I have now shared almost every single guest post I’ve ever written since starting this blog 5.5 years ago. Below is the guest post that introduced me to Lin, who is now the editor of this blog. Like I’ve done with past guest posts I’ve shared, I will sprinkle in current annotations with comments and updates from the present day. I hope you enjoy!
Non-Physicians: What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a physician, what type of a physician do you think you would be? Why?
In the digital world, I like to think of myself as the Chief Freedom Officer in my little corner of the internet. In the real world, I’m a 30-year-old C-suite executive with a title and role that I designed. I’m the Chief Business Intelligence Office or CBIO for short. That’s right, I’m the one and only CBIO (in the entire universe as far as I know).
[GYFG Here: It’s crazy to think my corporate career is officially over. Now as an entrepreneur I wear multiple C-suite titles. I’m the CEO, COO, CFO, CHO, CRO, and CMO. On paper, technically my partner is the COO, but functionally I perform all these roles currently. My favorite self-proclaimed title is the one I gave myself for running this site – Chief Freedom Officer!]
I got my start in corporate finance, wearing the traditional FP&A hat (financial planning and analysis), but I was fortunate to participate in some mergers and acquisitions. After a few years, I transitioned into trading, where I helped run all the hedging activities for a private $3B oil company, and traded west coast products (gasoline and diesel fuel) and options for profit.
I left the oil industry and joined a public $2B company in action sports. After doing a small stint in FP&A again, I weaseled my way onto the eCommerce team, where I helped launch a global analytics team to support the fast growing $100M business. I am fascinated with the online world because of how measurable everything is.
Presently I’m eight years into my career working for a consulting company in the construction management space.
So, what do I actually do for a living?
I get paid an obscene amount of money to play with data all day. I spend a lot of my time frolicking around a spreadsheet. I’m a lot more technical than your typical finance guy, but not so technical that I can’t interface with operations. My tentacles go far and deep throughout the entire organization and my job is to measure the things we want to manage in order to make fact-based decisions that will help increase both top and bottom line results.
[GYFG Here: Although my corporate career is done, what I do for a living hasn’t really changed. I now get paid an even more obscene amount of money to play with data and frolic around a spreadsheet. The only difference is I now also get paid when others play with data and frolic around in spreadsheets. Not a bad deal!]
If I were to do anything in the medical field, it would be to become an internal medicine specialist, like the character in the show House, even though it’s probably a big stretch from the reality of an actual person in this role. House makes it look like you would get a lot of interesting cases to try to diagnose, and I would think that those guys/gals get paid some big bucks.
Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.
My Mission: To Humanize Finance, Build Wealth, and Reach Financial Freedom!
My blog isn’t so much about FIRE as it is reaching financial freedom at an accelerated clip. I truly believe that anyone can reach financial freedom if they’re willing to do things differently.
[GYFG Here: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my definition for FIRE is Financial Independence / Recreational Employment.]
If you earn an average salary and have an average savings rate, then you can expect an average result! That means you will likely work a job you may or may not enjoy until you’re 65 and then maybe you can retire IF you’re lucky.
Hey, there is nothing wrong with average. If you’re happy with average, then, by all means, keep doing what everyone else is doing. Not sure how you feel about that, but I have no interest in living an average life, I want EXTRAORDINARY.
I am trying to humanize finance by sharing my own journey to FINANCIAL FREEDOM. I believe in total HONESTY and TRANSPARENCY. That is why before I ever started blogging, I decided that I would share all of my own financial stats. I do this not to brag, but instead to INSPIRE, MOTIVATE, and hold myself accountable.
[GYFG Here: If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you know I have stuck to the above mission and vision of this site with strict compliance. That’s why you got to read about my recent time of challenge and overwhelm. I need you to see the good, bad, and ugly. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. You can’t have the sweet without the bitter. That’s why optimism, discipline and plain old grit are so important to get you through the challenging times. In the end, through thick and thin, I believe everything will always work out.]
What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?
I’ve never been good about keeping a journal, like the physical kind, but was really fond of the idea of memorializing my thoughts. I also believed that I had something unique and interesting to add to the personal finance conversation. When I started, the majority of the blogs I came across were all part of this mass frugality movement, which – although interesting to read about – wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to live my life.
Yeah, it’s interesting to read how some guy retired at 33, has a family of 4, and lives off of like $30,000 a year. However, that lifestyle has absolutely no appeal to me.
I practice what I have coined relative frugality. In this alternative approach to frugality, the focus is on the income side of the equation. You still need to be prudent about your spending (i.e., don’t spend money that doesn’t bring you joy), but by focusing on increasing your income you can significantly decrease the percentage that spending makes up of your total income, while at the same time increasing your savings rate.
[GYFG Here: I’m still a devout believer and evangelist of the relative frugality philosophy. My results speak for themselves with my obsessive focus on the income side of the equation. In my latest financial report, my household income on a trailing twelve months (TTM) basis was almost $1.2M. As a point of context, our TTM at the time I wrote this was only $365,722.]
