How to Build Equity in Yourself

If you desire full control over yourself and your life, you must build equity in yourself.

Based on a true story

A little about myself and where I’m coming from.

Ever since I was about 2 years old, my dad stopped working. Essentially out of laziness.

R0001114eric and mom
Teaching my mom how to use her smartphone / Berkeley, 2015 (photo by Cindy A. Nguyen)

Anyways that meant that my mom had to hustle hard to pay rent and put food on the table. She ended up working tons of odd jobs, mostly under the table, just to make ends meet.

She ended up working mostly full time as a waitress, and she built up the business for the owner. She hired all this new staff, trained all them, created a comprehensive manual, and helped the business proper.

After almost a decade of working there, some internal politics, the business owners decided they didn’t need my mom anymore. Thus, they let her go, and my mom walked away with no equity, even though she devoted over a decade of her life into that business.

My umma taught me an important lesson:

Sangjina (Eric): let this be a lesson to you. If you work for someone else you will never build equity in yourself. All of your hard work will only go into the equity of the owner.

Do you want to be an owner or slave?

The lesson has stuck with me. Similar sentiment in JAY Z:

Until you own yourself you can’t be me. How we still slaves in 2016?

I Got the Keys by JAY Z

Essentially the point is this:

In modern capitalist society, the best way to gain total independence, freedom, and control of your life is to build equity in yourself, by building up yourself; your own sole proprietorship in yourself.

In favor of sole proprietorship

There are a bunch of different job classifications or business classifications you can have. The one I prefer the most is a “sole proprietorship”, which means that you’re the sole owner, the sole proprietor (sole owner).

Why be the sole owner?

Eric Kim white selfie

If you’re the sole owner, you got 100% control. 100% control over your business, and 100% control over your life.

No more “office politics” or corporate politics. No politics. You just build your own equity in yourself, your own property (propreitas).

Digital ownership

Digital Sharecropping

When you upload things to social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) you don’t own the substance you upload to those websites. Which means, you’re essentially leasing the access to your own information, photos, and artwork on these other platform.

Why be an owner?

Do you prefer being an owner, or being a servant? Do you prefer being the master, or the slave?

In all societies across history, there has always been a divide between the haves and have-nots (debtors vs indebted). What this means is that the have-nots (non-owners) are always dependent on their masters, because they don’t own any equity, they don’t own the platform, they don’t own the means of production or the means of publishing.

The internet was intended to change all that; finally, we could gain control over our own means of publishing! Marx envisioned that once the workers (proletariats, aka have-nots) were able to have the “means of production”, they would be able to gain power and control over their own lives.

Social media isn’t the internet.

But let us look at the modern world with apps and social media. Nobody really understands what the “internet” is anymore. We just think of apps. Nobody builds their own websites anymore, easier to make a Facebook or Instagram. We don’t know how to directly access our fans and followers via email newsletters ( Instead, we are dependent on Facebook, news feed algorithms, and an external platform to engage with our own fans.

Who controls the pipes?

When we upload our photos to Facebook or Instagram, we lose direct access to our fans and followers. Facebook (who owns Instagram) now owns the pipes; they control the flow of information between you and your followers.

Do you want someone else to control your pipes and means of distribution? I think not. You must own the pipes, the whole distribution network, if you truly desire to gain the zenith of power, control, and autonomy over your own company and self.

How to take control

To take control, and to build equity in yourself, some ideas:

  1. Don’t use any “free” services. If you use a free service, you’re the product and somehow being suckered somewhere. Instead, pay for your own platform and own it ( hosted on Whenever possible, pay for your tools, equipment, and digital means of transmission.
  2. Start an email newsletter. I recommend for ease and simplicity. This way you can have direct access to your fans, followers, and subscribers.
  3. Don’t desire to make a big company. Just seek to make yourself a company, a personal brand of yourself. If you’re a business of 1, you can quickly make decisions by yourself, and you won’t be dependent on the opinions of others.
  4. Build equity in your own name. Keep building up your first and last name. Continue to build your own personal fame and notoriety.
  5. Whenever you’re working, ask yourself: “Who am I really benefitting?” Am I benefitting someone else, or myself?

Build equity and property in yourself!


Learn more: Photography Entrepreneurship 101 >