How I Became A Multi-Millionaire — My Passive Income Hustle Story

Bernard Okoth
11 min readDec 2, 2022


It came to me one day when my boss asked if someone wanted to help install a staircase. When we got to the house, I was shocked, he had it all.

who wants to be a millionaire?

Granite countertops, Persian rugs and a collection of supercars. I’d look out the window and see the owner relaxing or practicing his golf swing.

When I talked to him, he only chatted about his personal hobbies and never his businesses. I asked him, what’s the secret to your success? He tapped me on the shoulder and said, if you can’t make money while you sleep, you’ll work until you die.

This is now known in the modern day as passive income. That was the moment I decided I needed to join the top 1% of men. I’d like to retread my journey with you today.

It’s very clearly broken into five different stages, just like a video game and at each individual stage, I learned something imperative to my future success.

You’ll learn what I focused on as a hard-nosed businessman. What I obsessed about in the world of investing and most importantly, the many mistakes I made along the way that have made me the successful person I am today.

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Stage One, The Awakening.

This is when I went from 0 to $20,000. My journey started as I emerged from my mother’s womb and my first words were, which stocks should I buy? Just kidding.

Like most people, I was pretty clueless about financial education as a kid, but I had the spirit of hustle in me. One of my earliest memories of entrepreneurship goes back to when I was selling fish door to door.

Just imagine wiping the sleep dust out of your eyes at four in the morning, heading down to a freezing pier and sitting for hours until you’d caught enough mackerel to sell for a profit.

Not only that but grabbing a slimy fish from a bag, ringing a doorbell, looking a person straight in the eye and pitching to them. This built up my confidence and sales skills.

Two of the earlier skills I needed to learn to be successful. As I earned, I soon found that any money I made wasn’t really mine. Instead it would go places like McDonald’s and the girl I happened to be dating.

I always seem to have just enough. This is called lifestyle inflation, the tendency to spend more as you make more. Whatever you earn, it becomes your new baseline, and that’s the trap.

But being a car fanatic, I’ve always dreamed of owning a Ferrari. I felt as if they sent such a strong signal to others that you’ve made it.

I’d often speak to my friend who worked as a valet parking cars for the rich and famous. He once told me something that changed my perspective on luxuries.

He said, when people would drive up to the hotel in their Ferraris, they would watch me gawk and love every moment of it.

I’m sure they felt admired, important, even respected but actually, you know what? I didn’t care about them or even notice them.

Instead, I thought, wow, if I had that car, people would think I’m cool. And I wonder how many people buy these cars without realizing that people rarely give the driver a moment’s thought.

I learned that no one would be as impressed with my possessions and luxuries as much as me. People want to be respected and admired by others, but competence, intelligence and kindness will bring you so much more respect than horsepower ever will.

With all the information out there on the internet about how to make money or get rich quickly, it can be hard to separate the truth from the marketing.

make money or make excuses

Internet gurus have been getting wealthy for the past decade telling other people how they can get rich and there’s a whole industry out there based on fantasy, but the truth is wealth is not always what you see but what you don’t see.

I decided instead, I’d quietly follow my own path to wealth, but in order to do this, I needed a budget. A budget is knowing where your money will go versus where it went.

Little by little and for the first time, I started seeing my savings account go up. I started building an emergency fund, basically money for a rainy day.

I didn’t know exactly when or why it would rain, only that one day it would. One day my boss approached me and ordered me to start making wooden trash cans.

I made trash can after trash can, the hours would just crawl by so slowly. I went to my boss and asked him how long I’d have to keep doing this. Until the order stopped coming in which is probably never, he said, and I felt so deflated.

Although I was saving money, I didn’t feel passionate about what I was doing, but I wasn’t thinking big enough. After all, I didn’t care about luxury, so why would I need more money?

Then it hit me. I realized that control over your time is the greatest thing money can buy. If I had passive income, I could spend my time doing the things I really loved.

The problem is it takes a lot of time or money to start making enough passive income to become financially free. We spent thousands of hours every year working in the pursuit of money, so I asked myself what was I truly passionate about?

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I had a burning passion for radio control models and I noticed many people in this industry were making a lot of mistakes. I saw the true potential and the ways that I could improve on what had come before me.

I once read in a book that if you could identify a problem and you had a better way of doing things, you could turn it into a business.

Stage Two, The Hustle.

This is when I went from $20,000 to $100,000. So I got to work. I was so excited about my business plans that I shared them with a close friend and confidant and to my shock, the unimaginable happened.

Not trying Hustle quote

He stole my idea and set up my entire business for himself. The reality is that I needed some money to pursue my dream but my savings just weren’t enough. I wasn’t about to give up.

I drew up a business plan, went to the bank and applied for my first loan. It wasn’t easy and I had to visit multiple banks. However, eventually I secured the money I needed.

While some people were in their wealth investing in the stock market, I reinvested the earnings from my businesses to open more stores and even buy back my original idea from my old friend.

I started to know more and more people in the business world. A lot of these individuals became my mentors and would teach me things like how to build a business that scales, how to improve sales and how to manage people.

As my income grew and I solved problems, I was not only growing my net worth but becoming a top 1% man as well. As the good times continued, I increasingly bet on them continuing, which led to one of my most significant life crashes and moments of despair.

I remember it like it was yesterday, walking into the shop that I had initially started to give my father a job in his later years. And instead of being greeted by the magical emporium filled with all the toys that I could have only dreamed of having as a kid.

