The Curious Case of the Successful Underacheiver

Success-Kid

Okay, people. It’s time to get real again.

All the way real.

I am being honest when I say most of my life, I’ve found success giving maybe 50-60% effort. I’m serious and I know it may sound as if I’m full of myself.

I’m not.

But I also know I’m smart. I was a smart kid. It started off when my parents taught me math and English before I had to learn it in school. It wasn’t too hard. I was able to get it at a pretty early age. When I got to school and I was already ahead of everyone else, I learned a lesson that has been a running theme in my life: be smarter now so you can make more time to slack off.

Note that slacking off wasn’t necessarily about being lazy. It was more about doing things I loved doing. Y’know, reading, writing, drawing, being off in my own thoughts. Not homework.

Or… work in general.

So if I had a concentration in intelligence, it’d be the art of slacking off. I would keep myself smarter than most people, but I’d never actually really try to be number one. That was too much work. Top ten is a hell of a place to be in its own right, especially when you don’t actually care that much.

I know, I sound like I’m not a go-getter, but I totally am when I want to be. I’m just easily bored by traditional school and work. I guess that may be part of the ADD thing.

It wasn’t until I worked at my previous job when a fire was lit under my ass. At every job I had previously, I was always promoted quickly while giving only 60% effort. I was expecting the same thing here. Again, I know it sounds cocky, but I knew I was better than everyone on my team. I made sure of it because I wanted to be good enough to be asked to work on more interesting side projects. I set my goal to be smarter than the woman who trained me. The woman who couldn’t get the job I eventually did. You want to know how I got that job?

I gave 100%.

I gave 100% because I wasn’t promoted when I thought I should have been. Instead, my boss at the time put me on some BS two year plan to become a lead while he brought in some dude he knew to take the role.

Oh no he didn’t.

I was furious. That was the first time I experienced a situation where talent alone wasn’t enough to get by. After that I was on fire. I worked my ass off and eventually became the youngest Director at the time. Unfortunately, that was also the point when I began hating my job.

Er, disliking my job. I don’t want to be too hard on them. I found a lot of success there.

Now I’m back to my old ways, steadily finding success giving 60% and feeling far less stressed. Then a funny thing happened: I was checking my work email, eating chips because I was too lazy to buy actual groceries, thinking about what I’ve achieved so far this year compared to where I want to be once my fiancé and I are married.

Yeah… 60% ain’t cutting it.

So it’s time to use my brain and combine it with the drive to want to slack-off with my future wife. I’m putting this out there so I make sure there’s some level of accountability, even if no one else actually cares. I’m going at this 100%, especially since we’re not in the same country at the moment.

This also extends to how I’m treating my body and general health. I have to give myself props for how much effort I put into becoming mentally balanced. I owe it to myself to become physically balanced as well. Because a healthier me means a (hopefully) longer life with my fiancé, I’m going to go at that 100%.

Well, maybe 90%. I still like snacks and wine.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m special in any kind of way. I think there are many people out there who greater than the effort they put forth. Mostly because slacking off is awesome.

We both know it so let’s all stop pretending.

Still, there are moments in life where a person needs to have the discipline to go 100%. I’m in the midst of one of those moments now so it’s time to go hard. Not forever though. Sixty percent is my comfort zone long term.

Game time.

Peace out, party people.

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Learning about Investing

Photo Credit: OTA Photos
Photo Credit: OTA Photos

I love the internet, regardless about how much I complain about YouTube trolls and the constant influx of baby pictures on my Facebook stream. I love it because I can learn almost anything with the internet. I can also earn money using the internet. I met my fiance because of the internet. I released an album because of the internet.

I’m writing to you right now because of the internet.

Whenever I have a problem I can’t find myself, I watch videos. I read. I do as much as I can to absorb knowledge. For me, videos come first and if I have a thirst, I read. If you read this blog regularly, you already know I’m interested in data analysis. But I’m also interested in investing. The problem is, I didn’t actually know the real basics behind investing.

I look at things this way: capitalism is a game. It’s ruthless and the stakes are incredibly high, but it’s a game nonetheless. Well, every game has rules. To succeed in a game you, of course need to know the rules, but that’s not really enough. See, capitalism is full of unfair advantages. I can definitely delve into that further, but I’ll save it for another article.

Anyway, I have a problem: I want to get into investing, but I have some things working against me. I learned about the things working against me by watching an accessible video on investing: William Ackman: Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour

Seriously. If you have an interest in investing, but have zero background, watch this video

That said, I’m not telling anyone to run out there and start dumping their money into stocks. I’m just saying I’m looking into dabbling in investing, but not before I have a nice lump of cash stashed away. In the meantime, I have a few questions while I continue to learn:

  1. How easy/difficult is it to earn $30K a year with investing. I’m not saying that’s what I’m trying to do (yet), but let’s just say I’m interested. Also, I realize this isn’t a simple question to ask, but curiosity has me nonetheless.
  2. How many people get into investing with an exit strategy in mind?
  3. I know investing is basically gambling (even gamblers have a strategy) so I should expect losses if I get into this. What is the baseline profit/loss ratio that makes continuing worth it in the short term. Obviously, net profit/loss is what matters, but assuming I’m profiting, is there a ratio of profit to loss that I should strive for as a baseline?

