A Surreal View
Sean Adams is moving into his new apartment atop one of San Diego’s most luxurious high rises, and at the time of this writing, he walks about a stunningly polished living room bursting with excitement over what the future holds. Thirty-seven floors above sea level, his glass castle has breathtaking views of a sprawling city skyline that kisses the shore of Southern California’s world-famous Pacific coast; overlooking Petco Park, nobody in the major league baseball stadium fit to hold tens of thousands knows it, but he has the best seats in the house.
Yet still, gesturing towards Coronado Island, beneath the cotton candy skies that bless America’s eighth-most populous cosmopolitan, Adams points out Naval Base San Diego, where aircraft carriers from mankind’s greatest fleet ever assembled routinely dock for necessary maintenance. That is where he has worked for years now and continues to work, but his enlisted days are numbered. Just as we can see the sun dipping below the horizon, turning day to night in a flash of glorious twilight, there has been a momentous financial shift occurring in this man’s life.
Sean Adams was born in St. Louis, Missouri during the early 90s. His biological mother suffered from a crippling drug addiction that left her in no position to raise any of her seven children, which meant Sean and his siblings were destined for foster care. “When I was just a few months old, my mom let some people watch me and never came back,” he recounts.
He felt both very lucky and very fortunate to be adopted at eight years old. Sean’s adoptive father encountered an eerily similar upbringing, lending him the courage to take on the tall task of raising a productive human being all on his own. Aside from the fellow’s effervescent bachelor lifestyle, he was committed to excelling within the world of academia, where he first found work as a school teacher, however, upon furthering his education to the Ph.D. level, he earned himself an administrative role presiding over the local district.
Despite his father’s rise through the scholastic ranks, Sean can recall their earliest days together being strife with all the communal neglections of poverty. “When I first got adopted, we used to live in the projects. I remember we used to have to sleep on the floor because bullets would literally fly through our windows at night,” he says. “They used to shoot a lot in our apartment complex.”
Citing a trend that began in foster homes, he’s thankful to have always had people who truly cared about his well-being close by, and credits them for helping him avoid the life-wrecking pitfall of gang activity. “Don’t be a follower, be a leader. Think for yourself,” he was repeatedly told.
Attending Lindbergh Senior High School brought with it the gridiron; Adams played corner, safety, and occasionally lined up as a slot receiver for the flyers’ football team. Another sport that drew his fascination and tireless effort was waterpolo.
Back at home, watching his father go to college, work full-time, and get promoted provided him a first-hand glance at how hard work can really change your life quickly. “By the time I was seventeen, we had a new house in the suburbs and I had a new car – so I got to experience both sides [of the figurative economic coin].”
Adams excelled academically, earning himself a full-ride scholarship to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. There, he studied molecular science while working two jobs and commuting from home, which was thirty-five minutes away.
“My dad wanted me to join a fraternity,” he says, also noting that his father was a member of Kappa – who he describes as pretty boys. “I was like, nope! I don’t want to do that. I didn’t join any fraternity.”
With the passing of several semesters, Adams began to consider attending law school, a shift in career alignment that would require learning a new curriculum and taking on sizeable student loan debt. He had watched his father pay his own way through five degrees, a feat that forced him to simultaneously work full-time and part-time over the course of decades to accomplish.
In a rather shocking twist of fate, it may have actually been because his father’s walls were decorated with numerous diplomas that Sean questioned whether or not their respectable lifestyle was worth so much effort. Which begged another thought, could that same noble work ethic be used more effectively, and in the pursuit of something much bigger?
“I wanted to do something more,” he says, describing his decision to drop out of college and join the United States Navy. “I just always wanted to feel like I was making an impact.”
The Rise of Sean Adams
His highly educated father didn’t take too kindly to the news that he was going to be abandoning school. “We got into it really bad,” Adams discloses. “It was my fault because I didn’t tell him until about a week before leaving.”
The encounter turned physical when his dad tried slamming a door in his face after brushing him off for wanting to air the matter out. Sean caught the bedroom door before it shut, struggled his way into the room, and begged the man for a civil conversation. Punches came instead, making clear that he never swung on his father once, Sean, who boxed at the time, wrestled him into a subdued position.
As the scene unfolded, the police arrived and while no arrests were made, their relationship digressed into tatters. Sean’s phone was taken away, he lost his car, and got kicked out of the house – left to virtual homelessness in the days leading up to his departure for boot camp.
There was no way his reaction would be one of understanding. For a scholar who dedicated his life’s purpose, in nearly every aspect, to academia, this was the day he probably dreaded most, pile onto that, coming from the very boy he painstakingly labored to rescue from the tragically uneducated grips of poverty. Keep in mind, the intentions behind his harsh judgment and rebuke of Sean’s choices were good – he wanted what was best for him, that’s all.
Following basic training, where he successfully slid under the radar thanks to his impressive physique, Adams’ orders sent him to work at a hospital in Chicago. Winters in the windy city were brutal, not to mention, he had joined the Navy hoping to leave the midwest and set sail around the world. “I was like, oh my gosh, this is terrible! It was so cold and right next to boot camp,” he adds.
Taking matters into his own hands, he fervently applied to any open position he could find available on the west coast when finally, the day came that he received a letter indicating he had been reassigned to the Pacific fleet’s Coronado Island, which lay just a two-mile beauty of a bridge beyond California’s always sunny, golden shores.
The assignment involved supplying MH-60 Romeos flying to and fro the base. He was twenty-three years old.
Sean Adams had his first brush with sales while stationed in Chicago, he hustled on the side as a pharmaceutical representative for a nearby laboratory. The experience revealed to him how powerful it is to tie financial destiny to personal output, rather than the typical system of trading precious time for money.
