I LIVED ON THE STREETS AND ATE DIRT

This is who I am in one sentence

Today I am the CEO of Mojo Digitals, The Digital Wolf, and CTO of the Digital Bureau.

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"You can either have a sandwich for dinner or take one to school, we cannot afford both."

I was 13 when my my Mom taught me the first lesson about resources: we do not have to eat when we are hungry, but we can surely eat when food is available. 

I was born in Mina, a coastal city north of Lebanon, to a very poor family. 

My dad died when I was 9 years old, sending us into a vortex of extremely unfortunate events. 

By the age of 14, the Lebanese Army were recruiting and everyone in the family urged us, the young boys, to enroll. There was magic in the 300$ a month that the Army offered. I went to with my cousin, Mohamed who is now an officer and lives on less than 1000$ a month, to enroll. I had a change of mind just before going into the room to sign my papers; I felt that I was not made for this. I was not made for minimum wage. I wanted to learn, I wanted to live, I wanted to achieve. 

My whole family, except my Mom, were against my decision. My mother stood by my "stupid decision" back then and allowed me to have it my way. I never went to the army, I chose my journey in silence and went back to school.

I am not a college drop-out, simply because I never went to college. We could not afford the daily transportation of 2$, and I did not have the psychology nor the mindset to find a solution for that. 

On the 13th of November 1997, I left home and moved to Beirut, I had 12$ that I borrowed from my friend Sleiman, who now lives in Canada, and a backpack with few tuna cans, bread, one pair of jeans, and 3 T - shirts.

I arrived to Charles El Helou avenue, to a brave new world that I knew nothing of, and started looking for work. 

Rejection after rejection, day after day, I was living under the Charles El Helou bridge. At times the drivers, who used to wait there for passengers,  offered me from their food. Some of them would let me sleep on their cars.

I lived on the streets for a few months, and I never had the guts to go back home. I didn't want to be called a failure, though I was nothing more than a rat. 

It was then, when I decided to start my very first business. I decided to work as a cleaning person for the buildings around Ashrafieh, I would go clean the stairs, take the garbage, and do whatever I am asked to do, and I would charge around 1$ per apartment. 

After two weeks, I met Julien and Gilbert. They offered me the option of renting a bed space in their dorm for 50$ a month, and I took it. That night, I cried in silence like the child that I was. I could not believe that I was not sleeping under the bridge, that I actually took a shower and went to bed like normal people! 

My business as a cleaning person continued to grow, and I still love every achievement back then. Acheivements so small like being able to buy food, a pair of new jeans, or even affording to go to a coffeeshop and meet new people, left a huge impact on me and shaped my personality.

My first real business was a recording studio that failed miserably and killed my will to live. 

I started this business with two others. None of us understood anything about running and operating a business, we dreamed big and we started big, with huge overheads! 

We were paying around 2,500$ per month for rent, electricity and the likes, and we were committed to around 3,000$ per month to BLOM bank.

How did this end? One word: Miserably, this was the most beautiful thing I have ever built, and yet the most devastating on all levels. 

In 2010 I was 90,000 USD in debt, jobless, and living in the office we built, and when we closed, I moved to a small studio in Dekweneh. 

You might be wondering how did I manage to get out of my debt, I wonder the same. 

You see, when you are in debt and afraid that the world will fall apart every time you get a call from the police, you start making mistakes, and I made plenty. 

I lied to friends, I sold things that were not mine, I took money from people promising that I will return it in few days, I made every single mistake you can find in the book.  

I lost everyone's respect, I lost everything I had, I sold everything I owned, including some musical instruments that I worked hard for. 

I was kicked out of apartment after apartment for not paying the rent on time, I lost everyone around me, and I developed an anti-social character as a result of being isolated from anything and anyone. 

But, I managed to pay off everything, the 90,000$ and the rest of the debts that I accumulated.

How did I do it?  I said: "I will do whatever it is, at whatever fees, for as long as I can open my eyes", and I used every single penny I got to pay off the debt. 

I cannot take back the people I lost, the dignity, the shame, but I love that period of my life, it taught me tremendously and made me who I am today.

Today, I am what I am as a result of years of failure, trials, errors, and most importantly small victories. 

I now run three very successful businesses and I dedicate my time to helping others achieve their dreams by sharing what I learned with them. 

There is no shortcut to success, but with the right Mentor, the right Mindset, and the right Tools, we all can achieve and fulfill our dreams. One victory at a time. 

"Let’s all live inspired lives, and change the world!"

Tony Horton
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