Making Shitloads of Money

Never before have individuals and teams had the power to create so much value in short periods of time.

A beautiful example of this is early adaptors of Ethereum. Two years ago today, Ether (the Ethereum token) was $0.90/Ether today. It is $325/Ether today. If you bought $1000, you would have profited more than $350,000 in two years. And many people did.

In the past, it was old rich folks who had the capital and connections to make that much money in short periods of time. Now it is anyone who is smart and has an internet connection.

A sizeable number of nerdy teenagers have earned retirement level incomes over the course of a couple years from their interest in cryptocurrency.

But the opportunity to make a shitload of money extends much further than bets on cryptocurrencies. Entrepreneurial insight and hard work have allowed young entrepreneurs around the world to create generational wealth in short periods of time.

A recent example was the founding team of the social media app tbh, which Facebook acquired for somewhere under, but close to $100 Million. The founding team is joining Facebook and made professional athlete level incomes for the one year that they had been working on the app so far.

These stories are still rare and outliers, but they are becoming more and more common. And the publicized stories of new young deca-millionaires are the tip of an iceberg of wealth creation. For every one person who had millions off crypto investments, there are thousands more that made tens of thousands of dollars.

For every $50 or $100 million startup exit, there are thousands of entrepreneurial side-hustlers who are doubling their annual incomes in new and novel ways.

This is interesting and exciting, but what does it mean?

It means that we need to fundamentally change how we view creating a career and generating personal income.

In the past, you approached your career in a linear way. You would try and move up from role to role, gaining more status and more income as you go. The best predictor of how much money you would make next year was how much money you made last year.

The old pathway to making ten million dollars was a slow climb in annual income.

Now, the goal is to put yourself in a position where you gain the skills and connections to improve your chances of a massively positive outcome.

Instead of taking on promotions and roles at new companies because of the increase in annual income, you should view opportunities through the lens of how they relate to your chances of having a large positive outcome.

Through this new lens, your title, specific responsibilities, and income are much less important than the project you are working on, the people you are working with, and where you are doing that work (The community the work put’s you, which you may or may not physically be in).

The new path to making $10 million is likely working on a number of failed startups, investing effort and time in projects that may not work out, but leave you with skills and connections that eventually lead to you making $10M in one year.

In a world where the right people, willing to work hard on the right idea, can create massive amounts of wealth the thought of investing any significant time, energy, or anxiety about marginal increases in your salary is ridiculous.

Instead of worrying about getting a $5000 raise this year, make enough to support yourself, but focus on making $10 million ten years from now.

Gaining Perspective

It’s easy to get frustrated when a situation doesn’t go your way.

Whether it is a lead that doesn’t buy your product or a client that is doing something unexpected, the natural reaction is to feel frustrated.

From your perspective, you can see a better way. Events could have gone differently and a whole lot smoother. But they didn’t and now you are left with a challenge that makes your life more difficult.

It’s easy to externalize this feeling of frustration. To place blame on people other than you, whose actions could have made your life easier. It’s easy, but it is unproductive.

In these situations when you start to feel frustrated about the current course of events, the way forward is to step back and gain perspective. To depersonalize the situation.

Instead of being stuck in the first person and being frustrated by the challenges you are now facing, you can choose to see your situation in the third person. You can view the challenge as an obstacle in a heroic tale. You can see yourself as the hero in a movie, a story, or a video game, and accept the obstacles that lye in front of you.

And of course, there are obstacles. It would be terribly boring without them. You would have no opportunities to grow and gain power if everything was smooth sailing. If you customer did exactly what you wanted them to do, you would have no opportunity to improve your skills in communication and persuasion.

When the short term is less challenging, the long-term is less prosperous.

When you take the mental step back and gain perspective the challenges become a lot less frustrating and a lot more fun. They become puzzles to crack instead of roadblocks slowing you down. They become a critical part of what makes your life interesting and what makes your current situation a valuable experience.

Making Good Decisions

Most people approach most decisions as win-lose situations. Win if you pick the best option and lose if you don’t. It’s as if every decision they make is a carnival game with cosmic consequences.

The reality is that our lives are full of good options and as long as we decide and keep moving forward we are likely to find good outcomes.

