Late Night Interview

Why are you doing this?

I need a creative outlet. Or maybe I just need more.

More than what I have right now. I need something beyond what my job gives me. I need something that is completely mine. I want to express it. I want to share it. First with myself and then with whoever will listen.

I also want to document my thoughts and ideas. Put them down where I can analyze them. Maybe I’ll uncover some pattern and learn something profound about myself. Maybe I’ll have a break through. Maybe it’ll change my life.

Why write a blog?

Seems like the fastest and most natural way for me to create and express myself. I don’t need to spend months learning a new skill. I know how to write even if it’s not that well yet. I’m sure I’ll get better though.

I also think that the blog leaves enough room for me to find my medium of expression. Right now it’s writing but I could venture into other things like podcasting or video and the blog still allows for that.

Do you want to make a career or income out of this?

That would be awesome. I always found the thought of making a living as a creative to be the coolest thing.

If I could carve a niche for myself creating content that I am passionate about and have others consume it and find it valuable it would be a dream come true.

The whole content creation and new internet economy is just fascinating. It’s also scary. I really admire anyone that has made a life out of it.

How do you want this content creation dream to turn out?

Ok, this is my vision:

I find a niche (or niches) and produce tons of content that is of high quality and that I am passionate about. The content would span across different mediums hopefully. I would be seen as an authority in my niche. I would make income out of selling my own premium content like books, courses, webinars, merchandise etc.

I would be completely independent. I would have a substantial amount of income flowing in. There would be no cap on it which would be motivating. The harder I hustle the more I would make. However, I would have multiple income streams that would be mostly passive.

Essentially I would make a living doing what I love. I would work only because I want to create and inspire and not because I need to pay the bills.

Hypothetically, knowing what you know now, how do you think you will achieve this dream?

Here is my somewhat rudimentary plan:

I’m going to write 30 posts. Maybe I might write more. Maybe a little less. The point is for me to just write and get used to writing a lot. I expect to get better along the way. I figure with 30 posts under my belt I’ll have an idea on whether I like writing in the first place. I also expect that out of 30 maybe 5-10 posts will be of fair quality.

Maybe after 30 posts I’ll have an idea of what I enjoy writing about and what there might be a market for. This way I hope to find my niche.

By the time I hit 30 posts or even before that I will pick an actual name for a self-hosted blog. Finding my niche would really help with that. Then I’ll port the best content from here to there.

I’ll then start spending some time on driving traffic to the blog. I don’t know the details on how to do that so I will need to learn. however, I have some ideas on how I can use social media to drive traffic.

One way for instance will be to setup an Instagram account and post pictures with short written pieces that reflect my blogs theme. I’ll try creating a following on Instagram and try to drive it to by blog. This way people that like my short Instagram posts who want more content will get that on my blog. I’ll use tumblr and Pinterest to execute the same strategy.

I will start building an email list. This might mean I’ll have to write a short E-Book or something and give it away for free to incentivize people to sign-up. Maybe there might be a less time consuming way to go about this. i’ll have to figure it out.

Once I have a following being built and gain some traction I would like to offer other kinds of content. I’m thinking of starting a youtube channel. Use that to market my blog and the blog could market youtube.

Once I have a following I would make money through selling my own informational products (courses, ebooks, videos etc). This would be preferable. I could affiliate market. I could get ad revenue.

I don’t know how best to go about these things and perhaps there are more options. I will need to just figure it out.

I think that’s all the questions I had for tonight. Goodnight.

 

 

 

 

10 Ideas Daily [Day 2]

10 Blog Post Ideas for Inspiration

  1. How hating your job can lead to better things
  2. Why having very little can be a blessing
  3. That Special Something: What is its hidden message?
  4. The Story of Malcolm X: Anyone can reinvent themselves at anytime
  5. The benefits of being young: My advice to my future child.
  6. The benefits of being old: My advice to my future self.
  7. The power of myths and how we can use them to our advantage
  8. The error of believing you aren’t ready
  9. Recognizing and controlling false beliefs
  10. How to thrive in a knowledge based economy

Write 10 Ideas a day [Day 1]

A year ago I came across James Alutcher – ex hedge fund manager, Author, Blogger etc. He wrote these very detailed answers on Quora that I felt were very insightful. One of the pieces of advice he has given quite a few times is to get into a daily habit of writing down ideas.

These could be good ideas or bad ideas, ideas about starting businesses or writing books… it really doesn’t matter. He has this theory about what he calls an idea muscle and claims that setting time aside to do this activity daily will result in becoming an “Idea Machine”. Eventually, if you stick with it, you can have thousands of ideas (~3650 in a year). Maybe a couple of them might be life changing. Who knows.

