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Christopher Guest Post: Mr. Tako Escapes

Welcome to the latest Christopher Guest post. Today, we feature Mr. Tako, a young man who runs a killer tako stand with the best guac retired early in his thirties with a multi-million dollar net worth.

Like me, he has a couple sons that he cherishes. Unlike me, he decided to leave his day job when his second son was born, whereas mine will be in grade school when I have decided I’ve had Enough.

Having started his blog about the same time as me, he’s got more than 18 months worth of quality posts on his site, a number of which will be linked below, and I hope you hop on over to pay Mr. Tako a visit.


What’s a Christopher Guest post?


Inspired by Nigel Tufnel, the character portrayed by Christopher Guest in Spinal Tap, I took Mr. 1500’s ten questions, and amped them up to eleven.


If you’re not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watch this video and enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.


I decided I’d start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, “this one goes to eleven”. Just like Nigel’s amplifiers.


Presenting: Mr. Tako Escapes


What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a doctor, what type of a doctor do you think you would be? Why?

Oh, so you’re that type of doctor — You like to get to know your patients first, huh?  I completely understand.

I like to get to know people before I ask them to take their clothes off too…

Anyway doc, I guess you could call me a software engi-nerd… but that’s only where I started out in life.  Call me a professional “builder of things”.  My career eventually morphed into something more along the lines of a project manager… but that’s still only a very rough description of my job.


Mr. Tako Escapes
If a company needed something built, I was the guy management called to get things done.  I was also the guy management called when something broke, which made for a pretty stressful job.  I hated it.

You doctors seem to have a pretty sweet gig.  If I could go back in time and become a doctor, I would definitely become Dr. Emmett Brown… that guy built all kinds of cool stuff!  He wasn’t the kind of doctor that patched holes in people or took blood samples, but I think he was still pretty bada**.

That, and having a time machine would be totally awesome!


Delorean gull wing
PoF in a time machine


[PoF: Great Scott! There’s no need to stay in a job you hate when you’ve saved a couple million dollars and have a family that needs raising. I don’t blame you one bit for changing your life’s course.

If you were the guy who fixed things when they broke, you might have made a good orthopedic surgeon. One BBMF after another. Apologies to my orthopedic friends.]


Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.

My blog?  How did you know about that?

Should I be putting on that medical gown while I’m talking about this stuff?  I respect the fact you like to get to know your patients, but I really do have medical stuff to talk about today!

Take a look at my big toe here for instance….you see that.  It’s all red and inflamed… Do you think that’s a wart or something?

OK, while you look at that, I’ll answer your question — Mr. Tako Escapes (my blog) is about achieving financial freedom by being different.

You see, most of the world has very ‘set’ expectations about life.  Expectations that you’ll follow a certain path to live a “normal” life.  Hell, most personal finance blogs even have a standard set of “normal” financial advice they continually parrot.

I’m a little different.  Essentially, I reject all that.  I say “screw normal, be different!”

The difference between outcomes in life, mostly comes down to simple chemical reactions in your brain.  Think of it like software —  Run all the “normal” software in your brain, and most of the time you’ll simply get a “normal” result.

However, should you decided to download some “different software” into your brain, abnormal results become entirely possible — you can even achieve a live a life of financial independence before you’re 40.

I did it by 38.  That’s what my blog is about, finding that “abnormal software” to creates abnormal outcomes.  A physician (or anyone else for that matter) might find some of this “abnormal thinking” rather useful.

Speaking of abnormal…what do you think about that inflamed toe?  Be honest doc, does it need to come off?

[PoF: Before I can answer that question, please turn your head and cough. And again… good. The toe looks fine, but I’d do something about that green nail polish.

I think I screw normally, but have lived my life a bit differently than most docs, which allowed me, like you, to be financially independent before 40. Unlike you, I didn’t hatch this plan when I launched my career. I just earned, saved, and invested and came out a winner. Then I read about FI, and was amazed to find out I had it.] 


What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?

Wow, you ARE a really chatty doctor!  Are we eventually going to talk about my medical issues instead of just my personal life?

