We have gotten a lot of requests for a post on “rules for your thirties”. Unfortunately? There is no value in a post like that. Anyone who has succeeded is not going to be interested in a post on rules since they already have their life together. Generally, this question is posed by people who are in their mid 20s and are looking for guidelines for the future. With that in mind, this post is going to cover general beliefs and steer away from rules. By the time you’re in your 30s you shouldn’t be worried about money, girls or friends. But. We’ll go ahead and add on to these themes.
Never Trading Time for Money: Maybe you had to take a few salary jobs earlier in life (20-23) to break into a real career (usually engineers fall in this bucket). That is fine. But. By the time you are in your thirties under zero circumstances should you ever work for an hourly wage ever again. You will work for performance (sales/revenue generation), ownership (equity) or you won’t work at all. Period. You’re going to leverage *other* people’s time and never take on any sort of hourly consulting role. It just doesn’t give a good ROI. Finally, if you’re working in a career, yes part of your compensation will be a salary. But. It will not be more than ~50% of your total income anymore. Otherwise? You’re going ot be fired anyway.
Millionaire or Something Went Wrong: We have a clear path to a million dollars laid out. Since this is a post on your 30s there is literally no exception to *not* being a millionaire and in your mid 30s. You would have to make terrible decisions in life over and over again to miss this financial hurdle. Even if you didn’t move up the totem pole quickly, if you’re making ~$150-200K a year it is quite easy to get to $1M. The reality? Most people reading this blog (Wall Street focused people) will clear $1M in net worth by the time they are 30.
Three Forms of Income: Most people who reach 7 figures in net worth have closer to 5 solid sources of income. You should have at least 3 sources of income. If one of your legs gets taken out (business goes south, career goes south or investments go south) you should be perfectly fine. With three forms of income, if the economy collapses you won’t sweat it. You will simply lose one, maybe two, forms of income and get back on your feet to focus on what matters (getting new forms of income again). More importantly? Your total income should easily be north of $250K (more likely $400K+ at least).
Easy Referral Money: You should have several friends who do good work. Lawyers, accountants, online marketers etc. You should receive a referral fee if you find someone who will benefit from their services. If you are going to recommend something you may as well take the fee as well (no point in giving your time away for free). A better example is a recent referral for a top tier accountant. Once your friends start making $300K+ off of their businesses, they are going to focus on limiting tax liabilities. A good accountant can save $4-5K easily on a $300K income stream. Once you refer your friend, the accountant will happily pay you for the referral. Your friend is happy you’re making money off of the referral and your accountant is going to keep you as a customer for a long time (he probably won’t even charge you if you refer 5+ low maintenance customers). In short? Don’t do anything for free. There is no point in wasting your valuable time.
Risk Tolerance: We get a lot of questions about managing finances. Unfortunately? We will never under any circumstances work with retail investors. It is not worth the time, money or hassle. Instead we happily recommend Personal Capital as the go to source for retail investors with a net worth in excess of $100K (details here). If you do not know your own risk tolerance, the last place you should go to for information is the Internet. Go and talk to a professional (for free!). It took us a long time to find a useful source and we’re glad we no longer have to field personal finance questions anymore!
No Longer Go Out of Your Way: Maybe you didn’t have fantastic social skills as a younger guy. So you spent some of your time going out of your way to be social. Blocking out time to meet girls at clubs/bars or even trying your hand at meeting girls in SoHo. Fantastic. By the time you are 30? This should end. Your time should be extremely valuable. You simply meet girls on your way to work, meetings or even at the airport. Maybe you enjoy nightlife and go out with your friends. But. Under no circumstances do you block out time to “do approaches” since this is an enormous time suck. If your “opportunity cost” is $500 an hour. That 4 hour hangover the next day simply isn’t worth it. Finally, if you’re one of of those rare people who can go out 5 nights a week and see no impact… Well then it doesn’t matter. The main point? Don’t let your social life impact more important things: Health, Money, current friendships. No strange girl on the street or at the club is worth it. No exceptions.
Tougher to Meet Friends: On television they teach you that successful people have hundreds of thousands of elite friends who they hang out with all of the time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Successful people have a lot of soft touch friendships. By the time you’re in your 30s you will have ~10-15 solid contacts who probably live in different cities. You have maybe 2-3 solid friends in your city that you see 1x a month and another 12 friends who live in other major cities. The rest? They are all acquaintances. Acquaintances are fantastic for grabbing a drink and “hanging out”. But. Under no circumstances do you ever tell them how much money you really make (or have) or any real details about your personal life. They will try to tear you down.
A Solid Niche: Similar to never going out of your way to meet new people, you’ve already developed a niche. It does not matter what the niche is. Maybe you have a few high end lounges you enjoy going to (everyone knows your name) or maybe you have a social circle involving museums and art. Neither is right or wrong. The real point? You’ve combined an actual interest of yours with a way to meet new people (new social circles) or girls to date.