So here is my shot at this. 10 ideas.

Day 1:I’ll keep it easy.

Subject – Blog Post Ideas (What can I write about?)

  1. How to get a career in the Information Technology in a short span of time
  2. How to market yourself well on Linkedin
  3. How to take over a car lease and save money
  4. My experience training someone to get a job and why it didn’t work
  5. Are certifications for technology jobs worth it
  6. How to change your accent
  7. How to deal with hairloss
  8. How Foussey (Yousef Erakat) and Superwoman (Lilly Singh) became such successful youtubers.
  9. How to make a living off Lyft and Uber
  10. How to determine what skills you need for your particular profession and how to get them

 

 

Books that I read so far in 2016

I want to be more intentional about my reading. This means keeping a record of the books I read including their authors and perhaps a few lines of their basic premise.

These are the books I recall reading so far:

  1. Sapiens a Brief History of Human Kind by Noah Harari: I read this half way. Need to check out again and finish
  2. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke: Finished
  3. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke: Finished
  4. No God but God by Reza Aslan: Read this half way. Need to finish.
  5. The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships by Neil Strauss: Read more than halfway. Don’t think I’ll read this.
  6. Sophies’ World by Jostein Gaarder: Read it at least a quarter of the way. I might revisit.
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Read this halfway. Don’t think I’ll revisit.
  8. The Garden of Truth by Seyyed Hossein Nasir: Still reading.

Even though I haven’t finished many of the books I still got the benefit of being exposed to the ideas. I think Moving forward I’ll write a little about each one so I can evaluate whether I really absorbed the material and how well it resonated with me.

 

Write down your goals: How I made over 6 figures in 5 years by writing them down.

6 Years ago I had an interview with a successful financial adviser in a small town in Southern California. I got the job. It paid ~$36,000 a  year. This wasn’t a lot of money but at the time I was just happy to get a job. I was fresh out of college and had no real world experience. This dude needed some help around the office and took a chance on me.

The first thing he asked for after he offered me the job was to write down what I wanted in the next 5 years. Now many people have ASKED me where I saw myself in 5 years but I never had anyone ask me to write it down. I remember writing down these goals:

  1. Have a 6 figure income (>$100k/yr)
  2. Bring my long distance girlfriend at the time to California
  3. Move out of the small town I lived in to Los Angeles

When I wrote these things down  I had no idea how I would accomplish them in 5 years. Goals 2 and 3 seemed more attainable at the time. After all people of varying income levels live in Los Angeles and I lived only an hour and 30 minutes east of central Los Angeles at the time. So living in LA didn’t seem like a stretch. Note: I had no idea how expensive living comfortably in LA could be. Had I known I probably would have thought that was pretty unattainable within  that period of time.

Goal #3 also didn’t seem far-fetched. People move for relationship reasons all the time. Of course there was a financial aspect to be considered because I would have to support her but again I wasn’t really thinking about the details at the time.

Goal #1 however was something I couldn’t wrap my head around. It was hard to see me reaching it at the time. Both my parents made less than $100k/yr and they were much older and more experienced than me. Most of their friends also around the same amount as them. The ones that didn’t were doctors who obviously were much older and made their first substantial sum at least a decade after their undergrad. So how was I, a 23-year-old, fresh out of college with no experience or any niche skills going to make it happen? Nevertheless, I wrote it down and gave it to my boss. He read the goals over and looked me in the eye and said “You will accomplish all these things. Don’t you worry.”

He was right. Below is a picture of a document I received from the social security office to verify my earning over the last 5 years. Notice it took exactly 5 years to reach my goal. The year he hired me (and when I wrote down my goals) I made $11,700. Of course this was due to him hiring me at the latter half of the year. In 2014 I made $102,413 hitting my goal just barely. The following year I made $179,521.

 

last-5-year-earnings

 

At the time I thought his promise meant that he would take care of me. Perhaps he would give me a portion of his business as he retired and that is why he affirmed my goals. Now looking back at it I can see how misguided I was. Nobody owes you shit. As a man you don’t want anyone to give you something you haven’t earned (applies to women as well). There is no pride in that. I believe he  understood something at a deeper level – We can manifest  our aspirations by writing them down. The act of writing down your thoughts is the first step in materializing them. If you think about it, writing down your thoughts is to literally turn them into the physical materials of ink and paper. If you digitize them you are still manifesting them into physical bits and bytes. Whereas, a thought left solely in the mind is like the foam we grasp in the ocean; it’s fleeting.

