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Chapter One: Why You Need A Framework

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Without facing one of the hardest, most depressing times of my life during my most impressionable years, there is a chance I would not be where I am today. You probably recognize this period of time as the Great Recession that hit the globe hard from 2008 to 2009.

Where I grew up, our local economy was heavily impacted by the city next door: Atlantic City, New Jersey. Almost everyone in my hometown worked in Atlantic City or had a job directly tied to the city’s success. For those who are unfamiliar with Atlantic City, the best way to describe it is as a hand-me-down version of Las Vegas on the beach.

During a recession, one of the very first things that individuals cut out of their daily expenses are the nonessentials, such as entertainment. Unfortunately, Atlantic City and our entire local economy was based on that one industry alone. Once people could no longer afford their mortgages and necessities in life, visits to Atlantic City were quickly deducted from their expenses. Why gamble away whatever little you have left when you have so much debt and limited disposable income?

Soon after, as one can easily expect, casinos began to cut any “nonessential expenses” they could spare, which meant massive layoffs, and soon, full-on closures. Entertainers, executives, dealers, servers, cleaners, cooks, customer service representatives—any job you could think of—all faced the same harsh reality. It seemed like everyone was out of a job and would be for a long time.

I can still remember hearing from some of my closest childhood friends that their parents’ homes had been foreclosed on. I can still see some of the local businesses I grew up with closing up shop, as our town’s population began to shrink. I will never forget my father working three different jobs at one point to support our struggling family.

I can’t recall another period in my life that was so bleak.

The best word to describe the feel of everything was “exhaustion.” Everyone walked around like zombies, and everyone had the same doom-and-gloom mindset that it would only get worse. For those who could work, they’d work until they had nothing left in the tank. For those who couldn’t work, it was either fight or flight.

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