Mod Note: This is a syndication from jamesaltucher.com
1) The middle class is dead. A few weeks ago I visited a friend of mine who manages a trillion dollars. No joke. A trillion. If I told you the name of the family he worked for you would say, “they have a trillion? Really?” But that’s what happens when ten million dollars compounds at 2% over 200 years.
He said, “look out the windows”. We looked out at all the office buildings around us. “What do you see?” he said. “I don’t know.” “They’re empty! All the cubicles are empty. The middle class is being hollowed out.” And I took a closer look. Entire floors were dark. Or there were floors with one or two cubicles but the rest empty. “It’s all outsourced or technology has taken over for the paper shufflers,” he said.
“Not all the news is bad,” he said. “More people entered the upper class than ever last year.” But, he said, more people are temp staffers than ever.
And that’s the new paradigm. The middle class has died. The American Dream never really existed. It was a marketing scam.
And it was. The biggest provider of mortgages for the past 50 years, Fannie Mae, had as their slogan, “We make the American Dream come true.” It was just a marketing slogan all along. How many times have I cried because of a marketing slogan. And then they ruined it.
2) You’ve been replaced. Technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry, productivity efficiencies, have all replaced the middle class. The working class. Most jobs that existed 20 years ago aren’t needed now. Maybe they never were needed. The entire first decade of this century was spent with CEOs in their Park Avenue clubs crying through their cigars, “how are we going to fire all this dead weight?”. 2008 finally gave them the chance. “It was the economy!” they said. The country has been out of a recession since 2009. Four years now. But the jobs have not come back. I asked many of these CEOS: did you just use that as an excuse to fire people, and they would wink and say, “let’s just leave it at that.”
I’m on the board of directors of a temp staffing company with $600 million in revenues. I can see it happening across every sector of the economy. Everyone is getting fired. Everyone is toilet paper now.
3) Corporations don’t like you. The executive editor of a major news publication took me out to lunch to get advice on how to expand their website traffic. But before I could talk he started complaining to me: “our top writers keep putting their twitter names in their posts and then when they get more followers they start asking for raises.”
“What’s the problem?” I said. “Don’t you want writers that are popular and well-respected?”
When I say a “major news publication” I am talking MAJOR.
He said, “no, we want to be about the news. We don’t want anyone to be an individual star.”
In other words, his main job was to destroy the career aspirations of his most talented people, the people who swore their loyalty to him, the people who worked 90 hours a week for him. If they only worked 30 hours a week and were slightly more mediocre he would’ve been happy. But he doesn’t like you. He wants to you stay in the hole and he will throw you a meal every once in awhile in exchange for your excrement. If anyone is a reporter out there and wants to message me privately I will tell you who it was. But basically, it’s all of your bosses. Every single one of them.
4) Money is not happiness. A common question during my Twitter Q&A, asked at least once a week, is “should I take the job I like or should I take the job that pays more money”.
Leaving aside the question of “should I take a job at all”, let’s talk about money for a second. First, the science: studies show that an increase in salary only offers marginal to zero increase in “happiness” above a certain level. Why is this? Because the basic fact: people spend what they make. If your salary increases $5,000 you spend an extra $2000 on features for your car, you have an affair, you buy a new computer, a better couch, a bigger TV, and then you ask, “where did all the money go?” Even though you needed none of the above now you need one more thing: another increase in your salary, so back to the corporate casino for one more try at the salary roulette wheel. I have never once seen anyone save the increase in their salary.
In other words, don’t stay at the job for safe salary increases over time. That will never get you where you want – freedom from financial worry. Only free time, imagination, creativity, and an ability to disappear will help you deliver value that nobody ever delivered before in the history of mankind.
5) Count right now how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life. I don’t like it when one person can make or break me. A boss. A publisher. A TV producer. A buyer of my company. At any one point I’ve had to kiss ass to all of the above. I hate it. I will never do it again.
The way to avoid this is to diversify the things you are working on so no one person or customer or boss or client can make a decision that could make you rich or destroy you or fulfill your life’s dreams or crush them. I understand it can’t happen in a day. Start planning now how to create your own destiny instead of allowing people who don’t like you to control your destiny. When you do this count, make sure the number comes to over 20. Then when you spin the wheel the odds are on your side that a winning number comes up.
6) Is your job satisfying your needs? I will define “needs” the way I always do, via the four legs of what I call “the daily practice”. Are your physical needs, your emotional needs, your mental needs, and your spiritual needs being satisfied?
The only time I’ve had a job that did was when I had to do little work so that I had time on the side to either write, or start a business, or have fun, or spend time with friends. The times when I haven’t is when I was working too hard, dealing with people I didn’t like, getting my creativity crushed over and over, and so on. When you are in those situations you need to plot out your exit strategy.
Your hands are not made to type out memos. Or put paper through fax machines. Or hold a phone up while you talk to people you dislike. 100 years from now your hands will rot like dust in your grave. You have to make wonderful use of those hands now. Kiss your hands so they can make magic.
One can argue, “not everyone is entitled to have all of those needs satisfied at a job.” That’s true. But since we already know that the salary of a job won’t make you happy, you can easily modify lifestyle and work to at least satisfy more of your needs. And the more these needs are satisfied the more you will create the conditions for true abundance to come into your life.
Your life is a house. Abundance is the roof. But the foundation and the plumbing need to be in there first or the roof will fall down, the house will be unlivable. You create the foundation by following the Daily Practice. I say this not because I am selling anything but because it worked for me every time my roof caved in. My house has been bombed, my home has been cold and blistering winds gave me frost bite, but I managed to rebuild. This is how I did it.
7) Your Retirement Plan is For Shit. I don’t care how much you set aside for your 401k. It’s over. The whole myth of savings is gone. Inflation will carve out the bulk of your 401k. And in order to cash in on that retirement plan you have to live for a really long time doing stuff you don’t like to do. And then suddenly you’re 80 and you’re living a reduced lifestyle in a cave and can barely keep warm at night.
The only retirement plan is to Choose Yourself. To start a business or a platform or a lifestyle where you can put big chunks of money away. Some people can say, “well, I’m just not an entrepreneur .”
This is not true. Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur: an ability to fail, an ability to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure. Or be an entrepreneur at work. An “entre-ployee”. Take control of who you report to, what you do, what you create. Or start a business on the side. Deliver some value, any value, to any body, to somebody, and watch that value compound into a carer.
What is your other choice? To stay at a job where the boss is trying to keep you down, will eventually replace you, will pay you only enough for you to survive, will rotate between compliments and insults so you stay like a fish caught on the bait as he reels you in. Is that your best other choice? You and I have the same 24 hours each day. Is that how you will spend yours?