Now one can argue that I either got lucky or writing my goals down was the first step in a series of disciplined steps I undertook to reach them. Sure, the first argument is valid. People get lucky all the time. However, I choose to believe it was something more. Like I said; I didn’t know anyone in my circle beside my boss or my parents friend’s who were doctors who made more than 6 figures. I didn’t know anyone personally who was my age that made that much as well. There are numerous people I met at the time and still keep in touch with that haven’t improved their financial condition significantly. Yes it could be luck. It could also be that the advice espoused by numerous successful individuals to write down your goals and aspirations might have something to it. After all, many people don’t actively write down their goals. The ones that do swear by it.

The second argument is that the act of writing down my goals put me on this structured path of attaining them. After all I did work for a successful money manager. One would expect the trajectory of events to have unfolded something like this:

  1. The adviser took me under his wing.
  2. He guided me every step of the way and like my goals we wrote down a formal plan.
  3. I executed the plan and got successful at acquiring clients.
  4. I grew my business over the years and therefore in a few years ended making over a $100k as most financial advisors who are even remotely successful make.

Bellow is an illustration of the perceived steps that I thought I would take to attain my goal

percieved-path-to-six-figures

The reality however turned out like this:

  1. Worked for the adviser doing mainly admin work. Wasn’t learning new skills. I did get a series 7 and series 66 (these are licenses that all financial advisers in the United States need to have).
  2. Tried my hand at sales but was not passionate about it. Granted sales is hard work but a salesman is not how I envisioned myself.
  3. I constantly thought about what my passions were.
  4. In between doing his admin work I spent a lot of time reading and discussing about financial markets. I felt a career in financial analysis and portfolio management would be my calling.
  5. I started trading options at work. I made a little bit of money but wasn’t doing anything complex. I also didn’t have a lot of money that I could risk. I wanted to learn more about financial markets, products and instruments.
  6. I looked into the Chartered Financial Designation or CFA.
  7. I connected with a portfolio manager for a small cap fund. The sales people who were selling my boss on putting his client’s money in their fund brought him around as part of their sales pitch. We hit it off. He agreed that the CFA would be valuable since everyone on his team had it and he was a CFA charter holder himself. He did warn me that breaking into portfolio management was extremely competitive.
  8. I registered for the CFA. I spent ~$1000 for registration and materials. There was 6 months of study ahead of me. I studied every evening after work. I did not tell my boss about this as he thought it was a waste of time and would not help me become a successful adviser. He was right. Financial advisers are salesmen. They don’t need to analyze investments. They just need to get clients and convince them to buy into investments managed by CFAs.
  9. The portfolio manager that I kept in touch with got me an interview with a company that provided his fund research. This company specialized in small cap research and needed a technical sales person. This would be a person that would reach out to portfolio managers but would be able to explain detailed financial concepts.
  10. I did the interview and was told that I was not what he was looking for. Maybe in 5 years I would get there but I had a long way to go. That job paid a $40 k base with a pretty substantial commission for each sale that would have put me over $100k.
  11. I continued studying the CFA feeling like this was an uphill battle. I also wasn’t passionate about the material at the time but told myself this was the only way to hit my goals. The CFA consists of 3 exams that take an average of 4 years to complete. From my research passing the first one didn’t do anything for one’s career but passing the second one would open up doors and could potentially land a high paying gig.
  12. My boss realized I wasn’t invested in the financial advisory side of things. He also found out I had aspirations to get into asset management which he felt didn’t provide any value for his business. I had also asked him for a raise to increase my salary to $45k. On all these accounts he said we should part ways.
  13. I had no income so I needed a job. The only thing I had were my financial adviser licenses (series 7 and 66) and some experience. So although it wasn’t what I saw myself as; I started applying to other positions as a financial adviser. This time, however, I applied to larger companies like B of A Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo etc. I also applied to insurance companies.
  14. I got many interviews especially with the insurance companies. However, most of these jobs were commission only and were pure sales gigs.
  15. While all of this was going on I remember writing down what new opportunities I could pursue other than the financial services industry. I remember writing down 3 potential industries. Keep in mind I didn’t know much about any of these industries but believed there was demand there.
    1. The clean energy / oil and gas industry
    2. Information technology.
    3. Healthcare on the business side.
  16. My dad randomly tells me about a guy he met giving people information technology training. He was thinking about introducing him to my younger brother who was interested in computer science. I tell him “Hey what about me? Can I talk to him?”
  17. I talk to the technology instructor about the service he provides. He tells me about datawarehousing and business intelligence. I had no idea what those were but they sounded complex and cool and felt very niche. I remember asking how much I could expect to make starting out and he says “Around 45.” I respond “Oh OK $45 K a year is fine”. After all this is the raise I had asked my former boss for before he let me go. He laughs and responds “I meant $45/hr. that’s like $90k a year”. I was sold.
  18. I stopped studying for the CFA and started the information technology training. I paid the guy $1000.
  19. I get an offer to join the Merrill Lynch Financial Adviser Trainee program. The job pays a base salary of $50 k. I am expected to hit a quota every year. If I make it to the second year the base goes away and the commissions are meant to replace it.
  20. I take the job at  Merrill Lynch. I work during the day and study the information technology material at night. I again realize that I am not truly into the advisory side of things. I don’t see my self as a salesman. I also don’t find spending the next couple of years cold calling business owners and physicians appealing (not that there is anything wrong in it). The technology stuff I am learning however is interesting and intellectually stimulating. I make up my mind to give my notice to Merrill Lynch at the same time I start applying for technology jobs.
  21. I nail a phone interview and get offered a 6 month contract to help build a data warehouse for a large bank that eventually turns into a career.  I quit the Merrill lynch job and the following year I hit my 6 figure income target. The rest as they say is history.

