I’m feeling nostalgic today.

Time and distance can give us perspective and wisdom.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the “Think & Grow Rich Summit”  I hosted in San Diego, California at the Del Mar racetrack. The three-day event featured of some of the biggest speakers in the personal development industry, many successful entrepreneurs, and several up-and-comers within the speaking industry.

We came together to honor the legacy of Napoleon Hill and the 75th anniversary of his classic book, Think & Grow Rich. If there is one quote from the late Napoleon Hill to describe pulling off an historical event of this scale, it would be this:

“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and never the result of selfishness.”

Let me just say that we had so many obstacles, curveballs, and setbacks thrown at us leading up to the event that it was a miracle, even all these years later, that the event took place.

Looking back now, there are five key lessons I gained from the Think & Grow Rich Summit. It’s my hope that when I share what I’ve learned it inspires you on your own life journey to take a leap of faith, even when you might be facing massive doubt and fear.

Lesson #1: Timing is everything. When you see a chance, sometimes you’ll have to move on it immediately. Opportunities rarely show up when we’re ready. They happen when we least expect it. The “big idea” for the event was born out of hard work, reputation, and unique timing. At the time of this event, I was coming out of an intense divorce and a personal bankruptcy where I had no access to credit. I had to believe that we could sell the vision of the event, that we could change lives, and that going all-in would make an event this unique a reality.

Lots of people in the personal development industry talked a big game. Many said they’d help us, but only a few did. Many people flaked out and many of them talked negatively about me both publicly and privately. However, a few believed and got behind the event, even during my toughest of days, and for that I will never forget them. I saw both the best in humanity and the worst. It was an intense crash course in the game of life that would serve me for many years.

Lesson #2: Count on critics and still move forward. There were countless speakers, other meeting planners, and plenty of veterans who laughed in my face as I attempted to put this event on. A few even threatened to sue me and acted the opposite of how they preached and wrote about in their books.  Funny enough, many of them showed up at the event shocked and amazed that we successfully pulled it off.

Sad but true, after the event was finished I was burnt out and seriously considered leaving the speaking and publishing industry for good. The amount of time spent, money I personally lost (over six figures), petty jealousy exhibited by many people in the industry, and the gift of pending litigation from a disgruntled vendor left a very bad taste in my mouth. I had just paid a heavy price promoting the event but I would not let it defeat nor deter me from moving ahead and helping others.

The amount of folks who loved the event, the connections that were made, and the new fans who were impressed that we pulled off such a unique event made it all worth it. If there was a defining point in my career as a speaker, writer, and event promoter, San Diego was it. I felt like I gained 10 years of wisdom and lessons during the 18-months from the birth of my crazy idea to full event completion.

Lesson #3: In-person events change lives. Now that we are back to full-on in-person events, I can clearly see why getting together at events and in groups is so life-changing. The amount of wisdom, talent, and go-givers that attended, spoke from stage, and got behind it was incredible. Even with all the criticism and doubt, the event took place and the positive ripples are still being felt in my own life and with others to this day! Yes, being forged through the flames of adversity into steel with the lessons from San Diego has paid off countless times in my personal and business life over the past decade.

With the upcoming 12th Annual Mind Capture Bootcamp taking place this November, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that California and the many events I’ve hosted after it have positively impacted thousands of more people since those fateful days in late April 2013. If I had quit and walked away after the initial setbacks of the event, my oh my, how many lives would have not been positively disrupted worldwide and been changed for the better.

Lesson #4: Persistence is the key. To say I felt slighted and disrespected by some of the obstacles leading up to the San Diego event is a massive understatement. It seemed like every turn we faced roadblocks and continual setbacks. But the spirit of Napoleon Hill and his teaching guided us. There were so many days I thought “Why am I doing this?” Yet I still picked up the phone, sent the emails, sold the vision, and kept pushing forward to the finish line.

As the event finished, I remember asking all our volunteers and meeting planners to join me on stage to be recognized and take a final bow. As we linked hands and took a bow, I closed my eyes and thought, Thank you, thank you, my God we pulled this thing off! I’m so grateful for these people and that we didn’t quit. Of all the tests in my life and career, this event was far beyond the most complex and challenging. Now, all these years later I’m given the gift each day of wisdom and life-lessons from the undertaking.

Lesson #5: Short-term setbacks often create long-term gains. It still brings a smile to my face knowing that we changed hundreds of lives during those three days in San Diego. I still have many friends and business associates from that event. Sadly, a few speakers, attendees, and friends that were there have also passed away, but I like to think they knew they were a part of a historical and special event. To me this is priceless and helps make all the painful lessons dissipate with the passage of time.

Rest in peace to a few key players who had attended and supported me, including Berny Dohrman, Johnny Campbell, Dave Lakhani, and Tom Cunningham. I know you’re looking down now from the great heavenly stage.

Also, a continued big thanks to Paul Guyon, Dan Kennedy, Jennifer Evans-Simmons, Les Brown, Don Green, Joe Kenemore, Dave Stech, Rita Davenport, Michelle Prince, Kody Bateman, Jeffrey Gitomer, John Assaraf, Chip Cummings, Bob Burg, Jim Palmer, John DiLemme, Sharon Lechter, Danielle Noel Hawthorne, Tom Sutter, Nelson Griswold, Randy Kimbler, Dave Liniger, Dave Sheffield, Joslyn Cox, and Brad Brinkman.

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