Warning: This episode contains explicit content concerning multiple deaths that occurred in Sedona, AZ in 2009.
James Ray talks about his experience going from the top, to the bottom, due to a tragedy that he now takes responsibility for as a leader. Ray also talks about finding his way back, and what he learned about leadership along the way. This episode is about personal responsibility and what you may sacrifice for success.
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From $20MM Debt & Darkness… Meet The Comeback King With Special Guest James Ray
In this episode, I have the privilege of interviewing a very inspiring man who went from $20 million in assets to $20 million in debt. You read that right. From the biggest, brightest of stages to the darkest, prison holes man can conjure. There is no exaggeration in that statement. From the Oprah Winfrey show, where he’s been twice, along with the classic movie, The Secret and sold out multiple venues with thousands of people attending to then losing all of it. James Ray is in the business of redemption. It’s an incredible story he transparently shares.
For example, you’re going to learn what the original intended meaning of wealth is, why financial wealth is only 1/5 of what he calls total harmonic wealth, leadership lessons learned through his incredible struggles and ups and downs and his best financial and money advice for young entrepreneurs and professionals. He’s made a comeback. He’s happier and more fulfilled than ever. This is a guy that I’ve known since 1998 and consider him to be one of my early mentors in life, business and finances. Please help me welcome James Ray of Harmonic Wealth.
As you guys have seen me talk about on my Instagram Story, I’m super excited about our esteemed guest speaker, a man who has been a huge influence in my life dating back to my first personal development seminar in 1998 in Chicago. Mr. James Ray, thank you so much for being here.
Jack, 1998 makes me feel old. I’ve been at this for a while, haven’t I?
A lot of my readers weren’t even probably born yet. If that makes you feel a little bit older, it does to me.
That didn’t help, Jack. I’m grateful to still be alive, kicking and healthy, especially given what I’ve been through, which I know you know about.
We’re going to dive into that. James’ company name is Harmonic Wealth Global. Is this not perfect or what to have him on the show? Back in 1998, I was a college student getting started in business and I remember going to that. On the way home, I got pulled over on the drive home from Chicago right after the event. I was so excited. I was speeding so I asked the officer, “Are you pulling me over to check if I’m drunk driving?” I was trying to play off the fact that I was probably going twenty over. He’s like, “That’s my job. Where are you coming from?” I’m like, “We came from this incredible motivational seminar.” He’s like, “Were you super motivated?” I’m like, “Is it obvious?” He said, “Okay, I’m going to let you off.”
I’ll try that one next time. Nothing that I ever do works to get off.
Normally, I don’t get off so I just say that. We got a lot to cover with your story. You have one of the most incredible business stories in my opinion that I’ve ever read or certainly know. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in business and your background. Let’s roll.
I’ll do my best to condense it because I’ve been around this for decades. First of all, my formal education is in Applied Behavioral Sciences. I’m always been into Psychology, spirituality and all the things that make us tick. I thought if I could study those things and figure out how I work, then I might be able to improve my life because I was insecure and introverted as a young man. I got my first job at AT&T in sales. I did well. From there, I started to move up the corporate ladder. I got promoted to a national sales trainer for AT&T and that was my first adventure in front of the room. When I got in front of the room, I was like, “I found a home.”
It worked for me. It moved my spirit. I did sales training for a while then I was a Sales Manager. I ran the retail operation in the nation for AT&T back when they had retail operations. I then helped them build a national telemarketing center so I have a lot of background in telemarketing. I went to New Jersey headquarters and worked at headquarters in New York and New Jersey for several years. I ended up at AT&T School of Business as a C-Suite consultant.
My job with AT&T was to work with executives, CEOs, presidents and vice presidents on things like team performance, communication, leadership skills, sales skills and all those kinds of diversity and things that make us successful in both life and business. In 1992, AT&T was going through massive disruption and I took a package to get out early to start my business, which I knew I wanted to do. The rest was history. I started as a business consultant straight up when I first left for several years. That event in 1998 was my very first public event ever. You hold the distinction of being there.
I wanted to move out of corporate consulting and corporate training into public events because what I learned was that I had all these people in the room at corporate who had been told to be there. They had no financial investment and no skin in the game. Most of the time, they didn’t want to be there but they had to be there. It was frustrating for me because I wanted to make a difference in their lives. A lot of them were buying their time and watching their watch. They were going through the motions. That event in 1998 that you attended was the very first event that I ever did outside of a business forum. I thought I was on my way. I was so excited because that room was lit. It was an energetic room and I was energetic. I didn’t know what I was doing.
I would’ve never known that was your first event. I’m even surprised to hear that. I don’t know if you faked it until you made but you were strong on stage. That’s incredible.
Thank you. The content has always been strong and the delivery and production have gotten better and better. It got tough because we had 500 people in Chicago. My very first public event was attributed to a couple that I was coaching who was at the top of the food chain and helped me fill the room. I thought I’m on my way. We went from 500 people in the 1st event and then I scheduled another one and some events had 5 people. I struggled and was on the skinny branches for years on vision sandwiches and Faith cookies attempting to do what I loved and what I felt like spirit, God and the universe had sent me here to do. I almost threw in the towel numerous times because I’m living on credit cards and it was tough.
