The red button rule – how to achieve true freedom

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I have a key guiding principle in life:

The Red Button Rule

At any given time, if any one person calls me and I don’t want to talk to them, I can push the red button on my phone.

Any one investor, boss, partner, customer, employee, anybody.

My goal is to be in a situation where there isn’t a single person in this world who has control over me to the point they could drastically effect my business or my life.

The truth:

People in positions of power can turn into bullies.

They can turn on you. They have their own emotions like fear, greed, etc.

Human beings are unpredictable and are not always logical.

Their life can change and their plans can change and you have absolutely no control over it.

They can use their leverage to beat you up on terms, demand you do things you don’t want to do and treat you like shit.

Get away from these folks as soon as possible and achieve red-button freedom.

If any one employee quits – my business can continue to thrive.

If any one investor wants a buy out or wants to stop doing deals with my company – my business can continue to thrive.

If any one partner decides they’re done with me – my business can continue to thrive.

If any one customer decides they no longer need my services or tries to bully me into doing something for them – my business can continue to thrive without them.

If any one person reads a tweet they don’t like and decides they’re on a mission to destroy Nick Huber – my life would be just fine.

This is my version of F U money.

It’s one of the main reasons we’ve elected to raise money from 200+ individuals vs a single family office.

None of them have the leverage to beat us up on fees. None of them leaving would cripple our growth. We could buy out any of them at any time. We have a diversified investor base.

Self storage is a great asset class because we have 15,000 tenants across our 1.9 million square feet and 62 properties. If any one tenant leaves, we’re fine.

My income is diversified among 5+ sources and many businesses / investments. If any one partnership falls apart I’d be just fine and my kids would still eat.

Amazon sellers complain about Amazon but they have no choice. If Amazon makes a demand they push the green button and comply. If Amazon beats them up on fees they push the green button.

They have no leverage. Amazon controls them.

Walmart has all of the leverage in its negotiation with product companies. They all need Walmart more than Walmart needs them. They push the green button.

They have no leverage. Walmart controls their destiny.

Real estate groups who raise money from a single family office have no leverage. If the group tells them to lower fees, they lower fees. If they want a lower promote, the promote gets lowered.

Where else would you get money if it isn’t from them?

Oh, nowhere? Well then you better accept our terms.

They have no leverage.

If a decision maker at the fund decides they don’t want to deploy more capital into your asset class, you have no control. Your growth is done.

If you own a strip mall and your grocery store anchor makes up over 50% of your revenue, you’re dependent on them. If they call you to negotiate terms, you push the green button.

They know the other tenants depend on their traffic. They know you wouldn’t be able to pay your mortgage if they stopped paying you.

So they have all the negotiation power.

If you work for a major company and it is your family’s sole source of income to pay all of your bills, what happens when the business faces headwinds and they need to layoff 25% of their staff?

What happens if interest rates going up causes 150,000 tech workers to lose their jobs?

Something totally outside of your control?

Too bad so sad. You’re pushing the green button.

Your job as an entrepreneur is to reduce your dependence on things outside of your control.

Be un-fuck-with-able.

Interest rates go up and crush real estate values? Thats fine I don’t have a ton of leverage and my other businesses that can feed my family while I wait it out.

A political initiative gets passed and my business model is no longer viable? That’s fine I have other investments I can lean on.

Get cancelled on Twitter? Who cares, I have a portfolio of companies that can run without me.

Your boss has a hissy fit one day and becomes emotionally unstable? Starts abusing you on the job? You quit and go find somebody else to work for.


This doesn’t happen automatically.

You need to build three things:

  1. A network
  2. An extremely valuable skill
  3. Your own capital (cash)

Early in a career, when you have none of those three things, you have to say yes and push the green button a lot of times.

I used to push the green button when delusional customers would call me to beat me up and try to take advantage of my business.

I had to say yes to a lot of things I didn’t want to do. I had to be dependent on other people very often.

But as my skillset grew, my network grew and my bankroll grew, I got to push the red button more and more.

I fired asshole customers.

I fired asshole partners.

I turned down customers, partners and investors who tried to beat me up on price.

The negotiation was fully in my control because I had all the leverage. I didn’t need any one person or one customer to be successful.

Life is all about leverage.

And life is too short to work with assholes.

Get your own so you can have a no-asshole policy ASAP. The red button is your friend!

The hard part of all of this:

It’s really easy to turn into an asshole yourself when you achieve red-button freedom.

When nobody has control over you and you have plenty of network, capital and skill, it’s easy to get a big head and think you’re right about everything. It’s easy to get arrogant.

A lot of people turn into assholes themselves and begin manipulating other people.

They get serious blindspots because they surround themselves with people who say yes and bend over backwards to their every move. People who are afraid to challenge them and put them in their place when they are wrong.

The secret:

Keep a radically open mind, be kind to people, and maintain a consistent demeanor other people can depend on.

Encourage your employees to challenge you. Reward them when they do. Keep the “yes men” far and surround yourself with people who think differently than you do.

Onward and upward,


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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.