You can tell from the haphazard sequence above that there was no plan I was executing. My desire to hit these goals I had set for myself did however keep me seeking opportunities that would help me fulfill them. Another observation when reading through these series of 21 steps is that they weren’t really steps at all. In fact there were a lot of things happening simultaneously, a few that led nowhere (filled in red) and a good deal of back tracking – In other words it was a random occurrences that came together in a synergistic way to fulfill my goal. Below is a visual illustration of the reality :

path-to-six-figures

If the above illustration is hard to follow then that means it is successfully conveying the point that there was no structure to how I accomplished my goal. The only thing I can say for sure is that I wrote down my goals (the first step to materializing them) and through some phenomenon that I cannot explain I arrived at  them in the allotted time. I could not foresee how things would play out. They just happened.

You might feel that I have focused a great deal on my first goal and not the others. That’s because achieving my first goal also fulfilled the other 2 goals I had set. My new career took me to Los Angeles where all the technology jobs were. With my improved financial status I was able to afford  comfortable accommodations and bring my partner to LA. All 3 of the goals I wrote down were accomplished within 5 years.

You might also feel that these goals were not extraordinary. Perhaps they aren’t objectively lofty goals  but for me at the time they were very important. Accomplishing these 3 things changed my life and I do attribute it to intent, prayer, belief and perseverance. I was also able to help others who were in a similar situation to where I was years ago and that has given me satisfaction.

One important point to note is that I believe the time I set was arbitrary but it is something that your mind has to accept as reasonable. Maybe if I had changed the timeline to 2 years instead of 5 I could have attained my goals earlier. I will never know for sure but I did get positive results the other times I wrote down by goals.

I hope this personal story serves as an incentive to record our goals and aspirations. Writing this post definitely has reminded me of the power of formalizing my intentions  and the transformation I had experienced by doing so that day in a small office in a small town in Southern California.

Let me leave you with the below points:

  • Consciously manifesting your thoughts and desires is important. Take some time to assess what you want. Ask questions about what life you want to have and come up with goals that you believe will help you get there.
  • Write down these goals with a time frame. Having a time frame creates a sense of urgency.
  • Writing your goals is the first step in materializing them. This is meant literally as well as figuratively. Pen and paper/bits and bytes are of the physical world. Thoughts left in the mind are not. They are just temporary surges of electricity in your brain.
  • The path to attain your goals will likely be unstructured and surprising. Please be flexible and patient.
  • Revisit goals and reassess. How close are you to them? Have they changed? We are dynamic beings so it makes sense that our goals might change with us. This is completely OK.
  • Believe in the power of intention. There is no good that comes out of not believing in it. However, the belief in it could open up the gates of abundance and purposeful living.

 

 

 

Gratitude

I have so much to be grateful for that I sometimes take it for granted. I get to see my love tomorrow after a while apart and I realized how much I missed her and how much value she adds to my life. Thinking about how fortunate I have been to have her in my life also got me to think of all the other blessings I enjoy. Here are some of them that I take for granted:

Loving Parents

This is something that I do tend to take for granted. I could have just as easily been born into a family with unloving parents. Being born into a nurturing caring family was completely out of my control and in the hands of fortune. My parents made many sacrifices early on so that their family would have a better life. They left a third world country and traveled across continents, twice, leaving everyone they ever knew behind. This decision and courage of theirs resulted in me growing up in North America and having access to resources that most of the world can only dream of. My parents also happened to value education a great deal which resulted in me taking school seriously and generally fairing better than the other kids in my grade. I am completely in their debt for this. They never let me go hungry and always bought me new clothes for school. They never skimped on anything I wanted to pursue academically. They are also honest and hard-working individuals. I can’t fathom them ever cheating somebody or being unfair. I am very grateful to have been born to them out of all the parents in the world.