I was ready to quit. I went to Egypt on one of my big adventures. If you’ve read the book Harmonic Wealth, which I know you have, I talk about a lot of the adventures I’ve been blessed to have. I spent two weeks in the desert with the bad ones through the nomadic tribes in Egypt. I was ready to cash it in. I spent the night in Moses’ cave on the top of Mount Sinai. That’s another story. I came out re-energized and inspired. Within weeks after that trip, almost quitting Jack, the secret hit. Thank God I didn’t throw in the towel because it hit and hit big. If you’ll remember, it went worldwide. I got catapulted into a whole new arena and the rest is history. I was on Oprah numerous times and Larry King. I was on The Today Show once a month.
I was at your event probably 2 or 3 weeks after you hit Oprah. Being at a previous event with a few hundred people and then I went as a volunteer to help out. You have this incredibly packed room with 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000. It was maybe more. It was crazy. I worked the back of the room where you were upselling your next event, Spiritual Warrior Creating Wealth and all of those. I’m processing cards back there. People are coming back spending $10,000 to $20,000. It’s opened my mind to the possibility of, “If you provide value, people will pay and they’ll pay top dollar.” It was crazy to watch you grow like that. That was amazing.
It was an amazing experience to have. Here’s to your point, Jack. For all of the entrepreneurs who are reading, all of us always find the money to do the things we truly value. If we can’t find the money, then it means we don’t value it. I use the example, “If you went outside now and you had 4 flat tires, would you find the money to buy 4 tires?” Everyone says yes. Let’s say those tires are at least $200 or $300 apiece. We’re talking about $800 minimum. How many of us have $800 land around that we are ready to throw out? Not a lot of people and yet, why will you find the money? “I have to have a car.”
No, you don’t. You want a car. You can take an Uber, a bus or a taxi. You can ride a bike. “Those things suck, James. I don’t want to do that.” “Exactly. You want a car so you’ll find the money because you value your car.” That’s the point. We always find the money to do the things we truly value. Everything else is a good story. It’s an excuse. That was an incredible experience. There’s a dark side to this too. I built an Inc 500 company with a $10 million a year business. I was pocketing $4 million a year, which was mind-boggling. I moved to Beverly Hills and lived on Holland Drive.
You had some vacation homes too, didn’t you?
I had seven properties and a place in Kona. I was financially blessed but to the point of indestructible wealth, which I believe we can develop indestructible wealth. I know you do too. You wouldn’t name your show that. We have to redefine what wealth is. I’ll tell you I was not as happy when I was making $4 million a year as I was when I was making $300,000 a year. I wish I could tell you otherwise but it’s not true. I’d love to convey this to your audience. When I had a $10 million business, everyone was like, “Wouldn’t that be great? That’s what I want.”
If that’s what you want, understand there’s a dark side to that too because when I had a $10 million business, I had $10 million worth of problems. I was on the road for over 250 days a year. I was sleeping four hours a night, single, alone and feeling exhausted nonstop. There’s always a price for the price. Make sure that whatever you’re going after, you think it through and ask yourself, “What’s the price I’m willing to pay?” Most people don’t do this because there’s always a price for the price and the bigger the price you’re going after, the bigger the price you have to pay. All of that crashed and burned. If you want to talk about that, we can talk about that too.
You were one of the fastest growing companies privately in the country at that time, weren’t you?
We hit Inc 500 in 2009. My investment advisor at that time told me in March of 2009, “James, you can retire and live comfortably for the rest of your days.” It’s because I was “financially set.” Little did we know by October of that very same year, it would all be gone. Every bit of it is gone, the Inc 500 company, the reputation, the life savings and all the investments. I had 7 properties and 7 foreclosures. It was all gone in a matter of a handful of months in the same year after he told me I could retire for life. What a life lesson that is.
You talk about the dark side of the story. Tell us what happened. Most of my audience was too young probably at that time to where they were paying attention to the media or even had any idea what you were referring to.
In my latest book, which I know you’ve read, The Business of Redemption, I lay it all out very clearly but here’s the short story. In October of 2009, my team, my company and I had an experiential event in the deserts of Sedona. It was a five-day deep dive into the drivers of success or failure. Let me clarify that. Regardless of what you’ve been told or taught, the drivers of your success or failure are not your marketing. It’s not your sales techniques and your skills. I’m not saying those things are not important. They are but the drivers of your success and failure are not outside of you.The drivers of your success or failure are not your marketing. It's not your sales techniques or your skills. The drivers of your success and failure are not outside you; they're inside you. Click To Tweet
They’re inside of you. What we were doing in that five days deep dive was we were drop-diving deeply into unresolved emotional issues, which psychology tells us most of those things happen thirteen and younger. They then drop out of our awareness and we think we’ve dealt with them but we haven’t. Psychology also tells us that 95% of what we do every single day is driven by our unconscious mind. If you think about that for a second, that means you’re running on 5%. Ninety-five is autopilot and it’s driven by these things that we’re not even aware of.
The rub is how do you deal with something you’re not aware of if you’re unconscious of it? What we were doing going through a lot of exercises experientially to bring those things up into conscious awareness so we could heal them, release them and set you free. It was an amount of a week, Jack. It was a small group at that time. You mentioned thousands. This was for 52 people and I was working up close and personal with every one of them. We worked hard and long. We cried and laughed together. We hugged.