I also noticed that a lot of other bloggers out there were working towards achieving a $1M net worth. Since I like the finer things in life, my big hairy audacious goal is to build a net worth of $10M by the time I am 48 (you can keep track here). And to be honest, I probably won’t stop there, because that’s not how I’m wired.
[GYFG Here: This is still true but my aim over the next couple of years is to scale my business to a point that it can run without my daily involvement. My ultimate goal is to sell the business in the next 5-7 years and then manage my family’s wealth as we jet-set across the globe living the 3-6-3 lifestyle (see description later in this guest post). We will solidify our trifecta of Time Freedom, Location Freedom, and Financial Freedom over the next few years.]
As far as the moment of my blog arriving, I think I’m still waiting for that moment, but a guest feature here on this blog will get me that much closer to “my moment”.
[GYFG Here: I still don’t think this blog has “arrived” yet. Cumulatively the blog has received 662,284 page views over its 66 month existence. I think I will feel it has arrived when I have 10M page views – matching my net worth goal.]
Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.
I really do love the obsession with the number 11, as it happens to be my favorite number as well, so here goes:
- From Welfare to Well-Off: My Rags to Riches Story (in the Making) – As you are about to discover, it doesn’t matter where you start in life; what matters is how you play the hand you were dealt.
- What The GFYG Blog is All About – Simply put, this is a blog is about BUILDING WEALTH & REACHING FINANCIAL FREEDOM!It’s not your run of the mill “Get Rich Slow” type content, but instead, is aimed at RAPID WEALTH BUILDING.
- The Freedom Fighter – Are you interested in Time Freedom, Location Freedom, and/or Financial Freedom? You’re in the right place. Read the post and see if it resonates with you.
- The Email That Lead To A $60,000 Increase In Compensation – This email I sent to the CEO shows that when you do the work, you earn the right to make the ASK. It’s uncomfortable, but FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD.
- Everyone Has a Number, Mine is $10M, What’s Yours? – Do you know what your Freedom number is? A million isn’t nearly as much as it used to be, plus everyone is shooting for that. Remove that glass ceiling and shoot for something that will allow you to live life by design. In this post, I detail my own “rough” blueprint of how I plan to get to $10M. It is still a work in progress and will be evolving over time.
- Savings Rate – The Most Important Variable to Wealth Building [and the math to prove it] – When it comes to wealth building there are many variables to consider, but it’s the savings rate that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
- Looking at Savings Rate through the Financial Independence Lens – Your savings rate will determine how long it takes you to reach financial independence. Do you realize that if your savings rate is 5%, that you have to work 20 years before you have enough saved to take one year off of work?
- Earning Your First $1 Million – Earning your first million is the hardest and takes the most time. But your next million and each subsequent million will be easier and quicker to achieve. This is especially true if you focus a majority of your effort on the income side of the equation instead of the expense side. Mrs. GYFG and I have had a laser focus on building our incomes and that is why in 2017 we are on track to earn $440,000 and plan to be earning in excess of $600,000 by 2019.
- Net Worth Conversion Ratio – A Measure of Wealth Building Efficiency – There is a saying that it’s not how much you make but how much you keep that really matters in wealth building. That’s why I developed the net worth conversion ratio.
- The Reality of The Overnight Success – From the outside, success can appear to be something that happens overnight, but the reality is that in most cases every overnight success is 10-20 years in the making. Check out my own overnight success story, where I spent seven years working 70-90 hours a week to accelerate my climb up the corporate ladder to the C-Suite.
- Using Life Savings to Save a Life – A Financial Decision Made From The Heart – Most days I truly believe that “the path is all math,” but then there are situations that come up that remind me that not every financial decision can be mathematically optimized by intellect of the brain. Sometimes it’s okay to make decisions instinctively guided by the heart.
Do you see what I just did there? You asked for eleven posts, so I gave you a list of 11 items, but managed to over-deliver by adding in a couple more, and giving you a baker’s dozen.
At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?
I think I will retire when I am dead!
I actually hate the phrase. The word retirement causes me to cringe and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This is likely because I watched my grandparents, who were retired, waste their golden years on a recliner in front of the TV. That has absolutely no appeal to me.
I realize that retirement means different things to different people, but I personally just don’t like the word. The only plan for retirement I have is to retire when I am “kicking daisies,” as my grandfather used to say.
Retirement: the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work. – Google Instant Search Result
I get the whole “leaving one’s job,” but what I don’t get is the “ceasing to work” part. People tend to overestimate the fulfillment you get from living your life in the pro leisure circuit. I get leaving the JOB, but once you stop working, you stop contributing. And I believe that contribution is a large piece of the fulfillment puzzle. Too often, work is mistakenly synonymous with the JOB. Yes, your job does require work, but work does not only apply to the effort you exert on the job.
