If you’re stuck in the corporate lifestyle, it’s easy to get caught up in its lies.
I don’t want the corporate world to fool you.
Here are a handful of lies to watch out for as you journey to financial freedom.
1.The corporate lifestyle is as good as it gets.
As I write this article, I have a day job in the one of the nicest business buildings in Dallas with a private office that rents on the free market for $2,000+ per month.
I’m the portfolio manager of a real estate fund, a job title that’s unheard of for someone my age and level of experience.
My boss told me that if I fail and don’t earn a good return on my fund, he will take the blame, and if I succeed, he will give me all the credit.
I work with nice people, I almost never work more than 40 hours a week, and I make a good wage.
Also, my job is intellectually stimulating with unlimited growth potential.
In other words, I have one of the best corporate jobs you could have.
And I still work every day to make myself financially independent of it!
Because in my opinion, even the best the corporate lifestyle has to offer isn’t as good as what being your own boss can give you.
Compare my situation to that of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, who travels the country in an RV with her husband, working whenever she wants, wherever she wants, making six figures a month.
That sentence alone captures why online entrepreneurship is better than the corporate life – it allows for unparalleled freedom with unlimited income potential.
Even with my incredible job, I still have to clock in at an office, deal with co-workers’ bad moods, be tied to a desk under fluorescent lighting all day, rarely ever get out into nature, have limited access to healthy food, and do whatever my boss says.
2. You should mask your identity when it conflicts with your corporate environment.
The corporate lifestyle encourages homogeneity.
For starters, there’s usually a dress-code (there certainly is in my office).
Also, everyone lives roughly within the same radius of the office, has to work at more or less the same time, and usually even eats the same food.
What if you want to work at night, or in your jeans, or from Prague?
That doesn’t work for most corporate environments.
Instead, you need to conform to your company culture or find a new place to work.
The corporate ideal begins teaching conformity early in the western education system. Peter Thiel puts it this way in his classic “Zero to One:”
“Higher education is the place where people who had big plans in high school get stuck in fierce rivalries with equally smart peers over conventional careers like management consulting and investment banking.”
Corporate America encourages homogeneity even when diversity (particularly diversity of thought) increases profit.
Perhaps this is why Automattic (the company behind WordPress) founder Matt Mullenweg has a fully remote company where everyone works from home or wherever they want. Mullenweg believes this is the easiest way to recruit top talent and save money on real estate/relocation costs.
I don’t think conformity is a good practice.
Instead, I think embracing your passions and aptitudes is the surest path to success.
3. The corporate lifestyle is normal and shouldn’t conflict at all with health or happiness.
The corporate lifestyle is recent invention of the last hundred years that usually leads to poor health and unhappiness unless you are able to pursue your passions and aptitudes within your job.
There’s a lot of interesting scientific evidence that shows that our bodies function better and our happiness improves when living more closely to a paleolithic (caveman) lifestyle.
For instance, this YouTube video incorporating research from Stanford shows how a squatting toilet posture radically improves or removes many of the gastrointestinal issues that plague the modern western world (cavemen didn’t have toilets and always had a squatting posture).
Many diets successful in promoting weight loss and improved health revolve around limiting carbohydrates, eating more natural whole foods, and other ways to imitate the hunter gatherer diet of cavemen.
And most pertinent to this article, research shows that experiences not material possessions bring us the most happiness (cavemen had hardly any possessions and instead lived a nomadic lifestyle in beautiful nature).
Internet entrepreneurship with its abundance of freedom allows you to prioritize the things which bring us the most happiness, relationships and experiences, much better than the corporate lifestyle.
For the most part, the corporate lifestyle inherently limits your capacity for new experiences because you are tied to a desk.
4. Appearance is of utmost importance.
Do you know the area in which I’ve received the most career advice?
It’s how to dress for the corporate lifestyle.
My first mentor gave me a lot of style advice, encouraging me to wear dress slacks instead of khaki pants to show my superiors I was serious about my position.
My current boss is always trying to give me dress shirts and telling me how I need to stock up on professional clothing if this is how I’m going to spend the next 40 years of my life. (a scary prospect)
A USC professor reprimanded me for not “dressing the part” when I gave a presentation on the career path I wanted to take, even when I explained in my presentation and to her that I wanted to become an internet entrepreneur where “dressing the part” meant wearing whatever I wanted.
All these people were simply looking out for my best interests and I don’t resent them or their advice at all.
That said, I’ve found this myopic focus on appearance is an accurate representation of the importance of appearance in the corporate world.
Appearances matter more than output, especially when you’re first joining the corporate world and have no track record to prove your value.
5. Your resume is a critical factor to success.
Another area I’ve received a lot of advice on is my resume.
In 2014, a Google recruiter told me she liked my resume but that I should keep working, and try applying again in a few years.
A similar resume got me an interview with DropBox that same year.
The guy who hired me for my current position told me he thought my resume was pretty bad.
So the people who liked my resume didn’t hire me and the people that didn’t like my resume hired me.
Do you know what Brian Dean’s (the founder of backlinko.com) resume is?
It’s that when you search “backlink” on Google, his article is the first search result
No one cares where Brian went to school, what he studied, or if he even went to school.
Instead, people want Brian to teach them how to get on the first page of Google search results because he’s done it.
In the world of internet entrepreneurship (and in the free market), it’s the value you add that matters, not what’s written on a resume.
The irony is that if you give away a lot of excellent content for free, and successfully promote it online in such a way that it makes you money, you will have people begging you to come work for them.
In other words, the best resume is no resume at all, but a publicly verifiable track record of adding massive value to an audience.
6. You must compete with your coworkers to get ahead.
I’ve written before about how competition is a sign of the toxic Scarcity Mentality.
Unfortunately, this mentality is pervasive in the corporate environment.
Your co-workers often treat you as an enemy in the competition to rise to the top of the corporate ladder.
But as the ubiquitous internet meme says, “if you don’t like the game, change the rules.”
I find it helpful to think of the corporate lifestyle like a game I have to play for now.
Someday I hope to quit playing the corporate game and instead play the game of the internet entrepreneur, which I think is a better match for my passions and aptitudes.
Plus, no one can truly compete with me in a field that capitalizes on my passions and aptitudes because no one has my exact passions and aptitudes.
If you’re stuck in a competitive corporate environment, just remember there are countless people thriving without competing with co-workers.
Do you think the couple that runs technomadia.com and lives out of a partially solar-powered RV as they travel the USA cares (or even thinks about) about competition in the workplace?
7. Higher education is the answer.
I’m not necessarily against higher education.
In fact, I think it’s a good insurance policy if you choose the right major and can attend a university without going into inordinate debt.
I just believe that the return on investment is becoming worse and worse as university tuition price skyrockets.
I also know that a college education isn’t required to make good money, as evidenced by this ex-con who started an $80,000 per month Shopify business and countless other success stories of those without a college degree.
But in the corporate world, the path to success is clearly defined through higher education.
I dislike its cookie-cutter nature and resent the idea that the only way to get ahead is to spend a lot of money on higher education degrees.
Some incredible businessmen encourage university attendance, like Bill Gates, while others think it’s a waste of time, like James Altucher.
Regardless of what you think, it’s important to remember that higher education isn’t a cure-all to your career problems, a guarantee of a higher salary, or the only way to get ahead.
The corporate lifestyle can easily trick you into believing lies if you aren’t careful and don’t seriously consider what you believe about work and life in the 21st century.
I hope this post helps you navigate the lies we sometimes encounter in the corporate world.
What other corporate lies are there to watch out for?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments.