An Avant Garde Productivity & Lifestyle Design Blog, written for unconventional coaches, corporate climbers & service-based entrepreneurs.
Did you just read another blog post bashing the “9-to-5, Monday through Friday” job?
“F*ck the man! Work for yourself! That’s the true path to wealth, happiness, and success!”
Give me a sec, because there’s literally so much wrong with this that my head literally aches…
Let’s start with this notion that working a 9-to-5 job can’t possibly lead to wealth, happiness, and success
Ummm… Can someone please call Andrew Hallam and let him know that he can’t possibly be happy or wealthy because he became a millionaire while working for “the man” as a teacher.
I mean come on! He was a teacher! That’s as 9-to-5 as 9-to-5 gets! He can’t be happy, successful, or rich, can he?
Everything we consume now tells us we have to be entrepreneurial and ditch the 9-to-5 cage and venture out on our own. Honestly, there were some people who were legitimately happy working for someone else, saving, investing, and taking trips once or twice a year.
Now, we’re out here shaming them, telling them they should want more out of life.
We’re telling them they should go start a business of their own and “make their own hours” and be free to travel as much as they want.
That’s the biggest fucking scam I’ve ever heard/witnessed- excuse my language. I’m getting upset because these people are actually succeeding at convincing so many people to ditch their jobs prematurely and enter into a world that’s not for everyone.
Obviously, there are people out there who are made for this entrepreneurial life. They can’t even stomach the thought of working for someone else, BUT if they’re being completely honest, they would tell you that this is not for everyone and contrary to popular belief you’ll be working a helluva lot more than 8 hours a day, especially in the beginning.
If you think that every morning when you wake up you are wasting your time and energy going to a job to work for someone else and that you can’t possibly amass wealth or be happy as a result, you have been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Why not change your mindset around your job? Think of it as a place where you can develop skills, grow your network, and most importantly pay your damn bills.
There are a number of us who hate the people we work with, but not the job itself. Instead of changing companies or departments, we have been convinced that the ONLY solution is entrepreneurship.
If you work for a company whose vision you can believe in, whose people you can trust, and who pays you well for your role, why on Earth would you think that ditching that job would somehow lead to happiness, wealth, and success?
Help me understand, please.
To the geniuses telling EVERYONE that EVERYONE should quit their jobs and start their own businesses:
Who will take your order at Chick fil a? Who will check you in at your bougee ass hotels? Who will tend to your needs in your first-class cabin on your flight to Dubai? Who will tend to your needs when you arrive at the hospital or if, God forbid, your house burns down? Who’s going to come to your rescue when you’re being robbed? Who will teach your spoiled ass kids?
Oh, I’m sorry, did you not mean those people? They all work some type of 8 to 12-hour shift under some person or organization, and you’ve built your business telling them they’re doing life wrong because they work for someone else.
There are some people out there who would kill to work for someone else because that would mean they could feed their families.
Wanting more for your life and striving to be the best version of yourself as well as building wealth does not always mean “ditching your 9-to-5”, folks. Those who try to make you believe that, want you to buy their course or training or book. They have no clue about happiness and wealth building.
On the other hand, IF you find it soul-crushing to work for any organization IF you have a strong desire to start a business that could have a major impact on the people it serves IF you have a burning desire to be completely in control of how you live your life day to day, then, by all means, go do your thang, boss!
If you feel ready, go for it, boo. But don’t for one second believe the fallacy that you will work less than 8 hours a day, that you will automatically find happiness, that you will instantly thrive financially, or that you won’t hit major bumps in the road.
Understand that while you can make money on your own, save that money, and invest that money to build wealth, there are millions of others out there saving their money, investing their money, building wealth, spending quality time with their families, AND making an impact while being employed by someone else.
Conversely, you have those who have ditched their 9-to-5s, have no money, a lot of debt, no time to spend with their family, and only the illusion of control over their life.
Don’t get it twisted, that outcome can plague CEOs and employees alike.
Now, I will say this:
You do need multiple streams of income. In the world we live in today, you cannot rely on government programs or tax season to sustain yourself. You need to have a stream of income that does not require physical movement on your end. You need to put money to work for you in some capacity. It doesn’t need to be real estate, but it can be. It doesn’t need to be stocks, but it can be.
Feel free to think outside the box on that one, but the point is, you do not necessarily NEED to “ditch your 9-to-5” to establish security, happiness, and wealth for yourself. That’s just a bold-faced lie.
