Spotting the Mediocre: Ten Common Types

For the past couple of years we’ve had a lot of fun talking about regular people. They are easy to spot as they are entirely driven by emotion, root for the “underdog”, look to gain without adding any value and see everything through two dimensions. Generally speaking, they see the short term gain and lose over the long-term. This results in a constant negative feedback loop where they feel great for short moments in time that are fleeting as the decisions do not compound and don’t give them any momentum. Now… Looking at the bigger issue… lets see if we can spot the mediocre. These guys are much more difficult to catch but once you see it… you can’t “unsee” it.

Ten Common Mediocre People

There is noting wrong with mediocre people, they just don’t have the risk tolerance or belief to really take full responsibility over their lives. Generally, they need more “hand holding” and try to do things through partnerships (never realizing that partnerships almost always fall apart). Instead of actually starting they look for some sort of “angle” in and think there is a class or school that will teach them everything (they’ve followed the rules to the T for the past 25+ years). Again. Nothing wrong with it, the only problem is you’ll have to avoid them when it comes to your actual work. They’ll eat a lot of your time.

1) The Angler: The first tell-tale sign is the angle. If you’ve started something successfully it always goes like this. “Hey i am starting something” the angle person… he says ok cool (thumbs up). Then… After you succeed… Suddenly he wants to know how he can help and obtain *Equity* in the business. Instead of doing the hard work he’s trying to get a slice since he does know that ownership is better than a salary. But. He typically doesn’t have the skills required to be in a position that deserves an equity stake. So the cycle continues for him, just don’t make the mistake of saying ok and offering it to him. You’re better off finding the best suited person. Hiring a bad team member is suicide.

2) The Low Scale Hustler: Low scale hustlers are not the same as big ones. The big hustlers find ways to leverage every idea they have and run around like mad men scraping up every deal for their business. They make it. The low scale hustler is always onto these “gimmicks” that make a few hundred dollars here and there that add up to maybe $15,000 a year or so. Think of the guys who resell hot goods on the internet, or the guys who sign up for rebates for random lawsuits from major corporations. While they do find ways to get a few dollars they are never willing to take the time to build anything or take on any actual risk. These guys are some of the best soft contact people you’ll run into here and there. Shoot them a message once every month or so and they’re full of small ways to make $500-1000 without any effort. Just don’t give them responsibility or else they will shy away from the idea.

3) The Scalper: This guy looks to make small arbitrages all of the time. You name it he’ll be making the similar amount as the guy above. Around $25K a year in extra income. Scalping will range from sporting events to concerts to electronics and collectables (and god knows what else). Instead of creating a product with built in demand (the guy can already tell when things will have demand for crying out loud) he’ll play the spread over and over again. This is not a scalable business since they rely on continuous mini events and if this was done on a bigger platform the inventory risk would run wild. The best part about the scalper is he’ll know when solid products are coming out. If a new gadget is coming out and you want to know if it’ll have a good reception give him a call.

4) The Rule Follower: This guy is an amazing employee. We would say he isn’t even mediocre, if he learned to take risk he would be rich within 5 years easily. The only reason we’re including him in this list is because we’d avoid taking advice from him in terms of scaling an actual business. If you want to know how to move up in the rat race at a rapid pace… he’s your guy. Again. We’re only including him in the mediocre category because he lives a much more predictable and boring life: the bmw 3 series, fast promote to revenue generation and standard house with 2 kids. Nothing to say on the partying and reckless side of life since he’s followed every instruction to the T. Another tell-tale sign for those in banking is the guy who always does everything correctly, he doesn’t even cut corners during “fire drills” everything is somehow perfect triple checked and he has a cabinet of perfectly organized projects for reference. No errors. Just textbook execution. The positive? If you want to know how to succeed in the corporate world he’s your guy. Do not bring up “grey area” topics with him, he’ll point out the ways it “breaks the rules”. One last note, he ends up becoming a millionaire at least.

