Life and Career Advice – how to be paid to drink beer

“Do what you love and the money will follow” is a bad cliche. If you do what you love right out of school, 99% chance you will end up destitute, homeless and/or in jail. A much better cliche would be:

“Make time every day for your life’s passion and eventually it will provide income.”

Not nearly as uplifting, but much more realistic – you know me, I’m all about having realistic expectations. :)

Working 12hr days used to be a way to work your way up in a company by showing your loyalty, no longer. The company will lay you off in a heartbeat if their CFO says it will save them 10 cents – company loyalty means nothing, at least in large companies. I’ve been there and made the above mistake multiple times, thinking that hard, quality work and loyalty on my part was the way to success – and found myself laid off again and again. There are always a bunch of people willing and eager to work even more hours than you are, and for 10 cents less – dont play that game.

Here is my advice:

1) Study hard and do well in school, get a two year degree at college at a minimum. The degree doesnt need to be academic, it can be a trade degree – plumbing, electrician, or whatever. Make sure that when you leave school you have a marketable skill. It should be something you like but it doesnt have to be your life’s passion. If you love tinkering with cars, dont waste 4 years on a physics degree – you will make much more money as an auto mechanic AND have more fun. Give every class your full attention. Later in life just one class that you took will become VERY important, the thing is, you have no way of predicting WHICH class that will be :) Most likely it will be a class you hated.

2) Keep your expenses LOW. Keep living like a poor student for at least 10 years after you start working. Its tempting to run out with your first paycheck and put a downpayment on a new car but dont do it! Keep that clunker or bicycle. With your expenses low you can avoid being trapped in a stressful, high paying job you hate.

3) Have two jobs. The first is the one that pays the bills. Take pride in your work, work hard, be efficient, dont surt the web and do email at work BUT only work 8hrs a day – period. Give them what they pay you for, thats it. Job #2 starts at 5pm and is your life’s passion. It doesnt make money, follow it with a gusto. If you love tango dancing then do it 3hrs every night. If you love cooking, then shop and create an extravagant meal every night. Do NOT look for money in Job#2.

What you will find is over the years, you will become quite an expert at your life’s passion. So much an expert that people will start seeking you out. Eventually your passion will turn into a paying “job” except every morning you will wake up and say “I cant believe I’m being paid to have FUN!”.

I can here some of you now making fun of this advice,

” I love drinking beer, how can I make money at that? Ha Ha Ha”

Well let me tell you because one of my best friends in college did just that. He is a true career success story in my book. Out of college, I took an engineering job with an exciting, high flying tech company. John took a boring engineering job with the government. I was so smug, of course I got the better job. Or did I? My job was really, really exciting but I worked *long* hours. John worked 9-5 and brewed home beer evenings and went backpacking on weekends. I worked hard, went from one exciting job to another – often having to find another job when the company failed. John joined local home brew clubs and started beer tasting. I made more money per year but he made more money per hour. Come age 50 John takes early retirement. By this point, he has become a very proficient taster. He had been judging beer at contests for at least 20 years and was one of the top beer tasters in the country. Now that he is retired, people fly him all over the world to taste beer! Can you imagine that, being paid to drink beer? It can happen but you have to become an expert at it!