What this successful person WILL tell you

44 thoughts on “What this successful person WILL tell you”

  1. “Early retirement and a motivation to succeed are not mutually exclusive…”

    Unless someone stumbles on their FI number in an investment account by some weird circumstance, I cannot imagine how early retirement and motivation to succeed would NOT be connected. It typically takes years of hard work, dedication, creativity, and planning to retire early. And I’d think it’d be hard to argue that those qualities will just “fall off” after one quits their job!

    1. Excellent point, and one that I like to make quite a bit. Early retirees have incredible drive and motivation. Very few people just accidentally slip into intentional early retirement.

  2. Yes, why can’t we all be respectful to each other and get along? I haven’t seen a FIREd blogger who’s sitting on beach doing nothing. They are all hustling, creating more wealth, giving, and leaving a legacy.

    For us, when we fire, we are still going to be running our side hustles which include a consulting business, a product, blog…and we will start a school for kids especially underprivileged kids.

  3. That’s what you get when 1) people want to make a point regardless of the facts and 2) write about something they know nothing about.

    I prefer the idea of each person going his own way (retire or not retire) based on what’s right for him/her. There’s no “right” answer.

    That said, $600k and a beach actually sounds pretty good to me… 😉

  4. You know, I read this and I see Mr Sethi with an all or nothing view point. There is the light switch point of early retirement, I want to be done at 30 and I’m hell bent on doing it. So I’ll live on rice beans and make do as you pointed out.
    Theres also the computer programmer traveling the US in an airstream on a good amount of change. Or the doctor who calls it quits with a larger budget then the average household income. And everything in between. It’s not an all or nothing. Nor is even the choice to work or not. Some will never work again. Others will volunteer. Some will sit in the middle. All of them are welcome. As the point of the discussion ultimately is not the RE (in my honest opinion), it’s the FI. Financial independence is important to everyone no matter your choices. Why? Because it gives you choices.

    1. Choices are the spice of life, aren’t they? I’d much rather have a choice than the other way around, and MOST people in first world nations have a heck of a lot more choices than they probably realize.

  5. Wow…. great rebuttal, well written. The comment you made about some folks who quickly saved and retired only to discover that their jobs were the only things to give them drive and ambition – that one hit home for me. I recently semi-retired to part time, and I’m FI. I’m experiencing a mild case of that. I’m not semi-retiring to nothing – I have tons of hobbies and I want to create more, both visual art and written word. But since I’m not very good at the creating part yet it’s been a struggle. And it’s harder to have drive/ambition sometimes when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel at a new skill. I’m working hard at these new goals, so to refute his assertion – no, I’m not a lazy non-productive bum. I’m just starting over in fields that are not my expertise.

    But the learning and the journey will be fulfilling, I’m confident of that.

    1. Absolutely! It’s a challenge to start from ground zero on something. But honestly, it’s your work ethic that matters more. With proper ethic, I bet you’ll find success in anything that you do…far quicker than you found success with new things in a previous life. 🙂

  6. I never liked that pompous dude, but it takes that kind of personality to sell. He has to be polarizing and play to his base. That’s marketing and politic, right? Yes, I agree with you. The FIRE community is incredibly driven and there is a huge range. I’m sure there are a few people who fit into that description, but he’s over emphasizing it to sell his product.

    1. You’re exactly right – you gotta write like that sometimes to sell your stuff. I’m not sure if he truly believes everything he wrote or not, but, I’m sure the polarizing nature of that article played well. 🙂

  7. “Reddit doesn’t necessarily represent the wider community of FIRE.”

    Bawahaha nailed it! Reddit’s demographic doesn’t fit the culprits of FIRE or it’s pioneers so to perform testing there is by itself completely flawed.

  8. Too many in our society think that making money, by whatever means necessary, is the ultimate goal. If you are not chasing more money, then you are not doing anything valuable. I am coming around to the idea that what you do is a lot more important than how much money you make doing it. Of course, you need to support yourself. The children of the wealthy have struggled with this since their families became rich.

    It is an interesting though experiment to ask, if someone gave you $10 million, what would you do? That is what Bill Gates is leaving to his kids. Paris Hilton does nothing with her wealth but be fabulous. The Kennedys all have a cause, whether it is keeping the poor from freezing to death in the winter to championing human rights around the globe. Personally, I think making the world a better place would be a lot more rewarding than running some generic business that does nothing but make you more money. Plenty of silicon valley CEOs combine making the world better and making a ton of money.

    1. True that, Acastus. Plenty of them do. Bill Gates has done more for the world than probably all governments, combined. Wealth can be used for incredible good.

  9. Great response! I agree with Joe- this is totally a sales tactic. I’ve seen Ramit use that sort of strawman argument before and you’re right, it’s all about the Us vs Them attitude. He’s all about the income generating side of the equation; his services and therefore his income are all tied to that. So, it makes sense that he needs to tear down the frugal, “I have enough” option because it’s counter to what he’s selling. Ironically, his blog and book started from a place of the simple choices and optimizations that people can make in their finances to get rich gradually over time. I think at some point, though, he realized it was more profitable to sell the dream of being a “top performer” and making a ton of money.

    I’m not too bothered by his approach because I think he has produced a lot of great, free content that can help people. However, as you illustrated, it’s a bit detrimental to paint FIRE as a strawman that only lazy losers would want because in reality the strategies and mindsets around FIRE have a lot to offer the average person.