5) The Penny Pincher: These guys end up being “well off” but never get much further than that. They value their time at nearly zero, however they will go above and beyond to save 3% on any item. This means they’ll spend hours searching for ways to cut their cell phone bills, their grocery bills to their electrical bill (no joke). This constant focus on “guaranteed returns” and ignoring the fact that they are losing money (could be earning instead since they typically make ~$75 an hour or ~$150K a year) causes them to grow “slow and steady”. They believe that all improvement is made in “tiny steps” over time and don’t understand that the focus should be on *event* based income (where you see a one day windfall of say $500K+ due to an *event*). The reason why the penny pincher is so well liked is that anyone can do it. If you make slightly more money than the average person and find ways to cut your costs by 2-3% a year and invest in boring stocks and bonds (5-7% return)… you’ll be well off in a decade or two.

6) The Juggler: This is probably the biggest trap of all of them. This individual has everything the above people do not have. He has risk tolerance, an ability to take action and he focuses on earning money. The problem is that he does too many things at once. He’ll try to start three different websites at the same time. He’ll jump from company to company (ignoring the loss of political capital). He’ll invest in higher risk investments but never get concentrated on one he knows extremely well. This guy ends up becoming well off but never rich because he just never gets scale with any idea. Think about this person as a “mediocre” decathlete. While he ends up being good at 10 different things, he never makes it to the top because very few people are good at 10 events at the same time (most people are good at maybe 2-3 events). This is less to do with talent (he has that) and has more to do with building blocks and focus. The base/foundation was never built correctly so he has to redo the foundation for all of the different ideas over and over again. If you have a friend like this, help him because he has the highest chance of getting rich out of the all of the people on this list. Help him figure out where his real talent is, convince him to quit the ones that don’t work and watch the exponential growth.

7) The Heavy Spender: Heavy spending is relative. If you are a billionaire and spend $5 million dollars every year, that is 100% meaningless. And. The real definition is tied to income relevance. The best way to spot the heavy spenders is to read between the lines and see if they are still earning a high income. The typical heavy spender gets a one time *event* sometimes even two… But. Then takes his foot entirely off the gas. While he can take some time off, going from 100 mph to zero for more than a few months leads to minimal long-term income. He lives a good life but it runs out over the next 10 years or so. The great thing about the heavy spender is he has a much higher risk tolerance. If you have decent ideas (ones he cannot steal) you should run high risk ideas by him and see what his thoughts are. This allows you to think a little bit more aggressively. Just don’t fall into the spending trap (this is more of an art than a science).

8) The Boring Guy: This guy actually gets really rich. In fact the extremely successful boring guys are typically tough to beat on the financial side of the equation. They are always on it. They don’t party. They don’t date attractive women (they are boring after all) and they don’t enjoy anything but reading. If you’re trying to compete with this guy on the money side of the game, best to call it a day because he’s able to stare at a blank wall for 24 hours straight if you paid him enough. The issue with the boring guy is that he’s typically out of shape (typically with a weak frame and body structure) or simply fat. He’ll own tons of homes around the world… However… they will be rented out since vacation properties don’t give him the best ROI. The boring guy wins on the financial side… let him win it’s not worth the money in this case (death of your own personality). If you get the chance to work with him on a project for a short period of time… jump on it. It’ll succeed.

9) The One Hit Wonder: These guys are quite interesting, maybe they do have it right but we’d argue against it. They typically get a one time event, around 7 figures and then call it “a life”. They spend the rest of their days doing random activities from low end traveling to outdoor activities. These are guys who almost seem like hippies but they have just enough to not worry about money. This is more of a lifestyle choice we disagree with (hence we include them in “mediocre”!). If you find a guy who lives “close to a beach” or out in cheaper areas with lots of outdoor activities… and he doesn’t work… you may have touched on these guys. They also smoke quite a bit of weed.

10)  The Tech Contract Guy: This is a new breed, the two problems with this person is 1) he never starts a company with his skills that can scale and 2) he typically spends too much time on his technology related tasks at the expense of his health and personality. This is becoming much more common, a specialist is called in for outsourced work and he charges them a fee for a project or based on an hourly rate. Overall, he is talented. He is talented enough to start his own company and teach others while scaling his own talents. The problem is he prefers being alone. Too much time alone means minimal ability to scale. This gives him a heavy wallet and a location independent income. It does come at a cost of scale and his personality since he typically takes on a ton of similar projects at once. The good news? If you need to contract out technology work, now you know how!

