Troy Ericson was filling up with gas on a trip home from college in 2017 when a complete stranger called him over to their car.
“I remember feeling like something wasn’t right,” Troy recalls.
“The guy told me he worked for a church and was en route to an event in Philadelphia… But he lost his debit card, had just spent his last bit of cash on gas, and wasn’t going to make it the whole way without some help.”
Ericson, a young entrepreneur who was just 20 at the time, felt guilted into helping out, and went inside to get some cash out of the ATM.
$60 to be exact. Quite a bit for a college kid.
“Was I stupid for helping him? I don’t know. I remember handing him the money and seeing his genuine smile and appreciation. He even gave me a prayer card, which made me think he might have been legit, but I have no idea.”
More importantly, Troy had a greater realization in that moment.
“My whole life I was pretty scared of spending or losing money. For some reason on that day, I wasn’t. I just gave without question. And as the guy drove away, I realized that it didn’t really matter if I got scammed or not, because it taught me an important lesson that most entrepreneurs miss: It’s okay to look stupid.”
Troy credited that moment with taking away his fear of spending money & investing in himself. He claims that without it, he would’ve turned down a huge opportunity that happened just a few months later.
“Later that year I was presented with an opportunity to invest in a mentorship program that was rather expensive. I sat on the fence about it for a few days. But then I thought back to the time I gave money to a complete stranger… If I wasn’t scared to spend money & look stupid to help someone else, why should I be scared to help myself?”
And that investment paid off for Ericson. The mentorship ended up helping him make six figures within his first year out of college by running Facebook and Instagram ads for local & online businesses. Today, he’s moved on to a new, bigger venture in which he writes email & sales copy for internet companies, but still fondly remembers the day that he may have been scammed.
“I still have the prayer card the guy gave me that day. I don’t know if was part of an act or not – it doesn’t really matter. I think if more people were willing to take chances in life, at the risk of looking stupid, they’d be better off. That’s just the nature of the world. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But you only find out when you take risks.”
Troy can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.