A few years ago I had the good fortune of getting to interview Tim Ferris for The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. It’s a conversation that I’ve revisited a handful of times over the last few years. Like the hidden benefits of reading a book more than once, there are benefits to listening to a podcast more than once.
One of the questions I asked was “what enables people to amass a significant amount of wealth?” This is what he said.
1. Appreciation for What You Already Have
If you don’t appreciate what you have now, you’ll never appreciate what you get later — Tim Ferriss
If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, and can pay your bills without working three jobs, you have it pretty damn good. By many standards this a privileged life. But so often we get caught up in comparison. We read about somebody selling their startup, raising their latest round of funding and so on. As a result, we don’t appreciate how good we have it. The easiest way to cultivate appreciation is through the practice of gratitude, just one part of my daily routine backed by science that will make you happier.
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2. The Ability to Complete Question Any Best Practice or Assumption in Any Industry
Unless your willing to question your current reality, there’s no way you’re going to change it. I don’t remember who said it, but nobody every changes the world by confirming to its ideals.
- Example: To Build a Successful Company You Have to have an office and raise money in a certain way.
- Counter Example: Automatic, which powers WordPress has a completely distributed workforce, 100’s of people all over the world, no central office per se, and it’s worth billions.
As my friend AJ Leon once wrote: “very few organizations have the courage to do something outside of the parameters of what is considered normal.” But those that do have the courage to question any best practice in any industry are the ones that end up making an Unmistakable mark on the world.
3. Don’t Waste Energy
In our conversation, Tim told me a story about an encounter he had with Matt Mullenweg.
While traveling in Vietnam, he and Matt were playing pool. Tim saw a tweet from a well-known journalist that said: “not happy, looks like wordpress.com is really slow right now.”
When Tim Asked Matt about this, he said “yeah, one of our two data centers is down. Tell them that we’re working on it.” Tim said, “isn’t that a big fu@##ing deal.” Matt basically said there’s no point me getting ruffled up about it.”
Think about how much energy you waste every day on petty bullshit that’s both in and out of your control. Maybe an employee screwed up.
- Maybe something is taking longer than you want it to.
- Maybe galleys for your upcoming book got printed with the wrong cover (true story).
What would happen if you didn’t waste that energy and preserved it for something useful? Your state of mind is one of your most priceless assets. Treat it accordingly
4. Attention Management
You can have all the time in the world. But if you’re distracted, preoccupied with something, and check your email Saturday morning even though you’ve committed to do it Monday morning, and you find a bunch of problems you can’t fix until Monday morning, your weekend is gone. You’re not going to have any relaxation or productivity. — Tim Ferriss
I’ve said before that if you learn to manage your attention, time will take care of itself. But managing your attention is a skill. And every time you multitask, check your email or get interrupted by some notification, you become worse at this skill. If learning to manage your attention could increase the size of your bank account, perhaps it’s worth doing.
5. Say No to Almost Everything
If you say yes to the everything that’s kind of cool, you will not have the bandwidth to do the amazing “hell yes game-changing things.” — Tim Ferriss
Until you learn to say no to everything that’s not aligned with your essential priorities, you’ll never make progress on the things that matter most. You’ll say yes to a thousand small utterly useless things.
In the process of getting ready for a book launch, I realized that I had one essential priority, write articles.
- Articles lead to email subscribers
- Email subscribers lead to book sales.
Because of this, writing is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning.
Personally, I really love how Paul Graham defined wealth: .
Wealth is not the same thing as money. Wealth is as old as human history. Far older, in fact; ants have wealth. Money is a comparatively recent invention.
Wealth is the fundamental thing. Wealth is stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. If you had a magic machine that could on command make you a car or cook you dinner or do your laundry, or do anything else you wanted, you wouldn’t need money. Whereas if you were in the middle of Antarctica, where there is nothing to buy, it wouldn’t matter how much money you had.
It’s easy to confuse having money with being wealthy. If you have a ton of money, but no close friends, and are in terrible physical health, that’s not wealthy. True wealth is not just having success, but health, happiness and all the intangible things you can’t assign a monetary value to.
Gain an Unfair Creative Advantage
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