On a side note, the questions tab we started has been phenomenal. The questions are significantly better and each person only has 1-2 questions and is set. What we’ve found is that the best questions come from people who read Efficiency in full. After that they typically have 1-2 *specific* questions that we can help with. After that they move on. Some of the other decent questions have been more basic around 1) investing and 2) crypto currencies. What we’ve found is that the specific questions (a near-term decision coming up) adds the most value.

Comments

  1. JugglerAnonymous says

    Thank you for another great article! Sadly, I see myself in the Juggler… trying to do two separate consulting services and a consumer product. And always have a myriad of other ideas. Efficiency already opened my eyes on different business models, but this drives it home. I will focus on a scalable product that leverages my talents.

      • Impatient Bastard says

        Yeah me too.

        Literally exactly am the Juggler. Got my mind on 3 different projects – All actively working toward them. I just find it so hard to actually focus on one thing because my vision is just telling people what to do like Felix Dennis does.

        Name is fitting dude. (Impatient Bastard)

  2. JA says

    Thanks for the post, insightful as always. Reading through this, I’m not sure if I specifically fit into one of these boxes exactly, but certainly possess some of the attributes above. While I have done restively well (liquid for nearly 2M at age 31) financially, I am still not running my own business and much of my monetary upside/success is still largely dictated by a boss, albeit I do have solid equity. While I do not make a tremendous amount of income (all relative) I have done a diligent job of saving/investing my income post college. I am married (no kids) and while I don’t live a totally boring life, days of wild times are certainly behind me. That also may be the byproduct of as I have gotten older those activities just aren’t as enjoyable to me anymore. It’s just hard to know as I am generally very happy, but do feel that I am perhaps not maximizing life as much as I should despite some “relative success” at a decent age. I do feel at the minimum, I will have more flexibility moving forward in terms of more free time etc to engage in interesting/out of the box life activities, despite going down more of a traditional (wife/ultimately kids) path.

      • JA says

        Appreciate the quick response. I would need to save over $400K annually over the next 10 years (assuming a 7% rate of return) to get to 8 figs…not gonna happen unless something major changes. Certainly north of 5M would be highly realistic by 40ish…I still feel like my life won’t matieraly change much as I will likely still be working and trying to provide for a Fam…lit’s all relative, but can’t imagine my life being all that wild/multifaceted…even with those numbers as potentially raising a family in the NY area isn’t cheap etc…despite the “relative success” at a young age, I do feel as if I’m going to be grinding for the foreseeable future.

      • Wall Street Playboys says

        You never know! Keep pushing and looking for those events. A single one time event in the 7 figure range and some good returns (doubling in 5 years) and you’re in spitting distance with high cash flow numbers

  3. HighFunctioningAutist says

    Been a lurker of your blog for 2+ years and this post couldn’t have come at a better time, thank you so mcuh! I’m without doubt a Juggler. I just turned 24 and the last two years I’ve been doing AM cloaking making ~$150k/year and never got to scale because of exactly what you said. Prior to that I was doing eBay arbitrage ecom and essentially being a low-scale hustler.

    Now I am trying to juggle 3 different Shopify ecom stores (one of which where I hold 75% equity on a separate S-Corp), each with a different model (grey area, dropshipping, and white-label branded fulfilled myself). Time to double-down!

    Also I bought Efficiency and while I am glad to know I have been intuitively doing a lot of what is described in the book already prior to even reading it, I’ve been successfully getting many of my friends who are future winners or have already made it to buy your book and their feedback has been positive just thought you’d like to know

  4. Juggalo says

    Former Juggler signing in.

    You won’t realize how much money/experience/time you are leaving on the table until someone helpfully points out your fault and you begin to focus on the idea with the biggest potential.

