Investing (your life) in a startup

before you earn

Learn before you earn

I spent the last 6 months without an income.

Don't feel bad for me. It was by choice. My learning stalled at my first job, so I quit to build something of my own. Things didn't work the way I had planned (not a billionaire yet), but it was the best investment I've ever made. In those 6 months, I learned two important things.

#1: I can live happily spending less than $1900 per month (including rent). #2: I enjoy marketing way more than sales.

Those two lessons alone were worth quitting my job, and I would've felt satisfied if they were the only benefits. Fortunately, they weren't. After 6 months of being self-employed, I recently threw in the towel and got a job at a hot startup in San Francisco. They doubled my salary.

I'm not suggesting you quit your job. My girlfriend would tell you I wasn't the biggest joy to be around the past half a year. I am suggesting you think carefully about what you're optimizing for early on in your career: earning or learning. If I had optimized for earning, I would NEVER have been offered a job by the company I'll be working at in a month.

"Why shouldn't I focused on getting paid?"

You should.

But don't do it at the expense of learning skills. You're early in your career and your expenses are low. The time is right, now, to take the job that gives you hands-on, comprehensive experience. If you have to take $30k less than your current job to learn skills in an industry that you enjoy, do it. You have a lifetime to make that money back. What you learn now will compound and be far more valuable than $30,000 over the course of your career.

"But my friends are making more money than me"

That's great, let them.

You're a competitive person. It's painful when someone beats you at anything. But this game is played in decades, not months and years. Just because someone is making more money than you this year, doesn't mean they'll be more successful than you (monetarily or otherwise) when it's all said and done. Be confident with the fact that you're investing heavily in yourself early on in your career. When you have a family to take care of and college educations to pay for, flip the switch and leverage everything you learned early in your career to land the high-paying job that may teach you less.

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