Monday, October 02, 2017
Without sounding like a completely spoiled, arrogant asshole, the largest hurdle I face in my life is what I like to call "The Impossible Trifecta." This "Impossible Trifecta" includes an individual who;
1. Has the time
2. Has the money
3. Has the stamina
to keep up with me.
Nobody to date does.
And at best, people have at most two out of the three.
You have an old man who is retired, has the time, has the money, but doesn't have the stamina to ride motorcycles across the Alaska highway.
You have a young lady who has the stamina and the money, but doesn't have the time to take off from work to go on a three week western adventure.
Or you have a young man who has the stamina and the time, but is unemployed and thus cannot afford to make it west of the Mississippi.
Only VERY rarely do I cross paths with a like-minded and equally-abled digital nomad soul, and usually it's atop mountain tops or in the remote hinterlands of Moab.
But during my latest adventure across the American West I had an epiphany. And it is one that is of ultimate importance for it defines what every man and woman should be aiming for in life. And not only is it what we should be aiming for, it debunks what society, the school system, and media have brainwashed us into think it should be.
"Wealth" or (in simpler terms) enough money to satisfy all our Earthly desires, needs, and wants has been every human's key life pursuit since time immemorial. Our immediate goal in life is to sustain our own lives, immediately followed by further securing our future lives through the amassing of enough wealth we no longer need to work. This goal of being "independently wealth" or in more modern parlance "fuck you money" has been at the foremost goal of every human in history. Historically, this has been a challenge where 99.999% of the humans have failed, working till death, dying penniless, or perhaps even dying in debt. It was only a rare occasion, reserved for kings, warlords, and modern day entrepreneurs, where enough wealth was amassed where you would be "set for life" and could then truly enjoy life, free of work, toil, and labor.
But today, especially for smart people who know the benefits of frugality, spartan living and minimalism, modern technology and advances in capitalism have made it so most people needn't become "millionaires" to achieve the nirvana of "independent wealth." Food, for instance, is effectively free, whereas in the past hunger was the number one scourge that plagued humanity. Clothing, which until the 1950's consumed nearly 20% of a household budget, is free (especially for un-choosy bachelors) who are willing to shop at Wal-Mart of Goodwill. Fuel and transportation is increasingly becoming moot, especially if your profession is digital/online. And unless you insist on living in a McMansion to keep up with the Jonses, a small studio apartment, or even a cheap flat in Cambodia, is more than adequate a place to rest your head and house some key belongings. In other words, the goal of humanity is easily within reach of those willing to major in the right subject, spend within their means, not have children they can't afford and otherwise just plain simply "not fuck up."
The problem is - tell the rest of society that.
While regular readers of this site are already familiar with the benefits of frugality and minimalism, the majority of people, western civilization or not, are completely and hopelessly brainwashed to think "wealth" means billionaire like status with bling, bitches, yachts, and Lamborghini's. Be it the dude bro frat boy who dedicates his life to becoming an analyst at Wall Street, or the Silicon Valley Virgin who gets his $150,000 a year job at Facebook, the inner city black girl who blows her check on weaves and brand name jeans, or even the desperate middle aged bankers who lease vehicles to maintain the Winnetka/American Beauty lifestyle facade, all of them think "wealthy" is at least 10 million dollars in the bank, if not a billion, all defined by the luxury items media and marketing has told them is the epitome of "wealthy.". And thus they dedicate their entire lives to get this "faux wealth," whether they can successfully amass the money to afford said luxuries, or cheat by borrowing the money to make it look like they can.
But while my regular readers are smarter than the average bear, there is a trap set forth in this pursuit of wealth and "fuck you money." Not that you guys would waste your wealth on sports cars or unnecessary McMansions, but the means by which one attains wealth, independence, and true freedom - entrepreneurship - can lead to a ruinous life even if your entrepreneurial venture is successful. And it is here the important lesson of looking "beyond wealth" lies.