Those people very quickly moved from client to friend. I frankly knew more about many of them, maybe most, than their nears and dearest loved ones because of the nature of the program, they were disclosing all these things. We were working through them methodically to take everything we’d done metaphorically throughout the week, mentally and emotionally. We put it into our bodies and move into an environment where we would have to push up against our comfort. It was always a great experience for five years prior but something went wrong in 2009.
Unfortunately, we still willed not knowing exactly what happened because there weren’t a lot of forensics or follow-ups done. At the end of the day, I lost three friends, clients who had become friends. They lost their lives that day. It was heartbreaking, Jack. If you’ve ever lost someone that you love and care about, I’m sure you know how that feels. The emptiness, the void and the lack. I had invested my entire life trying to help people. Now someone had been incredibly hurt and had lost their life on my watch.
As I talk about in The Business Of Redemption, as the leader of this event, I was responsible. I still am responsible. Was it intentional? No. That was eventually clarified that there certainly was no intention. When you’re the leader, be careful what you ask for because so many people are like, “I want to be a leader and be an entrepreneur. I want to have my own company.” Here’s the thing, Jack. When you’re the leader and something goes sideways in your business, you throw your team out of the bus. You could try but it doesn’t work. You can’t blame the facility or try to sidestep the responsibility. As a leader, I was and am responsible. It was my event and my team’s.
It was my choice to do what we know is a dangerous activity. Therefore, that’s my responsibility. That’s the price of leadership. What I tell people all over the world is that if you can’t step up to that, then you should probably step down because that’s the price. That’s what it costs. The price is high. It’s something I live with every single day. When that happened, the American Dream that I was living fell apart like a charge of broken glass. The first thing I lost was three people I loved and cared about. That would’ve been more than enough but it didn’t in there because the State of Arizona came after me for manslaughter. If you know the legalities, which I didn’t but I do now, manslaughter is intentional harm.
It’s like going into a drug store with a gun and shooting the guy behind the cash register. That’s what they charged me with. The minute that happened, I not only lost three people I loved but I lost my dream home, Inc 500 company, life savings and reputation. Quite frankly, I lost my self-confidence and I was indicted. I was prosecuted and eventually lost my liberty. I was acquitted of manslaughter. The jury said, “There’s no shred of evidence here that anything was intentional but included in our legal system and with a manslaughter charge is a lesser included called negligence.”
I was charged with negligence and I accept that. There could have been some things done better, I wish there would’ve been. I missed some things. God, I wish I had them. Yet, the State of Arizona wanted 30 years. If they’d gotten what they wanted, I wouldn’t be talking to you here. I ended up losing my liberty and I went to prison for two years. I went from the top of the mountain, King of the hill to the lowest of the lows. I talk about that entire experience as well in The Business of Redemption, which I know you’ve read. It was a horrific experience. Fast forward, I got out in 2013 and was standing in the deserts of Arizona. I was in horrible physical condition. I had incredible periodontal disease. I lost 40 pounds that I didn’t need to lose or want to lose. I was homeless, alone and $20 million in debt.
Here’s the reality. If you’re broke now and you’re reading, I will never minimize that. My heart goes out to you. I know that’s a tough place to be. Yet, when you’re $20 million in debt broke, it looked good to me. Broke was $20 million over my head. I had to get my head on and I was vastly in need of redemption. Hence the name of the new book. A lot of people will misunderstand what that means. It’s used in a lot of religious circles. That’s great. I respect that. If you look up the actual definition of redemption, it means to gain or regain something by paying the price.
I would ask, “Do you want to gain something you’ve never had?” Most will say yes. “Do you need to regain something that you once had but you’ve lost?” A lot will say yes. “You then got to pay the price. As we’ve already discussed, there’s always a price for the price. The bigger the price you’re going after the bigger, the price you have to pay.” I was vastly in need of redemption and I had to get my head on and be willing to pay the price to end up where I am now. Here we are going on nine years, I have a comfortable, modest home in Henderson, Nevada.
I don’t have any need for a Beverly Hills estate anymore. I was grateful to have the experience but we could talk about that one. That was more headaches than it was worth too. I’m married to the greatest woman on the planet and I know you disagree with that but you should. Any married man should argue passionately with me about that. I didn’t even know her in 2013. I’m here talking to you and I’m doing what I feel like God has sent me here to do. I’m super grateful for all of it. I don’t want to do it again, don’t get me wrong.
I can’t imagine if you do.
No, it was hell. Who better to help you get through hell than someone who’s been there? It’s a long story. I tried my best to abbreviate it. I don’t know how well I did.
You did great. I don’t know how much you could have left off. Everybody reading this show has got to get the book because the details that he goes into in the book are pretty incredible, including some of the conversations with the inmates. It’s a life-changing perspective that you offered there. Being a wealth show, Indestructible Wealth and your company is Harmonic Wealth, you’ve talked extensively about the true origin of the meaning of wealth. Tell us more about that. What are the real roots of the word? What is Harmonic Wealth? Probably most of my readers have no idea what that truly means. Some of them I’ve talked to about because I use your stuff.
