Quite a lot of bad advice is circulating around recently. Guys are saying that a man can waste his 20s goofing off and partying. That advice is based in large part on the common human mindset that the party never ends.
I spoke to a 54-year old recently. He owned his own business for over a decade. After a friend ripped him off, the company folded.
Considering this man’s business, you’d think employers would be lining up to hire him at a discount. Everyone who works in IT takes continuing classes to get certifications. Those certifications mean something. This man used to teach classes to IT professionals. He was the certifying agency.
Yet he can’t find a corporate job. He is not in denial about his situation. He told everyone who would listen, “Start your own business. After 50, you are shit to large companies. I taught those fuckers and they won’t hire me.”
A friend of mine was an engineer at Google. Have you ever read the brain teasers and interviewing processes at Google? Suffice to say this man was smarter than most of us.
“I’m 48,” he told me, “and earning $175,000 a year. They’ve moved me into academic outreach. Of course they are eyeing some 22-year old who will work for less than half of what I earn. I’m on my way out.”
A man’s early 20s should be devoted to developing his purpose in life. Work your ass off. Pull all-nighters. Make big moves.
Isn’t it funny that many anti-career posts that are written by men sound like they were written by women? A woman says, “I can have dozens of sexual partners in my 20s. A tall, rich, devoted man must inseminate my stale eggs in my 30s.”
A man says, “I don’t have to go to college and work hard at a career. I can ‘find myself’ in my 20s. A company had better hire me!”
Dead at 50, dying at 30. Let’s look at the depressing timeline:
- 25-33: Slave away at a career, build a name for yourself and showing that you can take a lot of pain. Something needs done on Friday at 5 p.m.? You’re the man to do it.
- 34-39: Assume increasingly important company roles. Become a junior partner or middle manager.
- 40-44: Now you’re arriving. You are getting older but feel invincible. You are a real partner or a vice president.
- 45-50: Begin being marginalized at your company.
- 51: Fight every day to avoid becoming a Wal-Mart greeter.
If you find this unduly grim, look around. How many guys over 50 do you see working around you? Outside of a few people who made it to the top, there aren’t many, are there?
The unfortunately reality offers some positive implications. How many people are afraid of taking career risks? Don’t you realize that working in “safe job” at a “stable corporation” is the biggest career risk you can take?
Imagine that your professional life is over at 50. Perhaps at 30 or 40 you will find a way to start your own business.
The best approach for a young man is to work at a soul-crushing career while he acquires capital. Stash cash and start looking into a side business. Treat yourself like an income-producing asset. Invest in yourself. Instead of getting married and buying a white-picket fence for your little princess, buy an investment property.
Based on the numbers run by the most anal retentive person I know, investment properties don’t start paying off until about 10 years after you buy the property. But boy do they really start paying off.
If you’re building a business or buying properties in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, then it won’t matter if you are squeezed out in your 50s. Indeed, because you’ll have a safety net established, you’ll be able to attempt bigger jumps.
Do not buy into the hype you can screw around working 4 hours a week. Work hard while you are young and have energy. Sooner than you’ll want to believe, pulling an all-nighter will be a little taste of Hell.
Work hard while also looking for a way out. Don’t be afraid of taking career risks. If you fail, big deal.
You were already dead.