    You being to focus all energy on moving that idea forward, improving in the skills/areas that will move the needle the most, and only spending time “networking” with people that are better than you in the field, or can connect you to someone who can take your idea to the next level.

    No more surface level dabbling juggling ideas and allocating 1 hour here 1 hour there to disparate ideas. No more networking just to network. No more illusion of productivity that is just business.

    Have to make a decision on the path with the most potential and go tunnel vision.

  5. says

    WSPs…let me get this straight…so you don’t watch TV shows or movies, just sports. According to an old post you guys also don’t read like you used to when you said before to never let your brain rot and read at least 100 pages a day. You guys also don’t work out 6 days a week like you mentioned when you started your blog. Now you guys cut that down too. Besides working on your online business, which you don’t have to since you guys are rich & financially independent, what’s your typical routine on a regular day? what activities do you engage regularly? Just curious…Thank you.

    • Wall Street Playboys says

      Not a Q&A. We have gotten more interested in gambling since people are flush with money lots of big spreads to take advantage of.

      Live your life however you like, we encourage everyone to decide what makes sense to them… at the end of the day only time tells the truth (if it was smart)

  6. says

    My younger brother – definitely “The Angler + Rule Follower Combo”.

    He’s the Valedictorian in High School and graduated from Stanford.

    He definitely wanted to “jump aboard” my next business that I’ve started.

    He seemed depressed at the time, so I gave him 50% equity.

    But I told him he would be doing most of the work, and I would instruct him.

    WSP would say “stupid move on my part”, but when it comes to family I decided to give him a chance.

    For every 3x effort he puts in, I’ll put in 1x.

    Meanwhile, I will be working on other businesses on my own.

    Only time will tell how this ends up.

  7. Impatient Bastard says

    (edit)

    And have soooooooooo many different ideas that I know will be huge event moments. I just know they will be massive events.

  8. TMA says

    Great post. I thought it would be another post on regular people, but this is a lot more helpful.

    I’m definitely one of the more risk averse personalities and it probably comes from only ever having made money from a salaried position. Efficiency opened my eyes to demand testing before deciding to commit to a product. Very helpful as it takes away the *feeling* of risk.

    With that said, it’s hard to take risks when only having a salary. The concept that you can always make it back simply doesn’t exist because a salary has a fixed limit. The question becomes, “How can I commit this %’age of my lifetime earnings (salary) to a project when I’ve never even made a sale?” Clearly this is self-limiting and distructive, but demand testing solves a lot for those of us who are risk-averse.

    To reiterate: The blog is gold and so is the book.

  9. Axel says

    Juggler here(and INTJ). On point about the focus. Easy fix, get rid of the books and take action ON FEWER THINGS.

    True about laying the foundation guys, after your book I honestly accepted I have to lay that first.

    About sales and copywriting. Read a few books on the former, amazed how few people do it right.

    Great advice always guys!!!

  10. WSP Commenter says

    Great post. There is nothing wrong with any of the small side hustles above. Ticket scalping and flipping high-tag items are the easiest way for any college age student to build up a bankroll for doing practically minimal work. But this post hits the nail on the head in that none of these items are big enough to really scale. You definitely max out around $25K a year in the above categories and then you begin to have a decreasing marginal utility at that point. But then again it requires almost no time commitment.

    In that sense you would be equating mediocrity with the inability to scale your business into something actually valuable. Which is where you can actually make a bit of a fortune.

  11. says

    #2 – The Low Scale Hustler. Let me tell you about the prevalence of this individual in the area I grew up in. I grew up in the southside of a major city, where the population was 85-90% black/hispanic. Lots of people who sold drugs in this area. $10-15 for a baggie of weed, makes $35 off of an $85 bulk purchase.

    If alot of these “hustlers” sold software or mainframes instead of weed and Amway who knows where these folks would be today. I know three types (from this list of 10) in real life, leading me to believe the other 7 are definitely out there.

      • says

        I made it out in a pretty unorthodox way – mama remarried (grew up without a dad) and we moved into stepdad’s house. Great guy. Right now I’m in a nicer part of town after getting my degree. But growing up in that environment conditions many to fail. I was one of only two kids who got the rare opportunity to go to college, and the second is currently unemployed. Just glad to be alive.

