***This is a personal story. I am certain there are some lessons to be learned from this post, but then again, this post was written from my world point of view***
When I have a conversation with good friends, I sometime hear a subtle remark from them: “dude, you’re so lucky. No wonder you get this and that. You never had to work hard. You get this and that privilege. If only I were like you”
I don’t mean to boast, but I must admit that I am in a much more fortunate situation than a lot of people. I have a family who still can support me in many ways and areas. I graduated from an international university whereas others are so grateful they can graduate from one. And so on and so forth.
The thing is, many of my fortunes are laid out clearly and publicly when people ask me or in my social netwok profile. I don’t feel the need to hide them. I guess we all have the innate tendency to focus on what we can see.
But what no one has ever,.. ever,.. EVER, bother to ask
is the story of how I get to where I am now. It’s true that I might have a more fortunate background but it is not the deciding factor. If our background is the biggest contributing factor towards our success, then how come there are many people in the world who didn’t come from a fortunate background but are far more accomplished than any of us? Steve Jobs comes to mind. If the thesis is: a successful person is in a good situation because of one’s background then try explaining Job’s.
I did study abroad, but the reason why I went overseas for education was so I could play game everyday. I was raised in a family who didn’t appreciate the value of video games. I was not allowed to play except during weekends. And it was killing me. I didn’t go to Canada to study, I went to play games.
8 years later, after I finally graduated, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But I know 1 thing for sure: I didn’t want to do anything that has to do with my parents. Simply because I thought it’d be a bruise on my ego. It was a foolish thought but that decision made me carve my own path.
I’m pretty well-known for being a guy with a strictly idealistic point of view. I don’t completely agree nor disagree. I just think that I have to do the right thing no matter what and I will stick to it.
One of the topics that people love to debate with me is the subject of money. The way I see it, we have to do things that we love so that we can create remarkable value out of what we do. And the money will come. As you can guess, pretty much everyone disagrees.
“If only I were like you, of course I’d work for fun and wouldn’t worry about money”, they say. And that’s a flawed conclusion. What they don’t realize is it’s not a causation; it’s just a correlation. They think because I am well, therefore I can afford to not think about money and to do what I love. What is really happening is because I force myself to not think about money and to do what I love, I am in a good condition.
I sometime try to explain it to them but not many can appreciate the thought. It didn’t make sense to them. But that is the reality. I am where I am now because I force myself to only do what I love despite the money
Focus on solving problems, not making money
You can’t pull out all your creativity and solve problems in interesting ways if your mind is fixated on money. Just like physical energy, cognitive energy also has limitation on concurrent use. You can only lift up 2 full buckets of water at a time and you can only totally focus on 1 thing at a time. What happens when your cognitive energy is spent focusing on money instead of problem solving? You won’t solve it well, if ever.
The trick is not to forget totally about money. The trick is to fulill your basic needs so you don’t have to think how to live the next day. Your mind should be fully utilized to create a fine opportunities.
If you can fulfill your basic expenses on your own, lucky you. There are many people out there who don’t even know if they can eat tomorrow. So believe me, how much ever you make, if there’s food on the table tonight, consider yourself lucky.
But if you can’t fulfill your basic expenses for good reasons, the solution is not to focus on getting as much money as possible. The answer is to communicate with people who are willing to help you to fulfill your need. Be it a friendly loan or a sponsor.
I know that is hard, because I know how it feels. It feels like you’re incompetent, it feels like you can’t take care of yourself. It’d be a bruise on your ego. That’s what makes it hard. But what’s more important, your ego or your future? For your own good, please stop feeding your ego. If they’re really willing to help you, what they care about is your integrity. They want to know that the help they give is being put to good use and you’re becoming better everyday.
It is HARD to not think about money but an ample mind is necessary for creativity. What makes it really hard is because, as humans, we tend to want great things to happen NOW. If possible, yesterday. And with money, they can buy many things.