My blog (Mr. Tako Escapes) wasn’t actually a blog in the beginning.  Originally, I was going to write a series of letters to my boys.  One was an infant, and the other a toddler when the idea was first conceived. Now they’re a little bit older, but still not old enough to comprehend all the financial stuff.


Mr Tako Kids

When they grow up and finally reached adulthood, the plan was I would give them the letters.

I thought the letters would be a good way to share my thoughts about living a good life, investing, and building wealth.  You know, the stuff that really mattered, not the mass-market nonsense spouted by the media.

Before I really got to deep into the project, I realized NOBODY writes letters anymore.  It’s a dead medium.  By the time my kids become adults, physical letters are going to be the sort of thing you see in museums.

So, my plan changed.  I needed a more modern medium to transmit the firing of my neurons.  A rather amusing blog was the result, but tucked between the jokes and metaphors, are gems about investing and life.

While I’m not arrogant enough to say my blog “has arrived”, I do have some interesting plans for the future:  I intend to document the creation of a few new micro-businesses on my blog.  It’ll be a fun project I think.

They won’t be big money makers, just some fun projects to pass the time now that I’m “early retired”.

You know, all of this is assuming I’m not going to die of cancer next week.  You don’t think that’s cancer, do you?

[PoF: Darnit, Mr. Tako, I’m an anesthesiologist, not an oncologist. Now, turn your head and cough…

Your blog story sounds a lot like JL Collins’. He started out writing for his daughter. Friends and family shared it, and it took off from there. Our boys are a bit older than yours, and we try to instill good money values in them, but they don’t know about this blog yet. I hope when they’re old enough to benefit from the lessons here, they’ll set aside some time to read it!]


Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.

Readers?  Are you going to submit my toe to a medical journal or something?  That’s totally cool if you are…

1.  Early Retirement: One Year Later (An Honest Assessment) — I take a look back after one year of early retirement.

2.  One Big Company: Why We Like The 3% Rule — I take a unique perspective to investing in the S&P 500, and discuss why I believe the 4% rule won’t work in the future.

3.  Will I Ever Go Back To Work? — I discuss the advantages to going back to work.

4. Profitability Doesn’t Matter? —  I take a look at one of today’s most popular growth stocks and ponder if a growth-oriented strategy might make sense for good long term returns.

5. When Is The Best Time To Quit Working?  — A post where I discuss the optimal timing for quitting a job.

6.  Is Retail Dead? — In which I discuss the wisdom (or lack thereof) of investing in retailers today.

7.  Give Yourself The Gift of Wealth  — The best thing an individual can do with a sudden windfall of wealth.

8.  The Economic Gardener — People love to garden, but rarely do they do it in an economic way.

9.  Essential Skills For Early Retirement: Be A DIY Investor  — A post in which I discuss the merits of investing yourself.

10.  When Dividend Growers Fail To Grow  — A post discussing dividend growth companies that stop growing dividends.  What should be done with them?

11.  The Pants Experiment — I show off my ‘pants experiment’ that I’ve been working on for the last 6 months.

[PoF: Pants experiment? Can you keep your pants on, please? Well, as long as they’re down, please turn your head and cough…

I like that your blog goes beyond simple investment advice. We get an insight into what you’re wearing, doing, and eating, too. Food gets its own category, which is very cool.

And, yes, your toe will survive. I see you’ve done nothing about the nail polish, though, but you seem to have added glitter. Is that really necessary?]


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At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?

I’ve already “retired” from full time work.  I was 38 at the time.  Not extremely young, but neither very old by the traditional definitions of the word.

I saved more than most.  It took a few extra years to save that extra million dollars, but I’ve got two kids, so I think I’ll need it.

Obviously, having some extra money to deal with surprise medical issues is a good idea…

So what’s the verdict, doctor?  Am I going to live?  I’ve been having a lot of headaches lately.  Like BAD headaches!  Do you think it’s related to the issue with my toe?

[PoF: The shine from that glittter is giving me headaches.

