What is your definition of wealth and what games are you playing?

Professional academics have tried studying business to develop the strategies and principles for entrepreneurial success.

They have tried hard to look at cause and effect based on personality type. They have tried figuring out if a founding team needs to consist of two people or three. They’ve tried to figure out how success is tied to IQ and EQ and geographical location and timing.

They’ve looked at thousands of startups, a ton of data points and isolated hundreds of factors… they’ve calculated risk and reward scenarios and attempted to make sense of luck.

And guess what?

It’s all inconclusive. They couldn’t come to any conclusions that were supported by the data.

Success is a subjective experience. You define it for you.

I’m just a guy who tried a lot of stuff and some of it worked. There is no single best way to think about entrepreneurship, your career or making money.

There are a lot of really smart people who are way richer than I am who disagree with me. I am not that smart. I don’t have a particularly high IQ. I didn’t get the best grades in my little rural high school. I make bad decisions every day. I’ve made mistakes that have cost me a lot of money and caused me pain. I will tell you about many of them on this newsletter over time.

Advice is like a menu at a restaurant.

Take it all in from all angles and then choose what works best for you. Read books from the tech titans and the billionaires and little old guys like me. And take what works for you. Move around and try things.

Any one piece of advice should be nothing more than one piece of your advice puzzle. Throw out what doesn’t apply to you or interest you. Throw out the stuff you disagree with. Hell, throw it all out if you don’t agree with any of it (and there are a lot of people who will probably disagree with most of this). But try and see what works.

OK. Now for some advice – let’s ask a few key questions.

Why you’re reading this newsletter to begin with, and what you’re looking for from your work and your life? Is it money?

I imagine that money – and your desire to earn more of it – has something to do with it. Time is also essential here, it’s the scarcest of resources and finite for everyone. Freedom too.

Money is made over time. Lots of money over time buys you a lot more freedom if that’s what you’re after. We’re getting somewhere. Yet here’s an essential question to weigh:

What is your definition of wealth?

Everybody has their own definition.

I encourage you to do the work to create your own.

For me, having true wealth means having the ability to maximize memorable experiences with people I care about.

Time with my family, my wife, and my children. My friends. These are absolutely paramount.

Life is full of struggle, temptation, and failure no matter how wealthy or successful you are or become. Life is hard. Life is impermanent. Wealth cannot protect us from those realities. We’re all going to die eventually. It sucks.

But wealth can allow us to live a meaningful, purpose-driven life. Which purpose you chase or choose is up to you once you get wealthy, of course. This matters because it leads us right into another question:

Are you going to choose to play wealth games or status games?

Seeing who can die with the most money is a status game. Driving the nicest car is a status game. Living in the nicest neighborhood and sending your kids to the most expensive private school is a status game. Being a member of the most expensive country club is a status game.

Traveling to Europe and posting pictures of your food and the view from your $1,000 a night hotel room on Instagram so everybody will see it is a status game.

Posting a picture of yourself in your exotic car or private jet on social media is a status game.

Status games are played by people with the goal of buying things they can’t afford to impress people they do not like.

Most people play status games and end up tied to the rat race—constantly struggling and working long hours to afford their lifestyle.

If they succeed, the goal posts move and they get richer friends, so they begin to upgrade again and keep the cycle going. And they never win true control of their time or life.

Sounds like misery, doesn’t it? That’s most people.

Successful people play wealth games.

They put off buying the nice car to buy another cash flowing asset, like real estate. They let the first $100,000 they’ve earned sit in the bank and smile as they drive by you in their 10-year-old Ford F-150 truck while searching for an investment opportunity.

They sacrificed the big house on a big property to minimize their lifestyle creep. They kept their overhead low in the early days.

And most importantly:

They completely control their time.

They have enough money coming in each month to do what they want, when they want to do it. No bosses, no pressure, no jobs other than the work they decide to do.

If this doesn’t sound good to you, unsubscribe from this newsletter.

Go pick up the next billionaire’s autobiography and work on your app idea.

Go from sexy thing to sexy thing and come back in a few years when you’ve learned there is no easy way to get rich. That chasing the next big idea or newest thing is a fool’s errand.

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Now for some homework. I want you to answer these three questions and reply to this email with your answers.

  1. What is your version of wealth?

Get up an hour early tomorrow morning or go in a quite place with a glass of wine later tonight.

And write.

Make some bullet points that outline what you want your life to look like. What are you spending your time doing? Who is with you? What are you working on? What do you do for fun? Are you fit and healthy?

Now the tactical question:

2. How much money do you need to make it happen?

For me it was $20k per month.

For $240k per year after tax I could do everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I could play golf. I could live in a nice home. I could send my kids to a decent school. I could travel. I could give.

What is your number?

And the big one:

3. What is the path forward for you with the lowest risk and highest odds of success?

What business endevour has the highest odds of you hitting your number and your ideal life? What will make you wealthy?

If you aren’t sure, that is okay. Write that down.

But you should look at the rest of your life through that lens.

Respond to this email with what you write.

I’ll read it but I likely won’t respond. But it’ll be there. A new carrot for you to chase and a goal for you to build your life around that goal.

An important note:

This is a 10 year game. Maybe even 20 year game. You plan can and should have some boring, not sexy steps.

Sometimes you have to delay gratification and do things you don’t want to do because you know they will lead to a bigger and better opportunity.

Get after it and I look forward to reading your replies.

Onward and upward,

Nick Huber

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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.