I set off on this grand adventure in 2005 when I was writing my last New York Times Bestseller Harmonic Wealth to redefine wealth. If you ask people what wealth means, about 99% are going to instantly say money. If you chase the etymology of the word wealth back to its origins, it translates as well-being. It has nothing to do with money. Money is and can be a part of that but I’m going to submit to you, it’s only 1/5 of the equation. Harmonic Wealth is a state of harmony and well-being in the five key areas that I call The Five Pillars of Your Life. Financial is one of them but only 1/5, relational, mental, physical and spiritual. Jack, I beat up on the concept of balance because even the people who talk about balance are not balanced. Let’s face it.
Balance is unrealistic. Harmony is dynamic. It’s life. Quantum Physics, which I’m a huge fan of, tells us that energy is always in a state of flux and vibration. It always has a frequency. It’s always moving and never set still. Balance is a stillness that cannot exist. Harmony, on the other hand, if I want to use an analogy, is like a jazz quartet. If you’ve ever heard jazz, sometimes the league guitars leading. Sometimes the saxophone is leading. Sometimes the bass. Sometimes, it’s the drums but they all come together to form this magical tapestry called music. That’s life. Sometimes, you’re going after financial a little bit more so than you are with relationships or you’re going more after health and fitness than you are with spirituality.
What I’m going to suggest to you is that you never let any one of them go to zero. In other words, you’re constantly looking at financial, relational, mental, physical and spiritual and you’re putting some degree of energy at all times towards each one of those things. I can promise you, Jack. I know so many and I’ve coached so many multi-multi-millionaires and billion-dollar companies. These people who are hugely financially successful, if they don’t have spiritual connectivity, they feel empty. There’s a void. I’m not here to define spirituality for you. That’s a personal thing. You define it for yourself. For some, it’s religious. For others, it’s not. I’m not qualified to define that for you. Other people make a tremendous amount of money.
I’ll tell you a quick story. There was a very successful investment advisor in Manhattan that I was introduced to and he wanted to meet me and talked to me about potentially working with him and his company. I do a small amount of one-on-one coaching and a lot of business consulting. That’s where I built my roots in AT&T and I’m grateful to AT&T for that. We met in Manhattan at a small little after-hours place. He was talking about what he was doing. He was hugely financially successful and grossly overweight.
I said to him, “Let me ask you a question. How many days a week do you work out?” He said, “I’m too busy. I don’t have time to work out.” I said, “I need to encourage you to make time because if you don’t make time to work out, life is going to make time for you.” He goes, “I walk from the subway every day to work.” I said, “With all due respect, that’s not enough.” He didn’t hire me. Fast forward, three months later, I got the word that he had a heart attack and died. The point being is that whatever we neglect becomes the weakest link in the chain. Financial, relational, mental, physical and spiritual are all important to true wealth and well-being. If you neglect any of those, the weakest link in the chain is going to break the chain. We’ve heard that. Hopefully, that makes sense to you.Whatever we neglect becomes the weakest link in the chain. Your financial, relational, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects are all important to true well-being. If you neglect any of those, the weakest link in the chain is going to break the chain. Click To Tweet
I teach this to my team all the time even having them do this exercise of doing the whole wheel. The wheel of whole-life success is what I call it. You taught it to me years ago. It was eye-opening to think about. If one of them goes down to zero or maybe not even zero if it goes down to 2 or 3 out of 10, it creates this incredible drag on the rest of the other areas of your life, which is the areas of true wealth.
When my spirit was in the tanker, that had a tremendous drag on my relationships in everything. I didn’t have my power center and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled and good. You are spot on in terms of what I’ve experienced over the last couple of decades that wealth is not just financial. I do preach that on my platform all the time. Sometimes, people have to figure it out for themselves. They need to learn it themselves that once they get the money, then they realize, “This isn’t all I thought it was going to be cracked up to be.”
It’s so true. That’s where we need leaders. Many people think that leadership is about business and it is. I submit that leadership starts with leading your life. How can you be successful at doing anything if you can’t lead your life successfully because eventually, you’re going to break? The new leader is what I call the leader for the future has to change the conversation. I believe we need to change the conversation. Jack, let me give you a couple of stats. Every 40 seconds in this world someone commits suicide. If you look economically, we have a higher standard of living. We’re doing so much better. 16.4 million people in the US alone admit to being depressed and they’re on antidepressants. That’s the honest people.
We have this higher standard of living and we’re doing well economically but why are we depressed? Why are we committing suicide? According to Gallup, 43% of the people surveyed or too exhausted to perform their daily work. Why are we so worn out? Why are we so tired? We’ve got our values skewed. Coming back to my original premise, I believe the leader for the future has to change the conversation. We have to move the conversation from strictly money to meaning because every single one of us wants to live a meaningful life. When we come to the end of it all, that’s all that’s going to matter.
We have to change the conversation from economics to ecology. A lot of people think ecology is only to do with nature. It is but if you look at the word ecology, it means it’s the harmony of everything in life. The biosphere and how it works synergistically together. We’ve got to move the conversation from pure profits to purpose. You are a purpose-seeking device in a purpose-field universe. You’re here for a reason.
Everyone intuitively, as I’ve ever spoken to, knows that. They don’t know why they’re here. Very few people know what that reason is but they intuitively feel like, “I’m here to do something. I’m here to contribute something. I want to be meaningful.” That’s why I believe the leader for the future has a more comprehensive approach to life and living and looks at people versus products. I could go on but hopefully, it resonates with you. I’m guessing it probably does.
