Categories
Life Work

Cash for Life

I have to be pretty bummed out to play the lottery.

I know the odds of winning are infinitesimal and the lottery is essentially a self-imposed tax. Yet, sometimes I just need the fantasy of quick riches to infuse some hope into a crappy week.

With that said, I’ve only bought a couple tickets over the last several years. I guess I’m generally happy.

But what if I did win? I joke that I’d quit my job if I won 10 grand. Of course, that’s not realistic. To be honest, I’ve thought a lot about this and I’m still not sure how much I’d need to feel like it’s time to quit my job.

I am working towards financial independence, but it’s a moving target. I do set goals, but every time I approach my goal I stretch it. Over the short run I’m fortifying my finances. Over the long run I’m trading my finite time for money.

Most of us are only on this planet for about 80 years, so there comes a point at which you must choose to live life your way. That’s easy to write but hard to do.

Although I moan about it sometimes, I have a great job and I have worked hard for the equity in my career. I have to admit, I’m scared to walk away from a career that many would gun for. Partly, my fear is that I’d quit and discover that I didn’t have enough money. My other fear is that people would think I’m stupid for walking away from a great job. I shouldn’t care, but that’s human nature I suppose.

However, eventually one must prioritize what they truly want out of life. The fact that you are alive to read this is a fluke of magnificent proportions. Life is a gift that can’t be wasted on committee meetings and the general circle-jerk of corporate nonsense.

“Walking away” isn’t about abandoning work completely. Instead, we need to seek fulfillment, whether that comes from painting pictures, teaching children or renovating kitchens. This could also mean de-prioritizing money.

Fulfillment comes from making a meaningful impact, seeing the fruits of your labor and helping people. Fulfillment doesn’t come from leasing a new BMW every five years.

Building wealth and financial freedom isn’t just about chasing money. It’s about having what you need to live an interesting and productive life – a life that will be remembered.

I still don’t know when enough is enough. However, when walking away from something it’s important to have something to walk towards. Without first discovering what you find fulfilling you’ll never be able to walk away – no matter how much money you have.

Categories
Life Work

The Half Life of Knowledge

The following chart by Marc Rosenberg illustrates historical estimates and future predictions about the rate of growth in humankind’s collective knowledge.

Note: Pre-1982 estimates were by futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. The 2020 prediction was made by IBM.

IBM predicted by 2020 total human knowledge would double every 12 hours, as the Internet of Things expanded. While this is difficult to accurately measure, we all recognize that in 2020 we are drinking from a fire-hose of information. 

Knowledge today is growing rapidly as every click, search, purchase becomes a data point that forms the tapestry of our digital identity. Data aggregators have claimed to have over 5000 data points on every US voter, from which countless insights and predictions can be made. Every day, data is being collected across numerous digital platforms. However, this information is concentrated in the hands of the few.

IBM predicted by 2020 total human knowledge would double every 12 hours

For the few with access and computational power, knowledge is power. But those without access must run faster to keep up, as the half-life (the time it takes for half the knowledge in a particular area to become stale) of knowledge shrinks. This divide will grow as the ability to leverage information is powerful and profitable.

Those with power are unlikely to give it up voluntarily. Thus, the useful application of knowledge will consolidate even further into the hands of few. The majority of humans will simply remain overwhelmed by information and the inability to fully capture, interpret and analyze it to their advantage.

This has implications across many fields and industries. For example, how is an individual investor or even a boutique professional portfolio management team meant to out-store massive databases and outperform the computational capabilities of algorithms to fully exploit information?

We will need to be more humble about our abilities by recognizing the sheer volume of unknown unknowns. Unfortunately, the competitive nature of various segments of society and the economy will leave the average person behind.

So how do you as an individual compete? Continuous learning seems like a fruitless task as there is more to learn than is possible to ever grasp. Yet, it is still imperative if one is to outrun other individuals.

However, there are other ways to create value that might not be captured by the algorithms.

While computers are able to monopolize measurable bits of information (clicks, data points, dollars, etc.), humans still retain an advantage when identifying, analyzing and interpreting intangible cues. I’m talking about emotions, gut instinct. That feeling you get when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up is your brain analyzing millions of immeasurable pieces of information to warn you of danger.

Humans possess the ability to synthesize new information not captured by computational models. This is what we must exploit if we are to survive as individuals.

Start building wealth today!

Categories
Life Wealth

The Fisherman and the Businessman

Are you working for ‘someday’? Are you working to save for tomorrow? We all are. But why?

As humans we benefit from foresight, and we know that a better retirement usually requires time and effort today. But what if we’re all doing it wrong?

These aren’t my words. I don’t know where this story originated, but I think it’s important for all to know:

One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish.

About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman to the fisherman.

“You should be working rather than lying on the beach!”

The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, “And what will my reward be?”

“Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!” was the businessman’s answer.

“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman, still smiling. The businessman replied, “You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!”

“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman again.

The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. “You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!” he said.

“And then what will my reward be?” repeated the fisherman.

The businessman was getting angry. “Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!”

Once again the fisherman asked, “And then what will my reward be?”

The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “And what do you think I’m doing right now?”