Entrepreneurial Advice to My 18 Year Old Self

Dear friend,

It was always one of my life dreams to do photography and blogging for a living. And now I’m doing it. I want to write you this manual on how to do it– based on my experiences.

Of course, this is just advice to myself. It won’t work for you.

So imagine this as a letter to my 18 year old self.

I. Believe in yourself.

First of all, know it is possible. You can make a living from photography blogging. Not only that, but you can follow your passion and get rich.

For example, as of 2017, you earn with Cindy, over $200,000 USD a year. You don’t need no more money than that, but you will endeavor to earn more money. You haven’t changed your living lifestyle. You still prefer tacos over Michelin star restaurants, you prefer UNIQLO over Louis Vuitton, deadlifting at a powerlifting gym over a Equinox, and shooting with a Ricoh GR over a digital Leica.

Your low living expenses has helped you and Cindy save up over $150,000 USD in cash, and now you’re investing that money to increase your pile, in order to buy the freedom of your family.

II. Money is a good tool.

Secundo, know that money is not evil. Money is just a tool, to buy time, freedom, and to do what you want to do, and not do what you don’t want to do.

You can make money to buy the freedom of your mom, and sister. And with financial freedom you can seek to empower humanity. To help people who were weak like your mom.

III. You can bend reality.

Third, know that you have free will. You have the power to control and change your fate. If you work hard enough, fuck luck. You make your own luck. You can will anything you want to reality, as long as you hustle 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 10 years.

Never forget Steve Job’s reality distortion field. You can bend reality to your own whims.

IV. Entrepreneurial Principles.

Some rules for you:

1. Reduce living expenses.

If you want your freedom, you need to reduce your living expenses to a absolute minimum.

Move in back with your mom, or share a bedroom with someone. Try to get your rent either free, or below $500 USD a month.

Cut your smartphone. Get rid of the smartphone data plan. That’s another $100 a month saved. You can still use your phone, just use wifi. And you can still contact family, just use a free instant messaging or video calling connection via wifi. You can just use Kakaotalk on your laptop too. Or get a free Google Voice number.

When you’re an entrepreneur, no more eating out. All food cooked at home. Feed yourself on eggs, peanut butter, spinach, chicken and whatever is cheap. Drink water and lots of black coffee. You don’t need alcohol. Thank God you don’t smoke cigarettes or weed. Lots more money saved.

No car necessary. If you have a car that is already paid off, make sure your operating expenses for your car are low. Low insurance payments, and make sure you don’t gotta pay a lot of money to maintain it. If your car is costing you a lot of money, just get rid of it. Sell it. Use that money to invest in your company. You can just walk, ride a bicycle, or take public transportation. No shame.

No gym membership. Do push-ups at home, buy a 100 pound kettle bell, do chin-ups at the park.

If you reduce your living expenses to a minimum, let’s say $500 for rent, and $2 a day on food ($60 a month), and $4 a day on coffee ($120 a month), and $200 on other random expenses, you won’t need more than $1,000 USD a month for living expenses (yes, even living in Los Angeles or the Bay Area).

Don’t worry about health. You are healthy. You got no kids. If you need to see a dentist or doctor, just pay some shady Vietnamese place in cash.

2. Tools for creation.

Okay, you are probably gonna need tools for creation.

All you need is a laptop. Smartphone or digital camera is also useful.

For laptop, just use the cheapest one, or use the laptop you already own. Just buy the cheapest MacBook you can find, either get it used on Craigslist, an old version from a friend.

The only thing you will need to do is pay for your own website and hosting. But with Bluehost.com and WordPress.org, your website won’t cost you more than $20 a month.

You can buy an iPad for less than $330 USD to read ebooks, type, work, and make stuff– use free iMovie, garage band, free email, and download stupid apps to entertain you. Use free Dropbox and Evernote to sync everything. Download free ebooks via archive.org or project Gutenberg. Or find inspiration from Wikipedia, or Wikiquote. The rule is, don’t consume any websites, blogs, or content that is run by advertising.

For camera, just use your phone or if you have money to invest, buy a digital Ricoh GR. Don’t lust after no dumb digital Leica.

You should spend as little money as possible on your tools. Your laptop should not cost you more than $1,000, and your camera no more than $600. And a smartphone is a waste of money and will not help your business. Better to be more productive by not owning a smartphone.

3. Build your audience.

Build your audience by blogging like crazy. If anything, you can go harder. Aim to write 3-5 blog posts a day. Never stop hustling. Don’t edit, just say what is on your mind, and also make a free YouTube channel, and just pump out those videos– like a pump for your creative water well.

And if you’re wondering, yes, have a day job while building your business. Just do the minimum work necessary not to get fired, and collect your salary. Hustle hard at your job, and use all your free time to build up your empire.

