Once upon a time there was a guy named Bob. Bob studied hard in school. Because Bob was so fastidious, he did very well in school, and got great grades. He got into really great colleges – and ultimately chose one that was fabulously well regarded. Bob worked hard in college, and eventually, graduated.
Bob was hired by a company. Everyone was very proud. Everyone thought Bob’s company was amazing. Bob thought the company was amazing. For a time, Bob was happy.
Bob worked tirelessly year after year, making his bosses look good. Bob thought and thought, and came up with brilliant stuff. Bob spent long hours working for Bob’s bosses. Bob created some amazing things. Everyone thought Bob did a great job.
But Bob missed things as a result of working so much – Bob’s wife, Bob’s kids, all had to do things without Bob. Bob sacrificed because Bob said to himself – this is what people do. This is how I provide for my family. Bob had a house, and a car, and kid’s braces, and of course student loans. It all had to be paid for – and Bob was good at what he did. So good in fact, Bob made the company he worked for millions of dollars.
This went on for about 20-30 years. Bob moved up in the company, and got paid a little bit more each time. Pouring himself into his job – making the company he worked for ever more profitable.
Then Bob got fired, and the company found a new person like Bob. Or if you like, Bob retired, with his savings, which was a fraction of what he had made his company, only to have inflation erode it over time, and he eventually faded away (and the company found someone new like Bob). Or whatever ending you think would happen for Bob, because, it doesn’t matter – the story always ends the same no matter what:
The end (and the company finds someone new like Bob).
Think it’s a fairy tale? It’s not. I’ll be plain gentle reader – if you’re not working to build your own empire, you’re working to build someone else’s. This story never ends – “happily ever after”.
So today, right now, I’m begging you to take your fate into your own hands and start building a foundation for your own empire. I’m begging you to take steps to build a foundation where you can capture the wealth you create. In short, I’m begging you to quit your job – forever – and work for yourself. There are five reasons why you need to do this – today:
Five – Spending your Time as a Cog has no value
We are born, and we die, and life goes on before us, and after us. Our lives are in media res. So the choice that every person reading this has this – how am I going to spend my time? Am I going to spend it making someone else’s dreams come true, or my own? Our time is finite and is the most precious thing you’ll ever have.
That decision, how to spend your time, is now made more complex by a rapidly converging set of technologies that will likely transform humanity. The near future – quite frankly – is one that might be robots, intelligent machines, and complex databases making decisions. Why? Because automation of tasks that provide indirect value is profitable and efficient. It’s hard for us to see right now – but that future is on the horizon in our lifetimes.
For those who are just now entering the marketplace, and for those of the generation of my own children (who are just entering their teens), I cannot help but be deathly afraid. The disappearance of the middle class is being driven not by any set of government policies (although they’re by no means helping), but by the fact that “just being a cog” doesn’t have any real value in the emerging economy. In the near future, the world will not reward you if you chose to spend your life being unremarkable.
The entire machinery of the industrial age is inescapably unwinding. So not only is our time finite, very rapidly the economy may severely punish you for being unremarkable in using it.
Four – You will never be paid what you’re worth building someone else’s empire.
Those of us who live in the United States are blessed – we live where everyone can be an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are: an ability to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so failure isn’t fatal. The only real failure in life is failing so bad – you can’t try again. Deliver some value, any value, to anybody, and you’re an entrepreneur. The only question is who will get the majority of the value you create – you, or somebody else? Time will ruthlessly move through the hourglass and the wealth created is going to go somewhere.
The average person who has a bachelor’s degree earns about 2.5 million dollars in their lifetime. In order to be paid that compensation, that individual must generate about 7.5 million dollars (or more) of value for others. Yes, you read that right – if you have a job, you’re being paid at best a third of the value you create. In some cases, you’re only paid a fifth (20%) of the value you create. This has nothing to do with minimum wages, or Washington debates about burger flippers. This is simple economics and market demands. From CEO to lowest paid employee, a company pays its employees a percentage of what they create in value. What’s certain is this – the percentage is never is in your favor. Despite this fact, highly talented people flock into jobs – from low skilled workers, to six figure incomes with MBA’s.
The fallacy of such thinking is that employment in established corporations is the model for income stability. In reality, stability comes from the development of real-world skills, honed through hard work in highly ambiguous scenarios every day ― the classic description of the entrepreneur’s world. As a consequence, entrepreneurs earn as much as 50% more than their most fastidious employee counterparts – regardless of profession. That’s a million dollars more for the average person with a college degree.
Imagine if you captured just 10%-20% more of what you create in value (the average entrepreneurial lifetime earning)? Could you spend more time with your family? More time with your kids? More time doing the things you want to do? What would your legacy be?
You will never be paid what you’re worth unless you work for yourself.
Three – Choices will be made, either you can make them, or someone else will.