Not long after touching down in San Diego, he devised a plan that involved turning his lifelong fitness passion into the business venture of his dreams. “I would work ten-hour overnight shifts, lift before clocking in, and then as soon as I got off in the morning,” he says, breaking down a series of events nearly leading to a professional bodybuilding career. “I would drive to the gym, sleep in my car sometimes, wake up, shower, lift again, then go back to work and do it all over.”
Just as he was reaching his peak form and everything was falling into place, the pandemic struck, putting an end to live competitions, and collaterally, his fitness ambitions. “O, what could have been. Goodbye for now. I’m sure I’ll see you again,” he shared in an Instagram post.
What came next was a close encounter with unemployment due to an incident on base, following which, Sean asked himself, “what would I do for money if I didn’t have the Navy?” There was really no good answer to that question, whether he liked it or not, his livelihood was at the mercy of another higher-ranking person and massive organization’s will.
With this being said, he took it upon himself to search for solutions that could procure further financial security. The soldier got his hands on all sorts of business-oriented, self-improvement books. One truly struck a chord with him: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
It tells the author’s story of growing up with two dads – his real father, and the father of his best friend, his rich dad – and the ways both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.
Given his own past, a plotline Adams may have particularly felt drawn towards was the fact that Kiyosaki’s biological father practically collected college diplomas for a living, almost somewhat ignorantly correlating institutional education with societal achievement while failing to realize they did little to boost his own modest financial standing. Whereas his friend’s rich dad lacked any formal schooling and managed to become one of the wealthiest men in their region.
Adams enrolled himself in a course on sales, where he met another slightly younger individual who shared the same drive for monetary gains. The two got hired on as commission-earning sales representatives at an advertising company and with time, shouldered an array of substantial workloads within the organization. By the end of it all, he confidently reveals, “together, we basically ran a digital marketing agency. Took it from making $200,000 a month to $2,000,000.”
The agency focused on helping fit pros launch their personal brand and business. “What really blew us up was when we created a sales course for them to use,” he explains. “I saw the inner workings of formulating an idea, then bringing it to life.”
Although, his biggest lesson learned was, “you don’t make money, the government makes money, they print it. Me and you? We just collect money and the amount of money a person collects is determined by what they create.”
1E9 Chief Executive
Getting paid anywhere between $15,000 and $20,000 per month, Sean Adams was making the most money he ever had in his life. Make no mistake, it wasn’t coming in easily, he worked tirelessly from 7:00 am through to the next day’s 2:00 am for five days a week. Then on the weekends, in fulfilling his military contract, the man supplied helicopters for 10 hours each day; in totality, that’s north of 100 hours clocked, per week!
“I disagreed with some of the things they were doing,” he says, when reasoning why he began harboring doubts in regards to the efficacy of his coworkers and the burgeoning operation they pushed along. “I felt like they were hurting people a little more than they were helping them; like making money had become more important than helping people.”
Going the Sean Adams Way
As his reservations mounted, the morning came when he up and left the lucrative sales position, never to return. He planned on launching a business centered around a more ethical approach to helping clients achieve their sales, marketing, and ultimately, life goals. With this being said, Adams enlisted the help of a mentor he had encountered along a brief entrepreneurial escapade of his, and to this day, he gives due credit to the business savant for helping him establish 1E9.
“Either you live your life at cause or effect. If you live your life at cause, you take accountability for your life and believe that you can create the life you want,” he states. “There are people that live their life at effect. Something bad happens to them, they think that’s the problem; they have to deal with an unfulfilling job or things they don’t like, and they’re not creating anything. They just let life happen to them, instead of making life happen.”
In his mind’s eye, Sean Adams knew he was a world-class sales closer, but as long as he was working for another person, he was living life at effect. Therefore, 1E9 is serendipitously geared towards assisting exceptional individuals with developing, executing, and realizing their own personalized checklist of lifestyle objectives.
“Even though folks can make a lot of money in a professional career, not everybody wants to do that,” Adams divulges. “I’m of the belief that, with the power of the internet, anybody can do what they love. It does not matter what you’re passionate about, as long as you are kind, ethical, and genuinely care about solving people’s problems, you can share your talents with the world and make a minimum of $20,000 a month.”
Client Selection Process
The client selection process typically consists of an initial conversation over the phone, followed by the next step in the selective process, a follow-up zoom call. “I need to qualify people, make sure I can help and work with them,” he says. “I don’t want to just allow people in my program because they have the money and want to make more money. If you are unethical and don’t actually care about helping people or solving a problem, then I’m not the guy for you.”
Adams’ specially curated business strategies and principles are applicable to just about every industry, although he finds that some of his most successful clients have been involved in one of three categories: health, wealth, and relationships. There are other scenarios where a person doesn’t quite know what it is they want to do, at which point, 1E9 can play a role in aiding their discovery of what they are meant to do.
“I look for young, ethical, and kind people who are interested in solving major problems that other people are experiencing,” he repeats.
As our conversation winds down, Sean Adams springs from the kitchen barstool he had been patiently seated in, gliding his way to the majestic view that beckons just beyond his high-rise apartment’s glass wall. Glancing over at the least riveting spectacle, gray blob of a Navy yard again, he can make out his past hardships and all the trying moments that were meant to be. However, a slight motion of the eyes toward San Diego’s glimmering skyline puts him at the top, where he felt all along, was the fate destiny had in store for him. “It’s surreal,” he concludes.
If you enjoyed this story on the life of Sean Adams, check out our biography of another self-made Missouri native, Billionaire David Steward.