Road to Riches

Striving for Wealth

Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth. - Epicurus

One should seek wealth, not money, vanity or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you rest. Money is used as a proxy to transfer time and wealth. Wealth affords one freedom and optionality in their lives. Vanity is attachment to ego and the hunt for glory. Status is ranking in the social hierarchy.

Understand that ethical wealth creation is possible. If one despises wealth, it will be elusive. Wealth creation is not a zero sum game. When one creates wealth it is not an act of thievery from someone else. The ability to create wealth is open, one simply needs to implement what is necessary to grasp it.

Ignore those chasing glory and the people playing status games. They gain status by attacking people playing wealth creation games. They are not creators, rather they are detractors from those in society pursuing creation and innovation.

One cannot attain riches by simply renting out ones own time for a salary. One must leverage time, talents, and existing assets to acquire equity. Ownership in a business, creation of something valuable, or contributions to an innovation are needed to gain financial freedom. A salary only takes one so far, it is finite. Leveraging time, talents, and capital is an infinite game.

One will receive riches by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get at a scale that is large enough to make an impact. Think of the logistics of Amazon, the connection of Facebook, and the use of Microsoft Windows.

“We don’t get happier as our society gets richer, because we chase the wrong things.” - Arthur Brooks. 

Choose an industry where one can play long term games with long term people. A founding mindset focused on creation and equity is not a short term model. Wealth takes time to manifest. Low time preference is a trait shared by many wealthy people. The ability to delay gratification in modern times is nearly a superpower.

The Internet, artificial intelligence, and automation have massively expanded the possible surface area of careers. There is not a finite amount of jobs, rather there is a changing landscape of jobs. Most people haven't figured this out yet.

Play iterated games that span long amounts of time. Iterations allow one to play games that are not necessarily zero sum and can be continually leveraged. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.

Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity. Don't partner with cynics and pessimists. Optimism is what drives innovative growth. One needs to be able to imagine what is not already abound to create something of value. Pessimistic people and their beliefs are self-fulfilling and the games that they play are short and finite.

Learn to sell. One is always selling whether aware of it or not. If one is not selling a product or service one is selling ones self. Learn to build. Building is something that is of fundamental importance in an age of costless replication. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.

Strive to acquire specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage. Specific knowledge is knowledge that one cannot be trained for. If something can be learnt by all then the person learning can be easily replace. The goal is to become irreplaceable by having unique knowledge and talent.

Specific knowledge is found by pursuing genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is trending at the time. A look to the past, present, and future are needed to ascertain which interests can be leveraged to acquire wealth. Look for patterns of things that are invariant. Stability across time is something that can be monetized in ever-changing environments.

Because one will be building specific knowledge about things one cares about it will feel like play but will look like work to others. Specific knowledge is acquired through apprenticeships, not formal schools schools or written texts. One must apply what they have learned, if you want to build - build, if you want to write - write, if you want to code - code. Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated.

Embrace accountability and take business risks that carry ones name. Ones name is an example of a thing that can be leveraged in many environments based on a track record of success. This cannot be done if one is doing things anonymously. It is a true form of skin in the game. Society will reward one with responsibility, equity, and leverage. The most accountable people have singular, public, and risky brands: Gates, Trump, Jay-Z, Elon, Buffet and Bezos

“Technology enables people to improve communication with unprecedented speed, scale and iterative testing. It also allows people to wreak chaos with high leverage.” Dominic Cummings

Building a fortune require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication think of code and various forms of media.

Capital means money. To raise money, apply your specific knowledge, with accountability, and show resulting good judgment. This is a process that can be repeated over time to increase leverage.

Labor means people working for something, not something working for ones objectives. Invert the model. It's the oldest and most fought-over form of leverage. Labor leverage will impress parents, but don’t waste ones life chasing it. Managing people is another way to trade time for money. Rather than striving to leverage people, leverage the things that can self manage and self replicate at nearly zero cost, again think code and media.

Capital and labor are permissioned leverage. There is a gate keeper that needs to grant one access. Everyone is chasing capital, but someone has to give it. Everyone is trying to lead, but someone has to follow. Mastering both of these may indeed make one rich, but it will be difficult to become wealthy and own ones own time.

Code and media are forms of permissionless leverage one can tap into. They are the leverage behind those who have become newly rich. One can create software and media that works around the clock. These forms of creation are not tied to waking and resting, thus one can leverage them all the time to create value.

An army of robots in the form of servers, which create the internet and cloud is freely available - it's just packed in data centers for heat and space efficiency. Leverage the existing infrastructure, create on top of it, and deploy. One doesn’t simply need to be able to code, write books, write blogs, write white papers, record videos, record podcasts - simply create.

Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgement. Judgement requires experience, but can be built faster by learning foundational skills. There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes. Study various components for complexity theory such as microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.

Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching. This stems from the ancient saying of Facts not words or Facta non Verba. Be too busy to “do coffee," while still keeping an uncluttered calendar. Its about how to create a schedule that is conducive to creating. Time to read, to write, to code, and to simply think.

Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it. For example if you make $50 an hour and you need someone to change your oil which would take you an hour to complete find someone who will complete the job for $35. Arbitrage of ones own time, use that newly found hour to create something of value that will generate more than $35.

Work as hard as you can. Even though who you work with and what you work on are more important than how hard you work. Hard work is not overrated, its about how one works hard and what they are working hard towards. Focus on a project is essential to true mastery. Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.

There are no get rich quick schemes. That's just someone else getting rich off you. Structure your life so that you no longer have to work for someone else. Work for yourself and make your existing capital work for you 24/7.

Apply specific knowledge, with leverage, and eventually you will receive what you deserve. When you're finally wealthy, you'll realize that it wasn't what you were seeking in the first place. The optionality and freedom derived from wealth is the true aim.