Courtesy of Hugh MacLeod
The following piece is an exclusive excerpt from ‘Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination‘ by Hugh MacLeod. Enjoy!
People love to imagine a worst-case scenario. Especially when it comes time to quit doing what they hate and start doing what they love instead…
Cindi is a very bright young friend of mine with a great career in front of her. She’s about twenty-six, and she’s been working her tail off in New York in the graphic design industry since she graduated from college a few years ago.
Cindi grew up in a single-parent household, so there was never a lot of money around. That’s OK; her mom was one smart, fun, tough cookie, and Cindi and her siblings always got good grades at school, so it all worked out rather well.
While she was getting her degree, Cindi had to pay her way through college. Happily she found this job (a) she really liked (b) was really good at, and (c) paid really good money: waiting tables at this fancy restaurant in Manhattan. She held down that job for years.
When I met her, Cindi was working for this small but kinda-sorta successful design agency, call it Acme Design (not its real name). It was founded by a pretty smart entrepreneur type, call him Joe Acme (not his real name, either).
When I met her, she was working all hours, doing a really good job. Busting ass, to put it plainly.
A few months ago, the phone rings. It’s Cindi.
“I’m thinking of quitting Acme,” she says.
“But I thought you really liked your job?”
“I did at first,” she says. “But I don’t think the company’s growing anymore. Plus, I think Joe’s gotten more interested in his new, far-too-young girlfriend than he is in growing the company. The same week he told us we weren’t getting any new pay raises this year, he bought the chick a brand-new Audi coupe.”
“Besides,” she continues, “I think I might want to start my own thing. I’m starting to get nibbles from potential clients wanting to work with me.”
“I just want to pick your brain,” she says. “What do you think I ought to do?”
“Sounds like a good time to move on,” I say.
“Yeah, but I’m kinda nervous about it.”
“Sure, but that’s normal. . . .”
So I gave her my two cents:
1. Her mother is very supportive of her idea to move on.
Besides, they get on very well. So she can always move back home to the suburbs if she needs to save money.
2. Acme Design is going nowhere, I can already tell. When a man starts trying to shtup his way out of a midlife crisis, you know there’s trouble afoot.
3. Cindi tells me she has no worries about going back and working for the restaurant. Not only was the money insanely great and she liked her job, she only quit her job at the restaurant because Joe Acme told her to.
4. The money at Acme stinks. Pretty much everybody who works there is broke by month’s end. Which makes it hard to stand up to Joe Acme when he’s having a bad day or having a bad idea. She was making plenty of money and still doing her job at Acme before Joe made her quit the restaurant. And since she had to give up that job, she feels a lot more powerless than she used to—without any increase in revenue. Just the opposite, in fact.
5. Cindi doesn’t mind the idea of going back to the restaurant. I tell her to do it. At the very least, she can save some money that way. A young woman with an extra ten or twenty thousand in her pocket has a lot more room to maneuver than a girl who’s broke at the end of every month.
So a simple game plan emerges: She goes and gets her old restaurant job back, she moves back in with mom to save money, she quits her job at Acme, and then she works in the mornings and afternoons for her new design clients, since her restaurant shift begins at five p.m.
When she gets off work she goes straight back home—she doesn’t bother with the after-hours thing with the guys and the gals at the restaurant. No late-night booze, drugs, and club sessions for this girl. No, she’s on a mission. Her colleagues at the restaurant, sadly, are not. They’re too busy being young, fun, and too coked-up to tie their shoelaces, let alone do something interesting in the long-term.
She’s still young. A couple more years of waiting tables won’t kill her—not if she’s saving money and using her off-time wisely to build her design business slowly and surely. I’d bet after a year or two, a girl with that talent and drive would easily be able to leave her waitressing job and start looking after her design clients for much better money, easily. And she’d still be well under thirty. What’s the worst that can happen?
Some of Cindi’s twentysomething peers raised their eyebrows a little bit, though. “Going back to waitressing? Isn’t that a backwards career move?” they said.
No, it isn’t, actually. She’s still young and what she’s doing is consistent with what she wants to do long-term. There’s no disgrace in waiting tables if it’s part of a long-term strategy. If she were just doing it because she had no earthly clue what else to do with her life, that would be different. But she’s not.
“The good news is,” I say to her, when she was just beginning to hatch this Evil Plan of hers, “you won’t die.”
So she went through with her Evil Plan. I was so proud. And the really good news is, she didn’t have to waitress or live with her mom for very long. Three months and she was gone. Three months and she managed to bag half a dozen high-paying clients for her business. Last time I saw her, she was wearing very expensive shoes and had moved into this very hip apartment in Brooklyn. Like I said, I was so proud.
And her colleagues back at the restaurant? They’re still there. Choices were made.
# # #
Hugh’s latest book, Evil Plans, is available through all major book sellers. You can find more of his writing and artwork at his popular blog, Gaping Void.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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140 Replies to “"Good News! You Don’t Die."”
Nice timing! I’m at a turning point where my day job, management consulting, pays well and takes 40 hrs/ less. But I don’t enjoy the type of consulting I do and want to transfer into another group. The downside is that transferring will eat up more of my free time, leaving me less energy and time for my passion, personal finance. I want to spend my work time building a career that excites me. The clock is ticking, and I need to decide on an exit strategy and really stick to it. Otherwise, I’m slowing progress toward my 10,000 hours. I’m 26 and can always have consulting, wealth management, or MBA as a back up.
thanks for the motivation
PS – As I re-read my comment, it’s clear that I was rambling; I’ve thought through this before; and I’ll be the female version of a fat, bald guy in a red sports car if I don’t act soon.
I like your response here because you’ve got what I’ll call a “traditional” career path job. One thing that I think gets lost in the discussions around muses and mobility is that not all of us are single and in our twenties (I realize that you may be exactly that, but bear with me). It’s possible to have a career in a more traditional sort and still do things like live abroad (I’m currently in Europe for a year, but my day job is based in Manhattan). On the other hand, it’s possible to be fed up with the day job but *not* be in a position to go back and live with your mother (I think my kids would find that a bit daunting to deal with). And if you’re paying for college next year and for the next eight to ten years, you can’t really take a 2/3 pay cut without really shaking up the apple cart.
