Difficult Decisions: How to Turn Down a $1,000,000 Check to Keep Your Integrity

Difficult Decisions: How to Turn Down a $1,000,000 Check to Keep Your Integrity

the money or your life

“Choices are the hinges of destiny.” – Pythagoras

Today I’m going to share a true story with you that you couldn’t make up if you tried.

But first a little background…

The Money or Your Life?

It’s the age old question.

And the crazy thing is, you used to actually have to make that choice.

Today it’s a little different.

John Lusk is perfect proof.

In 1997 John started at Wharton Business School, one of the most prestigious finance schools in the country. On his first day, he and five friends swore to each other they’d become entrepreneurs instead of the typical investment bankers and consultants that their school was known for producing.

Easier said than done…

When John graduated in 1999, it was the heart and height of the dot-com blow out. His friends were becoming paper multi-millionaires right and left, and banks were offering $1 million signing bonuses to keep up.

But John had a vision.

He wanted to learn what it felt like to build a company, and create a real, tangible product.

So he turned down the million dollars.

And instead moved back home with his parents, and maxed out his credit cards to build a MouseDriver – a computer mouse that looked like the head of a golf driver.

Most his business school buddies laughed at him, as their stock options began to double – again and again.

Then, after a year or so of swallowing some ridiculous humble pie, people actually started to buy the thing.

Before long he was on the cover of Inc. Magazine and featured in nearly every major business publication.

He was then asked to publish a book, The MouseDriver Chronicles, that is now used in over 200 university courses around the country.

John has since become a serial entrepreneur, and is currently the founder and C.E.O. of Rivet & Sway, the only online shopping boutique experience exclusively for women’s eyeglasses.

Somewhere along the way, a kid knocked on his apartment/office door in a neighborhood not far from mine in San Francisco. He asked John if he’d mentor him as the kid built a nutritional supplement company that followed a similar outsourced manufacturing model.

The same kid later asked him about writing a book and even asked John for an advance testimonial.

Then that kid published his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. His name was Tim Ferriss. 

And that’s just the beginning…

From Laughable Idea to Tangible Product – While Turing Down a $1,000,000 Paycheck

You really cannot make this stuff up.

Here’s a bit more of what we cover in the below interview…

  • How to negotiate & barter absolutely everything – from credit card rates to advertising fees and access to industry parties
  • How to ensure business school actually turns you into an entrepreneur instead of training you to be a highly paid corporate jockey
  • The only two skills that matter in business and why so many get it wrong
  • How to successfully outsource and manufacture in China – despite having thousands of units getting lost in a typhoon
  • Growing a subscriber list to over 10,000 people before blogs even existed (he had to email 100 people at a time via Outlook)
  • Leveraging a passionate community to crowdsource near-impossible solutions and build the ultimate hybrid mentor
  • Using passion to eliminate the majority of the risk in starting a business
  • His biggest surprise in taking an idea from concept to market
  • And a dozen other ridiculous stories…

This interview will change your view of what it means to take ‘risk’ and become an entrepreneur. If it doesn’t turn you on to exploring the road less traveled, I don’t know what will.


Don’t see a video? Click here.

What Story Will You Write?

It’s a question John’s experience begs us all to ask.

Is it a story you’re proud to tell, or is it time to rewrite the script?

You get to choose – and the alternative has never been more real.

I’m grateful to call John a friend, mentor and inspiration – and to have him a part of our community.

Be sure to check out his latest projects at the links below:

And if you have questions for John, please leave them in the comments – I’m sure he’d be happy to jump in!

Here’s to making the right decisions – and to the choice becoming a little more obvious,


Email readers, watch the interview on LYL here.

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