I believe in the serendipity of the internet.
According to Jason Roberts, "The amount of serendipity that will occur in your life, your Luck Surface Area, is directly proportional to the degree to which you do something you're passionate about combined with the total number of people to whom this is effectively communicated. It's a simple concept, but an extremely powerful one because what it implies is that you can directly control the amount of luck you receive. In other words, you make your own luck."
90% of my success thus far has been due to being an active “internet civilian” — creating content, networking, sharing, helping, teaching, and having an active presence online.
In an attempt to manifest my destiny, I’m going to be pretty transparent on some things I’d like to see happen in my life. By manifest, I mean to leverage the serendipity of the internet to let people know my intentions and also to take a leap of faith myself to be vulnerable and on the hook for my intentions.
I don’t know exactly when or how these things will happen, or who will be involved, or even if they’ll still be goals of mine in the future. But they’re starting points. They’re intentionally vague because I’m flexible on them.
The hard part about writing stuff like this is that it comes with a big, fat disclaimer: It's all dependent on who I am today and how I see the world today. It's subject to change. But it's my best attempt at looking into the future fairly and truthfully.
Since I started as an intern at a startup here in San Diego, I’ve been obsessed with SaaS businesses ever since. Recurring revenue, high utility, fascinating technology, infinite scalability, the lifestyle it affords. Then, working at Baremetrics and getting to (1) see the metrics of thousands of SaaS companies and (2) talk to the founders of those companies, I basically came to the conclusion that I can’t not start a SaaS business.
Unlike essentially every other company, I look to companies like Wildbit, Help Scout, ConvertKit, Wistia, Buffer, Ghost, Doist, and Zapier and I think "I want that." I wouldn't say that about behemoths like Tesla or Amazon. I also wouldn't say that about most tech unicorns like Stripe or Airtable. I want to start a profitable, calm, but large SaaS business.
Unlike a lot of other CEOs and founders, I look to people like Natalie Nagele, Nathan Barry, Jason Cohen, Steli Efti, Rob Walling, Tyler Tringas, Kevin McArdle, Tobias van Schneider, Rand Fishkin, Hiten Shah, and Sahil Lavingia and I think "I want to be like them."
As Tyler Tringas says, “Building, Owning (& possibly Selling) a profitable remote SaaS business is the new American Dream.”
Read: Not $2M in cash. Ideally, that’d look like ~$1M in real estate and ~$1M+ in a mix of stocks and crypto.
The beauty of real estate is the ability to leverage debt and build wealth passively through simply paying down that debt. But the real primary purpose for me is the cashflow. With $1M invested in real estate, I’d expect an average 10% cap rate, i.e. $100k/yr in income from the real estate.
The beauty of stocks and crypto is appreciation. Letting it compound for decades can yield insane returns. And while some stocks and crypto are income-producing, the primary purpose personally would be to let it appreciate and then be able to borrow against it through security-based loans. I want to be my own bank.
If I were just to save paychecks, I’d need an enormous salary to invest $2M by the time I’m 40 (at the latest, according to where I’d like to be in life by that time). So my hunch is that the investable cash will come from selling a business or large dividends over years from a business.
Sounds a bit silly to say now, but as someone who plans to have some financial abundance one day, I began thinking about ways to give back.
Beyond my own financial goals to live the lifestyle I want and creating just enough generational wealth to pass down to my kids one day, what would I do with the rest?
That got me thinking about my church, different charities and ministries, and causes I have a personal affinity for.
The trouble I had, and what I’ve heard echoed by some wealthy people as well, is that it’s incredibly difficult to measure the impact of the money you give. It’s hard to calculate an “ROI” for a variety of reasons: admin costs, long time horizons, intangible outcomes, lack of transparency, pooled funds.
My mind could change on this, but I have trouble with the idea of just giving away a large sum of money to be used “once.” The reality is that you can never give enough and you’ll never be able to get an accurate ROI. But I’d rather give a small(er) amount forever than a large amount once.
What if every dollar I gave could keep giving for decades and multiply a hundredfold the original amount? What if I could run a nonprofit like an investment fund that gives away more and more money forever?
That’s the idea that’s captured me.
There are a lot of people obsessed with making a billion dollars. I'm more interested in giving away a billion dollars.
I’ve dipped my toes into some angel investing and equity crowdfunding and I’ve gotta say that I really enjoy it on many levels.
I also have to admit that I’m a little embarrassed because I feel like it’s a little stereotypical. Being an “investor,” especially a startup investor, is one of those things that sounds really easy and comes with a lot of prestige. Who doesn’t want to be an investor? Status, connections, perks… the list of (mainly the wrong) reasons goes on and on.
But here’s where my perspective differs.
I’m “that guy” who’s always advocating the benefits of starting a business to friends and family. I love entrepreneurship, and I especially love helping entrepreneurs. I believe it’s both a way to create personal freedom and fulfillment as well as having a part in creating the world you want to live in. Entrepreneurs make dreams a reality. They solve problems and fill gaps. They think something should exist and they make it. They think something should work differently and they change it.
I categorize my primary, God-given inherent strengths as a human being as a connector, an influencer, and a strategist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been connecting the dots between ideas, people, systems, and how the world works. I’ve also always had a love for teaching and giving the best, objective advice I can. And I just can’t help but strategize. I’m competitive, I’m a planner, and I love putting my knowledge of how the world works into action.
Naturally, this means I’m forever cursed with Shiny Object Syndrome. But it also means that I’m genuinely interested and excited for other people and what they’re working on. Investing is a great way to live vicariously through someone while still having skin in the game and long-term upside.
Now, I’m flexible on what “professional” means. I don’t think I’d ever like to start my own fund or join a traditional venture capital firm. I could see myself writing several angel checks a year, being an active scout for other funds, or maybe, just maybe… invest on behalf of a fund like the Calm Fund.
Some people are career CEOs. They start company after company, rinse and repeat, and they're amazing at that. Some people are career CMOs and they're happy jumping from one company to another doing marketing.
For whatever reason, that doesn't appeal to me (at the moment). I love the question "What would you do for work if you didn't get paid (but had all the money and benefits you needed to survive comfortably)?" And I don't know if I could answer that question with "CEO" or "CMO." But I could answer that question with "invest in entrepreneurs." It's something I could see myself doing sustainably for a long period of time.
Books are one of the few pieces of yourself that you can share with serious longevity. Done right, they’re read for decades to come. As one of the most impactful pieces of my education, I want to pay it forward to join the community of authors who manage to package a life’s worth of wisdom and advice into just a few hundred pages.
Not only is a successful book a personal validation of expertise and utility, it also becomes a part of culture. And again, from the perspective of an entrepreneur, contributing a piece of knowledge that positively impacts the world is akin to having a part in creating the world you want to live in.
I once heard, "Write a book when it becomes too painful not to." I haven't gotten there yet, but I suspect that I will soon enough.
And why just one? I’m a multi-faceted person. I’ve got ideas.
So there we have it: five things I want to manifest in my life. Now, I'll let serendipity do its job.