I don’t say all this to say that change is therefore impossible once you reach a certain point–not at all. I agree with the premise of the article here that whining is really not an exit strategy. Rather, there are a whole set of issues that don’t get dealt with much in this particular venue–haven’t seen too many posts from high-paid management consultants, for instance–and those, um, challenges are pretty interesting too.
Meanwhile, I’m traveling around quite a bit this year — will be in Hannover at CeBIT next week if anyone else is in that neck of the woods.
I couldn’t agree more. The article is right on for a certain sect. However, there are those of us who are in their mid forties, with a well paying (yet unfulfilling) career, teenage son and well-established husband. A switch to pursue my passion at this point would be riddled with many challenges, not just for me but imposed upon my family. Like you, I am sure my spouse and son do not want to live with my parents :-). For those of you in your 20s – make your move now as it gets harder with age, spouses, and kids.
I quit my “day job” after I saved up 20.000 euros and moved to Shanghai / China. Now I’m in year 2 of re-defining my life. Meanwhile I’ve met thousands and thousands of people, learned Chinese, partied like Tim Ferris or Max Tucker (I had parties in my 140m2 apartment with 30 or more girls and just three of my best male friends), and, yes, written a book.
It takes time to become “oneself”. And I still have about a year good in terms of finance. I start to have the feeling of want to work again. And this time it will be something I really love.
You will succeed as well. Love this blog btw for its content and comments. Keeps us all going.
So you saved your money to move to Shanghai, live in an expensive flat have parties all the time and hope, that as soon as your money runs out there will be someone to catch you, give you a continuous flow of money for you to be able to party again?
Hey Yvette, nicely said! I totally get where you’re coming from, and I think it’s important (and timely) to really consider, in the ‘cold light of day’, what your reality is from time to time. There’s a lot that can come from this.
The alternative is uninspiring, passing years just getting by and not being excited for every day.
All the best in achieving your goals and life satisfaction!
Have a question! I just started on the diet and been on it 2 days. I have lost 4 lbs. I am confused! What kind of quick exercises am I supposed to be doing? What kind of “Health Food Store pills” am I supposed to be taking? I am scared that I am doing something wrong or that I am missing something. I want to really take off some weight, so can you help me out? Thanks for all your help! I have read bits/pieces of the book.
Miriam- All of these answers are in the book.
I’m a huge fan of Hugh’s work. I read ‘Ignore Everybody’ during one 45-minute long bus ride to work one day last year. Simple, beautiful, effective.
This is so true… I’m making some changes myself and found that figuring out the best case scenario is just as important as looking at the worst case scenario.
To move forward, you have to leave behind the things that drag you down.
Great inspiring story!
This comes at a phenomenal time for me. I’ve been working hard the past 3 years working an internet business, which has allowed me to move onto a lake and to florida from ny. Right now i’m also working as a valet attendant about 15-20 hours a week to make some cash for saving and investing. A lot of my friends think it’s crazy but i’m enjoying seeing more cash come in outside of the business.
It’s like getting random bonuses for being outdoors and parking cars so I really enjoy it.
This makes me realize that i’m doing the right thing and that it will keep getting better for me 🙂
Thanks for always sharing great info
The whole time I’m reading I’m thinking “This is what great writing feels like”. The ease of his storytelling and how well he develops the characters mixed in with his humor and great message…you’d think this guy was a pro 😉
Great post. Really love hughs work. My two favorite books are 4hourworkweek and Ignore Everybody.
Two random questions:
What’s your favorite neighborhood in SF?
When you travel like you are right now do you play it day by day or do you have an itinerary?
Tim, your message never ceases to inspire me. Being shown more of these cool links is awesome also.
Some day I’m going to buy you a beer and tell you how your books, and blog have changed my life.
Very inspiring. I am very happy to read this excerpt now as I’m kind of in a similar situation where I’m sacrificing short term money and steady income while I build a business. The choices we make are what’s important as well as the reason we make them.
Thanks for this. I’ll grab the book.
Great post Tim, you need a TV show to replace Tony Robin’s now. No-end jobs can be a drag sometimes but you have to stay positive and find out a better solution.
Dammit. Every time I have a good day at the mostly-bad job I’m planning to quit, you post something like this. Everytime I think I can lead a normal life where I work hard for someone else and get paid a fair but not-quite-enough amount, you post something like this.
I guess that’s part of your job, so thanks!
For Tim or anyone else… ever had a job you didn’t like, working for a boss you really did? Let’s say everything in this post remains true, except that Cindi in this article really likes Joe Acme and wouldn’t mind doing some freelance or contract work for him after she quits, and on top of that actually has become fairly necessary to the smooth operation of the company. Any inspiration on how to motivate myself to quit? Any words of wisdom on how I’ll get sued when I start my business if I don’t make a clean break now?
– Anonymized reader who has good reason to think his boss reads this blog
Great advice. It seems that so many young professionals feel trapped in their careers due to a perceived high price of giving up on all the time they’ve “invested” in a dead end.
I love this story, and it are things like that that really helped me pull through those first lean months working on my own.
Whining is never good. It only drags you down. Not only you but the people around you as well. Remember: Thoughts become Things.
If you feel that you want to change careers, examine your reasons carefully before taking the plunge. If possible, list down the PRO’s and CON’s of your decisions. Don’t rely on plain emotions and be logical about it. You wouldn’t want to make a hasty decision that you would regret for the rest of your life, would you?
What an absolutely mind blowing book! Im so friggin thankful for your post that led me to the work of Hugh. I cant believe that I had never read any of his work before, and I have alot of catching up to do. To start me off on the right foot I immediately purchased “Evil Plans” I like the idea, and I cant wait for my own world domination.
This reminded me of the ‘Keep the curtain up’ story in E-myth Revisited (p.140).
We are led to think the man was going nowhere in life, when in fact, he wasn’t cowering in fear, remaining at a dead-end job to appease the fear of the masses.
Cindy made it through and was not afraid of being seen that she might have taken a step back. Chapeau to her! The ego can really hold you back sometimes and in the case of Cindy, I can totally understand that her friends and others around her would have judged her for going back.
But she had the long-term in mind and worked towards it. People who aren’t aware of her plans would have judged her, but if they only knew they might have not. Good thing her planned worked out. I wish more people could be like her by not letting the ego getting the best of you.
