Welcome to the next installment of better know a young millionaire! Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Blair, who is the CEO & Co-Founder of ViSalus and New York Times bestselling author of Nothing To Lose, Everything To Gain! Ryan's book recently reached #1 on the New York Times Bestsller List for Advice, How-To, and Miscellaneous. You can find out more about Ryan personally at www.ryanblair.com.
Ryan has an amazing story, and I thought it would be great to hear about it in more detail. Ryan's path to success was anything but ordinary – he grew up in an LA gang, lived with a meth addicted father, landed in jail numerous times, and dropped out of high school his freshman year, yet still managed to transform his life from that of a criminal to a professional. Ryan has founded several companies, and at just 35 years old, continues to use his dysfunctional upbringing as fuel to succeed and the lessons he learned on the street to help him build successful businesses and inspire communities.
Let's get to know Ryan a little better…
Tell me about yourself and your company?
Ryan: I am a New York Times bestselling author, father to a four year-old, and CEO of ViSalus. My company makes weight loss and fitness products – we market them through the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge.
How did you find yourself on the brink of bankruptcy? Anything we can take away from that?
Ryan: I have been there personally and professionally so I know a thing or two about bankruptcy. I have learned that you can change your situation, as I have done, but you have to put everything you have got into it. Secondly, you should save up money for a rainy day. Going all in isn’t a good strategy in business unless you have absolutely nothing to lose. (<- Click to Tweet This)
Let's Talk About Money
How did you make your first million?
Ryan: I made my first million the hard way, I built a company that had a significant value and I sold a part of my equity in that company to make me a millionaire.
Where do you currently invest your money and why?
Ryan: I like to invest in startups that I believe I have an opportunity to create value to.
Has that changed over time?
Ryan: Outside of my entrepreneurial investments, I tend to invest in very conservative investments.
Many millionaires made their money through real estate. Why do you think that is?
Ryan: I have made money in real estate. I am investing in real estate now as part of my conservative investment strategy.
Is there another way to be a young millionaire without starting your own business or being an entrepreneur?
Ryan: There are other ways. Get a job at a start up that issues equity. Just make sure you pick a good start up in its early stages so that you are a part of the founding shareholders.
What's the biggest risk you ever took? Do you regret it?
Ryan: I put my last million dollars in ViSalus to launch the new Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge. That investment has made a significant return. No regrets.
If you could make one change (past or present), what would it be?
Ryan: In my book (Nothing To Lose, Everything To Gain) I talk about my million dollar mistakes. There are a few of them that are just down right embarrassing so I would change those.
What advice do you have for young adult and college students when it comes to entrepreneurship and money?
Ryan: Be veracious students of both subjects (entrepreneurship and money) and eventually you may become a professional. To this day, I am still a student.
What I Learned From Ryan Blair
I love Ryan's story. I truly believe that anyone, from any background and circumstance, can be successful with hard work and determination. Ryan's story highlights this.
One of the first things that struck me about Ryan was his thought on going all-in: Going all in isn’t a good strategy in business unless you have absolutely nothing to lose. This stands in contrast to many of the other young millionaires we've interviewed. However, I agree with it. I don't think that going all-in is a smart move, and think that you should have an emergency fund and other resources in place so that you don't burden your family with your entrepreneurial pursuits.
Second, Ryan highlights another great point that has yet to be made by other young millionaires – how to get rich by working. He suggests working at a start-up that offers equity. This is a great potential way to become a young millionaire while still working and not being an entrepreneur. However, working for a start-up has its own risks, which you must consider when you apply.
Finally, it's great to hear that Ryan is still a student. I think it is important for all of us to perpetually be students, and try to learn something new each day. Whether it is at work, or on the side, you always should be focused on learning.
What are your thought's on Ryan Blair's story? What about his advice on going all-in?