I made a lot of money in my very first year in real estate, a couple of years ago, over $1 million. That was probably the most depressed state or year in my entire life because I wasn’t pursuing my purpose and the meaning of why I was put here by God. Over the last few years, this is why this platform came to be. I knew I was missing something. I didn’t know exactly what that looked like but I knew that I was here to mentor and help younger entrepreneurs and professionals to make better decisions and teach them lessons that I wish I had been taught. I’m tracking.
God bless you and kudos to you. My wife and I worked together and she’s incredibly talented. Her name is Bersabeh. She’s Persian and very few people can say her name right so she goes by Bear. Nonetheless, we were working with a $50 million company. We had a large consulting contract and it was very lucrative. We’re together at a point where we want to work with people who have similar values and are committed to similar things who don’t just check off the boxes but want to do what it takes and pay the price for the price. We very quickly found out that this was not the case so we decided to dissolve the contract. Some people said, “You’re nuts. It was incredibly lucrative.” This is not the first time I’ve done this.
In many cases, when I felt like, “There’s not a congruence here. They’re not doing what they say is important. They’re not living what they say they value and they’re not willing to do the work to make the changes that they want. They want some quick fix and it’s all about the money. It’s about the profit, not the people.” We walked away from that and dissolve the contract. That takes a lot of courage, particularly, in the disruptive times that we live in. It’s going to sound somewhat mystical but you know I can go there. I have a lot of references for this. When you do what your heart tells you to do and you have the courage to follow that, then you’re blessed.
I can prove this because that has happened to me more times than I can even enumerate if something shows up somehow some way, from somewhere. I’m sure your readers had this experience. How many times have you, Jack, felt like you were going down for the third time and something shows up? What I’ve learned is that when you follow a path with heart, it will fulfill you and you’ll be blessed. When you follow a path without heart, it’ll suck the life right out of you. It’ll make you wish that you never even stepped on the path.
I can see that play out many times with myself and a lot of people that I work with as well. James, let’s talk about the financial advice you’d have for some younger entrepreneurs. You’ve been through, as far as to my knowledge, some of the most incredible ups, a $10 million business and then the down of a $20 million in debt of anyone I’ve ever met. You’ve got a lot of wisdom packed when it comes to finances you could teach so let it rip.
The number one thing that I would convey to everyone is that you have to understand where the money comes from. Money is an idea, Jack. It’s not pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on it. How much of those do we even use anymore? It’s not credit cards or Bitcoin. Point me to a Bitcoin. Show me what a Bitcoin is. Nobody can do that because it’s an idea. It’s out in the ether somewhere.
Most people still don’t even understand what it is or have even heard of it.
That is right. We have to understand that money is an idea. When you get that, you have to ask yourself the question. How many ideas can I have? Unlimited. How much money can you have? You can have as much money as you can have ideas. Not all ideas are going to work. Most of my ideas don’t quite frankly. How many do you have to have work to make it work for you? Not that many. Bitcoin is worth $40,000 in 2020. I’ve got a Bitcoin so I’ve got $40,000. Give it a minute. It went up to $60,000 at one point and then it went down to below $30,000.
How does it fluctuate so much? Stocks is the same thing. It’s all an idea and psychology. Psychology drives everything and always drives your strategy. Get this principle. Stop judging yourself and measuring yourself by your bank account or your investment account. My investment advisor told me I was worth way north of $20 million. Was I really because in a matter of months I was worth 0 and then less than 0? Was I ever really worth that? The answer is you’re worth as much as you can be innovative, creative and resourceful because money is an idea. Turn away from bank account measurement, definition and all those things. That’s the first step. The second step is going to sound pretty old school but it’s a solid device. Spend less than you earn.
Bersabeh and I are into minimization. I’ve lived extravagant lives. If you go to social media, there are these people who shall remain nameless, “Look at my plane. You got to have a plane. Look at my watch. Look at all the properties I own.” I feel sad for those people because I almost bought a plane once. A friend of mine talked me out of it. That’s another conversation. I’m glad he did but I had all these real estate holdings and this big investment portfolio. It was gone in a matter of months. Was it really real? The third thing is, to that question, what is real? The only thing that has true value is the thing that cannot be lost, stolen or taken away. If it can be lost, stolen or taken away, then it has no value.
The only thing that has value are those things that can’t be lost, stolen or taken away. You ask yourself, “What is that?” That’s who you are. Who you really are cannot be lost, stolen or taken away. If you make poor moves, you can give yourself away but it can’t be taken away and can’t be lost. When you invest in the source, then you understand that the source is something that operates through you, not from you. Jack, you’ve been around me long enough that my favorite saying when someone says where are we going to get the money, I say, “From wherever it is.”
That drives some people crazy. I’ll say, “Look at your bank account, James. You don’t have that money in the bank account.” It doesn’t matter. The money is out there. There are trillions of dollars out there. All we’ve got to do is pull from this infinite source and remember who we are. Remember it’s an idea and we are a vehicle on a channel for spirit or infinite potential to come through. It’s the degree that we become a better channel than we have everything we need and more. I hope that answers your question.