Know that you won’t be able to monetize your blog, work, or company for at least one year of constant hustle. And know that it will take you 7 years of hustling fourteen hour days, seven days a week, before you can start earning $200,000 USD a year. And the only way to become rich is to not upgrade your living standards. Beware the “hedonic treadmill” of wanting newer, stupid, expensive shit. Always prefer what is cheap, practical, and you will always have more freedom in your life– to create empowering art and information to help others.

V. Barbell Pricing.

You like to lift weights. Imagine a barbell, with two weights on the extreme ends. You learn this from your friend Nassim Taleb.

Either give away all your art or information for free, or charge a lot of money for it. No middle ground.

Ignore all economic books, business books, they are all wrong. Only study philosophy, psychology, and art for wisdom.

So, your free information will build your audience then when you sled something, like your workshops, or products, charge a lot of money for it. Make it very expensive. Don’t aim to sell a million products.

Be like Apple, have a very high selling margin, with low volume. Like Tesla, make a very niche product, like their Roadster, sell a few of them for a very high profit. Then you can build up your empire, and eventually create more things which are affordable to the masses. And don’t forget; your ultimate goal is to make dope stuff for everyone to afford. Great design, great books, great information, great products, great education, for everyone– regardless of how poor they are. Never forget where you came from, and how broke your family was. How much your mom worked. And now living in poverty made who you are.

VI. Water your own lawn first.

In your company, seek to first help your family. Help Anna, and help your mom. Help your future wife Cindy and her family. Once you can water your own lawn, you can help water the lawn of others.

That means, be selfish for yourself and your family first. Then seek the empower the rest of humanity.

Don’t be like your dad; lazy, deadbeat, leech, liar, complainer, and overall unpleasant person. Just do everything opposite of your dad, and you will be successful, in terms of your work ethic, and how you treat Cindy. He is your ultimate teacher, because he is your anti role model.

VII. Ignore the haters.

One of the best tips for you: ignore the haters.

Don’t read comments. Disable them from your site. Ignore YouTube comments. It doesn’t matter whether the comments are good or bad. They will just fuck up your focus.

Follow your own heart, intuition and gut. You know best.

Haters are just small puppies, barking at you. You can easily disregard them.

Also, don’t use social media. Use it to publish your stuff, but don’t read it or use it. Use the maximum upside of social media (sharing stuff) but the minimum downside (distractions and pettiness.)

Also something you should do: start an email list. Email is superior to social media, because email is always gonna get delivered. No algorithm to get in your way. Use the free version of mailchimp.com when you’re starting. And don’t spam people, keep your emails important and infrequent. Like a monthly publication or something. You don’t like getting a lot of email– so don’t spam people.

VIII. Cross-pollinate

A honey bee that cross pollinates his honey will get a sweeter nectar, and a better honey.

Cross pollinate.

Have idea sex with all these different fields. Be creatively promiscuous.

Not just photography. All art. Hip hop music, interior design, architecture, fashion, automotive design, physics, Stoicism, zen, Taoism, capitalism, communism, socialism, democracy, politics, and study lots of philosophers. Nietzche, Nassim Taleb, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Diogenes, Lao Tsu.

These random fields will help you come up with novel ideas, that will innovate and drive humanity forward.

IX. For the greater good.

Your heroes: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Kanye, Jay Z, Gandhi, Jesus, your mom, Cindy, and yourself.

Never forget the purpose of your life:

To empower humanity.

Start off by helping the weak then seek to help everyone. Because we are all suffering.

Follow Jesus; sacrifice yourself for the sake of the collective. Or the last scene of Star Wars Rogue One. You were not born for your own petty body. You were born to serve others.

Remember your Boy Scouts days. Be a leader. Practice what you preach. Lead others by example, not words. Be the first to clean up, and the last to leave.

Act in a way as if others were always watching you. Don’t forget your ethics.

Follow the golden rule: treat others how you would like to be treated. Follow the silver rule: don’t do unto others as you don’t want others to do unto you. In other words, if something that others do pisses you off, don’t do that to others.

Also, be magnanimous. Be bigger than pettiness. Build your body strong, and make your mind even stronger. You are like Deadpool; you can survive any mental or physical pain. You will be stronger.

X. The rolling stone gathers no moss.

You need to keep up the inertia eric. Never stop moving. Never stop hustling. Always settle with your material goods, but never settle with helping others.

You were truly cut from a different cloth from the rest of humankind. So don’t waste your gift.

Never forget the words of your friend Rick Ross:

Everyday I’m hustling.

Never stop hustling for the greater good.

Be strong,

Photography Entrepreneurship 101 >

Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

Marketing 101

Hustle 101

How to Make Money with Photography

How to Save Money

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media


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