Anyway, I’m just starting out so don’t mind me if I sound like a noob. While my girlfriend and I are separated by a massive body of water, I’ll be teaching myself some new things. Check out my Dream Chasers series to find out more about my future plans that are not just income related. Also, if you have any questions or helpful advice, let me know! Let’s all win together!

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Tim Ferriss Clones and the BS of Capitalism

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Admitting When You Need a Helping Hand

marsellus wallace

Man oh man, my life is in a big transitional phase, folks. My girlfriend and I did a lot of talking last week and we decided a couple things:

  1. We’re applying for a fiance visa so we can get married next year.
  2. We’re moving the eff out of the US as soon as possible.

Not that I dislike America, but if we can have a life more suitable for us in another country, why not?

The thing with a fiance visa is it can take five to eight months for approval.

Ugh.

Then my girlfriend (and parents) made an excellent point. If our ultimate plan is to move elsewhere and start a life together, why are we going to spend money on separate apartments while we wait up to eight months (if all goes well) for a piece of paper that says we can get married. Wouldn’t it be smarter to save money in the meantime? I’m taking the opportunity to do just that.

In February, I’m going to do something I thought I’d never do in a million years (or however long I’ll be alive): I’m moving back in with my parents.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

As I’ve said before, being a self-earner can be rough. It also didn’t help that I slacked off SIGNIFICANTLY over the last three months while my girlfriend has been here (not that I minded at all). But now it’s time to refocus.

My goal in making money is NOT to be rich. I don’t give a damn about wealth. I care more about living a worry-free life. That’s wealth to me. Is it possible? Yo no se (or ‘I don’t know’ for los Americanos out there). Here’s the thing: for the last three months, I discovered what I want the rest of my life to be. I’m not trying to kill myself and waste life by giving my time to other people/things. I know what my priorities are and they don’t involve fancy cars and designer shoes.

So I’m moving back home and I’ll be moving out as soon as my girl gets her visa. In the meantime, you better believe I’ll be saving money like a madman and using our time apart to earn as much money as possible.

I know this isn’t really a tip or suggestion, but still, it’s a lesson I had to learn. I had to learn to be alright with accepting help from my family to attain a more significant goal. I have a lot of pride and I am more than willing to struggle in order to achieve something on my own merits. That’s stupid and inefficient. My school loans are expensive as hell and paying rent and utilities doesn’t help matters. Sure, I can do it, but it doesn’t get me to my goal any more quickly. It just makes the journey unnecessarily harder.

So let’s be zen about this and take the path of least resistance. My pride is nowhere near as important as my future with my girlfriend/fiance. I don’t know if you can take anything from this post, but if you do, just know that you aren’t the only one who has that pride. Let it go. And once you get that help from someone, do your damnedest to make the most out of the opportunity.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 2)

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 2)

Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim
Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim

When I first started writing part one of this post, I really had freelance writing in mind. Very limited, right? Especially when writing isn’t where the money is. Not in comparison to other types of freelance gigs anyway. If you’re like me, you probably go for freelance writing gigs because they’re either what you love or what you do best. Maybe both. But it never hurts to have options.

According to Business Insider, these are the top ten highest paying freelance jobs on Elance and oDesk (by hourly rate):

  1. Patent Law ($112.20)
  2. Voice Acting ($72.70)
  3. Ruby Programming ($61.00)
  4. Startup Consulting ($54.00)
  5. Google Website Optimizer ($53.80)
  6. Investment Research ($53.20)
  7. Network Administration ($51.10)
  8. Statistical Analysis ($49.60)
  9. Amazon Web Services ($49.40)
  10. Legal Writing ($49.20)

Glad to see some form of writing made it into the top ten. Some other interesting ones are Database Development ($47.60), User Experience Design ($43.68), and Mobile App Testing ($32.90). I’m personally shooting for some mobile app testing and Ruby programming gigs, though I have to learn more for the latter.

So where do the writers out there stand? Craigslist, Elance, and the glut of content farm organizations would have you believe writing doesn’t pay squat. That’s true for those who are unwilling to dig deeper. That’s what we’ll explore next week. For now, explore other options! I believe everyone should follow their passion if at all possible, but if your goal is to make money, you have multiple paths as a freelancer. For example, my girlfriend’s visa expires in two weeks. I haven’t been on top of my game in terms of generating income while she’s been here so you better believe I’ll be busting my hump to earn as much as I can while I eagerly await her return.

