I was 15 when I quit my first job. I had only been hired a week earlier, but the store manager had told me that I was doing a bad job. My job was collecting trolleys (shopping carts).
I mean, how do you even do a bad job of collecting trolleys from a carpark? I was walking around the whole place for 8 hours and bringing the red, plastic carts back from where they had been abandoned.
So I quit that day.
I’d like to say that I acted out of righteous indignation. That I stood up and told him where to stick his job, because I knew I was doing a good job. And like the defeated villain in a superhero movie, he stands back, mouth agape, totally lost for words.
But that didn’t happen. I was 15. And I resigned out of guilt and fear.
Was I really that bad?
I didn’t deserve the princely sum of $8 an hour when I was obviously doing a bad job. Did that make me a bad person? Was I sort of… stealing from them?
What could I do to earn a living if collecting trolleys was too far beyond my capabilities?
He couldn’t have been wrong. After all, he was my boss’s boss. He must have been on… $12, maybe even $13 an hour!
So I took another job. I wasn’t told that I was bad at that one, but my dislike of having a boss had already begun.
To me, a boss is someone who withholds things as a tactic to make you break your face trying to get it. Someone who tells you what you can and can’t wear. Someone who tells you when you are to arrive, when you are to leave. Someone who even tells you when you’re allowed to take a 10-minute break to shit.
I know, we’re all just supposed to just accept that as our fate in this world and get on with it, if you listen to conventional wisdom.
Fuck conventional wisdom!
It’s insane, it’s demeaning, and there has got to be a better way.
So that is part of my quest – to find the way out. At the moment, I am still working for someone, a boss. In fact, he just went out for coffee, and that’s why I’m writing this for you, in a postage-stamp-sized Firefox window that has colourful-looking spreadsheets behind it.
I want to bring others with me – those who don’t like having a boss (and I know they make up a large percentage of the working population, based on my water-cooler surveys). So I’m writing this post as much for myself as I am for you.
Multi-millionaires are an interesting group. What do these people who have clocked the game of capitalism do differently to you?
The bottle-cap fact that is bandied around the Internet more than any other is that they have, on average, 7 streams of income.
How many do you have? If you are part of the working or middle class (ie. not a multi-millionaire), chances are that you have one. Maybe two if you have investments as well as your day job.
That is terrible portfolio diversity. If your life was a business (and it is), any consultant would tell you that it is not performing optimally (and it isn’t).
But not only are you earning much less than you could be, but you are also putting all of your eggs in one basket. If your company restructures and decides that you aren’t needed anymore, what will happen to your income?
If it is your only stream of income, that’s it. You just went from whatever you were making to ZERO.
Start looking for new ways to make money. Write a blog or a book. Create YouTube videos. Freelance making graphics for businesses. Find an investment that suits your situation.
These are all ways that you can earn more money and give you more security.
Choose an area that you are passionate about
You can write a blog, book, or make videos about anything. Just yesterday I saw a blog that some truck driver had made about trucking in their state in the US.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you are passionate about it. That is the key ingredient.
I couldn’t write about what I do for a day job. It’s not a dull industry, in fact, it is quite revolutionary. But I am not passionate about it anymore. That’s why I don’t write about it. I’m moving on to my new passion, which is writing.
If you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, think about the things that make you feel excited. If nothing makes you feel excited, think about what made you excited when you were a child. That can be a good place to start.
Let’s say you are in the top 10,000 people in the world in terms of football strategy knowledge, and you also have good writing skills. If you pursue either of these individually, such as being a football coach, or becoming a generic writer, you might make a living.
But if you really want to maximize your chances of success, why not write about football? You have just taken two things that you are pretty good at, and become a top 100, maybe a top 10 expert in the world at writing books about football strategy. The top 100 in the world at almost anything make a living.
James Altucher calls this idea sex. You take two seemingly different things and breed them, then become the master of the hybrid.
So don’t limit yourself to just one niche – diversify!
I originally planned to write a blog about driving and have a separate one for philosophy. But there’s no harm in blending things – that’s your point of difference. It is what will make your product stand out from the piles of others.
That’s why I talk about so many things that, on the surface, aren’t related at all. But they are related, and their common connection is me.
The basic concept of capitalism is that the market rewards value. If you are highly competent in a field that is in demand, you will make a lot of money. If you are unskilled and just left high school, you will push trolleys around a carpark for minimum wage.
It’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is.
Pushing trolleys just isn’t a valuable role. Yes, it’s an essential service, but you don’t need any particular knowledge or experience to do it. That means that there are a lot of people who could do it, so as competition for jobs like that rises, the paying rate falls.
But an open-heart surgeon needs a lot more skills and experience to perform his role. He may only be up against 2 or 3 other people for a job, so since there are fewer candidates, the perceived value, and hence the salary, is much higher.
The good news is that you don’t have to go to medical school (or any university, for that matter) to learn essential skills that add value.
Just look for pain points that people and businesses have, and find a way to address them. That is the premise of entrepreneurship in a nutshell.
So how do you translate your skills into fixing pain points?
You know what you are good at, and you know what you are passionate about. Make a list of each, and start matching them up. If you are good at 10 things and passionate about 10 things, then that is 100 possible combinations! They won’t all be good, but start playing with them. See what ones can genuinely resolve pain points for people or businesses.
One of them is bound to be a winner. And chances are, you will be one of only a few people worldwide playing in that niche market. Thus, you have reduced your field of competitors, and like the open-heart surgeon, you are now a specialist who is adding value in a market where no one else is playing.
Market and receive
You could have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, it isn’t adding value. And in turn, it won’t make you money.
That’s why you need to market your product. If you have a blog, or a book, or a new YouTube channel, find a community that already exists in your niche and start contributing to discussions.
I know, marketing is boring. But you don’t need to become a salesman, because if you product is of value, it will sell itself. You just need to be a suggester – someone who links a member of one of those communities who has a pain point back to your website, and if you have created value for them, they will share the message, and possibly buy a premium product that you offer, such as 1 on 1 coaching, or an online course.
Word of mouth is worth much more than SEO. That’s why I haven’t spent much time trying to optimize where my blog appears in search results. To me, SEO is a desperate, uncreative measure to get traffic.
I would rather immerse myself in communities of like-minded people and add some value. The referrals just keep going, because if that first person tells 10 people, and they each tell 10 people, and so on, the referrals exponentially compound. Better than that, it comes with a personal recommendation from someone else, rather than from the impersonal shell of Google. No offense, Google.
Once you have the above sorted out, you need to create channels to receive. You have given value, and as per the law of capitalism, you will receive. But only if you allow it.
It’s strange. I have been reading messages on forums by other bloggers who feel guilty about making money from doing what they love.
“It doesn’t feel like I’ve worked hard enough for people to give me money.”
That’s your conditioning talking. The boss who told you that you need to work harder in order to be worthy of receiving.
But you don’t need to work harder. Just create value for others, however that looks for you. Whether it is ads on your high-traffic blog or personal coaching, there are always channels.
But this isn’t financial advice. These are just ideas that I am trying out. So I don’t know that they work. I’ll let you know in a year or two.