So…with all that said, how does one remain happy in a 9-to-5 job, even while using it as a stepping stone to something else?
Well, do these 10 things:
1. Never engage in gossip! Gossip will literally be the downfall of friggin humanity!
2. Surround yourself with the most vibrant, energetic, positive, loving souls you can find.
3. Like Cal Newport says, be so good they can’t ignore you!
4. Work for a company whose mission, vision, and practices you can get behind. Don’t sell out for a check, please. If it makes you feel morally uncomfortable to do your job, it probably means you need a new job.
5. Break when you’re supposed to break!
6. Do not rely on your employer for emergencies or retirement. Live within your means, save an emergency fund, take advantage of 401k company matches, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket (like I did and lose everything and have to start over).
7. Find a mentor you can trust.
8. Do not live to work, work to live.
9. Take your damn vacations. Don’t let those days rollover. Use your weekends for mini-vacations, too.
10. Document everything. Keep records. Be smart about all communications with management, HR, and colleagues. It pays to be ready for worst-case scenarios. Those who work in corporate settings know what I mean.
I’m curious. Do you agree or disagree with me? Why or why not?
Are you a corporate professional straddling entrepreneurship?
I already know what you’re thinking:
Right now, you’re thinking I’m about to tell you that I bought a house, rented out the rooms, and my roommates covered the cost of my rent.
You’re thinking that I house-sat for someone who was out of town.
Or maybe you think I’m just full of shit and this is another click-bait post that will be of no practical use to you.
And I get it!
I get why you’re skeptical. You’re tired of reading all these life hack posts that regurgitate the same thing over and over!
“Move back in with mom and dad.”
“House-sit for the wealthy.”
“Get a roommate”
And it goes on and on.
Well, I’m not here to disappoint you. The aforementioned hacks can be beneficial, BUT that’s just not how I did it.
I did, however, manage to live rent-free, car-free, and sometimes even food and utilities free for 4 years!
If you’ll stop being skeptical for one second, I can blow your mind with this unconventional hack I used to eliminate life’s biggest expenses.
First, I Had to Hit RBB AKA Rock Bottom Broke
It all began when I was 19 years old and my mom told me that there couldn’t be two HBICs (HBIC stands for Head Bitch in Charge) in her house.
As harsh as it was, she was right! I was too grown, and the way my attitude was set up back then, I would’ve ended up six feet under had I remained in her house.
So what did I do?
I moved out, found an apartment near school, began to work 60 hours per week while attending college full time — all to keep up with the lavish lifestyle I was creating for myself.
That lifestyle consisted of frivolous shopping, rent, utilities, eating out all the time, and then, like an idiot I went out and bought a brand new car!
To make a long story short, a series of events led me to, what I like to call, Rock Bottom Broke (RBB), unemployed, depressed, and practically homeless.
I was drowning in car debt, credit card debt, and student loan debt and I had no choice but to find a way to eliminate my largest expenses: housing, transportation, and food.
It Was All About the Benefits Baby…
Had I not hit RBB, I can’t say for sure I would have been determined enough to seek the job opportunities with such robust benefits packages. In a way, I’m grateful for that painful period, because it led me to opportunities that have ironically given me a different kind of head start in life.
I guess when you’re as broke as I was, you have no choice but to seek out jobs that include your most basic needs and that’s what I did.
I researched jobs where housing was included. I came across all types of opportunities:
➤ live-in nanny positions
➤ au pair gigs
➤ working in national parks
So many things I would have never thought of because, well… it’s not what I went to school for.
Through all that research, I finally caught my first major break…
This Cruise Line Spoiled Me
I attended a mass interview event for the popular Norwegian Cruise Lines: Pride of America. This ship cruised the Islands of Hawaii.
That day, I applied and interviewed for the junior server position because all my work experience up to that point was in the food, beverage, and retail industry.
Less than a week later, I was notified that NCL was extending a conditional offer to me. You would have thought a sista won the lottery the way I screamed!
Let me break this down for you:
NCL was offering the following perks:
➤ All expenses paid two-week training in Piney Point, MD
➤ Paid for background check, TWIC, and MMC (all documents needed to work officially on any ship)
➤ Flight to Honolulu from Maryland
➤ Free room and board (utilities included) on the ship
➤ Free laundry service
➤ A five months on, five weeks off contract
➤ Free flight home after the first five months
➤ An opportunity to cruise the Hawaiian Islands fo’ free
➤ Health insurance
It was a no-brainer so of course, I accepted!