  12. Anthony says

    TIL I’m the boring guy.

    Wait a second, I’ve been called that for years. Oh well, could be worse. But I guess this would be a good time to unplug the computer and head to the gym.

    Great post as always!

  13. Jay says

    As much as I’d want to laugh and say I’m not one of these, I have to look truthfully inward and realize I’m a rule follower and a boring guy. I follow most rules because I look at it from a perspective that the people who created the rules are better experts on the subject than I am thus I’m delegating my responsibility on thinking about the rules to the experts and have their knowledge scale to the rest of the firm. As a software engineer at Amazon, I read Jeff Bezos’s letter about never putting process above results and I believe that’s where you’re getting at in regards to the rule follower being unable to “break the rules”. I also do this because I just came in as a 22 year old so I’m pretty much the youngest and I don’t want to fall into the arrogance trap that software engineers often find themselves in. Maybe it is good to break your rule on being a rule follower in this case? 🙂

    Boring guy. Now that’s an interesting one because I’ve long held the mentality that partying and bars are a waste of money and time after doing it a lot the first half of my freshman year, which is actually a rationalization. I got rejected by every girl I approached at night venues, and it was a lot, over 50 girls to be quantitative. I know I did many things wrong back then but it still scars me to this very day and I had to have that mentality and read the manosphere to cope. I still haven’t got into the habit of going out Thursdays and Saturdays as you suggest because I’m human and working out after work seems to get in the way oftentimes along with my on-call schedule as well as just not having the habit of going out. I am still reading your Efficiency book and will see if it’s worth overhauling my schedule. Despite these setbacks, I am confident I’m no regular person as you describe.

  14. Recent Graduate says

    I have to admit that I’m the low scale hustler – someone who spends a lot of times with gimmicks and fixing minor things hoping for them to turn into miracle fixes. I’m terrible at starting things and I often hesitate a lot, preferring to think things through, and making sure everything is ready and perfect, etc. My decisions are ultimately slow and I prefer to make quick fixes here and there instead.

    The only thing that keeps me from walking in circles is that I work with a few people who has the personality of “the juggler” (as well as this blog) that keeps pushing me forward to new things.

    “The Juggler” personality is someone who is very open to new ideas and are highly curious – someone who is more “go with the flow” than someone who is “lets plan first”. The Juggler will start fast but will show that he so thorough and give up when things don’t go as plan.

    To put it together a good team, in my opinion, has – The juggler to start a project, the low scale hustler to lead the project in the right direction, and the rule follower guy to finish the project.

  15. Katavasis says

    Got to add: If we are talking about the same type of people, the Angler is also the most dangerous in terms of being trusted. He typically spends more time talking about buisness than running one and he does not look for ways to add value!

  16. Federica Nargi says

    1. Sell someone else’s product
    2. Outsource ripoff
    3. Sell ripoff using your channels
    4. Begin to differentiate (niche) to create new demand
    5. Solidify position with brand, complimentary products, M&A (buy out old boss)

    That’s how you become wealthy.

  17. Anonymous says

    1. Sell someone else’s product
    2. Outsource ripoff
    3. Sell ripoff using your channels
    4. Begin to differentiate (niche) to create new demand
    5. Solidify position with brand, complimentary products, M&A (buy out old boss)

  18. Jack says

    I’m the boring guy according to your viewpoints. I work about 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don’t socialize much, except talking to the odd person during my trip to the library, and discussing plans with my co-founder. But I run about 20km a week so I’m in great shape.

    The way I think about it, I want to compress my working life into a few years to grind out at least $2m. At a meager 5% return that’s $100k a year which means I don’t ever have to worry about making money again. I can worry about social life and girlfriends after I make my mill’s.

  19. says

    A tonne of #10 guys in cryptocurrencies and the like. You’ll often see them listed as “advisors” or “consultants” but rarely have any skin in the project.

    Good article, I’m a #6 for sure and am working hard on limiting my focus to 1 project at a time. Bloody difficult though

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