I was met with a smashed roof, empty shelves and my products laying broken, thrown across the floor.

This hit me so hard that the memory has been seared into my subconscious and I sometimes still see it when I close my eyes. You may think, that’s all, I know you. I bet you had insurance.

Everything was okay, and you bounced back. Well, in fact, I’d grown so fast and I was making so much money that not everything was correctly structured within my business.

Although we were insured, I’d forgotten to update it with all the new stock that we’d acquired since the opening of the store, but the disaster doesn’t stop there. It gets even worse.

I got a phone call a few days later and one of my staff informed me that another two locations had been hit. Luckily, one of these attempts was unsuccessful on my flagship store as they couldn’t break through the door.

However, they’d driven a truck straight through the side of the store that was responsible for serving the entirety of London, and the damage was horrendous, let alone the stock that we lost.

That’s when I learned about the balance between risk and reward. See, making money requires taking risks, operating quickly and putting yourself out there, but keeping money requires the opposite.

It requires humility and fear that what you’ve made can be taken away from you just like that. Once you lose 95% of your money, you have to gain 1900% just to get back to where you started.

Taking too much risk can bury you so deep in a hole it can be nearly impossible to get out of. I even started to move my operations online to adapt to the changing times.

Stage Three, The Trap.

This is when I went from $100,000 to $1 million. I realized that one of the biggest problems people face is when they turn their passion into a vehicle to accumulate money.

Work for passion, not money quote

They are now reliant on it to fund their lifestyle, leading to their passion becoming their prison. I mean, the biggest bottleneck in my business was actually the business owner, me.

As the business got bigger and as we tried to move it online, so did the number of problems, complaints and things to worry about. It always seems like as soon as I solved a problem, another one would soon follow.

Don’t get me wrong, owning and running a business is great, especially if you are passionate about it, but it isn’t as easy or as passive as a lot of people make it out to be.

I’ve read a lot of books on investing, studied the techniques of Warren Buffet and came across John Bogle’s book about common sense investing. It shocked me when I learned that 80% of active fund managers actually underperform the S&P 500 Index.

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Diversification is important and by buying and investing in the S&P 500, which is a basket of 503 stocks, I could earn a steady growth that grows along with the US economy.

My goal was to have enough money in the S&P 500 that in the worst case scenario, I could withdraw up to 4% per year in order to live off my investments while still growing my portfolio. By sticking to my guns, I was able to avoid suffering from the internet stock crash of 2000.

Early on in my journey, I learned that the losses felt massive whereas a profit seemed so, so slow. There’s an old saying, stocks rise like an escalator and crash like an elevator, and this couldn’t be more true.

I kept dollar cost averaging and adding to my stock portfolio, even as the .com crash continued. I was getting more and more shares of the index fund at better and better prices.

As a qualified pilot, I draw this parallel, hours and hours of uneventful flight followed by moments of sheer terror, but it’s these moments of sheer terror that make up the majority of your returns.

The way I conducted my finances during the .com crash and the 2008 financial crisis gave me more returns than any investing I’d ever done before.

Stage Four, The Refinement.

This is when I went from $1 million to $10 million. As my wealth grew, it seemed like the matrix was creating more and more temptations to take my money away from me.

Having savings gives you a lot of options like going to a buffet where you can have every dish you’ve ever wanted.

In the previous stages, once I’d surpassed $100,000 in yearly earnings, I was considered an accredited investor, which is both an exciting and a dangerous place to be.

I fell into the trap of investing in various penny stocks which initially was very successful. However, I went on to lose $30,000 with a couple of bad trades.

After this, I created a rule for myself to only invest in things that I fully understand, unless it’s an experiment with a small amount of capital that I’m not afraid to lose.

It doesn’t matter whether you are investing in NFTs, stocks or a relationship, I learned to always do my homework and take the time to understand every opportunity.

The thing I understood more than anything was my business. I wanted to really push forward, so I flew out to America on a bit of a whim to see a friend on the promise that he would help me to restructure my business, from serving customers B2C to servicing other businesses, B2B as well.

He taught me that by focusing on selling to businesses, I could increase my numbers without having to deal with so many people. This is known as the 80–20 principle.

I learned that I could focus on the 20% of things that produce 80% of my income. I traveled abroad to China and Japan where I learned about the idea of lean manufacturing, which I related to my everyday life.

I started cutting anything unnecessary out of my business and personal life so I could focus on what gave me the most meaning and results.

Through this, I’d finally achieved multimillionaire status but it felt kind of empty, and that’s when I had a revelation that changed my life forever.

Stage Five, The Revelation.

This is when I went to $10 million and beyond. This brings me to where I am today. I thought about which investments were most important to me in my life, and I realized it was the relationships with my family and friends.

importance of personal relationships

You’ll be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read. I started thinking about how to pass the torch and I taught my son about finance.

I started spending more time enjoying the little moments, appreciating what I have and what I’ve worked for and fostering quality relationships.

The final stage for a lot of people later in life is philanthropy. Some people like Bill Gates start foundations. Others, like Ray Dalio, write books.

This is my form of giving back. When I reflect on my journey getting here, I’m proud of everything I’ve done.

I still hustle hard, but what is really meaningful to me is being able to share my knowledge and inspire a younger generation to go after their dreams and achieve success.

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