to take a lot to knock those well ingrained attributes off, but I now know that’s where my journey needs to take me to be more successful, right.  

Third thing…probably the most important is the people we let into our circle.  I have a few resources on this, but surrounding ourselves with liked-minded people who are striving to do the same and even more has allowed us to have the success we’ve seen so far. You have to surround yourself with the right people.  

The Achievement… 

So, where we stand today. In 2014 we made the plunge right; we purchased our first rental property: it was a $22k foreclosure that took $9k to make it livable. Rented right away at $600/month. Today we have 328 units in our portfolio and thanks to COVID, we’re full time real estate investors.  

The Transformation... 

I am a far distance away from where I want to be but the transformation is and has been incredible. Because the transformation has been more than just calling ourselves full-time real estate investors. As a matter of fact, that didn’t come into our plan until a few years after that first rental property acquisition. The transformation is I worry less about money. The transformation is I worry less about how I’m going to provide for my family. The transformation is, I work on my schedule and I’m building wealth for my family (not the wealth of a CEOs). We now have three kids under 5 and I get to spend a large part of my day hanging out with them and it’s all because I found the courage to go after that first rental property. Now we have these multiple streams of cash flowing assets. And that’s why I created the W2 Capitalist. There are approximately 100 million W2 workers in today’s workforce, the vast majority being millennials who are right where I was in age when I had this epiphany that “working for the man” is not going to make me rich. A J.O.B. stands for just over broke, which is where I was until I found the courage to acquire that first rental. And if I can help just 1% of that 100 million, if I can 1 million W2 earners have the same transformation that I had and same epiphany that I had, I would consider that a successful career.  

Read More: Protect. Provide. Preside. with Ryan Michler