To not focus on money requires that you distract yourself from those worldly stuffs by finding purpose in what you do, doing the things that you love, doing the things that really matter. And most importantly, you must delay gratification. There will be tough days when you feel like you’re not improving. Persevere. Focus on doing what you love because that’s the only way you can be sure you are producing great work. And great work makes you incredibly valuable.
I know perseverence is extremely hard. Keeping focus on your work while the results just don’t seem to come without losing faith is really tough. But I face this challenge everyday and I know you can too.
I suggest you to actively persevere (engage in something so you don’t lose focus) and not passively persevere (merely waiting). Active perseverence is easily done when you have faith in something. I have faith in God and you have your own faith. When I actively persevere, I only focus on one thing:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
- Matthew 6:33
These series will begin with a disclaimer: having written this, I cannot guarantee that by reading this post (or the next ones) your salary will triple automagically. Stop daydreaming. The knowledge that (I hope) you get from this post will increase the chance, but you still need to make courageous efforts to make it happen
Let’s begin with my story
It’s been about 3.5 years since I first work. My employment timeline looks something like this:
During the course of my employment, I increase my monthly salary… exponentially.
From 1 to 2, 0% increase. When I ended my third period, I had 60% increase from when I started. And when I ended my fourth period, I had 400%+ increase compared to the end of my third period.
I’m going to share to you what I learned along the way, the mistakes that I did, the lessons that I learned, how I did it, and most importantly, how you can multiply your salary too. Not 3 years from now. This year.
Understand: do you know how (good) employers determine your salary?
Think of employers as investors. Employers see all their employees as investments. And like every investing process, there are bad investments and there are the good ones. When you hear someone say that employees are assets, what they really mean is: the good employees are assets (you earn money from these people). The bad ones are liabilities; because all they do is cause headaches and you lose money on these people.
Now, assets are not all equal, some produce more than the others. The best investors do not diversify, they focus primarily on the most valuable assets.
Back to our story: based on my experience, employers don’t really have a strict salary threshold for any given position in the company*. Meaning, even if your salary expectation is above theirs, they are willing to match it if and only if you meet some certain (unspoken & unwritten) conditions. If you meet or even exceed the conditions, you just magically transform into a really valuable candidate. And they determine salary through the value of employees. Akin to the best investors, for extremely valuable assets, they will be willing to spend more. Even much more.
Because they know that even if they pay a great web developer 50% more than the other mediocre web developers, the great one will ship codes 100%-200% faster than the others. That is, the great one has a much higher production capacity than the others. And what happens when you can produce more? More income within the same time frame.
Think of it this way: suppose you have 300 thousand Rupiah. If you put 200 thousand Rupiah in Bank A, you will get 300 thousand Rupiah next month. But if you put 300 thousand Rupiah, you will get 1 million Rupiah next month. How much are you willing to put down?
All sane investors will pay 50% more when they can get twice or more income within the same timeframe. I know you would.
* The story is of course different if you’re working for Nazi. Heh.
The ugly truth: Employers don’t care about your CV
It’s true. Do you know why employers ask for CV? It’s for selection purpose. If you can impress them more than the others can, they will shortlist you. The sooner you can impress them, the better. If you can’t impress them, your CV goes to Mr. shredder.
Your CV and/or your portfolio is a snapshot of your background. I know this is going to sound harsh but it’s the reality: the best of the best employers don’t give a damn about your background. Your background is about your past, but they are not paying for your past. Your past is only an indicator for them; a predictor of how you will likely perform if you get hired. Instead, they pay for your future. They pay for your performance once they hire you. So you can have double Masters degree but if after 2 months you don’t perform, you’re a liability to them. And no sane investor want a liability in their portfolio.
Knowing that, what should you do?
Invest in yourself and increase your values. When your values are up and you eventually become (one of) the best, the price is yours to determine (up to a reasonable extent). You got to say “no”, because everyone wants a piece of the best. They need you and not the other way around. Because if you don’t get accepted in 1 company, there are 10 others looking you up on linkedin.
And that is a true story.
So how to increase your values? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? I’ll have a new post up next week on increasing your values.
Have a great weekend!
How to multiply your salary series: how do employers think . the only requirement to increase your value . how to increase your value