Like Yvette said, the timing if this piece is perfect! I just started Ramit Sethi’s “Earn1K” course and am pursuing freelance ideas.
While I’m excited to think about how it will feel to work for myself, the nerves set in frequently. What makes it more difficult is the fact that all of my friends have “safe, secure jobs” and try to talk me out of my crazy ideas all the time.
Maybe I need new friends. Ha!
Anyways, thanks for the post!
An excellent read
Hugh writes some fantastic stuff. I love his comics and the fact that he manages to write in 5 words, what some people take 5,000 to say. I read Evil Plans in about an hour the other day and already passed it on to a co-worker. It’s good stuff. Go get it.
This was very timely. I am in exactly the same position as Cindi. It’s hard to convince people that you just want to keep working crappy slave jobs until your own project comes to fruition. For me, going the whole route of “college for 4 years->slightly OK job->work experience 5-10 years->high-paying but time-sucking job” just makes no sense at all. You can pay me minimum wage and treat me like a meatpuppet slave but you can never take away my FREEEDOOOMM111!!!!11 😉 *braveheart style*
Btw, I’m reading 4HWW at lunch breaks to keep the Evil Overlord motivation churning in the back of my head 🙂
I like Hugh’s work…. His statements in his cartoons are always spot on. Look forward to reading the work and going back to a crappy job!!!!
Great post Hugh!
I have a friend in a very similar position and I’ve just passed the post onto her. She’s plucking up the courage to put into action her master plan.
For anyone who is sitting on the fence but wanting to take action… There’s nothing more fulfilling that going after what you want.
I took a 2/3 pay cut from a job I hated to go after what I wanted. I now have my own internet business and do something I love… go figure!
Very timely. Love the title of Hugh’s book. Here I thought I was the only one whose hobby was plotting world domination. Lol. I’ve spent the last couple months having the bald fat guy creeping in, I think he got his imaginary ass beat when an acquaintance tossed me the keys to his Lamborghini Murcielago last friday and told me to “take her for a drive”, which I promptly did. If anyone has a fascination with fast cars, and has been needing a motivator, a test drive in a late model Lambo or Ferrari should be like igniting rocket fuel under their ass. At any rate, excellent story.
And lastly, Tim, I seem to recall you spending a little time in Brazil, if I’m right, did you try that wonderful concoction known as the Caiprinha?
Oh and almost forgot, there’s nothing wrong with red convertible sports cars……..as long as you don’t feel and look the part of the bald fat man….and its not a Porsche Boxster, Corvette or 3 series non-M3 BMW.. Lol
Boom! Guilty as charged and convicted more times than I care to admit. It really is so simple: “You Don’t Die.”
I’m not familiar with Hugh, but going to check him out now…thanks very much for your words.
Did your blog get hacked, Tim?
Received an update yesterday in a different style that’s not here on your site.
Viel Vergnuegung immerhin
I got that yesterday too. Was actually interested in reading the article. Anyway, the one today is great. I know many people doing this exact same thing!
Christine- I’m Charlie, Tim’s assistant. I accidentally published a draft post yesterday, then quickly deleted it. Unfortunately, the update still went out to all the feeds. Sorry about the confusion!
Life is all about choices and focus, I completely agree, Hugh!
Thanks for an inspiring post.
“Hey, don’t you see? The “right” circumstances, people, and opportunities are just like “good” ideas – they come to you fastest, once you relax.
Zip, Zap, Zop,
You have a choice everyday…to be happy or not. Choose wisely..:)
Love the Blog!
Babs in Austin
Thanks for sharing that story Tim. This comes at a very sync time for me, as I was just sitting in Barnes and Noble yesterday reading “The Science of Fear” by Daniel Gardner.
The author explains how afraid we’ve become as a species to do things, now more so than ever.
Putting fear into it’s proper perspective, “you won’t die,” gets us back to reality and I think facilitates capability and drive for people who want to negotiate reality.
When I read the FHWW, it really hit home for me. When you said things like “sell all the expensive stuff you bought,” and ask yourself questions like “how could I get back into the same career if I absolutely had to,” it made me realize how ridiculously petrified I was to quit a job that I hated. Then I realized that security has no real value without fulfillment.
Awesome post man,
GOOD JOB CINDI!
I’m in a similar situation so this helps keep it in perspective. Keeping the faith that it will all work out the way I want it to is the hard part.
Love the story – similar to my post: http://csillamoffat.com/courage-2/letting-go/. It takes courage but the rewards are always amazing. Cindi’s success is a touchstone to pull into our thoughts when we waiver and need that little push of courage. Thank you for sharing this!
It’s refreshing and inspiring to see someone of your stature mentor someone of a younger age. It makes me feel comforted in my journey as well.
I guess I don’t see why it would be an evil plan. When I did this 20 years ago, walking away from a successful, high-paying career in the world of giant, international corporations to try for a writing career, I just called it “pursuing the dream.” Nothing evil about it.
Never had to move in with mom, but I did have to work in retail for a little while, just to cover rent and insurance while I wrote. I did consider it an escape, however — even created what I called an “escape tape” — a recording of songs like “I’m Already Gone” and “Time for a Cool Change” — to play in the car during my commute for the year it took me to save up for the big leap.
But definitely not evil. It’s good and smart to go after a better career option — something that really uses your talents, fulfills needs other than money, and actually generates joy. For what it’s worth, it took more than the three months in the story above, but I’ve spent the last 20 years joyously filling my days with writing and world travel, and have even managed to garner a fair number of awards, on top of paying for a very comfortable lifestyle. It is not, perhaps, as much as I could have made if I’d stayed in that top floor office, but I probably would have spent the difference on a psychiatrist.
If you hate what you’re doing (unless the thing you hate is work in general — because changing careers involves a fair bit of work), then move on to something you won’t hate.
Of course, I should point out that while “evil” strikes me as wrong, “plan” is definitely a must. You do need to treat a career change as any other business and put a plan in place. But “the pursuit of happiness” is not evil — it’s a Constitutional right.
This one’s for Tim, sorry Hugh!
I just discovered your books (in reverse order, actually). I (figuratively) devoured the Four Hour Work Week in two sittings over the last two nights, and it’s raised some good points with me. At this point, my mind is racing with the possibilities, but I wanted to just say “Thanks” for writing it all down!
