Freedom means different things to different people and since I can’t plug into the the brains of everyone and understand their definition of freedom I’ll go with my definition of what it means. For me it’s simply a being financially, geographically and socially independent. Since you can’t plug into my brain and understand what these 3 things actually mean, allow me to explain.
Being financially independent: This is probably the most important one as it mostly takes care of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs levels one (Physiological needs), two (Safety needs) and arguably four (Esteem needs). Leaving that intellectual stuff aside, if you have money you worry less about shit that happens and that’s about it. It gives you peace of mind to a decent degree and that’s worth a lot. Most importantly, being financially independent also means you are not tied to a monthly salary for your income. As long as there is a salary involved you are hugely dependent to the entity providing that salary. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to be an entrepreneur but it’s a sensible thing to have multiple streams of income where possible.
Being geographically independent: People should be able to choose where they want to live. While the geo-politics of the world are going in the exact opposite direction to this statement, there are steps people can take to enable this for themselves such as second citizenship, learning languages and long term visas where needed. Being able to work flexibly is also a big facilitator of geographical independence.
Being socially independent: Peer pressure and societal pressure are limiting in many ways but most fundamentally they limit an individuals way of thinking and behaving. That’s not good. Being aware of this and more importantly escaping it is a critical component of personal freedom.
With that I give you my top 3 books to address all these areas.
Good luck, you’ll need it!
#1 The 100 Dollar Startup – Chris Guillebeau
I have just finished reading this book. It’s probably me reading more and more about stuff that I am already convinced about but this book did make my thinking on the topic of starting a small business a means of achieving more personal independence more tangible. It gives a lot of tangible examples, also provides the methodology of how to approach starting such a business. My key takeaways were:
- People buy things to meet a deep desire or alleviate a deep pain. It’s more effective to address pain then it is to address a deep desire.
- In starting a new business don’t think of innovation as it might block your progress. It pushes you to think “What has not been done before?”. You should be thinking usefulness instead.
- Don’t get hung-up on planning. This has been a long standing issue of mine so it resonated with extra resonance (if that’s a thing) with me. It was a good reminder to get things out to the real world and get real life world feedback instead of theorising. Planning can be useful/fun (at least for me it is), just don’t over do it.
A martyr is all action with plenty of good work to talk about, but remains unable or unwilling to do talking. A hustler represents the ideal combination: work and talk together.
#2 The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business – Elaine Pofeldt:
As a fan of Tim Ferris I read this one right after he mentioned it in one of his more recent podcasts. The ideas in the book were not necessarily new for me, but I give credit to this book to a) Show that a lot of people are already able to scale businesses to 1M USD level by working alone with the more recent developments in tech (accessible cloud infrastructure, online marketing, various modes of outsourcing etc.) b) Provide a road map to how this can be done and the different ways people have gone about doing it. My key takeaways are:
- There are 6 categories of business activity that people operate in to hit 1M USD solo: 1- E-commerce 2- Manufacturing 3- Informational content creation 4- Professional Services 5- Personal Services 6- Real Estate. This is a useful road map to think about which area you want to operate in if this type of stuff is inspiring for you.
- The success of these businesses depend on deeply connecting and communicating with their customers.
- This is a big one for me but this book re-iterates the fact that what we learn / have learnt in schools is significantly out of touch with the opportunities the (relatively) new, digital era has brought upon us. It’s still mainly a self education initiative that opens peoples eyes. This also happens to be the mission of this humble site by the way.
Uncovering an idea that you will enjoy thinking about everyday – whether that is when you are writing copy for your website or answering a customer’s question about it – is the secret.
#3 Great Thinkers – The School of Life
No post is ever complete with me showing off how well rounded my reading is. So, on the 3rd book we are making a very quick and somewhat arbitrary transformation from “I want more money” to “Hey, I am not just all about money, I am also about big ideas, check this out!” . This is also where we address fighting the peer/societal pressure point of personal freedom.
This book is a little bit of a cheat but it’s a fantastic one at that. It’s simply a collection of all the great thinkers (no shit Sherlock) in various categories of human endeavour and a snapshot of their philosophies and contribution to humanity. It’s an incredible resource to get a view on all the big thinkers but more importantly it’s actually a giant bibliography. Once you find a thinker that you find interesting, you can dig deeper into his/her work. This book is an endless source of inspiration. My key takeaway from this book is to keep reading, browsing, skimming it for years to come. It’s also an inspiration behind my book, that I haven’t started writing yet (wait for it, it’s going to be h(y)uge!).
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