That’s amazing advice. I drill into my readers and my platform the old-school advice that you gave. It’s always great to have that hit once more. There are certainly some timeless things that will never be replaced. James, you’ve mentioned the story of Viktor Frankl quite a few times throughout your presentations. He had everything taken away from him and found that the true meaning of his existence was a lot different than physical wealth. He lays that out in his book, which you’ve recommended. I’ve recommended it on my Facebook platform. It’s very similar in that regard. Am I on track with that?
The search for meaning goes back to Viktor Frankl and what we talked about that I believe the leader for today and tomorrow has to change the conversation. One of those things that I mentioned was we have to move from money to meaning. When we live a meaningful life, which is really what we want, does that mean we’re going to be mega-millionaire? No, it doesn’t. There are no guarantees of that. What it does mean is that you’re going to live a happy and fulfilled life. It’s going to be meaningful.
When you do what your heart tells you to do or follow a path with your heart, then that is a great path. It’s fulfilling. My life is fulfilling and I’m not even close on paper to where I was back in 2009. Notice how I say that on paper because paper is not money. It’s an idea. I’m so much wealthier in every way, even financially, than I was in 2009 but on paper, I’m not even close. In reality, yes. Why? It’s because I have so much more experience, learning and awareness. Those are the things that bring true wealth, including finances.Having so much more experience, learning, and awareness are things that bring wealth, including finances. Click To Tweet
You’ve talked a lot about forgiveness in your book and on your platform. It is how you ended your book. How were you able to do that? You had some people come after you to make a name for themselves in your trial and the media certainly got ahold of you. Their version of the story surprisingly was different from yours. I can’t believe that the media exaggerated or didn’t get all the facts right.
It must have been the first and the last time ever not but it’s unfortunate and I won’t go off on this tangent. We don’t have journalists anymore. We have sensationalists. They have to sell their air time. If it bleeds, it leads. If it shocks, then people want to watch it. At the end of the day, who’s responsible? We are. If we wouldn’t buy into it, follow it, watch it and listen to it, they’d do something different but they’re giving us what works. We’re responsible for that. Forgiveness is a tough one. I’ve worked on that for years. I anguished in solitary confinement, which I talked about in The Business of Redemption and even afterwards working to forgive.
Here’s my definition of forgiveness. I said this the first time I was on Oprah and even before that. I said, “True forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’ All true forgiving ends in gratitude. If you’re not grateful, then you’re not there yet.” One of the other things I’ve been blessed to be schooled in is Hermetics. 1 of the 7 Hermetic Laws of the Universe is called a Law of Polarity. I wrote a little bit about that in my first book, The Science of Success. Polarity says every up has a down. Every good has a bad. Every left has a right. There’s always a polar opposite. Consequently, as bad as something is based upon our perception. It means it’s equally as great.
That seems a little romantic but it’s true because we live in a dualistic universe. The only reason something is “bad” is that we’re comparing it to something we believe is good. It’s that comparison, that polarity of the opposite, that defines it as it is. When we get to the point of true forgiving, “Thank you for giving me that experience,” what we’ve learned to do is to turn what we believe to be trash into treasure.
It’s easier said than done but to take what appears to be trash based on my desires, my preferences and my perception and find the treasure in it is real mastery. It’s always there. It’s that most of us aren’t willing to dig and work to get there. It took me many years and there are three levels of forgiveness. There’s self. That has to come first. I beat myself up because three people died on my watch and I cared about them.
Anybody who knew you knew without any doubt that your intentions were 100% pure, right and good. The people who got ahold of the case simply wanted to make a name for themselves. The media wanted to make a story. You were caught in the crosshairs of that. Anybody that I’ve ever talked to and I’ve had several people that I know that have gone through your program all know where your intentions were and the difference that you made in their life.
At the end of the day, as you said, you’re going to have thousands of people that maybe don’t even realize how much your work and what you did, even many years ago, continues to reverberate and continue in their lives and weave in and out throughout their success now like me. I still use it and everything you’re talking about brings back how much it reminds me of how much you taught me that. I still teach, pass on and utilize it to create the life that I’ve created now.
That means the world to me. That makes it worthwhile. I greatly appreciate that. I had to forgive myself because I’d beat myself up. I was like, “What did you miss? How did you miss it? What could you have done differently? Why didn’t you do it differently? Why that? Why this?” You can’t. At some point in time, I had to sit down. It took me a while because I was anguished and it didn’t help that the media was hammering me. It took me probably almost the entire time, if not the entire time in prison, I was indicted for 3 years and went to prison for 2 years.
For five years, it took me to come to the point where it’s like, “James, you know where your heart was. You didn’t do this on purpose. It was a mistake and it was horrible. If you could change it, you would but forgive yourself. Maybe it makes you a little bit more compassionate, loving and not so judgmental of other people who screw up, miss things and does things incorrectly.” That was first. Self is first. The second one is others. That’s the one that you’re referencing where there were not a lot but a few people who went out and wrote skating books talking about how I was all about the money. It was all about me that I was this, that and the other.
