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FI Weekly – April 6, 2021

On Motivation

Sal Khan, founder of the incomparable Khan Academy (if you have children and are looking to improve their math skills for FREE, there’s no better way than Khan Academy), was a guest on People I (Mostly) Admire.’ This quote from Sal on motivation jumped out to me: 

“One of the big questions when we started, especially a not for profit, was how are we going to attract top talent, especially in a place like Silicon Valley where people could go work at Google and Facebook and get all the stock options and whatever else. 

And I remember reading a study back when I was a hedge fund analyst and it said that beyond a certain level, pay and things like bonuses, actually they’re not that great of an incentive. Or they can even be a disincentive at some point. 

And what really people care about: they definitely need enough pay to feel valued, and feel like they can support their family at a reasonable standard of living, but beyond that it’s all about having mission that you feel a real purpose, feeling that you are working around other people who are alongside and are invested in you and having intellectually stimulating work that really leverages your skills.” 

This quote ties directly into the five motiving factors we’ve highlighted on the ChooseFI podcast 

  • Autonomy 
  • Mastery 
  • Purpose 
  • Identity 
  • Connection 

(with a huge assist to Daniel Pink from his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” where he focuses on autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and Doc G from Episode 104 where he discussed identity and connection.) 

Simply put, money only motivates people so far. It’s the other factors that really stand out and make a long-term difference. 

If you critically review your own job (and, for that matter, life), how many of these components are present? 

At my last “real” job, it was just autonomy and connection. That wasn’t enough for long-term satisfaction, but it was just enough to make it palatable. 

How about you?

On Stoic Philosophy

One of our finalists for a new project management software for ChooseFI is Basecamp, which prompted me to go back and listen to Episode 195 of The Tim Ferriss Show with Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson. Among the many gems was their discussion of stoic philosophy and David’s article “It’s Always Your Fault.” 

This isn’t about beating yourself up needlessly, but instead turning the power around from the elusive “they” impacting you, to YOU being the source of power. 

Tim remembered a powerful question a former coach asked him, that I think is important for each of us to ask ourselves: “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?” 

To round this out, here’s a 2-minute video from Jocko Willink entitled “Good.” I hit this up for a little extra dose of motivation every now and again; it’s pretty intense, and I suspect not for everyone, but I feel like I can run through a brick wall after watching this video. 

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Sanjeev said, “My 1% this week: going over to Aldi’s for most, if not all, of my grocery shopping. And an update: “I have an update to give to you on that for the month of March. I had NEVER tracked every penny like this. Guess what, my March grocery bill came to under $4 per person per day! And all this without changing my diet. Yes, I still ate healthy :)” 
  • Cliff said, “It’s a bit more than 1% better, but I finally started monetizing my woodworking hobby and all the tools I’ve invested in over the years. I spend my free-time in the shop anyways but only build projects for my home or as gifts for the family. Last month I finally posted a few things to Etsy and have been amazed at the feedback. I started 40 days ago and already have 39 sales. After shipping costs and fees, I brought in an additional ~$2k and there’s no sign of slowing down! We both already max our Roth accounts and 457s so this money will be going straight into a total stock market index fund in our brokerage account. Best part is, we’re keeping receipts to write off my tools and supply expenses, which is all stuff I would have bought anyways!” 
  • Ann said, “What I did to make my life 1% better this week is I finished filing my income tax return. When the refund comes in, I’ll be investing 100% of it into index ETFs. I’ve also been working my way through the free FI 101 course, and am halfway through The Intelligent Investor. I also spoke to my daughters about the importance of starting to invest when they’re young, and I think they’re both on board with buying their first few shares!” 
  • Doug said, “My 1% gain was passing the final exam to earn the CFA Institute Investment Foundations certificate. Taking this course opened my eyes to many aspects of the financial industry and strengthened my investment fundamentals. A sampling of what I learned: what the three main types of financial statements are and how to read them, the difference between open-end and closed-end mutual funds, and how to calculate the time-weighted rate of return for a portfolio. I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in finance because it’s available to everyone, self-paced, 100% online, and it’s FREE.” 
  • Leah said, “I’m from Canada and my 1% improvement was maxing out my TFSA this month and allocating the money that was going to my TFSA to my RRSP instead! I also convinced my partner to up his student loan payment frequency to biweekly instead of monthly and to double the amount he was putting towards it per month. He should have his loans paid off by the end of the year! Thanks so much for encouraging me to make incremental steps towards FI every day!”


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