Work: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. – Google Instant Search Result
Okay, so maybe I’m taking the definition of retirement too literally. How about this, I plan to reach financial independence by 37, when based on the plan we should have accumulated $2.5M in net worth and financial freedom by the time I turn 48 and have accumulated $10M in net worth.
[GYFG Here: I think our timeline has accelerated due to two x-factors. The first x-factor was acquiring stock and options in my previous employer, which ended up being worth an exit of $537,000. The second is jumping into the entrepreneurial waters. I originally thought we would hit $2.5M by 37 but my current vantage point has us hitting it by 34. And I think we have a chance at hitting $10M almost a full decade earlier – by age 40.]
What does an ideal retirement look like for you? What will you do with your time when full-time work is in your rearview mirror?
When I “retire” (there’s that word again), I will make it my job to live life by design.
My wife and I have plans to live three months by the beach, three months in a foreign country, and six months at home base. We’re excited to blend work, travel, culture, and freedom. This is not going to require me to leave my job, but it probably won’t happen until the 2nd half of our 4th decade. I tend to be very routine-oriented, so you can bet that a lot of my days will look the same, which is probably true for most people (whether they realize it or not).
[GYFG Here: I was likely wearing my rose-colored glasses when I wrote this part. I don’t currently believe I could have accomplished living the 3-6-3 lifestyle if I had stayed in traditional employment in Corporate America. I did leave my job. The timeline now currently looks closer to the start of our 4th decade.]
We will spend more time doing the things we already do. But instead of fitting our lives around our work, we will fit our work around our lives. Some of our favorite pastimes include reading, working out, writing, water skiing, snow skiing & boarding, food (we love food), travel, business building, and spending time with friends and family.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of the things we enjoy. These are also things we already do as often as possible.
Something we don’t believe in is suppressing every indulgence in life for “someday.” Don’t wait until you reach FI to enjoy life because none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.
I’ll give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, we’re all ears.
From my vantage point, there are two ways to become wealthy: the SLOW way OR the FAST way.
Which one do you prefer? This kind of seems like a no-brainer question, right? Our natural unfiltered response is likely, “the FAST way!”
As my grandfather would say “we want to get there immediately, if not sooner.” But there is no right or wrong answer and you may come to find out that the slow way is the right choice for you, and there is nothing wrong with that.
You need to know that the FAST way is going to require a great deal more HUSTLE, DISCIPLINE, and FOCUS.
You need to ask yourself if you’re willing to pay the price to achieve substantial wealth in 10-20 years instead of 40 years plus. Are you willing to live your life like most won’t for a few years so that you can live the rest of your life like most can’t?
Simply put, you will need to do whatever it takes to maximize your income, your after-tax savings rate (I recommend 50%+), and your knowledge. And then take all that money and knowledge and invest it wisely in the market, yourself, and the people who matter to you.
[GYFG Here: I don’t think I could say it any better today!]
The most important thing to avoid is focusing too much on building your wealth that you forget to build a life!
You’ve got eleven days to visit anyplace in the world with an $11,000 budget. Where do you go and what do you do?
I’d go back to Florence, Italy and eat and drink my way through the city with my wife.
Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.
- Smart water, because it feels so good on the tongue.
- Coffee, preferably brewed in a french press
- Vodka Gimlet, because I’m an old soul
- Thai Tea, because you need something to neutralize level 4 spicy
- Coca Cola, probably because of all the subliminal messages I saw in the movie theaters
- Champagne, mostly because I like using my saber to open the bottle, makes for an entertaining party trick
- Red wine – we do live in the Napa of Southern California
- White wine, because in the summer it is so much more refreshing
- Hot Tea, when I’m sick or need to cycle off the caffeine
- Sweet Tea, when it’s too early to start drinking alcohol
- Pink lemonade, especially with a little Grey Goose (if you know what I mean)
Now, eleven foods.
- Sushi (with lots of soy sauce and wasabi)
- Panang Curry (level 4 spicy on a scale of 1 to 5)
- California Burrito (drenched in Tapatio hot sauce)
- Carnitas tacos (house hot sauce)
- Rib Eye Steak (medium rare)
- Pizza (with pepperoni, pineapple, jalapenos, and red pepper flakes)
- Pasta (with red pepper flakes)
- Hot Sauce (because I can’t eat anything that isn’t spicy)
- Sourdough Bread (best for making sandwiches)
- Pad Thai (spicy hot, essentially a level 3 on a scale up to 4)
- Double Double from In N Out (with diced chili peppers)
[GYFG Here: Only update here is fully sharing my favorite pizza.]
How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?
You kind of made it impossible not to hear about PoF. All of a sudden you came out of nowhere, made a huge splash, and somehow found the time to be omnipresent across the web, while also playing doctor (which makes me wonder if you’re just a PF blogger playing a doctor online…).
As far as advice to you, don’t ever let that FIRE burn out (you see what I did there?).
Thanks for having me.
p.s. brevity is not my strong suit 🙂