This Isn’t a Phase… This is the Future
One of the biggest misconceptions I run into when talking to people about what I do and how I live my life that it is some kind of phase that I am going through.
When I explain how I live my life, by building businesses and investing from my computer while traveling around, I often can see this misconception in the way the person talks to me.
Their tone and the slight phrases they say show their true thoughts:
“That’s a pretty cool way to spend your 20’s.”
“Nice! I bet learning all those skills will help you get a pretty awesome job later on.”
Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having a job, my problem is is that a lot of people think that is the only path. All roads lead to a job!
I don’t think these attitudes come from a place of malice. I don’t think there is any attempt to put me and my plans down. I don’t think these people are thinking, “Casey’s not too bright… he’ll eventually need to work for someone else.”
What I really think it comes down to is that most people today are operating on outdated life scripts.
You May Be Playing by an Outdated Rule Book
We have these social scripts that are handed to us by our parents, teachers, and peers. We get told “Here. This is how you live.”
We are handed these scripts because people love us and care for us. We are told to go to college and find a good job to work in because that’s what worked for our parents and teachers.
When they were growing up, that’s what their parents and teachers told them as well.
What this means is that a lot of us are trying to live by scripts that were written in the early 1900’s… when you say that out loud it sounds absurd, but then why do so many of us try to stick with these scripts? Because they’re ingrained in us.
It’s our parent’s and teachers’ jobs to make sure we live a good life. They want to teach us everything they know. What’s worked for them, what’s worked for their friends, what their parent’s told them… they want us to be successful.
This is great and it’s a part of what makes us human. To raise children and teach them how to live.
The only problem with this is that the world we live in now is radically different than it was even 30 years ago.
What worked 30 years ago may not work today. Simply graduating college doesn’t guarantee you a job like it used to. Getting in at the ground floor of a company now doesn’t equal working your way up the corporate ladder and retiring with a golden watch.
We live in a job market that’s saturated. People say the college degree is like the high school degree was. You need it to find any work at all.
What’s an even broader showing of this is that since 2000, our population is growing times faster than jobs… for the first time ever. And it’s significant at 2.4x.
The average time of millennial at companies now is 4.4 years.
Did you parent’s have to deal with a saturated job market? No. Up until 2000, jobs grew 1.7x faster than the population.
Then how is following the script that worked for them going to lead to success?
Did your parent’s have to find work in a time when even complex jobs could be outsourced to another country for half the price? No.
Did your parent’s have to deal with being replaced with robots and software at work? No
So how do you expect to see the world clearly when you’re wearing glasses from 30 years ago?
The problem is, outside of a normal person’s life today, where are they supposed to get an upgraded script?
At home, their parent’s are telling them what worked for them 30 years ago.
At school, teachers are telling them what worked for them 30 years ago.
Outside of home and school, what kind of information are people taking in? Typically sports, pop culture, or news…
The only one out of those that would make people feel “up-to-date” is news. But when do our news stations actually investigate how to live?
This is why I don’t blame people at all for thinking I’m in some phase for being entrepreneurial, being a minimalist, and traveling a lot… because they are reading from a script that was written before they were born, and before the internet.
The only way to start pulling back the cover and seeing the world for what it is now, you have to literally go out of your way to start learning from new sources.
Once you start to investigate, you start to realize that the world is way different that what your parent’s told you… and that’s scary.
It’s terrifying that getting a college degree (and on average going $29,000 into debt to do so) doesn’t guarantee you a job.
It’s terrifying to know that you’re no longer competing against other people just in your city for jobs, but the rest of the world.
It’s terrifying to know that you aren’t only competing against a global pool of candidates, but software and hardware.
So what do we do as humans when we’re scared shitless? We run back to what comforts us. Why? Because it’s built into being a human… it helped us survive as a species.
Avoid scary things, because they are dangerous and may kill you. Stick with the pack. You’re safe when you’re with the pack.
So it’s completely understandable to stick with the pack and see anything outside of it as abnormal… just a weird phase that will end.