Always so much more fun to think outside the box and act on your wildest fantasies. What else is life for?
I spent 9 months in China teaching English to toddlers. Everyone back home is envious, saying stuff like: “I wish I could do that.” My answer: “You can. There aren’t enough native English speakers in the world to teach the number of Chinese who want to learn English.” So go already and stop yer sobbin.’ I’m busy planning my tenth trip overseas.
On an entirely unrelated subject: People are still doing COKE? How eighties. Sometimes retro isn’t cool.
For some reason I think Cindi is a stripper or works at a strip club – hence, the reason to “coke” up. I don’t think restaurants pay a lot of money either. Then again, I have never worked in a restaurant…
One of the things I try to impart to my clients is that failure is never as bad as they imagine it to be. They refuse to try something new (new job, new business, new pickup line at the bar) because they imagine the worst possible ending. It’s a tough mindset to overcome because it means they’re making decisions based on an imaginary worst case scenario, which means they always fail to move forward.
I’ve found that it’s good to talk through this worst case scenario in order to help them realize that it’s not truly that bad. You can find a new job, you have savings that will carry you through, you have a support circle of friends and family, that girl at the bar will not tell your parents you’re a failure and so on. Once they actually see that the worst case scenario isn’t that bad, they often move forward with a new idea or action.
In most cases, even if you fail, the outcome really isn’t as bad as you imagine it to be.
Loved the post as usual, and I’ll once again be contributing to your Amazon Affiliate program commission as I purchase the book. Supporting the cause as I see it.
I will be forwarding this to several people that come to mind right away, and took a few things away from it myself.
Your circle of friends and acquintances never fails to impress.
Keep up the good work!
Flipside Erotica: Both SIdes of the Story
IPPY Award winning author-2010
I really feel like this is where I am right now in my life. I stopped working for the man at a job that I didn’t think I could go anywhere with and I wasn’t making much money on top of that.
I’m 27 years old right now and I’m living back home with my dad as I’m pursuing my own dreams at world domination. I’m doing what I love and doing a side job to keep the cash flow coming in while I build my own personal business.
My dream business is on the rise and I’m steadily making more and more income every day. In the next 3 months I’m planning to keep growing the business and take a European vacation this summer. And the best part is that I’ll be able to keep building my business because it’s all online and I’ll be able to do it anywhere in the world.
Thanks for this post and I just ordered your “Evil Plan” book, can’t wait to read it and thanks for the inspiration!
That’s my story 1 for 1. Minus the restaurant (and a few minor details) bit.
Jump ship when the ship’s a floating “gaol”. It’ll probably stay harboured.
For all you sitting on the fence. Its time we got off and just tried it.
Cindi’s story reads like so many people today lost afraid insecure alone. Not sure where to turn. Really the answers are inside of all of us. There is a Youtube video that says
“Everything I want is on the other side of fear.”
Remember Tim’s posting being glad he faced his fears. It took him to new heights and into our lives. He faced his fears and put it all our there for others to see that we all have the same challenges as everyone else. Take a breathe and realise fear of not doing is the fear of death.
Do and fail or Do and succeed. There is no try.
It all goes back to Tim’s fear setting. It was a life saver for me. The first 10 minutes of thinking through the worst case scenario is terrifying. But once its out there, and you have your contingency plans on paper, staring back at you, its much easier to move forward.
I’ve done this thanks to Tim – what a huge inspiration! My startup is already making waves after just a few weeks. Thanks, Tim!
Great post! I just made a critical decision in my life recently with a strategic plan. The one thing that this post did not mention is that your own situation will change and you WILL find a way to adapt to the changing situation.
The criticial decision I made did not come without a few bumps in the road. I planned for a while to move to SF and the initially I was going to move with my now ex-girlfriend. Needless to say that did not work out and I had to move home with my parents and I had to sublet my new apartment in SF. After a few months of living at home, I found my current job (the best job to move for my career btw) and have moved up to SF permanently!
It was absolutely the most rewarding decision and I had never felt better achieving my goal.
Great post! No post has ever made me want to comment before.
Thank you for this article. It’s wonderful.
Man, this is so well timed for me. I quit my job about 6 months ago and have been working my ass off building a business I’d been exploring and getting feedback on for years but never had the guts to do. Now its done, the feedback is positive, but initial growth is slow. I’m getting really close to considering options like live with mom and dad for three months to see this thing through. Simple reminders like this are really helpful. I can get back to my unfilfilling career path if I have to, but in the meantime … there are options. Scary options … but survivable ones.
This is great stuff. I left my big day job in NYC last June to go out on my own and started my own Internet marketing, SEO and blogging business. And by using the exercises in the 4 HWW on “best-case” and “worst-case” scenarios helped move me forward for sure – as Hugh spoke about above. And actually, I did move back in with my parents in Colorado! But both for family illness reasons and it helps cut my costs…WAAAY back. But that’s only one way to skin a cat. This girl is doing very well with her plan, and big props to her.
It’s funny how judgmental people are. Thinking that it was a move back for her to go back to waitressing. And she’s only in her 20s! I’m 35 and I just made the move to work on my own. But living in NYC people think this way. Out here in Colorado, people wouldn’t care nearly as much.
Besides if you are OK with how you are – who gives a F!#K what other people think? Seriously, if you want to be a UPS worker because you like driving and delivering packages so be it – who cares!
It’s also funny how Hugh is judgmental about the people at the restaurant who are partying, like they’re lesser. They’re not, they’re just making their choices as we all do. Sure they’re not entrepreneurs like us here, but not everyone has that fire underneath. Or maybe they just don’t have it, YET. They aren’t as motivated to grow as the young lady in this article, there’s nothing wrong with what they are doing, they’re just doing what they want. Aware or unaware as they may be.
Love the article. It’s really amazing. After picking up 4HWW for a plane ride while working at a Financial Planning mill I started working on my own muses. Several things happened immediately after.
1. I reconnected with the love of my life, only this time she had just graduated from the english courses she came to California to learn and I empowered by several mentions of learning languages and a few natural gifts picked up enough portuguese to impress my Brazilian Princess into dating me.