Retiring from paid work at 38 is rare. To do so with millions saved up is exceedingly rare. Kudos!]


What does an ideal retirement look like for you? What will you do with your time when full-time work is in your rearview mirror?

I haven’t been working full-time for almost two years now…  Honestly, I’m just hoping I survive this visit to your office.  This toe issue is freaking me out…  it’s like twice normal size.  Do I need to worry here?

You’re probably asking me these questions to keep my mind off it.  OK, that’s a pretty smart idea…

I’ll just keep talking and you keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing down there!

For me, my ideal retirement looks a lot like what I already do — Work on my personal projects and mini-businesses, travel to other countries once (or maybe twice) a year, read a lot, make and eat great food, and simply spend a lot of time with my wife and two boys.


Mr Tako Snow


I’m pretty content.  Honestly, what more could a person ask for in life?

[PoF: I’ll show you something twice normal size.

Your life sounds a lot like an ideal life to me. But don’t you ever get bored? I kid! I kid. I think we’ll be doing quite a bit more traveling, but I haven’t lived the life of an early retiree, so it’s tough to say what will appeal to us the most.]


Oversized Hat It's Funny
what were you expecting?


I’ll give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, we’re all ears.

That’s a weird kind of question — don’t you want to know if my toe hurts when I walk on it?

You are honestly the strangest doctor I’ve ever visited….

Look, we’re all going to die sooner or later (hopefully not sooner in my case).  Nobody knows when their number is up, so I just try to live the best life I can knowing that I could get a bad prognosis.

It’s very possible I could die in a year, or 5 years…  So I ask myself, “What do I want the remainder of my life to look like?”

I sure as hell wouldn’t be working at a job.  I would spend as much time with my family as I could, and I’d setup my investments to take care of them after I was gone.


Mr Tako Boys


I’d try to enjoy life.  I’d eat great food, travel a little, and have some “good times” without destroying my family’s financial future.

They’ll need to live on that money after I kick the bucket, after all.

Which reminds me, I haven’t been sleeping much, doc.  Do you think this toe issue and the headaches are keeping me awake at night?

[PoF: I’d guess the two young boys are the culprit. Ours certainly kept us up at night, or at least kept my wife up while I slept through all the commotion, but still. 

That is sound advice. You don’t know how long you’ve got left on this planet. Or How many summers you have left.]


You’ve got eleven days to visit anyplace in the world with an $11,000 budget. Where do you go and what do you do?

You keep asking me all these money related questions.  Do I need be worried what your bill is going to look like?  It’s not going to be $11,000, is it?  I think my co-pay is only supposed to be $25! [PoF: My hospital will charge your insurance company $11,000, but they have negotiated a rate of $110, $25 of which you will be responsible for. That’s how this crazy system works. Or fails to work, in some cases.]

I’ve been to a lot of places around the world already, but if I had to pick just one, then I’d probably go to Hawaii.  The Big Island most likely. We went there on vacation last year.  I really like the life there — Good food, warm weather, healthy living, and a fantastic set of outdoor activities.


Mr Tako Beach


That’s enough to keep me happy.  I’d eat a ton of good sushi, and take my boys snorkeling and paddle-boarding every day.

[PoF: Hawaii sounds awesome! With your frugal ways, I’ll bet you could make that $11,000 stretch over a couple months or more. We’ve been a couple times in the last few years (to Oahu and Maui), and hope to make it to the Big Island in 2018.

p.s. say hello to the Senior Resident for me if you make it to Honolulu]



Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.

Eleven again?  You are obsessed with the number 11…

Wait a sec — You’re not worried these medical issues are related to what I’m drinking, are you?

I’ve completely given up drinking adult beverages.  No alcohol for me.  I also look at most flavored waters with great suspicion, so you don’t need to worry about that.

My answer will probably seem strange compared to your other patients, but I only drink:

  1. Water
  2. Tea (my preferred varieties include green, jasmine, and English breakfast)

That’s it.  It’s a short list, but I’m being completely honest here.  I don’t think my toe issue is related to what I’m drinking!

