Working smarter, not harder! So what else is out there but college, job, debt and working until you die? What other kind of lifestyle is possible?
I love working smarter. And I know this because I started my professional life working HARD. And yes, I got burned out. I “managed” to develop the chronic fatigue syndrome before turning 30. This is why I love working smarter, not harder. And by smarter, I also mean being honest, legal and with respect and dedication for what you do.
So how is that even possible? Where to start?
I was studying for my BA in business in economics, when I was thinking what to do with my life. Pursuing good grades, so I can keep my scholarship. I wanted to be a good student, so I can have good recommendations. Those would help me get a good job, and once I had my own income and not be supported by parents, my life could actually begin. Sounds familiar?
At age 19, I was searching for information on a project I had to finish in the university library. As I was wandering around the isles, I stumbled upon a title that sounded not at all academic. It said “Rich dad, poor dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. Hm! That made me curious. I picked it up and read the back cover. I took it with me and read it in the following days.
Wow! That was the turning point! I was so grateful to have found it so early in life! And a bit sad I hadn’t read it at about 12! I dare to say it was life changing! It showed me what else out there would be possible, how to do something else in life, to earn a good living, and not be an employee for the rest of my life! In an honest way, again! After that, I started looking for alternatives. Wondering what else is out there that I haven’t heard of. And now of course, simply reading that book didn’t mean I read it, snapped my fingers and turned into a millionaire. But I know I am making considerably better life decisions than not having those information.
I will put below a summary of the books that I found so far and have a tremendous effect on me. Specifically those books that teach and show something else than being a good employee.
1. Robert Kiyosaki: Rich Dad, Poor Dad: A book which is worth its weight in gold, for each copy that is being read by someone who has had no financial education. How can I summarize it so you can understand you need to read this word by word, by yourself? Let’s see if I can succeed.
Chances are, you were born in a family where one or both income providers (parents, grandparents, older brothers) were employees. We too, have learnt, by imitation, the same thinking habits: get a job, work for others, be there on time, leave on time, get a paycheck (and live paycheck to paycheck). Also think about how wonderful would be if you had another job, with a bigger salary and more perks. This is what the author calls the rat race. Robert Kiyosaki explains very well how people who become wealthy think differently. They educate themselves (financially), take educated, calculated risks, learn what is necessary, not mandatory. Also, they develop a habit of saving, then LEARN to invest. And LEARN how to make money work for them. And all those concepts are very well explained.
On the other side, if I am to notice something that I dislike about this resource, is the fact that it tends to be a bit outdated in offering real-life examples; the business world and entrepreneurial opportunities have multiplied massively with the Internet and his work doesn’t cover that area. Of course, the mindset and principles are still applicable, but the examples are of the old economy, primarily regarding physical products and real estate.
2. Choose Yourself by James Altucher. James Altucher is the kind of author that writes a lot about his personal experiences, very bluntly. And very openly, especially about his failures. He writes in blog style; unusual for a book but you’ll appreciate his openness. Also, his personal blog is the main source of information and inspiration, because it’s always keeping up with developments in the real business world (which is online-integrated).
Specifically in the mentioned book, James Altucher explains that the economy (and society) have already changed. We are now in an idea economy.That is, what is most valuable, unable to copy, unable to outsource to China and always in demand is your own creativity. Working smarter is necessary, working harder is no longer a winning formula. And the ability to reinvent what you do, what you have to offer to the world and the skills you mostly use in your daily life. James Altucher has a radical approach in his views. But we need to hear this, rather sooner than later.
The time of the employee is passing, the time of the artist-entrepreneur is coming. He shows that if you choose to be an employee and to work for a company, you must be aware that businesses change very, very, very fast. And not only that, but their focus is not people (as I’m sure all corporations state on their office walls) but PROFIT. And once the primary business purpose for which you were employed is no longer producing the desired profitability rate, the corporation will change. It will change the product offering, the processes, the assignments of people, they will change people, and the amount of people working.
The alternative proposed by James Altucher, both in his book, and in recurrent material he is creating on his blog, is the following: The momentum for being an employee has passed; now is the time of the artist entrepreneur. That means choosing yourself: doing what you love, something you love so much that you don’t even feel like making an effort when you’re working at it. I don’t quote much, but I simply need to add this so you’ll understand why you need to read this: “Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction-creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?”. Working smarter means, in this case, doing what you love so that you don’t even feel like working!
What I didn’t like very much about this author’s approach is the sometimes overly personal references. At least, I find he shares too much of his own doubts, negative views or personal experiences. Sometimes this is depressing. That makes me say his content is useful through advocating for originality and entrepreneurship. Still the way he takes one side on some topics doesn’t make me feel he offers the wisest advice.
For example, he wrote on why he believes young people should not go to college: investing tens of thousands of dollars, four years and getting a diploma in a field that will soon be outdated. Instead offers 40 different ideas on what to do for really pushing your life forward and gaining business experience. While this might seem like a balanced approach from him, it becomes balanced merely for adults who already have the knowledge and discipline for many years of work. For young people graduating from high school – coming across this kind of advice, I believe it can be causing serious limitation, because an 18 year old doesn’t usually have the discipline, sense of reality and work ethic that comes with persisting in achieving something: like a degree, or working to make a living while also studying. Having been through that stage myself not so long ago, I can say that has helped me a lot to build resilience and motivation!
To conclude on this one, I do recommend following James Altucher with his online resources, he offers many different materials on various topics, with a definitely original content. As always, personal judgement is needed to make the best decisions for yourself, irrespective of where you find inspiration.
At the time I’m writing this, I just came back with my feet on Earth after being in the cloud listening to an amazing audiobook that made me every 9 to 10 minutes or so ask myself: “Why didn’t I think about this earlier?” or “Wow! I believed common folks didn’t have access to such things” or “Why didn’t I try this earlier?” and especially “I HAVE HAD THIS EBOOK ON MY COMPUTER FOR MORE THAN 3 YEARS! Why didn’t I read it by now?”. I believe this is the best resource I’ve found so far on the topic of working smarter. So here it is:
3. The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. This is full of incredible tools for a freedom-loving lifestyle. This is full of exact, step by step indications on how to use some tools that you believed are reserved only to the lucky few, born rich. Tim Ferriss is talking about: personal assistants and how to find incredibly educated, dedicated and effective people for a very affordable price (yes, such things do exist!). Also, he is talking about how to make money with you business in the developed markets (like the US) and spend it where they have much more value – like in Thailand, while living on a beach.
It’s something you probably haven’t heard much until now. A kind of book that hasn’t been written before. It is the roadmap from being overworked and overstressed to becoming one of the New Rich. In this decade, this means: having a passive source of income, working a few hours a week and dedicating your time to what matters most to you: your family? Your children? Travelling? Sports? Social volunteering? Talk about working smarter!
If this is to have a downside, it’s the following: the information here is not for everybody. Although employees also would find value in it, this is mainly a praise of the entrepreneur turned investor. This is a book full of tools for the courageous ones. So if your personal values are security, predictability and risk avoidance – don’t try this; it will only frustrate you and make you believe that like such things don’t exist.
For getting inspiration, I do recommend reading this book. eBook, audiobook, you’ll want it all in the end, so you can track your progress. Tim is also a former Princeton student and a “rebellious” who has turned his back to the old system of living. He went through the established path of raising a successful young man and he invented his own way.
To sum up all the above, I hope you’ll find inspiration in the resources I’ve mentioned. Each and every one of us is unique, so everything I’ve mentioned will impress you and apply to you in a different way. However, I hope you’ll select valuable ideas to enhance what you already are mixing to create a better life for yourself!