2. Empowered by 4HWW I wasn’t afraid to leave my job when they were pressuring me for a move closer to LA that would have forced me into a premature “Come with me” or “I’m sorry this wont work cause I have to move for my 100K a year job”.
3. Moved to a local job with the promise of taking over ownership through a book of business buyout over time. When I realized this was just the owners attempt to under pay and over work me with a dangling carrot I knew I had to make some moves.
4. Married the love of my life in Brazil, met her amazing parents, learned to speak passable portuguese in a way and timeline I thought impossible previously and planned for the future and spent the most amazing month in the Northeast state of Pernambuco.
5. Quit my job for the second time and this time started my own independent insurance agency. Times were lean but I got through the first year making enough to get by.
6. Decided that to keep me motivated I needed part time income so that I could feel less desperate for clients and start choosing the right ones.
7. Got a job bartending part time at a great high end restaurant with awesome hourly earnings but no late nights so I’d be fresh and ready to work in the AM of my new business.
8. Increased production at my own insurance business while earning extra money on the side.
I was scared to go back into bartending / waiting tables because I thought in this small town of 150,000 that it might be looked at poorly. “Oh, your a bartender and you want to handle my 10 Million dollar General Liability? No Thanks!”. Actually the opposite was true, I started meeting people at work and have a great story to the exact clients I want, the family people who would put it all on the line and do whatever it takes to succeed. Clients I tell I’m unavailable at nights sometimes because I took on a part time job to help plan for my future family and keep my business running through some tough times are 50% more likely to close business with me than in the past. My numbers are going up and also the people I’m working with are so much more successful and less problematic. I’m taking the 80/20 rull and turning it over in its grave. I’m dealing with all the 20% that make me 80% of my money now and only taking those 80% who cause all the problems if its so simple that it would be stupid not to.
Tim, I’ve got to thank you so much for this progression, I’m not to the point of auto pilot but as you said, to each his own, I enjoy the insurance business you helped me to create and I enjoy my wife who in the past I may have moved away to hold onto my 9-5 for fear of not being able to make it.
Thanks so much!
Congratulations, Mark, and thank you so much for the great chronology! This made my evening 🙂
All the best and um abraco,
Bravo. Mark! congrats.
Quite a few people on the blog are moving to Brazil to live their dream. I wonder why? I hope to find out for myself someday. 🙂
Nice timing. Crossroads in relationship. Hard but exciting times. Always a worthwhile read Ferriss
very inspirational. =]. great post.
I can understand the sentiment but I do not like the sneering at young people for having fun. I think you need a balance of ambition/work/fun – what is the point of Cindi being successful and friendless? Putting off fun for a Soviet-style ‘work hard now, enjoy life later’ plan is surely what 4HWW is seeking to avoid.
OMG, OMG, OMG! I am presently working for an organization that cares little for professionalism, growing the company or the future of the business. My position here is probably equivalent to CEO if the company had such a title ( the whole organization is 2 owners and 4 employees including me).
It is the emotional toll that I’m concerned about when striking out on my own, not the chance that I’ll fail, but the chance that I’ll be throwing people under the bus that I genuinely like, but who also have taken me for granted for a while now.
One of the owner’s stopped taking an interest in the company a long time ago, the other has tried to oversee all aspects of operations, but lots of issues still slip through the cracks (like whole shifts go by w/o anyone minding the store, for instance).
I’ve been struggling with issues of loyalty to the company. It feels a little like contemplating divorce due to the length of service to this company (13 years). I’ve had offers from competitors that I’ve declined, as leaving feels a little like back stabbing to me. At the same time I fear for the future of the company as our competition is wising up and will soon be eating our lunch if we don’t get on the ball in several areas of the business.
So how do you deal with the emotional entanglements of leaving your employer and striking out on your own in the same field? I suppose the book will have the answers and I will definitely check it out!
Remember the company doesn’t give a crap about you or what makes you happy. They will cut your throat if it makes financial sense to them. please don’t make the mistake of thinking the company cares anything about you or your future!
This was great!
I know what it feels like – the animal part in us thinks there’s a saber-tooth tiger around the corner, that’s what fear does to you, and it can be paralyzing.
It’s stopped me from creating new product, posting blog posts that I spent hours on….you name it.
Awesome case study!!
I love Hugh’s website! And I love this story! I agree that we should all be having a “conversation” about this.
I’ve always been the crazy girl on the block for all the turns I’ve taken in life. Yeah, I’ve been the crazy girl that gets what she wants 🙂
It’s always worth going with an Evil Plan. Both Hugh and of course, Tim, are awesome examples!
Very inspirational article. It sounds like a strong call to action to learn how to freelance. AKA – develop a valuable skill and acquire clients. I’ve been putting off learning this art, and have been considering buying Ramit Sethi’s program Earn 1k for quite some time now. Perhaps it’s time to make the leap.
Glad she is smart and practical. She had the restaurant job and living at home helps with bills.
Most small business fail in the first 5 years. It takes smarts,timing,money and persistence. I don’t think a graphic design business would have a lot of overhead either.
I know 4 people who are launching their own business… Editing,design,etc…
Some will survive but the unrealistic won’t
I have been self employed for 15years and it took me 3years to turn a profit. Luckily I lived thrifty and saved a lot
I first read 4HWW in 2007. I skeptically opened it in the book store and didn’t get up from my seat for 3 hours – read in one sitting. I had just resigned from a a soul-sucking entry level corporate sales position a few years out of undergrad, was thinking of going to law other grad school and doing some soul searching. Reading Tim’s experience with TrueSAN totally floored me. I was so excited after I read it, I felt unstoppable. Grad school wasn’t happening – I was going to make it happen on the internet marketing/entrepreneurial world. I dove full force into this ‘world’, devouring the works of everyone from Seth Godin, Dan Kennedy, Michael Gerber, all of the big names of marketing and entrepreneurship.
I’ve been continuously involved in real estate and internet marketing ventures since then. I’ve more marketing and business books and courses than all my friends put together. I cut out a lot of my social life in the process, even broke up with my girlfriend to give myself more time to focus on “making the dream happen”.
3.5 years later, I’m 28 but broker than my 23-24 year old roommates just coming out of college, who I am living with because it’s all I can afford. I wish I could pinpoint the thing I did wrong, the area I need to improve, but I can’t see the forest through the trees. I’m totally disillusioned. I wish I could say I learned something from the things I’ve tried, but I don’t think I did. Mainly I get a headache when I think of all the sacrifices I made and the lack of progress.