So if you start to see that the roadmap you’ve been given from your parents is a little out of date, what’s the next step?
Probably start looking for a new roadmap.
The Internet and the Rise of the New Rich
Building a new roadmap takes time because you really have to start asking yourself what you want your life to be and what the world will look like in the future.
With the rise of the internet and a global economy, designing your own life has never been easier.
One of the first paradigm shifts I ever had when starting to build my new roadmap came from Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week. In the book, he defines the New Rich.
This then takes you to the step of what does it mean to be rich? What currency are you measuring this by?
This is where my mind was changed forever. Because of the era we live in now, it’s become better to look at currency as having three components rather than just one.
The New Rich’s currency includes money, as the old rich’s currency does. But now we can factor in freedom of time and freedom of location.
So to measure someone’s net worth is actually looking at 3 areas now. Money, Time, and freedom of location.
Do you have a lot of money, but don’t get to control your time or location? In my book, you’re not very rich.
To control your time and location doesn’t mean to only work 4 hours a week and continuously travel.
It simply means, how much of your time do you get to control? You could only work 20 hours a week, but if you get no choice of what you do during those 20 hours, then that would make you lower in the currency of time.
I would estimate that I am probably working 40 to 60 hour weeks… it’s hard to measure since work is so much a part of my life. But I get to make a decision every day of what I do during those work hours.
Along with that, freedom of location doesn’t mean that you have to travel the world. It simply means, do you get to choose where you are?
Do you get to work from your favorite coffee shop, a cool office, or do you commute everyday to SODO in Seattle and work in a windowless cubical under florescent lights in a warehouse where the heat is broken so you have to wear long underwear every day during the winter and never see the sun because it’s dark when you get to work and dark when you leave?
Once you start looking at currency in this form, you start to see a new path. A path that your parent’s script didn’t tell you about.
So you start to unearth this next path… but that doesn’t mean that starting your own business or being entrepreneurial is the answer for you.
But Won’t I Need Job Security Later?
This all still doesn’t explain that why my entrepreneurial journey isn’t some phase. So what if I travel around and start my own businesses… I will probably still need a job for security when I have a family right?
Well, we should probably look at a few differences between starting your own business and working in someone else’s.
When you work in someone else’s business, you don’t get to build an asset in that business. You are working and getting paid for your work. If you stop working, you stop getting paid.
If you decide to move on or the company gets sold, you walk away with maybe a severance package.
Now let’s look at some of the things that go into starting your own business, which is similar to my article on assets vs jobs.
When you start your own business, whether it be a small website that makes money from advertising, an e-commerce business, or selling software — we’ll use the term business for all of them — you begin to build an asset.
When you work, you not only make money, but you are building an asset… and if you build it well, it’s a business that can keep cruising even when you’re not working.
And then, if you decide to move on from that business, you get to sell it. And to put this in perspective, online businesses sell for 20 to 35x their monthly revenue.
This means that if you had an online business that sold widgets, and your monthly revenue was $5,000 a month, you could sell that online business for $100,000 to $175,000.
That’s a little different than the severance package you would have gotten at a job.
So am I in a phase? No, not really, since I know how to build online businesses. I know how to build and leverage my skills into lasting wealth.
However, I’d like to note that I’m not on the pursuit to get rich. The exact number in my bank account doesn’t really matter. What I am on the pursuit for is freedom and security. I want the security to know that I will be able to always provide myself the life that I want.
And it turns out the life that I want isn’t very expensive actually… the most expensive things would be shopping only at farmer’s markets. Other than that, I’m not one to want fancy, luxurious things.
Isn’t Entrepreneurship for Security an Oxymoron?
You may also find it interesting that I am pursuing entrepreneurship for the security. That may sound almost like an oxymoron, but it’s not. If you look at the economic trends of the last ten years, combined with emerging technologies, it appears that actually having one job that you rely on is where the risk truly lies.
Automation and outsourcing are eating away the jobs we tend to look at as secure. Google has road tested their driverless cars with over 1 Million Miles and haven’t had an accident caused by their car.