Take, for example, three people.
One, Marissa Mayer, the formerly disgraced CEO of Yahoo.
Two, a colleague of mine who runs a "real" company.
And three, the ole humble Captain himself.
Marissa Mayer is 100%, completely successful and wealthy. She got a $186 million bailout for her retirement package when Verizon mercifully ended Yahoo's existence through an acquisition. You would think that with a new child and enough money to last her EASILY till her death she would retire forever and spend the time with her family, eating caviar all along the way.
She has been successfully brainwashed to value work, labor, toil, and her career more than her own life and her own child. She can't want to get back to working as a CEO. Admittedly, she isn't an entrepreneur, but for those of you who are going to go the "loyal corporate man" route, hoping to amass your fuck you fund through a hard-working corporate career, remember you inevitably have to LEAVE THE CAREER. If (for whatever insane reason) I wanted to invite Ms. Mayer out on a month long Cappy-Motorcycle-Extravaganza, she easily has the money and stamina, but she simply does not have the time. She's too busy with her career to go an actually enjoy life, let alone raise her own child.
Then there is my colleague who runs a real company.
This company is real in that it has employees, payroll, divisions, assets, depreciation schedules, marketing departments and legal departments. It is a complex, complicated machine, that when ran correctly, results in handsome profits for my friend.
The problem is, though self-employed, my buddy has no free time whatsoever.
In the company having so many moving parts it is as complicated, and thus prone to breaking down, as a Tiger Tank. If it's not accounts payable, it's accounts receivable. If it's not insurance, its regulation. If it's not an employee, it's a piece of machinery. And if it's not a break in the supply chain, it's a legal issue. My friend does not manage the company as much as he does put out fires and deal with problems. It's not only mentally taxing, but he has no free time, nor energy to go out and participate in said theoretical "Cappy Cap's American West Motorcycle Hiking Adventuring Extravaganza."
Then there's the ole Captain himself.
My business model is very simple - a man and his laptop.
I have no employees.
I have no accounts receivable.
I have no divisions or legal departments.
I just have products I sell and consulting I offer, and an Amazon Affiliate program if you care to make some purchases.
My entrepreneurial venture is not only as simple as a P-51 Mustang, it's mobile, versatile, and allows me to work from anywhere. And while admittedly a fair amount of this was not by design, but unintentional, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate or realize the incredible benefits of its simplicity.
So yes, I do not make the millions my friend does.
And yes, I do not have the millions Marissa Mayer does.
But bar an unexpectedly short life expectancy, I am going to live the same 79 years they are going to, but with a fraction of my life wasted at work.
And this is the key point of looking beyond wealth.
Once you have food, clothing, and shelter covered, the primary focus of your life should be freedom. Specifically, maximizing the amount of free time you have to yourself, allowing you to live the maximum amount of your time on this planet the way you want.
You should not be a mentally deranged Marissa Mayer, Hillary Clinton, or Cheryl Sandberg dedicating your life to an office, a commute, a position, an MBA, or work.
You should not be my friend, held hostage by an overly complicated entrepreneurial venture.
You should be a minimalist, with a simple, though reliable source of income that can be done from anywhere, permitting you the freedom and budget to pull off "The Impossible Trifecta." And your biggest problem should be finding people you can enjoy in life, who you'd like to come tag along in your own adventures in life.
The key is when choosing an entrepreneurial venture is to ensure it pays enough, but is also versatile enough that it allows you to enjoy life "beyond wealth." Because whether you have $1 million or $10 billion, it won't matter if you're stuck in an office and can't join "Cappy's Drunk Rowdy Motorcycling Hiking Brigade Vegas Extravaganza 2018," make paper airplanes with your kid, or bang your hot wife while watching Spaghetti Westerns.
Aaron Clarey is an economist and author. You should buy his books. You should also consult him if you have any questions. And you should tune into his podcast to hear him rant and rave.