  10. Aw, my FIRE plan is totally to fall into $600,000 and then go sit on a beach doing nothing until I run out of money and have to slink back into working life! 😉

    Unless I win the lottery (lol), it’s going to take years of dedication and hard work for me to get to FI (let alone RE), all of which is part of the process I’m currently going through of creating/building a different life. I can’t imagine most people (myself included) quitting all of that work cold turkey once they reach an arbitrary number. Sure, maybe I’ll go spend a week on a beach somewhere doing nothing once I FIRE, but my plan for that life includes so many things I don’t have the time or energy for currently!

    1. Yup! Not having that drain of full-time work opens us up to so many different possibilities where we can make some truly incredible impacts. Making money is great, but it’s not all about that.

  11. I have yet to talk about it, but my departure from work over 1 year ago showed me that my goal of FIRE needed to be revisited. Now, I look at it as a departure from the traditional 9-to-5 to a life that I can live on my own terms. For me, I would love to have my own business (apart from blogging), with an online business that I am currently scouting or a banh mi shop. Sorry, but I don’t need to fit into a cube, crunch numbers for a different company, all while being expendable. I’m making my own life, and that’s just how it’s going to be…

    1. I like to say that I retired from full-time work, not just “retired”. The younger you are, the more likely you’ll get involved with something after you quit the daily 9 to 5. It’s perfectly natural and happens all the time.

  12. But….I actually like to walk and eat Gallo Pinto.

    Great post and rebuttal. I think the problem for many people is that they are afraid of being bored. There are so many great ways to spend one’s time when financially independent: volunteer, mentor, travel, take classes and learn new skills. There’s no reason to be Clint in Grand Torino. And the even the old man in Grand Torino found a way to make a difference.

  13. I just had a conversation similar to this with a friend in my office earlier this morning. He actually complimented me in saying that most people can’t do what I’m doing. That was actually a tip of the hat to everyone on the path to FIRE.

    It’s funny how a good majority of folks seem to have a view of early retirement that’s so far-fetched from the reality of most folks who have done it.

    Love it, Steve (especially the Clint Eastwood GIF!). Very well thought out post.

    — Jim

    1. Thanks Jim. Yup, they prefer to poke fun at those who’ve made a very different decision that they have, assuming we’re lazy drunks enjoying a day on the beach…actually, that doesn’t sound half bad.

  14. That guy is kind of a dick. Can I say that on your blog? He is also a huckster. Personally, I’m not a sitting on the beach early retired guy but I did enjoy some serious hammock time sipping Tecate next to the beach in Mexico last spring.

  15. When I saw this, all I could think about was “what is he trying to sell.” For someone to not understand what the FIRE community is all about to that order of magnitude, it must have either been willful or incredibly uninformed.

    I guess I’ll have to knock Mr. Sethi down a few points. I liked his book, and thought he was smarter than this – or not as willing to throw folks under a bus in order to try and sell something.

    Mr. 39 Months

    1. I think he IS smarter than this…he’s just trying to create some controversy with dividing people over an article, which gets people (like me!) talking about this stuff. I’m sure he does it all the time. It’s cool, it’s what he does. Apparently it works.

  16. Well said Steve. I think the broader world gets lost in the traditional understanding of the word “retirement”. If we characterized more particularly what it is folks do when FI is achieved, we might get a wider audience. But on the other hand, I really don’t care to dumb down such an awesome idea as FIRE. The people who are likely to strive for and achieve FI will surely read more deeply than Mr. Sethi.

    1. I’m not afraid to use the word “retire”. I understand that people may misunderstand this whole concept of early retirement with the use of that word, but that’s fine. The more we use it, the better understood it’ll be – well, hopefully! 🙂

  17. Thanks for writing this Steve. That article irritated me with the whole “us vs. them” attitude. Clearly Ramit is selling something, and he’s using the tactic of saying negative crap about the other guy to help sell his product.

    Frankly, that’s terrible behavior, and not something to “look up to”.

  18. Wow!

    I am not disappointed!

    I was expecting a “Small” rant and my expectations were way over served. 🙂


    Although I didn’t retire as young as Y’all, I did retire younger than my Dad. I was NOT going to work until my last year on earth, as he did.

    I “retired” the first time at 50, then officially at 54. I still “Work,” but it’s when I want, doing what I want. I just turned down a well paying writing gig, as it was too intense for the holidays.

    There’s enough stress in the holidays without having to pound out 3 articles a week for 4-5 weeks.

    As for Mr. Sethi, I’ve heard of him, but have never met him.

    As for you two, I’ve heard of Y’all and “Partied” with Y’all. I’ll take Y’all and your position and take on life any day over Stethi.

    BTW- Shot a Steel Match on Saturday and the “Poweder Therapy” was awesome!

    Looking forward to hanging with you and Courtney again!

    When in Texas, we have hook ups!

    All the best from Texas!


  19. Ramit is a motivator. He wants people to work hard, buy his stuff, and then thank him later. He doesn’t want people to sale off into the sunset because those folks don’t buy his products. I agree Ramit is a smart guy and has built himself a very nice business, but I get a little tired of the people who sell motivation after a while.

  20. Steve,
    I agree with you. I retired at 49, not too early, 2+ years ago. My current life is the best I ever had so far. I just love the freedom. Getting out the rat race is one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m healthier, happier, more content about my life. As you mentioned, early retirement may not work for everyone. Some folks choose to work till their 80s, that’s totally fine. Everyone has a choice. That’s the beauty of this country.

  21. what a jagoff! i went to the guy’s website and almost slipped and bought the whole deluxe set of Ginzu knives AND the 12 volume set of the world’s greatest literature: The Harvard Classics. Shit merchant alert!

  22. oh, and it’s not like the dude invented a pocket water treatment plant or anything else that might improve the lives of others less fortunate. “once i have enriched myself on the backs of others the world would be worse off if i retired never to enrich myself in this way again.”

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