Also, my Dad was a freelance video producer and my parents were always flipping out about money because his business was so inconsistent and my mom was a teacher’s aide for the public schools. My Mom would whisper in my ear “make sure you get a safe secure job so you don’t end up like this”. Maybe that had more of an effect than I suspected, who knows. But it does weigh on my conscious increasingly now. How can I ever raise a family or be a partner in a relationship when I can barely take care of my own needs because I’m always crashing and burning with business?
Anyway, I don’t want this to be the story of my life. This is no way to live. I feel I need a total re-define my identity while I still can. I’m considering joining the US Military or even the French Foreign Legion. I’m still healthy and in good shape; this might be my last shot to make something of myself. Yes I will lose free will, but at least I’ll have camaraderie and do interesting things. Because let’s face it, so far my track record with free will hasn’t been all that great.
@joe First, I would like to say, you’re a brave person to dive in to business like that. And I’m sorry to hear that it hasn’t worked out so far. There is definitely No Shame in going back to getting a job if you decide to. (I wouldn’t recommend joining the military in any nation) I would like to suggest keeping the business going Part-Time. You probably put in a lot of work, study, time and also made a lot connections over the years. Keep utilizing those things even if you decide to change industries. There are no guarantees in business or in employment. All an entrepreneur can really hope for is the opportunity to try and press on, because otherwise the chance of succeeding is zero.
Keep Pressing on! You can do it! 🙂
@David Thanks for the words of support. I have actually been continuously employed in 2 different positions doing in-house online marketing for real estate-related companies, while doing this I have attempted a several ventures on the side – freelance gigs (yes I took Ramit’s course) and a real estate related start-up. But nothing has really worked out to any substantial. If I could pinpoint the exact issue – I didn’t manage the clients expectations, I didn’t do enough market research, whatever- I wouldn’t be writing this because I would have taken a all-out effort to fix it. But now 3.5 years of trying so hard to make things happen and not getting anywhere, I just feel burnt out. I don’t know if I even enjoyed online marketing. Looking back I guess I saw it as a means to an end to reach the 4HWW “lifestyle”. I am just wondering when is it appropriate to diagnose I’m just not cut out for internet marketing/entrepreneurship – 5 years? 10 years?
As an Army officer leading troops I’d get leadership experience, and a lot better pay that I’m making now especially when you factor in all the benefits like food, housing, etc. I could support a family. I could retire in 20 years with dignity, unlike my Dad who never got anywhere being self-employed, and just took early withdrawal from Social Security this year at 63 because he had no alternative.
Again this is a serious decision and I appreciate your feedback, it means a lot.
Great Post, great book.
I’m in my 40s and have two kids in college right now. My husband is a school teacher at an elementary school.
I quit my day job 4 years ago to do my own thing (website and graphic design). I’m actually working harder than I was at my unfulfilling job, but getting to sit in front of my computer at 2pm in my jammies, well, it’s worth the trade off. Plus I realized I was working too cheap and doubled my rates… nobody blinked.
I can take vacations when I want, work at night and sleep during the day if I want. Go shopping or walk the dog in the middle of the day, or whatever.
I have the freedom to do this because we can easily live on just my husband’s income. We bought our house 13 years ago and didn’t ransacke the equity during the bubble; we just re-fied and our mortgage payment is only a bit over $600 a month. The only interest we pay is on the mortgage and I’m making extra principle payments every month, should have it paid off in 6 years or less. Plus, being frugal is a bit of a hobby of mine.
I love the blog (and book) and love Hugh’s work. but this post was a little too bland and generic.
I love learning about new authors and books I normally wouldn’t come across. Will have to take a look at his book because I really enjoyed this excerpt.
I’m glad she loved working at the restaurant and it helped her in a time of need. I work in a restaurant and have a completely different opinion of the business. But that’s why everyone is different.
I have followed the book’s advice word for word and have moved to thailand to work on my muse.I read it religiously as if its MY bible. I guess that makes you Tim Ferris my messiah.
I purchased a skype number but still I am having trouble communicating with the US for a reasonable cost.
The connection is terrible and have become frustrated.
My quote from an american company for direct internet by satellite was $27,000 for hardware plus $2,500 per month.I hired virtual assistance in Bangkok but no solution thus far.
How can I receive and make phone calls either by forwarding numbers or otherwise that works as well in practise than it is supposed to in theory??
Anyone know? please help.
You can try this. Get the skype to go number set up in the USA, and purchase the US Unlimited policy. This will only help you making calls however and when you have internet access on your computer with microphone set up and speakers. You can then call anyone in the US on your computer and its all included. If your set up online then you can get calls from anyone who calls your skype to go number, you wont have a good option for cell phone really. It’s all pretty expensive to dial cells in southeast asia and other places.
I can totally relate to this story. I’m a pharmacist currently doing government service and I have another 2 more years before I leave. Meanwhile i’m finding my way around the whole IM thing so that by the end of the 2 years i’ll have something to do outside of my job.
As usual, amazing post! (And another book to add to my reading list.)
However, reading the comments, I feel there needs to be a stronger emphasis on the fact that Cindi still had a well-paid job. Way too many people completely stop at once doing what they are doing to throw themselves into their idea. They must be courageous to break from the past, but also wise to have something to rely on while building their future.
Wow this is a great post! I checked out Hugh’s site and downloaded his success manifesto which was awesome. I even got the book for my kindle and have started reading it. It’s been super interesting so far.
Hmmm, I have to say, I’m not a fan of this post.
Too much attitude and no solid Content. It’s just an excerpt and I’m sure that the Actual Book is Much Better. But as a post, it is not much. There is no real point to the story other than the author calling Cindi a good girl for following his advice. Seems like a credit building chapter than something of actual substance. To be more brutally honest, I couldn’t care less about fictional Cindi(spelled with an “i”) or her not-really-evil plan. What I really want from a story like this is actual case studies which can be verified.
Is it just me or is there a horde of books lately with a lot of attitude but without any good points? It always goes the same.
A. Someone was in trouble
B.he/she took the author’s advice despite objections from their social circle. C. he/she made a lot of money and author is now credible.
