I used to love my job. Love it. I worked for my favorite entertainment company in the world.
I would’ve paid to work there.
I made friends at work. And on weekends we’d even get together and play poker. Sometimes we’d even travel on vacations together.
My boss would yell at me but I could ignore him.
So I forgive you.
I loved the work I was doing. What could be better than being paid to interview prostitutes and drug dealers at three in the morning in the sleaziest most dangerous parts of New York City.
I was chased once with a knife. I once had a bottle thrown at me. I had guards at transvestite clubs chase me. And I had a lot of fun! All for money.
I will tell you what is better than that, because I can’t be so arrogant to think that nothing is better than that.
Walking on the moon is better than that. And maybe being a clown in a large circus. Or a famous street magician.
But not much else.
I always write about “ten reasons to quit your job”. Of course I still believe that. You should quit your job.
But maybe not today. Not everything is black and white.
For instance, when I daytraded for a living, many years later, there were some days when I would go to work and LOSE money.
Sometimes in the morning I was so afraid to lose more money I’d go to the Catholic Church across the street and pray to Jesus that Nasdaq futures would go up in the morning. I’m Jewish so it never worked.
That never happens at a job. At a job you go into work and they send you a check every two weeks. That’s real magic.
A lot of times people think the alternative of a job is to be an entrepreneur. That’s not true either.
An entrepreneur is someone who has a job, but it’s a job he made up all by himself. He woke up one day and said, “I’m going to make an app to connect all left-handed people on a dating site.”
And then he raised money, hired people, made an app, tried to sell the app.
An entrepreneur has a job also. But here’s the difference. In a regular job you can probably get by (maybe unhappily but still get by) forever.
But an entrepreneur has a job where there’s a well known 85% chance rate of failure.
Which would you rather take?
I don’t want people to stay at a job. But here’s several good things about having a job. We can’t ignore them.
Here’s several things to think about it. And I finish with the alternative.
A) Steady paycheck.
It might go down over time and you might get fired suddenly but for awhile, at least, it’s steady.
A lot of people have sex with people they work with. That’s a really great thing until it isn’t.
C) Chance of promotion.
I don’t know if promotion is good or bad. But for about a day or two you think, “they like me! They really really like me!”
D) Fake money.
If you rise really high at your job then it’s as if the entire company is your fake bank account. They pay for your travel, your computers, many of your dinners. They might even pay for some of your friends.
If you become the CEO of your job then people will respect you. It’s not easy to be the CEO of a big company. To be CEO of a big company I will tell you what you have to do:
a. You have to work in many divisions of the company so you know what they all do.
b. You have to build relationships with the other board members of the company so when the time is right, they pick you.
c. Go on vacations with the biggest customers so you become indispensable. It’s not such a bad thing to go on vacations
d. Build connections between the different divisions. Always be the behind the scenes guy between you, the CEO, and the other divisions. You know what happens after that? Behind the scenes becomes in front of the scenes and you are the CEO.
e. Make a lot of money for the company.
This seems hard. But it just involves signing one or two large customers or large distribution partners or launching a lot of products, one of which might become successful.
Try things long enough and you will make a lot of money for your company.
f. Always over promise and over-deliver.
Sometimes people hate that. They want to underpromise and overdeliver. Don’t do that. That’s stupid!
Most jobs are not so hard to over-promise at because for years, the employees before you have been under-promising.
And the jobs are not that hard. What…are you trying to launch a spaceship to the Moon?
Overpromise and overdeliver and you will keep getting promoted because nobody else is doing it.
F) You Can Afford to Have an Evil Plan.
When I had a job I started a company on the side. I was also trying to pitch TV shows on the side. I was doing lots of things on the side.
I was a hustler.
My bosses didn’t mind because I was overpromising and overdelivering.
I started a company in 1996. My new company took me eight hours a day at least.
But it wasn’t until August, 1997 that I left my fulltime job to join my new company.
Why did it take so long?
Because that’s how life works. You don’t start something and suddenly everything changes.
You start something, make sure it’s right, test the waters, build up, get rid of all the risks, and then make the jump.
Being an entrepreneur is NOT about taking risk, it’s about ELIMINATING all risk.
Being an entrepreneur, or having multiple sources of income is ultimately safer than having a job.
But only if you use the job to get rid of, one by one, all the risks.
Just being an entrepreneur, without having multiple sources of income, without first taking care of the risks, is suicide.
G) Be an Entre-ployee.
Maybe you like the people you work with and you like what you are doing. I wish I were you.
At a job you can do something that you can’t do elsewhere. You can LINK your financial success (or other kinds of success) to the success of the larger company.
If you can figure out how to do this, then you can stay at your job forever and watch it grow.
If you can’t figure out how to do this then you MUST QUIT. But only when eliminating risks.
I was always trying to figure out how to convince HBO to spin off new divisions or companies that maybe I could help run. It never worked out. Nobody listened to me. But I tried.
A great example is the world famous Craig Silverstein. Oh wait! You don’t know him? He’s a low-level programmer at the Khan Academy.
But before that he was the first employee ever at Google. And now he’s a billionaire.
His success was totally tied to the success of Google. Google is a search engine on the world wide web.
H) Summers are Off.
The first summer I was at a full time job it was really heaven. Most of management basically took off the summer.
Deadlines on all of our projects slowed down. My work was right by a park so I’d sit in the park all day and play chess.
When you’re an entrepreneur you don’t have summers off. You don’t even have three in the morning off. I’d wake up at three in the morning and try to calculate out how I was going to make payroll for the next six months.
It was really painful.
I) You Get to Switch Jobs.
The average American employee stays at their job for 3 years. This number is getting smaller and smaller.
People move around jobs. Get lots of experiences. Meet lots of people. Make more and more money (hopefully).
And then, when they have enough contacts and experiences they can set themselves up in a situations where they have multiple streams of income.
Maybe this means they start doing speaking gigs. Based on all of their work experiences and knowledge in an industry. Maybe it means they consult.
Maybe it means they learn new skills and now start using those skills to help other people.
Because if they have a steady paycheck they can build these side gigs over time and eventually start charging. That’s what I did TWICE. That’s what I would do today.
Don’t jump over the cliff. Have ropes and safety gear.
It doesn’t mean start “a company”. Then you are just going from one company to another.
But they start generating a lot more money from many different sources and if any one source is cut off then its not the end of the world.
It’s just an opportunity to replace that one source of money with an even bigger source.
– – –
I write a lot about reasons to quit your job. I write a lot about how life can be better elsewhere. But life is always better elsewhere. We’re nomadic mammals.
Also, many jobs are bad. The worst thing about a job is your boss. Then your co-workers. Then your pay. Then your work. Then the fact that one person can say words that turn your life upside down: “you’re fired”.
So get yourself in a situation with more of the attributes I describe in the ten reasons above.
Then it’s up to YOU to decide the right time to quit. It’s no longer up to a mysterious “Them”.
The important thing to remember is this:
Jobs as our parents knew it are dead. Income has gone down versus inflation for 40 years. People are being demoted and spending less years at a job.
View a job as just one source of income among many.
Build up your sources of income. Be creative. Write a blog. Do consulting on the side. Get more skills. Do speaking. Be an entre-ployee.
Then suddenly you won’t have “just” a job. You wont’ be an entrepreneur. You won’t have any label attached to your money.
Have your evil plan. Do it in secret. Work on it a little bit each day. 1% a day.
Stay calm. Don’t be impatient or entitled.
Then you’ll be your own person. Nobody will be your boss. There won’t be a ceiling when it’s finally time to spread your wings and fly into the sky.