M&Ms: Why do this for so little?
Why entrepreneurship when one could make so much more in a job on the109th edition.
"Are you sure the freedom and the learnings from playing this internet game are worth the cost, Louie?" A friend recently asked me as he made me an offer to retake a high-paying job.
Before quitting my big corporate job, in 2021, my total compensation grew close to a million a year. The younger me from a decade ago would have never believed that I’d be able to walk away from that.
Meanwhile, last year I made only about $100k in internet money.
But while that internet money last year was a lot lower, everything else was a lot higher.
But my friend, somewhat playing devil's advocate, somewhat wanting to work with me again, said, "Are you sure you don't have some sort of cognitive dissonance now about how valuable 'these entrepreneurial lessons' are?"
I retorted, "Nothing is forcing me to keep doing this. If I didn't think there was value to doing it, I could throw in the towel."
You see, most engineers benefit immensely from learning to:
– communicate better
– do a little marketing
– build relationships
I certainly did.
When you are so bad at these things, the gains from getting better at them aren't 1x. When you come from a big deficit in them, as most software engineers like me do, the gains are exponential and hard to quantify.
It is tough to learn communication, relationship building, and marketing well without forcing functions to do it all. You could fool yourself for years by building side projects that go nowhere. I certainly did that too.
Daniel Vassallo says technical people are so afraid of doing actual marketing now that it might be the only reason they join Y Combinator. He has a point.
But his point only increases the value you get out of improving at sales and marketing—all the more reason to build these skills up.
And don't get me wrong, you can learn a lot from side projects. I know I did over the years.
But the learnings are never the same as when your survival is on the line.
When your survival is on the line, you'll do things you never imagined you could do. Things such as convincing hundreds of strangers from the internet to go on Zoom webinars live so they can learn from you. Like I did multiple times last year and this year, or charge for your SaaS software from day one. I rewired my entire brain in the last year.
These lessons are more valuable to me now than my college education was.
But it's not just the lessons and the assets you build up.
It is also freedom.
Most great engineers, and people that understand tech, benefit immensely from creative freedom.
Big Corporations love to fool you that you have ownership and creative freedom.
But you don't have nothing compared to the freedom and ownership you could have working on your own stuff.
The freedom to work on what you want is hard to put a price on. And over the years, that freedom could lead to much better outcomes than a salary in a place where they own you fully. With your own stuff, your upside is uncapped. But even if it never leads to a better outcome than a big corporate salary, even if it only leads to a decent lifestyle, it's still worth it.
Freedom to work on what you want to work on means happiness.
Here is how Arnold Schwarzenegger describes being able to do what he loves to do all the time and for a living:
There is nothing more satisfying for creative people than creative freedom. As Arnold says, "It's terrific; I am in heaven." And software engineering is definitely a creative field. You could build anything.
But it's not just the lessons or the creative freedom either. It is also the ability to live on your own terms. To walk your kids to school every day, to pick them up every day. To teach them to ride a bike when they come back. To go to a school picnic in the middle of the day, and so on.
But the thing is, I am not special. I don't come from money. And I am far from the only one doing this. In fact, some of the best relationships I have stumbled into that I count as big wins from this game, such as making friends like Daniel Vassallo and Chris Wong, whom I teach with inside Small Bets, and many other Small Bets community members, are all in similar boats.
Like me, many of these people have had Big Corporate jobs in incredibly in-demand fields and could return to a Big Corporate job and earn a lot more in a heartbeat.
And to add to this, I am far from being out of the woods where I don't need to make more money.
That's what makes these high-paying job offers from friends very tempting.
So why do I do this?
Because I weigh that Big Corporate job money against the lessons, against the creative freedom, against my lifestyle freedom, and against the fact that I am making some money, and it is generally going up, not down.
When weight against all of that, the decision is a no-brainer.
A story in a few Tweets:
This tweet by Molly went viral this week.
Then people were quick to point out her previous Tweets. Mainly that someone along the line, somewhere, got out of poverty. Or Molly wouldn’t have this nice library.
This all blew up so much that it became a Meme.
Then Codie Sanchez pointed out in a thread how dangerous loneliness is to people.
And I think this is the root cause of Molly’s and many other people’s issues today.
They are poor in relationships, and no amount of money or worldly things can fix that.
Two Newsletters you should check out:
Jeff dives into the various paths our lives could go down. A recent student of our newsletter course in Small Bets expresses some deeply insightful thoughts in this edition.
Another new and wonderful newsletter but this one with deep experience in investing and business valuations.
Two Memes: Not Secure, and Dads
Nothing screams you are not secure, like going to a website that is HTTP and not HTTPS.
Blair is right; men, and especially dads, do love those things.
Here is me, doing Dad stuff today.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there!
As always, thank you for reading.
P.S. You can reply to this email; it will get to me, and I will read it even if I can’t always reply in a timely manner.