Being a citizen of a first-world country

As mentioned above I have my parents to thank for this. If they had never their home I would never have had a chance to grow up in a western country. Being a citizen of a developed country puts me at a huge advantage when compared to most of the world population. I have access to clean water and remarkable sanitation. I have access to state of the art consumer-technology. Freedom and liberty are holy values and I am encouraged to explore my individuality. I got a chance to go to one of the best schools in the world. I have met people from all walks of life, of different cultures and values and this has had a profound impact on my soul.

Getting a University Education

I know that this is not necessary for success but the fact that I got to go to one is something I am grateful for. Not only did I go to college but I went to one of the best Universities in the world and can proudly say that I am a part of their tradition. I got a chance to study some amazing things and meet some amazing people. I owe this to my parents and the fact that I am a citizen of a country that greatly subsidizes its higher education.

Health

I have been blessed to have lived my life so far without any serious health issues. This is something that everyone takes for granted including me and should probably be at the top of this list. There really isn’t anything else to say other than good health is truly a blessing because without it our experiences would be very limited.

Career/Wealth

I was fortunate enough to end up in a field with enormous demand. I don’t have to worry about finding work and the pay lets me lead a very comfortable life. I make enough and have enough saved that money isn’t a pain point. I don’t have a need for anything. Of course, I do work hard but I do not take all the credit for my success. A series of unforeseen events occurred to land me in the position I am in today. I could have just as easily been working hard in a profession that didn’t pay half as well.

Love

I was lucky to have met someone who genuinely cares about me. When I say “me” I am referring to who I am at my core – my soul. She doesn’t care about my possessions or lack there of, or my looks or anything else that is shallow and insubstantial. She cares about my mind, the way I think, my values. I often contemplate about how hard it is to find someone like that – someones that you know loves you, flaws and all. She is very forgiving of my less than desirable qualities and that I think is because she see focuses on the good and has faith that it will overcome the bad. She can do all this because she is beautiful and it is easy for her to project what is within. She is cool, intelligent, sexy, funny and modest. She defined my type at a young age and that hasn’t changed. I am truly blessed to have her.

All the things I listed above I am utterly grateful for. However, I acknowledge that fortune works both ways. Whatever it gives it can take away. I should never take anything I have for granted because of that fact. I also have to recognize that those that are less fortunate than me are no less than me. The most important blessings that I have are not a product of my actions but rather that of fate. How can I take complete credit when I couldn’t even choose the family I was born into which arguably set the sequence of events in my life? Providence has been at my side throughout my life so it is my duty to live accordingly. I was blessed with good parents so I should behave as son worthy of them. I was blessed with good health so I should care for it. I was blessed with a great profession so I should work hard to excel at it. I was blessed with an amazing woman so i should care for her like she cares for me. I should be all the good she sees in me.

All the blessings we never had a say in choosing we should care for like a child given to our care that is not our own. I believe it was the philosopher Boethius that said that whatever fortune bestows on us we do not own. If we did not choose our fortune then it is plausible that someone else chose it for us. We should be mindful then of these blessings and nurture them so that if asked for their return we can do so proudly knowing that they are in better shape than what they were when give.

Unlearn

We inherit false beliefs and values from our parents. We pass them along to our children and they to theirs and thus the cycle continues. The result of which is a world filled with adults who value the things of no value and devalue that which is truly valuable. It is no wonder happiness in our modern society appears to be something unattainable. We are filled with a constant emptiness and a sense of despair. We might blame it on many things; lack of money, lack of time, lack of love to name a few. We live an existence in our minds where our desires go unfulfilled or when they are fulfilled the feeling is unsatisfactory. The Buddhists would say there in lies the problem – You desire and desire is the cause of suffering and if one does not want to suffer then one should not desire. I however adopt the classical western view on this matter, that the problem is not desire in itself but the very things that we desire. This is something that we are not taught as children – to think correctly. . We will have to learn to identify what is of value and what isn’t. What is a true belief and what is false. Only then can we break the karmic cycle of false thought and attain a sort of nirvana in our own lives.