I knew for a fact how many late-night hours I spent on the phone trying to help them with their business and on and on. I was like, “I can’t believe this.” Unfortunately, personal development and the spiritual industry were the harshest. Those who talked about love and forgiveness were the harshest of all. That hurt. “How could this happen?” I had to come to the realization of Karl Pribram’s work, a neurophysicist who won a Nobel Prize, for proving that nothing is outside of us that is not projected from inside of us. Carl Jung, which I’m a big fan of, said, “That is most unconscious within us must have need be projected out onto other people.” I became the poster boy for the darkness that was in a lot of people who refused to see in themselves. I have it. You have it. Everybody has every trait.
I came to a point of forgiving and saying, “They don’t understand what they’re doing.” You cannot judge someone based on something they don’t really know. You can but this is not wise. I forgave others and then finally, the entire situation. “God, if I’d have stopped before the sweat lodge, if I hadn’t done that, if I hadn’t tried to end the event with a big experiential bang.” All the facilities that put it on, the facility that built the lodge and those who did everything to bring it together, which wasn’t me or my team, I had to forgive the entire situation. Self, others and the situation took me a better part of five years to do that. There’s a tremendous amount of growth and learning in that.
I was on a call with my business coaches. I was having a hard time. I took on a client that my instincts told me not to. I was and still am very costly financially and emotionally. They said, “You did the best that you could with the information that you had at that time. You have to go back in time. Have a conversation with yourself and forgive yourself. You have to release it because you can’t keep living like this.” I understand that it took you five years. It could have taken you a decade to go through all three levels there. That’s a tough thing to forgive all those three things but amazing work.
I have one last question before we close out. I want to go back to try to serve the younger entrepreneurs that are getting, going and building their financial well-being. With the idea of money as an idea, can you give me a couple of examples of tangible or exactly how that plays out when you say that? Are you referring to, “There’s no limit to ideas to how to grow your business? There are no ideas of new businesses you could start and how you could serve others. There are ideas of creating potential investments that flourish.” What does that look like tangibly?
It’s all of the above. Bitcoin is a great example. What is a Bitcoin? We don’t know.
It’s a shared ledger. I don’t know other than that.
It’s an idea on the internet somewhere and yet we’ve placed value on that idea. Let’s come back to the US dollar and I’ll talk to the US. Let me give you an example in India. A few years ago or thereabouts, there was a whole bunch of people in India who had Rupees, which is the currency of India, stashed under their mattresses. They didn’t have them in the bank. They had them stashed and they felt comfortable and secure because they had all these Rupees stashed under their mattress and then the crooks and crannies. The government of India found out about this and they had all this money out of circulation. They don’t like that. They want the money in circulation.
What did they do? They came out and made all the old Rupees no longer legal tender. They came up with a new Rupee. Unless you have a new Rupee, you have no money. That too is to the same point. The money is an agreement. Back in the ‘70s, we disconnected from the gold standard. Richard Nixon did that. There was a time when every single dollar was backed up by gold. There was a tangible asset that was attached to this intangible dollar. We disconnected from that. What we have is Fiat currency and nothing is backing it up. You look at the debt ceiling. It keeps going and they keep printing.
You have a real estate background. Real estate prices were rising for a time. Sales were off the hook. It’s not that the real estate is appreciating. It’s that the dollar is depreciating. If you look at gas and grocery prices, it has about tripled in 2022. Why is that? Are groceries more expensive to produce? No. It’s that the dollar is worth less. To my point, it’s an agreement and this is so important to get. It’s an idea. I’m not here to be a frightened monger at all. When we see things clearly, then we say, “This dollar that I’m holding in my hand is a currency of debt because the Federal Reserve has printed this off.”
There was a promissory note from the government given to the Federal Reserve, which is an independent industry and entity. They’re not attached to the government and the government goes and says, “I need X trillion dollars.” The Federal Reserve turn on the presses and print them off. I give them a piece of paper that says here, “I’m going to pay you back with interest. Here’s this piece of paper.” They give me these freshly printed dollars. What are they worth? They’re not worth anything, only what we agree they’re worth. If you look at how the game is played, then you can play the game. Just don’t buy in. My teacher, don Jose Ruiz, the Toltec shaman, told me years ago, he called me Santiago, “You can play the game but don’t buy in. Realize it’s a game.”
When you understand the rules of the game, then you can play the game very successfully. You realize that the economy goes up and down. The stock market and Bitcoin go up and down. The dollar, we print more, which means every dollar you have is worth less and less. What’s going to bring you financial wealth is your resourcefulness, creativity and innovation. You have the God-given abilities to access this infinite intelligence and allow it to come through you as an open vehicle and vessel to create. Every spiritual tradition tells us that we’re created in the image and likeness of God.When you understand the rules of the game, then you can play the game very successfully. Click To Tweet
That means if God is a creator so are you. Your job here is to create to a degree that we get creative, innovative, resourceful and resilient. We don’t attach ourselves to, “I’m worth this amount of money because I have this in the bank.” That could be gone or dropped in a nanosecond. We’ve already determined that. Your true net worth is who you are. It has nothing to do with what you own, what you do or what you have.
That’s a powerful way to close out. I want to make sure to give you an opportunity to share about your upcoming leadership weekend. James, this is going to be an evergreen broadcast. There could be people reading this and there will be people reading this years from now. We have a live event that I wanted to give you a chance to talk about. What are some other ways that if they do miss out on that, they’re going to be able to follow you? I’m sure that they’re inspired by what you’ve said. How can they get more of James Ray and Harmonic Wealth?