A great example of this is the way people feel about buying cars. In the big picture, whether you pay $34,000 or $30,000 for your car makes little difference. But if you and a friend just bought the same truck and you find out you paid $4,000 more you will likely feel terrible. The happiness of the new purchase disappears and you feel like a loser.

This win-lose mindset paralyzes us. It takes up energy and time and makes us unhappy.

We are incredibly lucky to live in a world where we have amazing options. Whether it is where you live, what you do for work, where you go on vacation when you start a family or almost anything else in your life there is no one right decision. There are certainly decisions that will lead you closer to outcomes you would prefer, but with big life decisions, like taking jobs or moving, there will always be an element of the unknown.

The best way to approach those situations is not to think longer, harder, or to waste paper on pro and con lists. But, instead to trust the context you have put yourself in and remember that even if another route could have hypothetically turned out better, you will never know for sure. You will only ever know the timeline you are on and the timeline you are on will likely turn out well.

One Month in Mexico City

There are more than 20 million people living in and around Mexico City. So outside of Tokyo and Shanghai, it is the biggest city I’ve ever been to. But even with its massive size, it is easy to forget that you are in a mega-city. In most neighborhoods, the buildings are smaller and more of a fit for humans (you don’t lose sight of the sky in a sea skyscrapers).

From traveling Asia over the past year and now spending time in Mexico City, it is clear to me how much the internet has affected culture around the world. Obviously, in Mexico, most people speak Spanish and signs are in Spanish, but when you walk around many of the neighborhoods and see the businesses and people around you, it’s easy to imagine thinking that you are in New York or San Fransisco or Austin. The same is true of many of the cities we spent time in Asia.

Different language, different ethnicity, but commercially and culturally (for young people) things are very similar. You can take Uber and order food on Uber eats. You can find hipster cafes, good lattes, burritos, and gluten-free bakeries. You can watch Game of Thrones (or Juego de Trones) and the latest blockbuster movie. 

Old Rules vs. New Rules

We are at the intersection between two aims for life. Two different goals that people build their lives towards. The old way approach to a life’s work and career was optimizing for survival. The new approach is optimizing for meaning (fulfillment, happiness, purpose).

Driving the change is technological advances that make a good life less and less costly. If you aren’t focused on keeping up with the Jones’ you can travel and live well for relatively much less than ever before. At the same time, it dramatically increases your ability to create wealth in a very short period of time with much more freedom.

The old approach was the differed life plan. Make money doing something you may or may not like, save your money in a 401k, and eventually retire. Don’t invest your money in living a good life now, secure yourself for the future.

The new approach is to build a life and career that you never want to retire from. That could mean investing long hours in building a business you love or it could mean learning a valuable skill that you can use to freelance and work on something you care more about in your extra free time.

Old rules optimize for survival. New rules optimize for meaning. 

The old way of thinking was terrified of reaching 70 and not being able to afford a condo in Mexico. The new way of thinking is terrified of reaching 70 and feeling that you have wasted your life.

Self-Motivation and Commitment

When we decide that we want to make a change in our lives–exercise, a side hustle, improving at work–we assume that we need to get motivated to make it happen.

We take on the idea that we need to motivate ourselves continually to do whatever it is we want to do.

This is why it is so common to hear people say, “I just can’t get motivated to…” They assume that if they wake up in the morning and don’t feel like doing something, that the first thing they need to do is make themselves “motivated.”

When you accept this worldview, you look around at people who work extremely hard and achieve large-scale success, and it appears unattainable.

But that view of the world is a lie. To achieve something, you don’t have to get motivated, you have to get committed.

Most of us grow up trained in a system of external commitment by obligation. You do your school work to avoid negative consequences from parents and the teacher. You do your work to avoid the negative consequence of being fired.

These commitments are usually imposed upon us. We don’t consciously choose them, so they likely won’t lead us to achieve our goals or get better than average results.

To do something big in your life, to achieve something better than normal, you have to consciously choose to take on commitments that force you to be greater than you currently are. You find a destination you want to go and then create your motivation by committing to it.

