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.
I have one of the best corporate jobs you could have.
And I still work every day to make myself financially independent of it!
You never know when:
- you could lose your job,
- your job could disappear due to technological advancement,
- or your company could dissolve.
Even if none of these things happen, the most financially secure people set up multiple income streams.
And a job is just one income stream.
Also, most people don’t have an incredible corporate job like mine.
- clock in at an office,
- deal with co-workers’ bad moods,
- are tied to a desk under fluorescent lighting all day,
- rarely go outside,
- have limited access to healthy food,
- and have to do whatever their boss says.
If this is the best your corporate job has to offer, know that there’s a better life outside of corporate.
And there’s no reason you shouldn’t begin pursuing financial freedom outside of corporate today.
I recommend setting up a WordPress blog today as your first step in this process.
2. You should mask your identity when it conflicts with your corporate environment.
The corporate lifestyle usually encourages homogeneity.
For starters, there’s typically a dress-code (there certainly is in my office).
Also, in corporate most people:
- lives roughly within the same radius of the office
- work more or less during the same hours,
- and usually even eat 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.
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.
Most people don’t stop to think of the origins of the corporate world.
But it’s a relatively recent invention of the last hundred years.
And I believe that the corporate lifestyle tends to lead to poor health and unhappiness
(Unless you’re one of the lucky few able to pursue your passions and aptitudes within your corporate job.)
So if the corporate lifestyle doesn’t lead to happiness, then what does?
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.
this YouTube video shows how a squatting toilet posture may improve or remove 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, she gave me a bad grade.
All these people were simply looking out for my best interests and I don’t resent them or their advice.
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 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, I’ll 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.
Just look at 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.
This leads to the cultural implication 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.
It’s certainly fooled me before.
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.