To top it all off, I wouldn’t be making a typical stateside hourly wage for a server which, at the time, was $2.83/hour. Instead, I would be making a little over $9 bucks/hr. plus tips plus overtime. I stayed with this company for a year and a half.
To tell you what it was like working on the cruise ship would go beyond the scope of this article, but if you’re curious leave me a comment below.
Then EPIK Made Me an Offer I Couldn’t Refuse
While working on the cruise ship, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t maximizing my full potential. So, I began to research
opportunities to teach English abroad and came across the EPIK (English Program in Korea) program.
After a year of cruise ship life, I needed a change and more importantly, I needed to feel like I was progressing in life. I thought there’d be enough opportunities to advance on the ship, but the truth is, it was a game of politics and mean girls and I was unequipped to play.
Because of this, I studied hard for three months for my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate, put together a killer application, resume, cover letter, video, and references and applied to teach English in Korea with their government program.
After submitting all required application documents, I was notified less than 72 hours later that I had received the job. This was another moment of obnoxious screaming.
Again, if you’d like to know more about my experience living and working in South Korea, leave me a comment below.
I was offered and completed, a one-year contract in rural South Korea in the Gangwon Province.
This benefits package was arguably more robust than the last.
EPIK offered the following:
➤ All expenses paid one-week orientation in Seoul, South Korea.
➤ A flight reimbursement of $1,200 bucks from the U.S. to Seoul.
➤ A one-time settlement allowance of $300 bucks
➤ A paid-for single apartment (utilities not included –but cheap)
➤ Lunch provided on school days
➤ A contract completion bonus
➤ Health insurance
➤ Renewal bonus (only if you renewed after one year)
➤ Extra money for teaching at more than one school
➤ Not to mention, millionaire status! 😉
As you can see, the benefits were just as generous as the cruise ship benefits. I was able to save 50% of every paycheck without depriving myself.
Then Came the Holy Grail of Opportunity
While teaching in South Korea, I became friends with author, Ben Stout, who wrote the book, “Get Rich Teaching English”. I never would have thought that reading a book and reaching out to the author afterwards would lead to such an amazing opportunity, but that is the power of networking my friends!
Ben introduced me to an opportunity to become a Sr. Training and Development Specialist (which is just fancy for EFL Instructor) in Kabul, Afghanistan with a defense contracting company whose name I won’t mention here.
I didn’t think the deal could get any sweeter than the South Korea deal, but I was WRONG. This company was the holy grail!
They offered the following:
➤ All expenses paid one-week orientation in Orlando, Florida (flight, food, rental car, and hotel included)
➤ Another all expenses paid one-week training in El Paso, TX (again flight, food, rental car, and accommodation included)
➤ A flight to Kabul
➤ Paid for work uniforms and protective equipment
➤ Full room and board on a military base in Kabul
➤ Health care
➤ 401(k) with company match up to 4%
➤ 6-figure salary
➤ 120 hours of vacation per year plus all U.S. National Holidays and some local national holidays
➤ Extra $2,500 per year for flight reimbursements regardless of amount spent
➤ Company laptop
➤ Company smart phone with minutes included
Right about now you’re probably thinking,
“Why the hell did you leave!?”
The deal was THAT sweet, but living in a warzone for an extended period of time can take a toll on you. Some people didn’t even last three months! I lasted a year and a half.
The Naysayers and Habitual Complainers Will Undoubtedly Say…
“ You had this or that advantage and this is not possible for me because of this or that.”
Okay. I’ll play. I will acknowledge the following privileges:
➤ I was university educated
➤ I had friends and family who helped a little along the way (couch to sleep on, free food, shoulder to cry on etc.)
➤ A U.S. passport
➤ A healthy body
➤ No kids
At the end of the day though, I am an African American woman, a product of a single mother of four girls. Half of my childhood was spent in the lower class category, and when I started this journey I only had $.89 in my bank account.
The best thing I had going for me was my inability to blame anyone other than myself for circumstances, my hustle, and my ambition to be better than I was. At that time in my life, I was incapable of making excuses and that was my ultimate saving grace.