For someone who wants to start a business, this could mean committing to posting daily about your business efforts on Facebook. This small-scale commitment creates massive social pressure to achieve your goal.

For someone who wants to run events, this could mean creating the marketing and selling tickets as a first step, so you are forced to follow through.

For someone, who wants to be an entrepreneur the first step could be taking a job at a startup that forces you to grow and develop and helps you learn fundamental business skills.

No matter what you do, you are going to wake up some days and not want to do it. To achieve anything you have to find a way to motivate yourself to get up and get to work.

If you find that you are having a hard time getting to work, the solution isn’t to soul search and wait around–Motivation is a side effect of our commitments and vision for the future–it is creating commitments to ourselves and others that help us get to work even when we would rather be sleeping.

 

 

 

Commitment is Key

It’s cliche to say that there is no secret to success. People write and talk about it all the time. Eyes glaze over reading it. But it is cliche for a reason. It is a simple but incredibly powerful insight that most people don’t grasp on some level.

When you do understand it though, the way you see the world changes. You realize that there are no tips, tricks, or hacks that will ultimately take you where you want to go. There is no secret recipe. People who have developed amazing skill and power didn’t use secrets to get there, they made it with commitment.

I’ve written before about Dan Sullivan’s 4 steps to a breakthrough framework:

  1. Commitment
  2. Courage
  3. Capability
  4. Confidence

The Fish That Ate the Whale | Notes & Quotes

“Sam’s defining characteristic was his belief in his own agency, his refusal to despair. No story is without the possibility of redemption; with cleverness and hustle, the worst can be overcome. I can’t help but feel, after all the talk of America’s decline, that we would do well by emulating Sam Zemurray—not the brutality or the conquest, but the righteous anger that sent the striver into the boardroom of laughing elites, waving his proxies, shouting, “You gentlemen have been fucking up this business long enough. I’m going to straighten it out.””

The Fish That Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen is a biography of Samuel Zemurray. A Russian immigrant who built an empire in the banana trade.

Key takeaway:

Zemurray started as an immigrant hustler. He worked lot’s of jobs in his youth and learned how to sell. Eventually, he saw an opportunity that he could capitalize on and took it. He invested all his money in buying ripe banana’s and betting that he could sell them before they went bad. He was right.

He didn’t build a banana empire with focus groups or angel investors. He was simply always aware of opportunities that he could capitalize on and bet on himself. He took it one step (or banana) at a time.

This book also gives you fascinating insight into the story of how a few entrepreneurs turned the banana from an exotic fruit at the start of the 20th century into a low-cost staple food only a few decades later.

Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield | Notes & Quotes

Turning Pro is the follow-up from Steven Pressfield to The War of Art. If you’re pursuing something big in your life it is a great source of fuel and inspiration to take your game to the next level.

Key Takeaway:

Commitment is king. Tips, tricks, and hacks are minor details that may help you get where you are going faster, but without a deep long-term commitment, you aren’t going to achieve anything significant. The analogy between pro and amateur is a powerful lens to look at your own life and realize where you are not committed to getting what you want. The secret formula to success is to wake up every single day and go to work on your craft.

Below are some of my favorite quotes and thoughts from reading.

“Turning pro is free, but it’s not without cost. When we turn pro, we give up a life with which we may have become extremely comfortable. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own. We may have to give up friends, lovers, even spouses.”

Making a change means giving into a process of self-transformation. You make a commitment to do something before you have the capability and confidence to do it, but with the force of your commitment, you will eventually gain capability and confidence.

Making a commitment to improving, means leaving part of yourself behind, often part that you deeply identify with.

Introducing: Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown

I’m excited to release the first season of the Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown!

Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows, so with the seventh season approaching, I decided I wanted to do something extra.

There are a million Game of Thrones recap podcasts and YouTube channels, but none focused on talking through the philosophy and ethical dilemmas that come up in the show. So I reached out to my good friend James Walpole and asked if he was up to do a weekly podcast breaking down each episode.

Each Monday during the summer we linked up and talked out some of the most interesting moments and ethical dilemmas that come up in the show.

From revenge to the Red God we hit on a TON of different questions. Some a lot more uncomfortable than others.

Now they are all online and available for your listening pleasure!