The things that make money loudly tend to not work for large quantities of people; rarely do the sexiest fields lead to the biggest payoffs.
People get confused because they see headlines and movies and think that the world operates in a certain way — it’s not the case. The reason that it’s so exciting to see 20-something-aged billionaires is because it so rarely occurs as such. Still, there are millions of kids who believe they’ll be the next Mark Zuckerbergs, who believe they just simply have to make the next Facebook. Of course, the “next Facebook,” by definition, can’t look anything like Facebook.
I hate when my friends make decisions based on assumptions, so I put together a list of things one should never do for the money.
1. Going to Hollywood
There’s a bunch of money in Hollywood, but it’s likely that none of it is for you. Actors pay a higher premium for career sexiness than anyone else. “The Sexiness Premium” is the amount of extra competition that one must navigate professionally because of the exposure that one's field necessitates — it comes with increased risks without increased (monetary) rewards.
Movies are a massive part of our culture and we respect celebrities to a degree well beyond what they truly deserve. Of course, plenty of people want to be the next Brad Pitts or Jennifer Lawrences — and somebody will be — but everybody else will continue to do commercials, wait tables and try their hardest to resist the porn industry.
Acting is so commonly the career that people think they should have tried. And so, the market is saturated with people who try but shouldn’t.
Nobody makes much money writing — to make a decent living doing it, one must sell an amazing number of books. And now that idiots like me blog for free, there are even fewer platforms that offer to pay for content.
I write because I must — it’s how I sort through thoughts and connect with others. I’m not dumb enough to try to make a living by doing this. When you begin writing for profit, you risk losing a lot of the value you got from doing so in the first place. Just because you won’t make any money at it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.
3. Day Trading
I did this for a long time. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done – it won’t make you much money.
I made a bunch of money — then I lost double that. Then I made it back. So on and so forth until I ended up broke and down on life. So I quit.
Very few day traders make money. I know a guy who’s been doing it 30 years who just took a job as a bagger at a grocery store. It’s a brutal game — one that you can play correctly and still lose.
You have a better chance making money with a startup. But even that isn’t likely to work (the first time) — at least you may be doing something positive for society, though.
4. Starting A Sexy Startup
Going into business for yourself may be the single best way to make a large amount of money during your life, but, it's extremely risky.
Riding a trend is one thing, but a lot of startup entrepreneurs just blindly throw darts. “One of us has to win, why not me?” Well, maybe it will be you — probably not, though.
You are better off learning to love what actually makes money instead of what looks like it makes money. Warren Buffett didn’t get to be the wealthiest man in the world by chasing trends. Instead, he was attracted to some of the least sexy industries: insurance, reinsurance, canned beverages, private planes. Well, I guess private planes are kind of sexy.
What Buffett finds sexy is a company’s ability to make money over a long period of time. Maybe that’s not what you want to do. Maybe you like being affiliated with the sexy more than the profitable. That’s fine — I certainly don’t make all of my decisions based on dollars. The important part, though, is to be aware of why you’re doing something.
Your path should be different if you want a simple life rather than fame. It should be different if you want money rather than artistic expression.
But of course, plenty of people — Wes Anderson, Steve Jobs, Andy Warhol, etc. — have shown that we don’t need to choose just one.
Photo via Breaking Bad