Alligator Skin: The Sure-Fire Way to Self-Improvement

I was holding my new born daughter, Maddie, on a spring night in 2008. The house was quiet, and I left her room dark as I soothed her back to sleep. I was exhausted but I did not want to let her go. I was in the middle of the hardest time in my life financially. I recently learned of a partner walking away from a project and wondering how the hell I would make the mortgage payment. I knew I couldn’t. It was his role, but he was out of money and out of motivation. At least he called to tell me he was giving up and leaving me hanging.


I already sold almost everything I owned, and my former wife and I were living in a rental. It was a town home with a dog next door that would not stop barking. One of those little yappy dogs with something to prove. Man, I hated that dog! I sat up that night wondering why the world was so hard on me. Didn’t it know I had responsibilities? People to take care of, that depended on me? I asked God what I did to deserve this while I sat there thinking about my trouble, blaming my partner and the economy. Clearly it was not my fault!

Have you ever been down and out? Feeling sorry for yourself with nothing keeping you company but your tears? Thinking about how you got dealt a terrible hand and how nothing is fair? Of course, we have all been there. It is important to recognize that this is natural, it is how most human minds are wired, but it is a trap! Recovering from this depression, no matter how severe, starts with recognizing it. Then… you must confront it.

As I sat in that room with Maddie in my arms, I knew I was in trouble. Luckily the victim mentality was short lived, and I was ready to compete. I knew that I had it in me to recover and thrive. I owed it to my daughter.


I owed it to myself. And so, it began. I faced the fact that I was in trouble and it was full steam ahead. I started doing affirmations each morning and each night. I started calling all my bankers and lenders to work out solutions. I worked longer hours in the mortgage business and did anything that would move my position forward. Even if it was scary and I did not want to do it. I slept less and read more. Most of the financial trouble had built over the last year while I was feeling sorry for myself. By the time I confronted it, I was poised to recover. I used the increasing income to pay off debts, and then I started Pine Financial that fall. I started the company in the spare bedroom of that town home, and worked while the dog barked. I eventually moved to a more suitable home and Pine Financial moved with me. The company continued to operate in the basement for several months before we got our first office. Pine Financial has now done over $400 million in private money loans and has helped me create an amazing life. I would not be where I am now without that terrible year in my life. Without that sobering night with Maddie.


Sometimes it takes a good kick in the ass to get out of a funk. To move yourself forward. If you can’t be
honest with yourself and the position you are in, you will never move forward. Out of shape people stay out of shape when they are not willing to admit they are out of shape. Broke people do the same thing. It hurts to hear you suck at something. To have someone, including yourself, to tell you your short comings, but that is what you need. You need to be able to take it without getting offended and use the knowledge to your benefit. I am mostly referring to admitting your own weaknesses to yourself, but it is important to be open to hearing feedback from others also. Not only be open to feedback, but I would go so far as encouraging it. This is the one reason therapy works. Therapy helps people admit their issues to themselves and guides them in working through it. We all have a past. We all have had bad things happen to us, be we don’t all handle it the same way.

I find it interesting that my best friends are sometimes the hardest to be around. Your best friends are the ones that tell you when you messed up. They shoot you straight, which means they don’t always tell you what you want to hear. That is why they are your best friends! They care about you.


Sometimes we need to be our own best friend. In a funk? The time is now to be honest with yourself!