[PoF: Well, at least you’re honest. Boring, but honest.]

Kidding! Sort of.]


Now, eleven foods.

Oh geez, eleven again…  If it’s not what I’m drinking, then it must be the food, huh?

Well, I don’t have any food allergies,  but I realize you’re just trying to diagnose the problem, so here goes…

1.  Sushi.  I absolutely love sushi!

2.  Dungeness crab.  Yum!  It’s a staple seafood here in the Pacific Northwest, but it sure is delicious.

3.  Gyoza.  It’s hard to get good gyoza here in the States, but my wife has a pretty good recipe.

4.  Phad Thai.  Who doesn’t love good Thai food?

5.  Ramen.  Not that ‘instant’ kind of ramen, but the stuff you find at little hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Japan.  It’s top notch stuff.

6.  Various Indian Curries.  My favorite has to be Butter Chicken, but there’s dozens of others that are extremely good too.

7.  Okonomiyaki.  My wife’s recipe is the best.  It’s a Japanese dish that she has completely perfected.

8.  Alaskan Spot Prawns.  Probably the most delicious shrimp on the planet (when you can get them).

9.  Tacos.  With a name like Mr. Tako I better love tacos, right?

10.  Gyros.  It’s like a Greek taco with spiced meat!  What’s not to love?

11.  Agedashi Tofu.  A Japanese tofu dish that’s ridiculously good.


Mr Tako Crab


That’s the list.  Do you think my toe issue is food related?

Honestly, I thought it might be some kind of foot-fungus I picked up at the pool.  You see that green bit there on the right-side?  Could that be a fungus?

[PoF: What, no Tako recipes? To be honest, I find the cephalopod to be rather rubbery.

We’re big on seafood, too, but growing up in the midwest, we also enjoy the occasional red meat dish. And by occasional, I mean occasionally throughout the day. But not all day.

That green bit on the toes? I think someone got a bit sloppy with the nail polish. Better lay off the English Breakfast tea before the next application.]


How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?

I first learned about you from Mr. 1500.  Carl’s a good guy, and I trust him.  He said you were totally discreet when you took care of that lump of his…

Advice for you?  This has got to be the strangest doctors visit ever!  Usually the doctor gives out the advice, not the patient.

I’m just hoping you’ll prescribe me some decent pain-killers…

If I was to offer some advice, I would say “be different!”  Every good thing that’s happened to me in life, happened because I did things differently.

I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that!

[PoF: No problem, at all! Thank you for taking the time to humor my 11 sets of questions (in good humor) despite that red, swollen, pulsating toe of yours. You really should get that looked at.

I haven’t exactly gone along with the status quo, so I’ll keep on being different and we’ll see where it takes me. Cheers!]


If you would like to read more of these Christopher Guest Posts, I’ve got a bunch more great ones lined up and a pretty impressive backlog:


Readers, do you have additional questions for Mr. Tako? Ask away!


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19 thoughts on “Christopher Guest Post: Mr. Tako Escapes”

  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. You guys nailed it on this one. Such an entertaining and enlightening post. What could be better than 2 of my favorite bloggers collaborating on one post.

    I still a little nervous about Mr. Tako’s toe, do keep us posted on this.

  3. Great back-and-forth banter! I was laughing throughout most of this interview… while turning my head and coughing of course!

  4. Water and tea sounds about right, but until I retire I do not think I can give up the adult beverages. Oh and coffee. Definitely need coffee until I retire.

    I always dig what Mr. Tako has to say. In fact, PoF I think I found his site before yours….so in my mind he was first!

    Thanks for the post. I am now inspired to go in and start my 4 days of call! No toes or tentacles here. Just hearts.

  5. POF, you must have great bedside manner. Mr. Tako has not shared such intimate details on his own blog.

    I’ve read Mr. Tako for a while. Thoroughly enjoyed this Guest Post and getting to know him and his toe fungus a little better. I’ve been treating mine with Oregano Oil. That is some strong stuff.

    cd :O)


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