My family saw finances as scrimping and saving, stashing nuts in the tree. This book is not about stashing nuts. This book is about how corporate America can smash our nut collection with the ease of a pink slip.
We all want to live at a high level, but few are willing to leap. And leaping is non-negotiable. The right tactics minimize risk, but we’re always going to feel the breeze.
If we wait until our next move is assured, years will sneak by. Waiting for the right time is how people become ordinary. Developing a practice of habitual, calculated risk is the smartest response to the failed guarantees of the 9 to 5 lifestyle. The ultimate definition of entrepreneurialism is having the confidence to create new (and better) structures rather than accept those imposed upon us by amoral institutions.
Those with a spiritual bent would call this type of creation an act of faith – an acknowledgement that to live as the gods intended, we have to take that huge first step without knowing what lies ahead. More often than not, those who take that leap find that something meets them halfway. Thoreau used to say that when you take that leap, kinder laws of the universe go into affect and carry you forward. But that’s not always the case: there is such a thing as a hard landing also.
So what happens when we make our move and smack into a wall? Success guru Tony Robbins used to talk about the concept of lag. “Lag” provides one explanation for the phenomenon of delayed transformation. Lag dictates that there will be a delay between any change we make to our lives and the definitive signs that the change is working. Unfortunately, the reality of lag opens us up to all kinds of self-sabotage.
Most folks fail not because they didn’t try, but because they gave up before a better way took hold. Lag is a mother to endure. True, some changes happen quickly, like telling your boss to find a new sucker or reconciling with an ex. But most changes take significant time, and while change plays out behind the scenes, there’s plenty of opportunity to second guess.
Lag is humbling. How many of us have unfinished projects we abandoned when we ran out of steam? I have a half-written screenplay about zombies that broke my will easily. Now it sits there unfinished, mocking me and my desire to make films. I have friends enduring difficult stages in their careers, back in school for statistics class, busting ass at restaurants while trying to pull together the right prerequisites for medical school.
Financial changes are like that too. We resolve to get out of debt finally and for good, then we get hammered by a car repair or emergency room visit and lose faith in our plan. The next step is a nice little bender or a trip to a casino where our credit is a little too good. There are all kinds of ways to lose hope in the midst of the haul. Even the best dreams feel like a grind sometimes. And it’s hard to grind when you have no hope or faith that you will ever arrive.
Be forewarned: implementing the tactics in this book may set you back financially before you move ahead. When you look at success in business, you always have an investment cycle – a period where you have to sink money to develop crucial products or enhance your competitive position.
When you cash an IRA to invest in a startup, you’ll feel the breeze. When you “downsize” to part-time in order to pursue a side venture, you’ll feel it. Be prepared to take some cash flow hits. Some will hurt; some will pay off in a big way. That’s not how most of us were raised. My family saw finances as scrimping and saving, stashing nuts in the tree. This book is not about stashing nuts. This book is about how corporate America can smash our nut collection with the ease of a pink slip. Fortunately, there is a response. But it means putting that nut stash in play and believing we can always find more. Building a better life is a beautiful project, but not an easy one. If it was, more people would be doing it.
So we’re back to where we started. We’ve got principles and tactics that DO work, but require sacrifices along the way. So why bother with the hard road? If you don’t care about cashing out, why suffer the nights in the lab? Some of us do it because we’re hopelessly infected with the entrepreneurial bug. We’re certified whack jobs.
Used to be, the rest of us could just focus on our careers and families. This book argues that our hands are now being forced. The instability of the 9 to 5 life has upped the ante. The institutions that offered a paycheck in exchange for loyalty have changed the premise. But we don’t have to take the raw end of that deal lying down. This book constitutes one possible response, divulging tactics that have proven their merit. I’ve seen people raise themselves out of some pretty daunting muck. It’s been an honor to put their lessons to paper.
Along the way, our faith will be tested. We’ll do great work that goes unnoticed; we’ll invest in projects that fail; we’ll get burned by those we trusted. But we’ll learn. And along the way, we’ll build a stronger future than the one advertised to us in the guise of a so-called corporate “career.”
Want to buy Free From Corporate America or see reviews of the final published version from readers like yourself? The printed book is now available on Amazon.com with product reviews.
You can also get a discounted version of the final book in eBook (PDF) format, or you can pick up a copy on the Kindle. The published version of the book is significantly enhanced from the web version available on this site.