The 20-Year-Old Punk
And how I've come full circle.
Hello again, Squad.
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When I was twenty, I remember proudly barking the line to whoever would listen, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get rich…even if it kills me!” I dropped this on my parents, friends, and teachers.
I was met with a groan.
Nevertheless, I proceeded to do just that and barely make it out alive.
I did so many things that I thought were critically important to achieving the wealth I desired, but of course were ultimately meaningless, such as:
Obsessing over grades
Thinking a certain college admission would seal my financial future
Ensuring I had the right coursework mix at college to secure my trading or banking career
Stressing over getting the right internship
Rehearsing interview skills and memorizing random facts about companies I didn’t give a shit about
Of course, I didn’t have a better template to work off—so I accepted the one that was handed to me. Essentially, I was modeling myself into the perfect corporate drone. I can’t really blame the 20-year-old me for heading this direction.
But, no one warned me that drones don’t get paid the way I anticipated.
This drone status, on the East Coast, is far more popular than the startup crowd from Silicon Valley. Wall Street for me seemed to be the best choice for banking boatloads of money (as a fancy-ass drone). So that’s where I went.
At the same time, I was entirely what you’d expect a 20-year-old to be—self-absorbed, mercurial, and loved to party above all else. I didn’t care about moving numbers on a screen, I just wanted the damn money.
I pushed aside every personal interest I had to become even more machine-like in my pursuit. This was problematic.
Now I’m not going to say I learned nothing about entrepreneurship during my time on Wall Street. But I can tell you I never got paid fully for the value I brought to the business because I didn’t own it…the bank did. That was a heck of a lesson.
I learned that being an office drone at a big fancy company (or “working stiff” if you prefer) means:
I’d never get rich to my standards
I’ll work on things I don’t care about or own
I’ll adopt a false, corporate personality that sucks the life out of you
I’ll overwork for no gain
I’ll become less “me” or forget who “I” am
Someone else who doesn’t know or care about me will dictate my quality of life (by your paycheck, raise, bonus, etc.)
I’ll never be truly free
The safety of a salary was a mirage (I could be fired at any moment for any arbitrary reason)
Sounds great, huh?
Of course not. You’ve probably noticed that plenty of my content deals with this topic and how to seek out things you enjoy doing and the market rewards you for. In Section 2 of my Field Guide, I provide a set of tools to ensure this doesn’t become your life. Or, how to pivot if it does.
Anyway, despite pleading from all of those around me, in 2015, I left Wall Street to begin life on my own terms.
So, to put a pretty bow on top of it, I got a bunch of things ass-backwards in my 20s:
I focused on money not adding value (money is just a side effect of adding value)
I did anything for a paycheck and stifled my true passions and skills
I pushed down the wilder side of my personality that makes me, well, me in the hopes of it making me more successful (it did the opposite)
So now, I’m just as much of a pain in the ass as I was in my 20s but with a far more efficient model for engaging in meaningful work.
And don’t worry (because I know you’re about to ask) you’ll make plenty of money (I make far more) out here in Doing What I Love Land, than I did back at the bank.
Here’s the thing, it’s not hard work, it’s hard work on things that you don’t give a crap about that’s a serious, soul-crushing problem.
Give me something I love and own, or give me death!
This week, I'm taking meetings in Chicago, IL.
Rich: They’ll get over it eventually.
Really Rich: They’ll never forget.
🎙️ This Week On The Really Rich Podcast
In episode 28 of The Really Rich Podcast with Nicholas Crown, I sit down with Howard Lindzon, Founder of StockTwits, author, and investor. With his extensive knowledge of markets, he shares insightful advice on trading and stock investing for beginners. Howard's wealth of experiences has deeply influenced his decision-making process and shaped his philosophy, which was a key factor in his success funding early-stage companies and making smart stock picks.
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The Entrepreneur’s Field Guide (Book) - learn the rules for entrepreneurship and how to blaze your own path.
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The Really Rich Podcast (Free) - a weekly deep dive into business, finance, and wealth mindset.