I’m just kind of like you. I didn’t come from money. I have non-rich parents. I wasn’t born into privilege. No special networks or contacts. No inheritance coming. I’m just a regular guy.
Growing up, I was never that confident. I didn’t have much self-esteem when I was a kid at school, I definitely wasn’t the cool kid. Neither was I the smartest kid in class. Introverted. Never liked to have the spotlight on me or be the centre of attention.
Maybe this had to do with being an immigrant. English wasn’t my first language and I had to work hard for years to properly pick it up. I would often be afraid to speak up in groups.
Even when I started full-time work my mediocrity continued. I felt like a fish trying to swim on land. Deep down I felt out of place and that I didn’t fit in. Even from the get-go I had no dreams or ambitions to climb the corporate ladder because I “knew” that I had no chance.
The people around me all seemed like they were better than me at the “game.” I’m talking about the “game of office politics.”
I quickly began to see that climbing the ladder wasn’t as I initially believed it to be (i.e. all about hard work and skill) but instead it was more like a 60% : 40% split. With 40% being skill, talent and hard work. The other 60% (the more important part) being politics, your networks and who you knew rather than what you knew.
So you see growing up I had not much going for me. I thought to myself that odds are, I didn’t have a particularly bright future ahead, that’s for sure.
But thank God I did have one thing going for me.
I only had one “skill,” one core trait, and boy did I exploit the heck out of it. I had to, since I had not much else going for me.
I thank God I had a healthy dose of this. Many times in my life I’ve felt things were way too hard. At times I’ve felt my entire life is one big uphill battle. One long struggle. As Karl Marx once declared:
Life is struggle.
That’s exactly how I felt.
They speak of the Midas Touch, I often mused that mine must be the opposite of that.
But it was always perseverance that kept me going. Without it I would have given up long ago in life…
This perseverance led to several interesting effects on me. When I say “interesting” I mean only in retrospect of course, because at the time I was rarely happy and often frustrated in life, so I certainly did not find it “interesting.”
I will break it down further in another post (coming soon) but I’ll give you the high-level here. It led to an intense burning desire in me to succeed despite my odds and the will to persevere and stick with it no matter what.
And as they say, “where there’s a will there’s a way.”
This saying really rang true throughout my life.
Why did I start Freedom From Work?
I’ve always been a longtime “lurker” in everything, whether it be on Reddit, Facebook or reading various blogs like Tim Urban, Seth Godin or Tim Ferriss.
A lurker is a term often used on Reddit that refers to someone who just reads people’s stuff in the background and never posts or comments. Someone who is always present but unnoticed.
I guess it was a combination of my introvertedness and lack of confidence in real life that spilled over even to my digital life. Due to this fundamental lack of self-belief, if you told me I would be starting a website in the future I would never have believed you.
But where there’s a will there’s way. My only strength came into play.
It led me to diligently and consistently keep searching. And because I always felt I was slower, dumber and poorer than everyone else I reasoned that I had to work twice as hard.
I didn’t like where I was. I was not really progressing and was bored at my job until the point it grew unbearable and I hated getting up in the morning. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between being grateful and satisfied. I was definitely grateful and thankful. I realised my situation wasn’t the worst and my job was pretty good as far as jobs go, but I was just unsatisfied. I liked most of the people I worked with (which made me more fortunate than others who hate both the work and the people) but it was more the mundane nature of just doing what you’re told without understanding the big picture and why.
I didn’t have any notable skills to start a business with. Going out on my own and leaving the “security” of my job really didn’t seem up my alley, or so I believed.
I had no idea what to do. I felt lost.
Being lost and not knowing what to do, I thought to myself, since I don’t have enough knowledge, I figured I should just go and get more knowledge.
So I went on a knowledge acquisition spree.
Since my perseverance makes me pretty extreme and focused when I do something, I went all in on a crazy self-improvement-knowledge-getting spree.
I read everything about money, business opportunities, success and entrepreneurship I could get my hands on. I watched every educational video I could find including documentaries, TED talks, online courses, you name it.
Until I got burned out. Boy did i get burnout.
Yet my desire was so strong to get my freedom from work that I just kept learning, reading and digesting it all.
But little did I know that it turned out to be a great learning experience. I didn’t know it in the moment but I was acquiring all this knowledge which I took for granted.
Until one day I realised “hey I actually am starting to know quite a bit about all this.”
It happened when I started noticing when chatting with friends and family they were often quite moved and impressed with my content. Some even jokingly said “you should start a blog on this” or “you should write a book about this.”
Then it occurred to me. I’ve been studying and reading for so long, it’s time to DO and APPLY the stuff I’ve learnt, otherwise it is all in my head. And “hey why not this could actually be the thing I could start to run with.”
Then the voices in my head kicked in. Self-doubt. I really felt that I wasn’t ready. That my writing skills weren’t good enough. I had no technical expertise to start a website. What if what I had to share wasn’t really of value to people.
But not this time. I don’t know what it was but this time I was determined to not let self-doubt get me.
So I took the plunge to actually just get started. “Screw it. Just do it,” I told myself. So what if I failed? I’m no stranger to failing.
So here we are.
I don’t know where this whole thing will lead but I’m glad I finally had the courage to get started.
My aim with this website
My aim and intent is to write down, journal and share all my learnings, findings and experiments in my personal journey to achieve freedom from work. As well as documenting my thoughts and helping others.
In doing so I hope to attract people who are in a similar situation and can identify with this struggle of trying to escape the Rat Race.
I hope to journey together with you and learn together as well as work together.
How can I help and provide value to you?
From all my studies and learnings I’ve realised you’ve got to provide value first and give first. Aim to help others then the money will take care of itself. It’s a fundamental principle of nature really.
Or as Gary Vaynerchuk puts it you’ve got to give, give, give, then ask. Gary keeps on emphasizing this point to drill it home. This is the only way to do online business and in the near future it will be the only way to do business. Period.
Many beginners (myself included at first) make the mistake of only thinking about what’s in it for them and how to make a quick buck online, but that won’t work today.
It’s so important that I’ve got to reiterate it. You have to think about helping others and providing value first. Then the rest will take care of itself. You will build an audience. The money will come.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on up front. Giving value first.
How you ask? Good question.
By now I’ve become somewhat of a learning and “reading machine” (I realise it’s all relative though. There’s people like Ryan Holiday out there who is an “absolute machine” who reads hundreds of books a year). For the past few years I’ve read over 50 books per year, averaging roughly a book a week. This doesn’t include TED talks, videos, online courses or educational articles or blogs.
There’s so much noise out there today. It took me quite awhile to be able to gain the ability to sift through so much information.
That’s right the problem isn’t lack of information like it was in previous centuries, in this century the problem is too much information. We are drowning in information in the world today.
So I will help you sift through all that noise and filter and bring you the best stuff I’ve learnt and discovered. Plus it will be at a level you can understand and relate to because my level is not that far off from you compared to some of these guys out there who are superstars and it’s hard to relate to their phenomenal success. E.g. Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Neil Patel, Seth Godin and many others.
Look I don’t all the answers myself but I’ve been searching for quite long and have learnt a few things. Plus we can help one another. Collaborative learning is more effective than individual learning.
Feel free to reach out and share any of your thoughts and learnings with me.
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Tony Lee Jacobs