How many jobs in the US are based in the transportation industry? 3 Million.
That’s just one instance, and if you look across the board, it’s similar stories.
Manufacturing jobs are being replaced by robots. McDonald’s can look forward to being replaced by touch screens.
However, it’s not just blue collar, lower wage jobs. It turns out actually that white collar jobs are almost easier to replace than blue collar jobs.
At least lower wage jobs have personal interactions to deal with and human dexterity, but if a software program can automate my bookkeeper for 1/10th the price, bookkeepers better be careful about how they are viewing the future of their career.
Anthony Jenkins, who was the CEO at Barclay’s, bank estimates that the banking industry will reduce its headcount by 50% (!) over the next 10 years due to automation and new technology. And in the same week he made that statement Lloyds announced their $2.4 Billion investment into automating as much of their company as possible.
You can already see it happening.
Where do I invest my money at? In a mutual fund managed by a human? No. I invest it in Betterment so I get the lowest rates possible since it’s a mostly software based investment platform.
Do I call up my stock broker to buy stocks? No. I buy and trade them for free using the Robbin Hood app on my iPhone.
Lack of job security is only half the reason entrepreneurship (in whatever any sense you take that as) is becoming more and more secure.
I’m Not Smart, Things are just Easier
The reason it’s easier than ever to start your own venture is because of the internet and online marketing.
At the heart of this, is Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 true fans rule. All you need for a sustainable business of any kind at all is 1,000 true fans.
1,000 fans that will buy anything you put out. Whether you made artisan dog treat, paint pictures of people painting pictures, or write short stories. If you can find 1,000 people out of the 7 billion in the world who will buy anything you put out, then you’ve got yourself a successful business.
For example, let’s say you’re an artist who lives in Boise, ID and like to do screen printing.
If you’re good enough and / or have good marketing (think of how much art work makes no sense, but people love it anyways… that’s marketing) you can get your artwork into three local stores and sell a bit on your online store.
Boise has about 300,000 people there… the chances of you finding 1,000 of them who will buy any of your stuff seems pretty good. Let’s add on top of that selling on Amazon and Etsy, since they are both platforms that sell art.
We’ll now your market just massively grew. You’re chances of finding 1,000 true fans massively grow.
Now let’s say you put out $75 worth of new screen prints every year, three pieces of art for $25 each. That means you’ll have a $75,000 business every year, for doing three screen prints per year.
Want to make more money than that? Put out more work, raise your prices, or find more true fans through marketing.
All this comes down to is being able to provide enough value to at least 1,000 people in the world that they will pay you for it.
Doesn’t seem so risky, does it?
However, the skill of online marketing may seem like a tough hurdle to get over to find your 1,000 true fans. Well fortunately for all of us, the internet makes this extremely easy. That’s how almost every successful entrepreneur we know got started learning about online marketing and business.
None of us really knew how to run Facebook Ads until we read about it online. None of us really knew about setting up online sales funnels until we read about it online.
Entrepreneurship isn’t the risky move anymore. It’s the secure move.
If you’re specialized at one job and don’t have a skill set outside of that, you better be sure that that job will be around in 10 years.
I would like to point out that this isn’t a call to abandon ship on your $70K engineering job and start a website. I am just saying people need to see the forest through the trees.
We aren’t living in our parent’s world anymore, and if we expect to be, then we’re no better than turkey’s right before Thanksgiving,
This nice guy has always fed me and treated me well, so it’ll probably stay like that forever.
That’s why me working from my computer and being entrepreneurial isn’t a phase. That’s why I see the comments I listed above as not malicious but misplaced.
Yes, I will eventually stop traveling less and want to stay in one city for longer. Yes, I will probably one day own two pairs of pants and more than 3 t-shirts. But I’m not going to settle in and work in a cubical. I’m not going to eventually have to close up shop and “get a real job.”
Well, who knows… I may never own more than one pair of pants. Seems like an unnecessary luxury.