You’ve spent your childhood dreaming about things near and far, large and small. You’ve spent hours imaging the perfect world - one in which you would get to live out your full potential and change the world for the better. And no matter how much your family and friends convinced you that this world was too out of touch with reality, you knew immediately that’s what you wanted to create - almost as if you could become your imagination’s superhero.
But then something changed. You worked hard in high school to get perfect grades so that you could get into a prestigious college. You thought to yourself that maybe all of the hard work is finally paying off - because college was supposed to be where you freed yourself from the burden of getting into one itself. It was supposed to be a place where you harnessed your curiosity and let it shine. A place where you finally got to turn that dream from your childhood into reality.
But for most, college is also where you hung up the superhero cape and traded it in for a suit and tie. The product of your hopes and dreams? Replaced by the zeros after a number on a slip of paper doled out to eager pairs of hands twice a month.
A dear friend of mine was told “you’ve gotten addicted to the paycheck,” and hearing his story made me feel like my fear had come true. In fact, if asked to list down the things I fear, getting addicted to my paycheck is one of them. One of my favorite quotes is There are lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world (Phil Libin, Evernote CEO). Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be done for the money, it should be done for the hunger to disrupt.
But the hunger to disrupt is not enough to entice many. Startups have a 95% chance of failure, which means that statistically, the founders who are in it for the money are better off betting it on sports or even card games. Moreover, startup founders rarely live in a stable life: they’re working exponentially harder than their corporate counterparts and until they’ve worked for awhile, there’s no guarantee of a stable paycheck.
So they beat on. McKinsey, Meta, and Morgan Stanley continue to recruit hundreds of thousands of the brightest-eyed members of our generation, year after year. They are just like you and me: filled with potential and dreams, but stuck in the state of execution: almost as if they are trapped in a cell in which the paycheck holds the key to unlock.
The paycheck is the modern day drug: it tempts you with access to buy the new MacBook or a car. At the end of the day - what money can buy is status; because of this temptation, all of a sudden you lose track of the impact that you’re creating. Instead of the shepherd, you become the herd: blindly following the person in front of you, who in front is following an infinite chain of those who have come and gone. Even if the one person suddenly falls off a cliff, it’s likely that the rest will follow.
See, the world is broadly broken down into two types of people: leaders and followers. Each leader our there needs some followers to make their vision happen. They need engineers, designers, product managers, marketers - a whole team which is going to help develop their ambition; these people are reeled in with the thought of a paycheck.
Now please don’t get me wrong - I am not saying that a paycheck is bad - I understand that people have families to look after, lifestyles they want to obtain and dreams that they want to make happen. However, what I am objecting to is the addicting to this paycheck. For people with families and other dependents, sure, I get that you need a guaranteed amount of money in your bank account every month. That being said, however, don’t let small amounts of money restrain you from running after things that matter.
I’ve spent half of my life learning the phrase “if you try and chase it, money will keep on running away from you. If you chase passion, money will run after you,” but honestly, at the time it sounded highly confusing and I wasn’t sure whether or not I truly bought into this philosophy. However, in another one of my blog posts called opportunities, I decoded a very important and game-changing understanding I had: if you’re able to find a way to genuinely add value to people and do so in a way that you are passionate about, money will find its way to your pocket. Startups follow the same principle - you solve a genuine problem in a disruptive way and voila, you’ve made more money than you can ever make in a corporate role.
Thus, the modern salary binds you down with greed and stops you from chasing actual impact.
I want to end with a thought here: if you chase money, you wouldn’t be able to do anything else. If you’re chasing to solve a problem in a disruptive way that you are passionate about, money will make its way to you. And what nobody (except for us) will ever tell you is that all the people you look up to… nobody, I repeat, nobody made it where they are on a paycheck. Paul Graham (co-founder of Y Combinator) posted a large 1-page advertisement back in the day….