I’m glad it’s evergreen because Leadership For The Future is an event that we do at least once a year. In 2020, we haven’t done it yet but it’s coming up on August 27th through 29th, 2021. If you’re reading this past that time, that’s okay because I’m sure we’ll have another one posted for 2022. Here’s what I’d like to encourage you to do. We’ve talked a lot about leadership and changing the conversation. We’ve talked about the areas in which we must thrive financial, relational, mental, physical and spiritual. From August 27th through 29th, 2021, we have an experiential opportunity on Zoom. It’s normally $997. For your readers, we’re going to give them $500 off, which drops it down to $497. They need to use the promo code wealth. My website is JamesRay.com.
That’s just for your readers. If it’s evergreen and you happen to be reading after the fact, then we’ll leave that there. That promo code will be reserved for you and your people. It’s a three-day live event. It’s very experiential. I’ve got one of the top anti-aging experts in the world coming in to talk about how to have youthful vibrance and energy and how to live a long, healthy life. Bersabeh and I both personally work with him. Given that I’ve been to hell and back and I’m still, I still feel great and I’m still incredibly healthy. I’m super grateful. We do all the right things.
Our trainer is ranked number 43 in the nation. She’s a nutritionist as well. If you want to know how to eat right and how to get in peak fitness and shape, she’s going to be there as well. We have a lot of exercises on helping you clarify your vision, purpose and values, which is why you’re here. There’s so much more that I won’t take the time to get into. Leadership For The Future is August 27th through 29th, 2021. We’d love to have you come. We’ll plug you into a community of growth-minded individuals from around the globe who are looking to be wealthy and have an integrated, complete and fulfilling life to lead and change the conversation. If that’s you, we’d love to have you join.
That’s fantastic. Sounds like an incredible opportunity. I appreciate you sharing that with all of us. The discount code is amazing. Where else can people follow you? Where are you active the most on social, James?
I’m active on Facebook. It’s James Arthur Ray. My Twitter is @JamesARay and then on Instagram, my wife and I share an account. That’s a little bit more unique to find. It’s @JamesArthurAndBearRay. I tease her sometimes she’s a teddy bear. Sometimes she’s a grizzly bear depending on the day. I had my account and it got shut down in 2020. My team could not get Instagram to tell us why. These social media platforms do a lot of things and they didn’t meet community standards or something. I don’t know but we’ve started a new one.
That’s what they say. The only thing you can own is your email list. You don’t own any of your social channels. They’re not your real estate.
No, you don’t. I had 30,000 followers and it was gone in a heartbeat on Instagram. It didn’t even hurt nearly as bad after losing $20-plus million of the estate. It’s like, “I can handle Instagram.” We’re religiously growing our Instagram following and methodically get making that happen. I linked it to James Arthur Ray. I’m on all of them.
It’s amazing how you get tougher and more resilient. My cryptocurrency dropped $300,000 pretty much overnight. My golf score that day bothered me more than that. It’s like, “No problem. I’ll get a plan.”
It’s an idea. I got plenty of those. You trapped me because Bersabeh was attempting to transfer some of our cryptos to the bank and we hooked up. I don’t know what happened exactly but we lost $10,000 at the click of a mouse.
You sent it to the wrong address.
I don’t know. I think someone took it in and put it in their account or something. It’s an idea anyway so it wasn’t real, to begin with.
I don’t think too many people are going to get that quite yet but they will at some point.
I’ve been on this planet for many years in this body. You learn through experience the things to sweat and get twisted about become less and less. It’s not as much as we make it out to be in a lot of cases. When you’ve gone through tremendous crashes and burns, it makes you come back to the heart. I’ve said this many times but come back to the heart and the center and say, “What’s really important in life?” It’s not the things that were conditioned in many cases to believe.
Thank you so much for being on the show and for your wisdom. When I told my wife I got you on, she’s been to your seminar. She remembers you very well and still very much looks up to you. She’s like, “What? You got James Ray. How did you do that?” I’m like, “I messaged him. I asked.” I didn’t make any assumptions. I know you’re busy and you’ve got a lot of amazing accounts you’re working with. I’m like, “I bet he would love to come out and share with me and my team.”
You were one of my greatest success stories for a long time. You gave me permission to share your story and how you had grown your business, given the way we work together. When you message me, your readers don’t know this but you do, I said, “Are you the Jack Gibson?” You’re like, “That’s me.” I’m like, “Holy crap. It’s great to hear from you again.” I would love to see you and your wife at one of our online events. It’d be great to experience that with you as well.
I’m sure that will happen. You will see us again. Thank you so much. I’m going to get a ton of feedback from this episode from now and for potentially years to come. I appreciate all your wisdom and experience. I tell you guys to go to Amazon and get The Business Of Redemption. Your life will never be the same after reading it. It is an amazing book. With that, we’re signing off. Thanks so much.
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About James Ray
James’ company hit the Inc. 500 in 2009 as one of the fastest growing most successful privately held companies in the United States, and possibly the world. Because of his experience in building from humble beginnings and scratch, as well as rebuilding after hitting rock bottom post terrible crises, James has the unique experience and ability to help those at the top, those on the climb, and those who must put their life back together to get up and climb again.