In today's Parade magazine: Merrimack's Mike Banks chasing his dreamBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Sunday News Correspondent March 09. 2013 9:20PM
MERRIMACK - For people working the daily grind to make ends meet, the thought of multimillion dollar salaries earned by celebrities Tom Brady, Brad Pitt or Adele may seem like a slap in the face.
But for one local man trying to make a living the best way he knows how, those hefty earnings by Hollywood celebrities often flashed on the front of tabloids have become a motivation rather than a deterrent.
Mike Banks of Merrimack, a 39-year-old insurance salesman who earns $35,000 a year, is proud of his work ethic. He is the only New Hampshire resident to be featured in this week's PARADE magazine's What People Earn edition.
"Obviously, my job doesn't pay all that well. We just scrape by, and we definitely aren't driving a BMW," said Banks. "I guess if I made a million dollars, I would probably be a little happier."
But joy is in the eye of the beholder, according to Banks, who says people have to make their own happiness by going after what really inspires them.
About three years ago, Banks graduated from college and moved from Michigan to New Hampshire, searching for a better opportunity for his wife and son, now 7.
"It has been a struggle," says Banks. "We quit the jobs we had, and we walked away from jobs that we couldn't stand any longer."
His first employment opportunity in New Hampshire was making cold calls for Aflac. Following that job, he took his current salesman position at Life Solutions Group in Massachusetts.
"But that is only to pay the bills," says Banks. "My heart has always been aimed at having my own business and doing my own thing. So, if we can't find the ideal jobs, we decided to create them."
Banks, who has a degree in marketing, decided to join forces with his creative and artistic wife, Jenya, to pursue a new career path.
For the past several months, Banks has been spending his spare time talking to venture capitalists throughout New England about his idea for a new mobile app that connects people with similar interests face-to-face with real-time encounters.
Hypnotic Rhythm LLC is now building a simple mobile app for the Banks family that instantly connects neighbors, employees and service providers with similar interests. While digital connections are beneficial, the Banks say they shouldn't replace face-to-face communication.
NX2U, or next to you, is an app tool that connects people with similar interests as they pass by the street, wait in line at the grocery store or share an elevator.
Banks' idea may be his ticket to a better life for his family, or at least offer him better opportunities in the future, he said.
"If we keep down this path, it will change our life. It may not be tomorrow or the next day, but our time will come," Banks said on Friday, promoting his Facebook page at facebook.com/nx2uapp.
When comparing his $35,000 annual salary to that earned by singer Adele - about $32 million at the age of 24 - Banks said it is stories like hers that make him want to succeed even more.
"Adele was told that because of her looks or because her voice was too scratchy that she might not make it, but she didn't listen to any of them. She persevered anyway," said Banks. "We are trying very hard to be stubborn and pig-headed like she was. We have no Plan B."
Actress Anne Hathaway earns about $10 million a year at the age of 30, Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas took home about $10 million at just 17 and singer Justin Bieber earns about $55 million a year, according to PARADE's website.
All of these people followed their passion, said Banks, who doesn't mind having his salary posted alongside the annual earnings of Brady ($23 million), Channing Tatum ($15 million) or Paula Deen ($16.5 million).
"While they might seem overpaid, they followed their dreams and overcame their own obstacles. The sky is the limit for anyone who is brave enough to go after what they really want to do," said Banks.