If you paid me fifty times what I make now to work at a regular job, I wouldn't do it.
Over the past few weeks I've informally asked some of my other entrepreneur friends how much they'd have to be paid to work a normal job in their industry. None of them quoted any reasonable figure. Some of them didn't want to answer the question because it was so uncomfortable to think about.
When Justin Frankel, creator of Winamp, quit AOL, he was offered a job by Microsoft. They asked what he needed to work there, and he responded with a written offer. In his list of necessities were things like a private jet, the ability to work remotely 100% of the time, and all boat rental fees to be reimbursed. It was a joke, but he sent it to them anyway. That's how abhorrent the idea of a real job was to him.
If you have a job, you might think that the grass is always greener. But you're wrong. No one on this side of the fence thinks the other side is greener. With a quick Google search, I could find you tens of thousands of blogs where people talk about how much they hate their jobs and how much they'd love to start their own business. I dare you to find entrepreneurs, even poor ones, who wish they had their old jobs back.
That's not to say, of course, that all jobs are bad. I know a good handful of people who have jobs they love and have no desire to be entrepreneurs. This post isn't for them-- they're happy with what they're doing already.
This post is for people who have that drive for freedom, that goal of being independent, who are wondering whether it's worth it or not.
Not because you'll make more money. You may or you may not. Not because it's less work. It's probably more. It's worth it because you have something so valuable that most of the world can't even conceive what it might be like to have: freedom.
Freedom trumps everything. If I wasn't constantly faced with people whose jobs prevent them from having freedom, I probably wouldn't appreciate what an exhilarating and amazing a thing it is to have. It would be like trees, so natural and ordinary that they don't get a second thought, despite their magnificence.
I would never get a job again. There's no better way to completely decimate your freedom, which I rank as life's crown jewel. If you offered me a billion dollars to be in an office, I'd take it. And then I'd quit after earning a month's salary so that I could have my freedom back.
If you have a job that you don't like, I hope you think about it. Because if it's not a stepping stone to something better, or feeding children that would otherwise go hungry, you're making a mistake. You may not even realize the mistake you're making if you've never tasted real freedom.
Q: If you're an entrepreneur, what would it take for you to get a regular job instead?
ToFind.Me is better now! Rough geolocating and a much better coordinate scheme. I'll write a full post on it later this week, probably. This is my favorite restaurant in Tokyo, which I can't find online in any way: http://ToFind.Me/+M95RS3B39. It's called Alaska. Check it out...
Heading to China this Thursday, then SF, then LA a few days later, then Austin, then Boston... crazy schedule for the holidays.
I buzzed my head with the shortest guard on the buzzer today. I look like I'm terminally ill, but man is it convenient.
No one is going to tell you an easy way to make money
In the beginning days of my gambling thing, it was very easy to make money. The system was basically foolproof and anyone with a credit card could make a good yearly income. I wasn't making money through any sort of skill, I was essentially exploiting a loophole. But here's the thing about loopholes: no one is going to tell you how to do them, especially not someone you don't really know personally. Because if too many people find out about a loophole, it closes. So if you want to make "easy money", you're probably going to have to stumble upon it yourself. If someone IS trying to share a loophole with you (especially aggressively, by email) it's probably a scam like a HYIP or a Forex trading scheme.
Most of the people who were gambling like I was now play poker. You can play poker online or in casinos and make six figures a year. But it's not a loophole, so it's okay to tell everyone. The barrier to entry is a few years of exhaustive practice, thousands of dollars to lose while learning, and the ability to sustain that lifestyle while you struggle to break even.
People sure like to talk about it. It's usually used as an applause light, that is, something where the meaning isn't that important, it's just used as a signal that you should agree with the speaker.
Sometimes people make a distinction between "positive" and "negative" liberties or rights. Positive and negative aren't used in the sense of good or bad, more akin to the psychological sense of positive and negative reinforcement. Negative liberties are ones where in order to exercise them all you need is that nobody stop you from doing it, like freedom of speech, and positive rights are ones that require other people or society to help you exercise them, like the right to healthcare.
I don't think that distinction makes much sense. I'm unusual in that I think that a lot of the reason that countries like America seem so much freer than countries like the USSR (not to argue that they're not freer, just that the degree is exaggerated) is because in America a distinction is (nominally) drawn between governmental power and economic power, and for some reason we only consider misuse of governmental power to count as infringing on freedom. In the USSR or China or any other country with a very powerful government that is actively involved in the planning of the economy, the economic and governmental powers are obviously controlled by the same entity, so when somebody gets censored by the state-run media for advocating laissez faire capitalism, that's considered censorship. Contrast with in the USA, where the economic and political power are ostensibly separated and for whatever reason we only care about abuses of political power: you certainly don't see people advocating for hardcore Maoism here. You don't even really see anybody advocating for things that are very uncontroversial in rather similar countries, like single payer universal healthcare. There are definitely people who want these things, and want to advocate them in big public ways, but cannot, because the economic powers that be deny them the platform to do that. And this is not considered censorship.
I think that caring about whether something should be considered censorship, or a violation of X or Y right, is kind of a silly, outmoded way of thinking. Rights and liberties are not Aristotelian categories fallen from the heavens where it is Bad to do a thing that is a violation of a right, but if you can come up with a good enough argument for why it doesn't count as actually violating that right, then all of a sudden it's Good. That's ridiculous. What matters is whether or not the person was able to do the thing, not whether it was forbidden in a way that fits into your arcane rules about how to forbid things.
I have pretty much come around to think that freedom is being able to do what you want, and as a corollary to that, the only real freedom is economic freedom. Well, there are some others, but economic freedom is the most important, and you could argue that the others flow out of it, but that's kind of irrelevant. Now, I want to talk about economic freedom.