Hi, I’m Ryan Shank, the owner of TakeYourSuccess.com.
I’m honestly loving life right now. What’s not to love when I wake up everyday doing what I enjoy most: helping others become more successful and building online businesses.
But that’s where my story is now. It didn’t start out so hot, let me explain.
My future was last on my priority list in high school. While I had fun at the time, reality punched me in the face when I applied to colleges. Schools either rejected me, or accepted me without the necessary scholarships.
The rejection was painful. My lack of options made it worse. But now I know that struggling in the college admissions process was exactly what I needed.
After having a summer to reflect, I realized that I didn’t have anymore time to waste. I became obsessed with correcting the mistakes I made in high school.
Next time, when grad school applications or job interviews rolled around, I would be prepared.
So, my first semester at Towson University, I committed to do whatever it takes in undergrad to get accepted into Cornell School of Hospitality. Because of that ambition, I set out to get all A’s in my classes.
But, more importantly, I knew I needed to pay attention to what worked and did not work to improve. I finished with a 3.9 GPA that first semester, but the lessons, willpower, and belief I instilled in myself laid the foundation for my success later. I continued to use what worked and adjusted what didn’t. The next six semesters in college I achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA.
During this time, I also learned that there’s more to college success than a high GPA. So, I found ways to keep my grades while improving my productivity for more free time. Achieving academic success without spending all night studying at the library made college even more fun.
With Cornell as my motivator, I reached the top 1% cumulative GPA, became president of the entrepreneurship club, started a clothing company, and worked impressive internships. I also had a blast with my friends.
And the whole time I had Cornell on my mind, until the end of my freshman year.
Lost My Direction
As an 18-year-old freshman, I set out the biggest and baddest goal I thought I could set for myself: Cornell undergrad and then law school. I knew this goal would push me to attempt and achieve great things in college, and I certainly did.
I first loved the idea of law school because it required me to compete with top-performers at the highest level, push myself beyond my limits, and work harder than I could imagine.
However, by senior year I started to do intense research into law school. And I started to see the uglier side of it (in my opinion):
- Spending three years learning how to study law and not how to be a lawyer.
- Racking up $200,000 or more of debt.
- Terrible dollar-per-hour ratios (how much you earn divided by how much you work).
- Beholden to the every wish of a senior partner at all hours of the day.
- Making a bunch of money but having no time to spend it.
I didn’t want any part of that and being a lawyer. The bottom line is I never loved law, I loved its qualities. And I’m a firm believer that you must do what you love if you want to be great and satisfied.
I had a new problem: feeling scared and lost because I didn’t have a direction for my future. I also am horrible at taking standardized tests and scored a 155 on the LSAT. I felt lost since law school served as my north star, and then it disappeared.
So one day during my senior year in college, the idea hit me: I can still get all the things I appreciated about law (compete with the best, push myself, and work insanely hard) as an entrepreneur—plus do what I love and add total freedom to the equation.
This sealed the deal for me to pursue being an entrepreneur.
9 Months In A 9 To 5
A few months after I graduated I decided to pursue an inside sales job in New York City. I did some sales in college and recognized the power of sales skills in business, plus I needed the money.
The job search became easy for me based on my college experiences and accomplishments. Plus, I studied and practiced best resume and interview strategies, and received many great job offers. I had one job offer that was an inside sales role at a startup. The job had a small base salary and most of the earnings would come through commission. I was a very confident college kid and thought I was really good at sales so I decided to roll the dice and take the risk of the heavily commissioned job.
I moved from Clemson, South Carolina to New York City to work in sales at a well-funded startup. This taught me lessons beyond anything I could have possibly imagined. Making 150 cold calls per day while working for $40k in New York City will either make or break a person. For me it was exactly what I needed.
After a few months I learned that I was really good at sales and I was also very competitive. In just a couple months after starting, I was the #1 sales rep on a floor of 50+ salespeople that had been doing it longer than me. This gave me the confidence to realize that I could do this on my own without working for someone else as an employee.
Making The Jump To Entrepreneur
Obviously I couldn’t do this same type of work when 45 hours of my week were occupied with a sales job. So after only 9 months, the urge to resign and make the jump to entrepreneur became too strong for me to ignore.
I decided if I don’t make the jump now, then when? Despite my parents’ and friends’ doubts, in late 2012 I decided to leave my job (and income) and join 2 amazing software developers I met to go full-time on building our own company.
The result? Best decision of my life.
We all went full-time on building the company and never looked back. We got into a startup incubator at AOL called Fishbowl Labs which provided free office space and mentorship and didn’t take any equity. From there it was off to the races. In 2 short years we built the company to a few million in annual revenue, added 50 employees and then got acquired by HomeAdvisor for mid-8 figures. The 3 of us all made multi-millions and achieved financial freedom. It was insane.
Now I have launched a small startup studio and venture fund where I have made 15 angel investments into tech startups. I’ve also started another company call PhoneWagon that has raised $2 million in venture capital and is doing millions in annual revenue. I’ve written guest blog posts for Forbes, Techcrunch, and other top-tier publications, launched a podcast, and so much more. And I’m just getting started. I can’t wait for the next 5 years.
So that’s my short story up to age 32. If anything, I hope it inspired you to do what you love and dream big.
How Take Your Success Will Help You Succeed
I’ve always been fascinated by those who are successful. I recognized top performers do things differently than the average person. Successful people ask different questions and get better answers, make different priorities and get greater gains, commit to different self-discipline and achieve more freedom.
However, many people say the successful are lucky, have natural advantages, and inherit everything. But I disagree. The super majority made their success happen by learning smart strategies and putting in crazy hard work. Success is not a coin flip.
And I set out on a mission (starting in my college dorm room and continued to now when you’re reading this) to show you that you can be successful regardless of your past or present circumstance.
But no one’s going to hand you success. You have to take your success!
And this is where I come in.
Subscribe and bookmark this website to learn how to take success by being 10x more productive, landing and thriving in your dream job, and reaching your full potential in life.
Whatever success means to you, there’s no reason you need to chase it on your own—all alone. All of the elite performers have had help along the way.
So if you’re ready to live a great life doing what you love and getting paid for it, join the Take Your Success community.