D. Author’s 10 steps to success.
And Usually those 10 steps Suck horribly.
My two cents on a soap box. 🙂
I forgot to add that the excerpt is written to trigger an emotional response, instead delivering actionable points. Boo-hoo. Cindi wasn’t a party girl. Who cares? I care even less about her expensive shoes. It is kind of funny she worked at same company which supplies “Wile Coyote” with defective products, though.
What I really want to know is “what was her business strategy?”, “How did she attract ‘high-paying’ clients?”, “what product/service did she actually sell?”, “what kind of marketing did she use” and so on. Since there is no mention of those things, I have to say things post is a dud.
my four cents on the soap box. 🙂
I enjoyed this post mostly for its inspirational content. I would assume that it’s intent is to help those of us (like myself) you have yet to free themselves from the shackles of the contemporary modern way of life and shift into the new paradigm to get up off our asses and do something. For that I thank Tim for continuing to a) blog about whatever he wants to on his blog, and b) care about people in general rather than just catering to readers who have already been successful.
To Tim: I don’t know how much you’ve payed attention to rhetoric (communication theory, not political slander) in everything you do, but these types of posts are definitely what keeps your ethos high. Whether, they are by design, or just personal interest and direction, they are helpful to the least of us.
My only issue with the anecdote itself is that this young woman’s situation is very easy to assess. Anyone separated from her daily life should have been able to lay out how obvious that path was.
Something that involved applying fundamental principles to a much more stark situation would be both more informative and more inspirational.
In other words, you wanted me to write a marketing textbook.
You know, the kind nobody actually reads, unless they’re made to.
“Actionable Points”? Oh Dear… 😀
Yeah whining doesn’t help. It helps to think on How to do something about it.
Nice article mate!
Ahh I dig it…
I’ve gone through a similar thing… I just graduated last year, but I’m doing consulting and freelancing here and there while I grow my business.
I was really freaked out at first. I used to silently think about my peers who all had jobs, and I kept questioning my sanity in a very literal sense.
But now I’m starting to see indiations of growth, and I’m very excited and proud of myself. I know in the long term I won’t regret my decision.
I have a little dilemma myself – I have a good well paid job and travel quire a bit every year.
My dilemma is.. I am in my mid-thirties and would love to work and live abroad. But this would mean giving up the good job.
I would also love to build a nice house at home in Ireland, but I would be tied to a mortgage and that would end my travels!
That’s a killer story, and a great way to get the point across. It brought me back to my restaurant days; there certainly is a difference between using a job like that as a means to an end verses a career path.
I know a lot of people that 10 years became 20, it became a lifelong career path, and they now spend their days and nights trying to steal good tables from 20 year olds.
Every exit is an entrance to somewhere else.
Love that Sean!!
I think that knwoing where you are going is most important. Staying in a job that may seem prestigious but is going nowhere is pointless.
“Don’t get stuck in the treadmill and If you booze and coke up after each shift your career will suffer.” Is that the take-home message here?
Hardly a newsflash if you’re already reading this blog, though I can see how the fantasy of an “evil plan” might appeal to some people.
Good luck with the book Hugh.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! Perfect timing for me to read this. I am thinking of a way to get out of my hell hole job and get into something I can be excited about every morning. Even if i make less money but I am more happy and its fulfilling then its all good. Obviously the plan is to make more money in less time and free up time for dreamlines but worst case scenario, I will be happier no matter what.
I don’t want another J.O.B. (just over broke). I’m was never wired to work for other people. I’m single, no kids and just turned 37 on the 23rd and I am ready to see the world and bless alot of people along the way. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I wanna make my living inspiring people 🙂
Great post Tim! I am 28, have a University degree and have been working in restaurants for several years. I have many moments when I feel like waiting tables should be part of my past and not in my present, but, like Cindi, it works for me while I am trying to pursue other things (I am a freelance writer, blogger and consultant). I make good money and have a flexible schedule that allows me to do what I want. But I can’t wait to quit waiting tables and do my own thing…
This is a very important thing for all of us to internalize. Thank you, Tim.
You know, I realized that NorCal is very much like the modern Athens. The pleasure of wisdom and food. And if that is the case, you are very much like Aristotle, Mr. Tim Ferriss.
I believe SoCal is the modern Rome. The adulation of simple icons.
I think I would like to be Marcus Aurelius
Actually, no. You are my generation’s Morpheus.
Do I want the RED PILL (4HWW) or the BLUE PILL (facebook) to escape the boring industrial world and free my mind?
We all need to find our Trinity, don’t we, Tim?
Love how you ended this one.
Just bought your book, reading it and loving it! You like learning languages and I have a chronodream: je t’apprends le français, tu m’apprends la business, tout le monde gagne! I can also teach you knitting:) Je suis une infirmière canadienne, je ne connais rien au monde des affaires, je soigne les enfants malades et je fais la promotion des bonnes habitudes de santé.
Talk to you soon, in French!!
Been following your blog for a while, in the hope that you elaborate further on deconstructing skills. Specifically, I’m trying to deconstruct violin playing, since I fell a lot behind my peers by virtue of not wanting to practise countless hours a day; however, I am willing to take the “work smart, not hard” approach to get to a high level in technique.
Obviously, my goal is not to become the next big concert superstar (I decided to specialize in composition instead of performance), but I feel that I am missing out on details due to not being able to play most of the repertoire. I have started doing at least one hour of scales and technical exercises each day, believing I’ll get more RoI from that than just trying to plod through pieces.
Rant aside, what do you and the rest of the community think I should do about finding ways to deconstruct the most critical elements of technique, so I can then focus on efficiency of practice?
Think in increments. Push yourself just a little every day. Set a weekly goal that is achievable and that is just a little above your current ability. For example, practice a peice of music at say 80 bpm with a metronome. The next week take it up to 90 bpm – and so on until you are comfortable at playing at at the proper tempo.
Another outsourced article, sigh. It’s becoming clear that this, along with promoting himself and his brand, are Mr. Ferriss’ true talents. Show me the $$$$!
Thanks Tim – i wasn’t aware of Hugh prior to reading this blog. I have since checked out his blog and was impressed. I will be buying his book.
I haven’t read Hugh in years; he’s still great.
