This Banker Quit Wall Street To Fulfill His Dream of Living in Maui
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Chuck after a 5k Color Run. (Photo: Chuck Spence)
Who: Chuck Spence, 59. I was a banker on Wall Street in charge of the sales division of ING for its trading rooms in the Americas. Working on a trading floor is indeed a very high-stress position but one that I really loved doing. But I knew I wanted to live on the island of Maui from the first moment I stepped onto her rich soil 36 years ago.
Why: I came to Maui for the first time in 1978, and the spirituality and magic of the island and its people spoke to me. As a gay man, I knew that I ultimately wanted to operate a business that I owned and one that catered to the LGBT community. That’s why I opened the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort.
Where: Maui. All of Hawaii is amazingly beautiful, but even the Hawaiians say “Maui no ka oi” (“Maui is the best”). It’s not just the weather or breathtaking beauty, but more so the people here really caring about other people.
The Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort (Photo: Chuck Spence)
The cost: Money is not the issue here, even though it is a very expensive place to live. Anyone can move here, but they have to adjust their lifestyle accordingly. The highest cost anyone can pay is moving away from good friends and loved ones. That’s really hard and the true cost.
How I did it: In order to open the resort, I saved and invested wisely. Knowing back in 1978 that this is a dream I wanted to live, I had to plan for a way to finance it. Sure, I had nice things along the way and was truly blessed, but if you really want to make a dream come true, you’ve got to forgo silly decisions and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Overcoming Fear: No matter how old or experienced you are in business, you always have fears. My fear isn’t about failure or not being successful. I can always take care of myself and be happy. My fear is taking care of all the mouths of employees and their families that depend on this business’s success and cash flow. I guess it is like being the ‘breadwinner’ in a family. As a gay man, I’ve never had the ability to experience that until recently with marriage equality. But owning a business is like caring for a family, only it’s exponential.