When you combine things you’re not supposed to combine, people get interested.
It’s like Bruce Lee, right? Striking thoughts, philosophy, plus martial arts. And I think it’s because at some level, all humans are broad. We’re all multivariate but we get summarised in pithy ways in our lives. And at some deep level, we know that’s not true.
I live for the “Aha!” moment, that moment when you connect two things together that you hadn’t connected together before and it fits nicely and solidly and it kind of helps form a steel framework of understanding in your mind that you can then hang other ideas off.
As one of my friends says, “Specialisation is for insects.” So, everyone should just be able to do everything. I don’t believe in this model anymore of trying to focus your life down to one thing. You’ve got one life; just do everything you’re going to do.
But it’s hard because people don’t want to start over. They don’t want to go back down the mountain to look for another path.
When you look at the greatest artists and creators, they have this ability to start over, doing something brand new that they’re supposedly not qualified for.
We’re all losers starting out. We want to be winners.
There are three basic things everybody wants. Everybody wants to be wealthy, everybody wants to be happy and everybody wants to be fit. I think they can all be taught so I try to lay out the principles for how you can be happy and wealthy in a timeless manner where you can kind of figure it out for yourself.
At the end of the day, I can’t really teach anything, I can only inspire you and maybe give you a few hooks, so you can remember things when they happen, or put a name to them.
You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. Even laywers and doctors who are charging 3/4/500 dollars an hour, they’re not getting rich because their lifestyle is slowly ramping up. So you have to own a piece of a business. You need to have equity, either as an owner, an investor, shareholder or a brand that you’re building that accrues to you to gain your financial freedom.
I don’t care how rich you are. I don’t care whether you’re a top Wall Street banker. If somebody can tell you when to be at work and what to wear and how to behave, you’re not a free person.
We’re in this model now where we think it’s all about employment and jobs. Intrinsic in that is that I have to work for somebody else. But the information age is breaking that down. What I think we’re going to see is whether it’s 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now, high quality independent work will be available. We’re not talking about driving for Uber, we’re talking about super high-quality work that will be available in a gig fashion.
I think the smart people have already started figuring out that the internet enables this. And they’re starting to work more and more remotely on their own schedule, on their own time, on their own place, with their own friends, in their own way.
The information revolution is making it easier to communicate, connect and cooperate. It’s allowing us to go back to working for ourselves, like we used to in hunter gatherer times.
What I realised is that the biggest mistake was memorisation. Because when you’re actually trying to live your life in congruence with reality, you want to have a deep understanding of what you do and why you do it. So it’s much more important to know the basics really well than it is to know the advanced stuff. Knowing calculus wouldn’t help you today but knowing arithmetic really well would help you in most areas of life.
It’s much better to know the basics from the ground up, have a steel frame of understanding, than it is to just have scaffolding, where you memorise advanced concepts.
If you look at the most powerful thinkers, especially the ones where money or life is on the line, they understand the basics really, really well.
What you really want is freedom. You want freedom from your money problems. Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for some imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete in and of itself, you’re retired.
How do you get there?
When I was young and I knew I had to make money – it was my overwhelming desire – one of the things I did was I said, “Okay, I’m never going to be worth more than what I think I’m worth.” No one’s going to pay me more than I think I’m worth. So I picked an hourly rate for myself. And I said I’m never going to squander my time for less than this. Originally it was $500 an hour, then I upgraded to $5,000 an hour. It’s ludicrous but pick an aspirational hourly rate. It has to be ludicrous. Then what I would do is, if I had to return something, and I had to stand in line to return it, if it was below my hourly rate, I just threw it away, or gave it away. And if I had a task where I could hire someone to do it for less than my hourly rate, I just hired them. I became extremely jealous of my time.