You Shouldn’t Be Married: As soon as you hit 30, the “marathon of life” works in your favor. The competition starts to drop like flies. Men are getting married left right and center and you’ll get tons of invitations to another lame “international wedding destination”. Attrition is really weeding out the competition. Perhaps, 5-10 years ago you could make the case that men didn’t “know better” when it comes to marriage. In 2015? This is simply a terrible BS excuse. The only downside? You’ll lose a lot of friends and acquaintances during this time period.
International Friends: At this point you should have contacts abroad. At least 5 of them. You should be able to land in a few countries, call/text a friend and have no problem meeting sometime during the week. This will make your life a lot more interesting. Since the pendulum swings both ways, you can show them the ins and outs of the United States of America (best place on the planet). Eventually, you’ll notice key mannerisms of specific countries (the colors they wear to the brand names they like), which will make it even easier for you to spot foreigners out in NYC.
Anecdotal Evidence is the Best Evidence: If someone disagrees with this, they are likely unsuccessful. Why? The only way to gain an edge is to have a strategy that no one else is doing. If it is well documented, researched and public… Then everyone else is doing it as well. How in the world is that going to give you an edge? It won’t. In fact, new age dating advice cannot be proven (yet) and anyone who has gone out more than 100+ times can easily tell you it works.
The best way to obtain more anecdotal evidence? Cross check your beliefs with other people living a similar aggressive lifestyle. If you know that Person A, B and C all have the same goals as you and they are all taking action… Have a quick conversation to exchange notes on what seems to work and what doesn’t. This applies to everything from lifting weights to making money to meeting new people.
Action Over Books: While you should certainly read every single day (maybe 30 minutes to an hour) you should understand that *action* will result in much more progress than information. You can read a million books on how to shoot a jump shot. But… the chances you shoot anywhere near close to Stephen Curry is zero percent if you don’t actually shoot a basketball. A guy with less than perfect form who shoots 1 million shots will beat a guy who shoots 100 shots but studied basketball for 20 hours a day.
Action applies to making money and generating revenue as well. You’re much better off trying to buy traffic. You’re much better off picking up the phone and trying to sell. You’re much better off cold emailing. The key is to spend <10% of your time doing research (preventing bone headed mistakes) and using 90%+ of your time taking action where you’ll make minor fixable errors.
Selective Information: We had to put *action over books* as the best information because life experience always wins. That said, in order to find good information you should have a strong filter before even considering the content, here is ours: 1) is this person better than you at the task? If not… don’t bother reading or building a relationship anymore, 2) is this going to provide information or emotion… the latter is useless but feels like good content to average people, 3) is the information based on studies or years of mistakes? Choose the person who has made many mistakes, 4) is the book worth reading after the first 50 pages? If not… Throw it in the garbage and 5) can you apply the new information within the next 3 months? If not… select a new book.
The real trick here? You’re only going to find ~10 books a year that are worth reading by the time you’re in your 30s. Assuming you’re successful, there are very few resources that are going to improve your life and unless you’re reading for fun (fiction, not action) you’re not going to read all that much. In fact? You’re probably better off learning a new language or picking up a new hobby instead of reading books that aren’t going to help you anymore.
30-55 hours a Week: By the time you’re a millionaire and don’t work on an hourly basis, you should be able to make your own schedule. Naturally, you’re going to get bored easily since you put in the hard work (60+ hours a week for ~6-10 years) so you’ll probably work 45-50 hours a week anyway. That said, you should have a team working with you so you can skip days when there is no need to work hard. If you recently closed a transaction that exceeds your quota for the year… there is no reason to show up to work on Fridays for the next 3 weeks anyway. Have everyone else send the basic updates for you.
Learn to Delegate: This was an easy lead in from paragraph one. If you are not trading your time for money? You should become more efficient by delegating tasks to other people. Any task that is not going to lead to more income but *needs to be done* should be delegated. This means updating documents, making tweaks to sales pages, dealing with technology updates, answering unimportant requests to show you’re “always available”. All of these tasks are not worth your valuable time. Hire someone to do them for you and pay them slightly above market rates so they have no reason to complain.
No More Chores: Unless you enjoy doing chores for fun (cooking as an example)… there is no reason to do them anymore. Make a list of items that take away from your time on a weekly basis. Remove at least three of them so you don’t have to bother anymore. This won’t cost you much. Maybe $300-500 a month and will allow you to focus on more important things: 1) your health, 2) thinking of ways to generate more income and 3) how to diversify your income streams. A quick list of things you shouldn’t waste time with: 1) dry cleaning, 2) shopping, 3) responding to emails from low-end clients, 4) team building activities – ask someone on your team to attend and be the cheerleader, 5) cooking and 6) booking flights/hotels/etc.
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Updated for 2017 and beyond.