Generosity Saved the Cat

UPDATED: May 23, 2014
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2014

I remember when I first quit my job of ten years as a financial broker and started my own business at age 29. You want to talk about scared? Well, find another story because I was too young and dumb to feel fear. I was in heaven! I was like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, with my face painted the color of money, screaming, “Freeeedoooooommmm!” and running only God knows where.

I had done all the things you should definitely never do prior to quitting your job to start a new business.

Things like:

1. Have no money.
2. Not get your business up and running while you’re still at your job and have your income replaced prior to leaving.
3. Have no real plan.
4. Have no real back up plan.

The one assurance I did have was if things ever got bad enough, I had a cat that I absolutely could not stand. I could always eat the cat. Worst-case scenario. They do it in Vietnam, and you saw The Bachelor last season– that place is gorgeous. How bad could it be? (Did you not see The Bachelor last season? Neither did I. I was just kidding. Haha. Someone told me about it…)

As was totally unexpected, but should have been easily anticipated, I made absolutely no money for the first month.

“Man, I don’t wanna eat this cat,” I thought. “But I’m getting hungry. I can’t go Ghandi for much longer.”

Then it hit me– I haven’t given any money away this month.

For the previous ten years, I made it a habit to give a certain percentage of my money to local churches and charities, but I hadn’t done it that month because of what I had deemed as “extenuating circumstances.”

But I ultimately realized that it was actually fear keeping me from my regular monthly giving. Fear, and the fact that I didn’t technically have any actual money, specifically speaking.

So here’s what I did for the sake of my cat: I cashed in some of my 401k and gave the money away. Even though I had no income coming in, near-zero savings and a very uncertain future, I gave a substantial amount of money to people who were, for all intents and purposes, probably doing better than I was at that moment.

Guess what happened.

I started closing deal after deal after deal after deal. I made $50,000 net cash within thirty days of giving that money away. It was the most money I’d ever made– ever. And I never even came close to being broke ever again. As a matter of fact, I got rich.

Are you having money problems right now? Try helping somebody else out with their money problems and see what happens. Will money come falling from the sky when you do? I don’t know. It did for me. I don’t know how or why this works, but I do know that if you have aspirations of making it big in this world, you are going to need to cultivate the virtue of generosity.

And the time to start is right now. “I’ll give money away once I’m rich,” you think. No, you won’t. You know what you’ll do once you’re rich? Exactly what you do right now. And I’ve yet to meet a rich person who wasn’t extraordinarily generous.

Generosity saved my cat. It can save you too.

“Sharing makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour in.” — Jim Rohn 

Preston Ely is founder and CEO of, an Inc. magazine "Fastest Growing Company." He has built and sold multiple businesses and was recently voted one of Fast Company's "Most Influential People On The Internet." He makes $0 a year teaching success principles; he makes millions of dollars a year applying them to his own life and businesses. He writes articles for for the fun of it. Follow him at, on Facebook and on Twitter.