Wish me luck.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 1)

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 1)

elance-odesk

Happy post-Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoyed the time off. I certainly did. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

So if you haven’t already guessed with all the self-earning posts I write, I make a portion of my income from freelance work. There have been times when I’ve told people to give freelancing a shot, especially when they already have a full-time job. It’s more so they can dip their toe in the pool instead of fully diving into these treacherous waters.

Because let’s be real, freelancing, like pimpin’, ain’t easy.

The biggest problem with online freelancing is the level of competition out there. You essentially have 7 billion people who may be looking at the same gig as you. Chances are it’s not that many, but you know what I mean. Because of this, potential employers/clients have the ability to hire those with exceedingly low rates. As an American, that sucks for me. And possibly you depending on what country you’re from.

Here’s the good news: people still pay for quality, something that exists less with cheaper payment. You simply need to get over the hump of building that freelancer resume. For example, I come from an eDiscovery background, but I’m doing mostly freelance writing. When I started, I was relegated to dirt cheap gigs that pretty much weren’t worth the amount of effort I was putting in. Still, I stuck with it and have slowly fleshed out my writing resume in order to open myself up to higher paying opportunities.

Sites like Elance and oDesk are great for beginners, but just know that many folks on there are shooting for rock bottom prices. You have to sift through the noise to get some good gigs, but your best bet is to go with a dual-pronged approach: promote yourself as you hunt for gigs. Let the internet know who you are as a freelancers. Have a personal website. Use social media. Join online communities. Do what you must to raise your stock so you don’t fall prey to the surplus of bottom-feeders out there.

There is a ton to write about freelancing and I plan to do so. Tune in next week; I’ll go into more specifics and a breakdown of the highest and lowest paying types of gigs.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Multiple Revenue Streams

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Multiple Revenue Streams

money tree

During the 33 years of my life, I’ve started more ideas than I can even remember. My first business venture started when I was ten years old. My buddy Ahijah and I began drawing our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics and sold them for a quarter.

Copyright infringement FTW.

Since then, I’ve had more ideas die and go nowhere than I’ve had successes. Many more. Over time, I began realizing what leads to a big part of failure: not embracing pre-existing strengths.

There was a point in my life when I was building websites as a part of a business my buddies and I started up. We got a couple clients, but I was way in over my head because I was learning as we went along. Eventually, I couldn’t fulfill requests and, unsurprisingly, the business died. This trend repeated itself numerous times until I finally broke out of it recently. Why was I trying to learn how to do things myself instead of partnering with people who could compensate for my weaker areas? Why was I even pursuing ideas that didn’t take advantage of my talents?

Every self-earner should be keenly aware of their skills and how to apply them to a money making idea. Sure, enjoyment should go into it as well, but skill is essential. Otherwise, you could easily lose momentum because you’ll eventually reach some hurdle that, for one reason or another, feels too daunting to overcome.

Embrace your strengths and exploit your skill set. If you want the challenge of learning and creating something new, good on you. I’ll worry about that later when I’m more established. For now, I’m just going to continue doing what I do best.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Embracing Your Strengths

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom: NY or Bust

IMG_5036

My girlfriend and I went to Central Park over the weekend and had an awesome time. After we got back home, bellies full from vegetable tikki masala and authentic New York pizza, we wondered what it would cost to live in New York for a while. Not permanently, mind you. Remember, I want to see the world. This would just be a cool start to a journey.

Here’s the thing: New York is expensive. Rent can get as high as nearly three times the national average. That’ll put a damper on a freelance writer/blogger’s wallet pretty quickly. But some people are doing it. Can I do it?

Well… I can, but I need to up my game when it comes to income.

With my previous income, I could easily afford a $3000 apartment. Now? I want to go for something more around $1200-1600. But I can’t do this haphazardly. I need to make sure I have a budget in place – one that still leaves wiggle room for disposable income. One tactic that I was using a few months ago, but have moved away from more recently is tracking how much money I need to make per day in order to hit my financial goals. This is a practice that worked for me exceedingly well when I first began freelancing. Otherwise, I’m fairly horrendous when it comes to budgeting.

The next thing I need to do is have a list of my monthly necessities/bills (Some of these are over-estimated):

  1. Rent ($1600)
  2. School Loans ($1000… sigh)
  3. Internet ($80)
  4. Cell Phone ($50)
  5. Metrocard ($112 30-day unlimited)
  6. Groceries ($200)
  7. Laundry ($50)
  8. Utilities ($100)

So this brings me to a total of $3192. I also want to save $500 a month and have $500 a month for random expenses (not just for going out but also pursuing other business ideas. That brings my final total to $4692. Let’s just round that up to $4200.

This means I have to earn about $157 a day (including weekends). That number doesn’t seem nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I’m going to do more research and return with a tighter estimate, but this seems doable until I feel like moving somewhere else.

Going forward, these posts will be super-focused on getting to that number (we’ll just say $160). Earning that per day as a freelancer will be a challenge for me at first, but I’ll be showing my progress and will be pushing to make this happen as soon as I can.

Stay tuned for more.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Redefining Wealth