The best line I’ve ever heard from anyone about the challenge of owning your choices in life and following your own path is this – it’s hard to follow your dreams if you’re an approval whore. For the past 100 years, we’ve all been conditioned to get that gold star – to be approval whores. It’s highly detrimental to our overall success in life to continue to believe that way. It hides a reality about life – either we make decisions, or other’s will make it for us.
Think right now of the number of people who hold power in your life and what their ability is to break you. I suspect without question – the first person who comes to mind is your boss? Your boss has power over you. His boss has power over him and you. The pyramid goes up to the top.
Ask the CEO of McDonalds – one of the largest company in the world. He can tell us all he wants how he resigned – but the bottom line is – it was get out pal… and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. Had worked there for 30 years. Truly an inspirational story of dedicating his entire working career to the company. Get out – buh… bye.
He’s Bob. A well paid Bob perhaps – but Bob nevertheless.
Either you can control your destiny, pilot your own ship, and make your own way – or you can suffer at the hands of others making those decisions for you. Either way, choices will be made.
Two – If you don’t pick you, then you’re a fool.
The illusion that you should work hard to get “picked” by someone else so that you can spend your life building someone else’s empire is perhaps one of the most destructive choices a person can do in their entire life. Our schools condition us to wait to be picked. Our culture conditions us as well. You have to reject that conditioning and decide – I pick me.
It could be you who invents the next Facebook. There’s nothing special about Zuckerberg – other than he picks himself and takes a risk.
It could be you who invents the next Google. Again, Page and Brin were just normal guys – who picked themselves, and had a really good idea that they believed in, that quite frankly, they got other smart guys to believe in as well (and who put money up to flush their ideas out further).
Think, with respect for either Facebook or Google, if those guys went and worked for someone else. Let’s say they went to IBM, or Apple, or whomever. It could have just as easily happened. They’re smart guys, they would have been sucked in by big companies anxious to get their hands on their brains.
What if Zuckerberg was scooped up by Apple? What if Zuckerberg comes to Steve Jobs and goes, “Hey Steve, I got this really nifty idea I was playing with in College…”
Applebook. It’s all the rage – and now hard welded into your iPhone. It could have been.
Similarly, if Page and Brin had wound up working for someone like IBM, quite frankly, they’re such geniuses in search, IBM might have wound up creating the search engine that displaced all others.
Bluugle. Big Blue’s Search – by IBM. IBM controls the internet – SURPRISE!
Could have happened? Couldn’t it? Of course it could have.
You have to pick you. Because if you don’t – then you’re working to build someone else’s empire.
One – The only reason you’re not out there is the lie you tell yourself
But let’s take a step back. I’m sure some are reading this saying, “I can’t quit my job today. What about Jenny’s braces? What about ——“ (fill in the blank).
I’m not suggesting you have an epiphany moment, burn all your worldly possessions, and wait for the rapture. That would be utterly foolish. I am most certainly hoping you have an epiphany moment, and when you do, you have to stop with excuses. Nobody wants to jump out of a plane with no parachute – but you cannot deny gravity. Either you can prepare for it – or not – it functions either way.
Yes, Jenny needs braces. Yes, house payments need to be made. Yes, Timmy needs money for football gear. I totally get all that. My kids are in skating and soccer… outlays of thousands of dollars a year. I totally get it. I have a house in the suburbs that doesn’t pay for itself. I have a car. I understand the financial ruin that comes from deciding “Screw this crap! I’m outta here.” I am not for a moment saying you do something foolish.
But you have to stop telling yourself some story how you’re not smart enough, or creative enough, or clever enough. You have to stop telling yourself you can’t be successful, or an entrepreneur, or a captain of industry, or a leader of a market. You have to stop believing gravity doesn’t exist. At some point, you’ll be out the door of that airplane – like it or not. Are you going to have a plan? Or are you falling like a meteor?
When you acknowledge that fact – that’s the first step towards owning your own empire.
So stop telling yourself you can’t – start telling yourself you can – and start taking steps to build a platform that captures the wealth you create for others. That may entail working on your ideas part time. That may entail learning things you don’t know. But those investments are in you and the people who benefit are those whom you care about most.
In short, you have to quit your job. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But you have to make the choice in your mind to take control of the time you’ll spend on Earth. Maybe it starts part time, maybe you start with gusto. But the only reason why you won’t make that decision, is because you’re telling yourself a story to deal with fear.
If necessary – take baby steps. Start part time. Test the waters. But stop telling yourself lies.
So Quit Your Job
Don’t believe me. That’s ok. Stay with a boss that controls you. Waste your life never realizing your full potential. Let others write your story for you – using you. Stay in a job that is keeping you by tantalizing you with incremental increases in pay and job title, and you make a fraction of what you’re worth. Until you choose yourself for success, and all that choice entails, you will be helping someone else get rich – you will be building someone else’s empire – you will be making someone else’s dreams come true.
And the story of Bob, will be your story.