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Wealth Ladder Lens


Thinking In Public

January 12 · Issue #9 · View online
I appreciate the build in public movement. It allows people to share ideas, get feedback and learn quickly. So why not do the same with our thinking? That’s what I try to do with this monthly newsletter, send on the last Sunday of each month. The current iteration has 3 sections: - Clarify - Something I’ve tried to think through. - Consider - Ideas I’m playing with. Normally with questions. - Collect - Thinking I’ve collected from others. All thinkers welcome.

Hello everyone,
And a belated happy new year! I hope 2020 has started as intended and of course, wishing you a good one.
This time, I have a few things to share (as I missed last months newsletter) and a slightly new format.
  • My essay Wealth Ladder Lens discusses a new mental model to view career decisions.
  • I also share some notes from a (children’s) book I read recently on careers.
  • Finally, a link to some of my favourite resources, which I recently added to my personal website (after finding them hiding in my Evernote app).
I hope you like the new format below. Please do let me know what you like/don’t.

Wealth Ladder Lens
Nathan Barry (a successful entrepreneur and designer) recently shared an excellent post called The Ladders of Wealth Creation, describing a framework to generate wealth.
The framework also provides a useful foil for which to consider career decisions.
I recommend you read the post in full, its worth it. But as a summary, he argues that creating wealth is a skill that can be learned. He uses a metaphor of ladders, that you can both climb up and move across in order to create more wealth.
credit to Nathan Barry for initial post
credit to Nathan Barry for initial post
Let’s consider how this relates to career decisions, in particular, which career to pursue.
Wealth Ladders & Career Paths
As a thought experiment, you may ask yourself - how well does career path X lead to moving between the wealth ladders?
Let’s view a few career paths through the lens of Wealth Ladders.
Technology Sales
I started my career working in technology sales. I had a salaried position at a venture-backed startup. This would be considered ladder 1 in Nathan’s framework.
However, the jump to ladder 2 or 3 is not obvious. Contracted roles as sales people are not common. Nor do I know of many specialized sales agencies, etc.
In ladder 4, selling products, sales is obviously a major part. In many cases, you’ll see co-founder partnerships where one focuses on product/technology and the other on sales/business.
Now of course, sales is a very valuable skill, used across each of the ladders. It’s just that transitioning through the ladders is non-obvious. Making the leap from ladder 1 to 4 is possible, but challenging.
Software Developer
Contrast this with a software developer. In software development salaried roles (ladder 1) are clearly common and plentiful.
In addition, contracting and short term work is very common (ladder 2). It’s also common to see someone grow from a contractor into an agency or consulting type arrangement (ladder 2/ladder 3).
Finally, a software developer can create their own products and charge people for them (ladder 4).
And finally, a non-technology example. My friend is a plumber. He started his career working as a salaried employee for a large maintenance firm (ladder 1).
After 5 years learning his trade, he partnered with another plumber and set up their own small firm, pricing their work on an hourly basis (ladder 2). This is a fairly common move in the industry.
With time, they’ve earned bigger contracts and plan to begin working on their own developments, saving money to develop small properties and rent them out (ladder 4).
The First Jump
Plotting a jump to ladder 3 and ladder 4 can be quite specific to an idea, skill set or individual, so I can’t propose any rules there.
However, I think there is a common characteristic of careers that make for a straightforward first jump from ladder 1 to ladder 2; if you left your salaried job today, you could immediately look for work with your primary skill set in a contract capacity tomorrow. This is true for software developers, designers and marketers as well as personal trainers, plumbers, electricians, etc.
These jobs are typically associated with a specific task. You might even consider them a craft.
A particularly good heuristic is if an online marketplace already exists with demand for your specific craft (think Upwork for developers and designers or CheckATrade for plumbers and electricians).
Planning Your Route
The point is, different career paths have different routes between these Wealth Ladders. It’s useful to consider at the outset how you might jump from ladder to ladder.
Of course, careers for any individual are unique and it’s a topic that should be treated with nuance. But my feeling is that some careers have routes between these wealth ladders which are well explored and clear. Finding these paths of least resistance may be one way to a wealthier life.

More From Me
What Can I Do When I Grow Up? (Book Notes) - I found this book to give to one of my cousins, who is turning 16 and has begun to think about her career. Before I gave it to her, I read it myself, just to make sure it was reasonable. Even though it’s a book for children, there were many things I found useful. For example, they frame jobs simply as your ability to solve problems for others. They also relate the payment of jobs (salaries) in simple economics, with supply and demand. Importantly, they stress the importance of introspection and considering your own likes, strengths and weaknesses when selecting a career. It was useful enough that I decided to write notes, which I share above.
Favourite Resources - I keep lots of notes in Evernote, one of which collects my favourite essays, posts and videos. I realised it could be useful to other if I shared it, so I did.
If you have a collection of your own favourite resources, I’d love to see them. Please do send them my way.
Still Thinking Through
This is a new section where I’ll write and share incomplete (and somewhat random) thoughts. My hope is that some of you may chime in and smooth my thinking. Most of the time, I’ll start with a question and go from there…
Is it possible to love someone too much?
I recently watched Tony Robbin’s documentary I Am Not Your Guru. In one scene, he seems to suggest a woman has become hard edged as a result of her father loving her too much. He suggests she treats her boyfriends poorly because she has become used to being loved unconditionally.
This got me thinking, is it possible to love someone too much? I know there is a lot of research and evidence to suggest that a lack of love at childhood can lead individuals to develop less desirable characteristics. But has any research investigated the opposite end of the spectrum? Is it possible to show a child too much love that they also develop undesirable characteristics? If anyone knows anything about this, fire me a message.
Like I said, this is a new section. Let me know if it’s worth keeping.
This section used to include just my tweets, but now I’ll be including interesting tweets I’ve seen from anyone. Way better.
Note - Including a tweet here does not mean I agree with it or endorse it, but rather, its an interesting place to start a conversation.
Tobi Lutke 🌳🌲🛒🕹
I realize everyone's twitter feed looks different. But I'll go ahead and subtweet two conversations that I see going by right now: a) How the heck did Shopify get so big this decade and b) You have to work 80 hours a week to be successful.

👩‍💻Number of Americans working from home fulltime has nearly tripled over past 20 years, and trend is accelerating 📈
Tiago Forte
Picture this: Cloud College

Classrooms = media studios
Study rooms = Zoom rooms
Homework = blog posts
Lectures = YouTube videos
Labs = maker spaces
Sports teams = creative guilds
Scholarships = crowdfunding campaigns
Career counselors = business advisors

It would be lit
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