#65: Money Shame & Financial Independence
Andy Sparks on How To Use E-Mail To Go Deeper In Your Friendships
September 7th, 2019:
Greetings from Taipei! A view from the rice paddies in Taichung:
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Course Update: I’ve been making great progress on the Reinvent course and think its going to be crazy useful for anyone thinking about becoming self-employed, a freelance or even just someone looking to make a career shift. I’ll be launching the first live cohort on October 1st. Join here or join the preview Q&A on Sunday September 22nd at 10am.
#1 Grappling With Money 💴💰💸
“I think you have an issue with money.”
This was after a podcast conversation with someone who was making a lot of money running their business. We weren’t even talking about the topic, but the comment still seemed to have some truth in it that I didn’t know how to respond to.
In 2017, I read Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics, which shook me up a bit and probably “cost” me tens of thousands of dollars of earnings as I explored a new relationship with money through gift economy experiments.
The book is an exploration of new economic models but also a nerdy dance with some of the challenges of our modern world. Eisenstein points out the paradox behind the idea of being “independent”:
we are self-sufficient in relation to the people we know but dependent as never before on total strangers living thousands of miles away.
What made the book resonate was his avoidance of blame. He points out, I think accurately, that our modern angst is a result of an underlying complexity that is hard to comprehend:
I think ultimately what is happening is that our deep ideologies and belief systems, and their unconscious shadows, generate a matrix of synchronicities that looks very much like a conspiracy. It is in fact a conspiracy with no conspirators. Everyone is a puppet, but there are no puppet-masters.
As a possible path towards a “new story” he shares the idea of a “gift economy”. The central idea is that transactions create a sense of separateness and that giving a “gift” is a way to disconnect from the expectations that many of us have tied up with work (“we need to get paid for what we do”).
Charles’ book inspired me to experiment with the gift economy in 2018, which I’ve written about before. Those experiments made me more comfortable with my money emotions and also helped me think about how I can find ways to give while also finding other ways to make money and support that giving.
Back to the comment. I think that person was right. I did have issues with money. I saw taking money as something that would compromise my desire to create. I felt a little guilty that I used to make so much money in my former job.
Fellow corporate escapee Khe Hy offers a question, “Why do you make money?” to his clients. Many people come up with 3-4 quick answers, but struggle to find ten.
I think we all could grapple with money a bit more and contemplate its hold on us. Many people avoid this question and play the game of making enough so they never have to think about it. Self-employment seems to force this contemplation. A lot of what I’ve found resonates with this this quote from another self-employed person, Ritika:
You’re more relaxed, you realize you didn’t need so much in the first place, you learn how to make do with less, and most importantly you’re way more creative and inventive with your work and funds.
At the end of the day, money true wealth for me is having people that love you and will take care of you when shit hits the fan.
In building the money module for my course this past week, I planned to spend 4-5 hours building out the content and doing the research. I ended up getting hung up on the following data, which is a survey of American college freshman.
When the survey first started in 1966, freshman rated “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” as the #1 most important objective and only gave “being very well off financially” 42.2% of their attention. In the last twenty years, the top 4 objectives our of a list of 20 have remained steady, but the number of people placing importance on “being very well off” continues to rise.
If 18 year old’s are telling us that is their #1 objective, we should probably accept that’s what society is telling them.
I’m not really sure about ever being “very well off” but I do know its a lot more fun trying to figure out a philosophy of life.
#2 Early in his career Ben had a lot of passion….
I published a longform version consolidating a lot of the ideas I was sharing in the last several newsletters, but this time there’s a fun little story at the beginning:
Early in his career Ben had a lot of passion. However, he had picked a career which had a very set path. The “typical” path was to put in about nine years of steady, hard work and then at that point he was free to operate with a little more freedom. Deep down, he knew this was a bit too long, but in the sake of doing what his elders told him, he obliged for several years…
You can read the rest of the story here.
#3 Andy Sparks on Writing, Entrepreneurship, Success & Life As A Lake
Andy is the co-founder of Holloway, but we focus much more on his own journey and creative practices including Andy’s branding fiasco with his first “startup” as a child, how he started a brewery while still underage, a class and professor that changed his life in college, how he got started writing and how a lake can be a metaphor for life.
I love this idea of how he took the lake metaphor and turned it into a way of communicating with people:
“wouldn’t it be cool and if you got deeper relationships with 30-40 people around you? from that what I decided to do was I came up with a list of 30 people and created an e-mail list, I just put them all on BCC… and once every two months, I write this letter, I call it “the lake” and I share this is what I’m thinking, this is what I’m feeling…its very personal. The first time I sent it I was almost sweating. Now the responses I get back from this are so cool. Sometimes I get 19 paragraph responses or it leads to these amazing in-person conversations”
Thinking about embracing this sometime in the next year.
#4 Reads, Quotes & Other Things
💡 Isaac Asimov on coming up with new ideas:
Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)
✖ Steve Jobs on getting fired from Apply
Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
🌄Friend of the newsletter Mike Tannenbaum is working with Amble, a company leading month-long retreats in national parks:
“I gave myself permission to question, explore, listen to myself and just be,” said Ms. Van Why, who is now thriving in her new role as a project manager working on museum and nonprofit projects. “The combination of using my design skills to help a nonprofit with that of living in a national park was really exciting.”
The #1 Quote on Goodreads:
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Below The Fold
👋 Hey there! I'm Paul Millerd and I write Boundless each week. I typically sit down for a few hours on Friday or Saturday and share what I’ve been thinking and interesting things I’ve read as well as use this as a space to work out half-baked thoughts which may or may not go anywhere.
I left my fancy corporate consulting career behind in 2017 to experiment with working as a freelancer. That experiment turned into a longer journey where I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t default to designing my life around work.
Here are some projects and other things I am working on:
💫 Reinvent Course Helps people imagine beyond the default path & launch a creative project
✍Boundless is where I share lessons on building a life beyond the default path,
🏫 StrategyU is where I run a digital course and do in-person workshops teaching people strategy consulting “secrets.”
🙋♀️I have a few no-agenda curiosity conversations with people each week.