The Truth Is: Living Rent-Free With These 3 Companies Gave Me 5 Things…
1. An opportunity to get back on my feet after hitting RBB
2. The ability to eliminate life’s largest expenses
3. The ability to travel and experience things most people will never have an opportunity to experience
4. Time to discover what I actually want to do with my life
5. An ability to save over 50% of my income which led to a debt-free lifestyle
What This Means For You
I didn’t even search for these opportunities before I hit rock bottom broke. I did what everyone else does after college:
Looked for entry-level jobs within my field and hoped to land something that didn’t completely suck.
I experienced the feeling of shame of coming to a point where I had to choose a job that had nothing to do with my major.
But here’s the thing:
You can either use your time of uncertainty to pursue fun and unconventional jobs that will pay your bills and provide you with unique benefits and experiences.
You can continue to “hope for the best” while job searching within your field with not even a dollar to your name and no place to call home.
The choice is yours.
Don’t be in a rush to have your life figured out!
For the love of all things holy, at least meet the first two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs before you start beating yourself up about not being where you hoped you’d be. Want to learn more about my story?
Check out my latest podcast interviews with some of the best podcast hosts in the industry:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but 30 years on Earth makes me a grown-ass woman, right?
Some say I’ve lived 5 different lives. I’ve traveled to 30+ countries, studied abroad, worked in war zones, started my own business, survived depression, and overcame being scammed out of my life’s savings.
I’ve experienced the highs and lows of life and I’m still here, by the grace of God to tell my story. Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about all the lessons, trials, and tribulations that have led me to this new decade. I also can’t help but think about how blessed I am to have made it this far, when so of my loved ones did not.
I’ve spent the last year of my life coaching, inspiring, and imparting my 20-something-year-old wisdom on others in hopes that they will avoid the mistakes I’ve made, marinate in the moments that matter most, and become the best version of themselves.
30 countries under my belt, a dozen or so jobs, a few career paths, marriage, entrepreneurship, and countless pivots, I feel I know a thing or two about life and how to make the most of it.
1. EXPERIMENT! You can fail 100 times before you’ll eventually need to get your shit together.
2. Add hard and soft skills to your repertoire throughout life.
3. Be a woman of your word and never sacrifice your integrity.
4. Surround yourself with good people and love toxic people from a DISTANCE.
5. Operate outside of your comfort zone. That’s where growth happens.
6. If those around you refuse to evolve, don’t be afraid to leave them where they’re at.
7. If “everyone” is doing something, be the one to do shit differently.
8. Make travel an essential part of your life. That’s where self-awareness happens.
9. Observe & listen before contributing to the conversation
10. Mind the business that pays you
11. Be very slow to say “yes” and quick to say “no”.
12. Developing self-awareness is essential to achieving happiness, clarity, and fulfillment.
13. Water is BAE. Drink it like your life depends on it.
14. Your body is a temple and the only one you get. Do everything in your power to maintain it and love it with all your heart.
15. Practice gratitude daily for what you have AND what’s to come.
16. If it’s not an absolute yes, it’s a NO.
17. You’re only in competition with the latest version of yourself.
18. Grant yourself permission to pivot when the situation warrants it.
19. Spend lavishly on the things that bring you joy and eliminate the things that don’t.
20. Be of service to those in need, but not to the detriment of your own well-being.
21. Never allow anyone to make you abandon your ambitions.
22. Never shrink yourself to make others feel secure.
23. Treat controversial situations as an opportunity to operate as your higher self.
24. Since everyone else is taken, settle for being unapologetically yourself.
25. Read, read, read!
26. Tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went.
27. Kill your enemies with kindness and empathy. Remain above the fray.
28. Accept constructive feedback with open arms.
29. Treat every trial, tragedy, or trauma as an opportunity to triumph!
30. Never lie just because the truth is inconvenient.
I may only be 30 years young, but I’ve LIVED. I’ve made it my mission to pass on everything I learn along my journey.
If you’re looking for more nuggets of wisdom, lifestyle design tips, and productivity hacks, head on over to The Productive Boss Podcast, a Workshop-Style Solo Podcast where I drop gems Fo’ FREE.
After facilitating over 200+ breakthroughs with course creators and hosting luxe VIP Day experiences with entrepreneurs at the top of their game, I was able to create a system that hits all the right spots for someone like you striving to build a profitable, productive, and unconventional business.
My clients are reclaiming their time, energy, and attention, designing unique business models that fit their ideal lifestyle, and creating signature systems that get their clients results, ditching programs and toxic thought patterns that no longer serve them, and finally enjoying the entrepreneurial journey.
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