I used to do a similar exercise when I had a stressful job working with two super type A bosses.
One of them had a penchant for raising his voice or asking pointed questions (he liked to throw people off balance). I learned to deal with it by telling myself “he’s not going to bite.” Literally. He wasn’t going to kill me or hurt me. Seeing it that way made him much easier to deal with and effectively disarmed his control tricks for me. Others were terrified of him. I just imagined him trying to bite me…zen.
As for taking on a side job sometimes or even a ‘lesser’ job when trying to move things forward; I’m a big fan. It’s way better than moping at home and ends up being way more motivating than asking for help.
ElamBend , Thanks…
I notice with artists who have to wait tables for a living, there are two kinds:
1. Those who just see it as a means to an end, and get on with it.
2. Those who resent it, who think it beneath them.
Guess which group is more likely to succeed as artists?
@hugh: I worked as an attorney, then wrote books, then got divorced and found myself at Starbucks…loved it. But acquaintances went into in shock, as though such a job was beneath me…my view was, “It’ll probably end up in a book someday… experience is never wasted.” Plus I had a lot of fun.
And the people who know me well weren’t surprised at all 🙂
I always thought that moving back home meant taking a step backwards. After having done so myself I noticed I am light years ahead of many of my friends while nearing graduation. It’s good to see there are other supportive parents out there that help out while their kids are finding their footing in the world.
Yup, did the same, quit a career-in-the-making at the office and became part-time mailman. Set up my 4h business and I am working and relaxing in my cottage in the mountains 🙂
It’s great to see this book being talked about here. I am reading it for the second time because it’s not only a great read but very entertaining. I will probably read this book forever.
I don’t think what she did is wrong, we sometimes need to do these sort of things, if we have a focus and we know that we’re not going to stay in the job for life, it’s alright.
Shit, I had to do some work I didn’t like in my life, but you know what it served me well as an experience and now I get to talk about it. Life isn’t perfect, nothing is, stop whining.
So true. So many people are afraid to take that plunge and do whatever is necessary to find success on their own. The fact is, it’s not that hard to do. A cannonball is much more successful than a tiptoe in the water.
Now that is what I call a very well written story. People just tend to judge others based on the first impresion, sometimes, following a long term plan is much more about confornting people, then making a big steps.
Just wanted to chime in.
“Going back to waitressing? Isn’t that a backwards career move?”
This reminded me of your “Doing well -vs- Living well” post.
Sure going back to waitressing may be a backwards “career move”. But in this instance it is very clearly a forwards “life move”.
oh the simpletons of the world …
This couldn’t have been better timed for me to read this. 7 years of driving a truck, the last 3 hating it. Gave my 2 week notice this past Friday. And no, my family and I won’t die. If anything, we’re going to be getting “better and better” with me not on the road anymore. Thanks for everything you throw out here Tim.
hey! i’m a college student in LA and following Tim’s plan from 4 hr body helped me drop 20 pds in just under a month. contact me for a testimonial.
LOL! I saw this and could think of a few that spend all their time doing just that: Whining when its time to move up or move on. It is so easy to get caught up in the negative. I love the way the “evil plan” was worked out so that there was acceptance and acknowledgment that sometimes returning to where you were to continue on the right path was a positive thing and not considered a “bad idea” as many of those that are still “stuck” thought. Sometimes are refusal to do the “not favorite thing” in life is the very reason we stay “stuck.”
Wonderful. This blog provides very helpful information. Thanks for sharing.
It sound like a good plan and solid advice. I guess part of me would want to know more about the girl – her temperament, passions (strong interests) and reasons/motives behind some of her decisions. However if she is happy and fully engaged with life then I guess all my questions are answered.
Right! Thanks for this post tim. There are many reasons why I loved your blogs. Very inspiring and useful. They also have sense. 🙂 Thanks again tim.
This is not related to the post, but I feel I must tell you.
I had written to you several times that no matter how much I try I cannot find T4HWW in India. But finally the scenario has reversed. Today I found the updated 4HWW in a prestigious book shop in Pune in the ‘Recommended’ section. I was so happy to find it there (though I had to wait 4 years).
One thing though.
The book is expensive compared to the other popular non-fiction books in the market. But no worries. I am still gonna buy it.
I guess I will have to wait another 4 years to get the 4 hour Body.
However, I am finding a wonderful title for an imaginary book of mine.
‘The 4 year wait to live the 4 hour life’.
Now I am gonna go and read the post.
Hi! Thought you would like to know that your research has had another unintended consequence! I am watching my 4 year old twins ignore an entire plate of fried food to eat black beans straight out of the fridge! THANKS!!!! Here’s to ending childhood obesity! Guess Mom’s gonna get more creative with meals.
fantastic story! thank you!
I loved the article, I’ve started started down a similar path as of the last few months. I was working as a project manager at a technology company that also was NOT going anywhere. The same week we were told that our benefits were cut in half and forget the notion of a raise (no one had one of those in years), the owner/tyrant buys a new van!
A couple things are wrong with this picture. If I’m going to work for someone for an extended period of time, I want them to drive a car I want and live a lifestyle I’m shooting for. And second, what the hell!? We work as ass off for an ungrateful guy and get less while he gets more. No thank you!
All that was harshly punctuated by the sudden and unexpected death of my father whom to me was my best friend. So it was time to go!
I left that place took several months off. Now I’m working 3 days a week (not quite a 4 hour work week … yet) at a company doing graphic design work, which I really enjoy.
With my free time I’m working on my organic tshirt company, looking for small graphic design gigs and spending time with my mother and girlfriend.
I don’t make as much money as before and I ran through my savings during the time off, but I’m happier despite what happened. It’s still a hard road for me without a doubt, but I agree with the author. It’s not at all a step back, it’s a strategic maneuver. One that will lead me to my ultimate love and passion in life.
So thanks for the post (and the book), it really rings true for me.
Whining is always bad. Leaving the nest is almost always a good thing. Otherwise the baby birds never grow up and learn how to fly.
Frankly I’d rather work 24-hours a day 7-days a week for myself than put in one more hour for some slave-driving nitwit who only wants to use my work as a stepping stone to his own fame and fortune.
Nice post! I was just thinking worse case scenario on a situation. This post helps, am encouraged to move on with my life and stick to what matters most.