Christopher Guest Post: Wealth Well Done

I prefer my wealth medium-rare, just like my filet mignon.

My friend Bill also likes his beef medium-rare, as well learn below, and I believe we enjoyed a couple of rare tuna sandwiches after a bike ride in Crosby, MN a couple of years ago.

When it comes to wealth, however, Bill prefers his wealth well done. That’s the name of his blog, a site that he’s used as a creative outlet to help others find purpose and fulfillment while growing their wealth.

I’ve known Bill for several years now, and I’ve been impressed with his commitment to sharing his story, which is painful and unique compared to most of us bloggers who weren’t sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Some of us lament our mistakes and struggle to overcome them. Bill made mistakes that led to the death of a friend and a decade in the clink, yet he makes strides daily to overcome those. Think about that the next time you’re feeling down and out about your own problems.

 

Wealth_Well_done

 

CGP_Wealth_Well_DoneWhat in the world is 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.

 

Christopher Guest Post: Wealth Well Done

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

 

I was released from prison in 2012 after serving a ten-year sentence for, “Reckless Homicide by Delivery of a Controlled Substance.” This happened after a friend of mine accidentally died of a drug overdose after partying with me and leaving my college apartment.  I was a 21-year-old dean’s-list college student at the time.  It was an extremely harsh awakening that life can be unfair, challenging, and cruel at the most unexpected times — especially when you make bad decisions like I had done.

But I didn’t give up on life when I went to prison.  I studied harder than I’d ever studied in college.  I was ultra-motivated to make it out of prison physically, mentally, and spiritually stronger than I’d ever been.  At some point, I made the decision that I was going to be a “Professional Opportunity Seeker” when I got my second chance at freedom.

My high-income parents (who were already retired) listened to my ideas when I’d call them from prison, and I remember them saying: “We hope your dreams work out for you, but you should probably finish school and get a real job before you try to conquer the world.”

So that’s what I did when I was released in 2012.  I finished college, got a $10 an hour job, and started looking for opportunities to accomplish more.  The professional-opportunity-seeking-thing actually did work out well for me.  Six years after getting out of prison, I’m now married and running three different businesses.  We make just under 6-figures a year from 5 unique income streams.

My main income is a promotional products sales business that sells around $400,000 of branded promotional items (like t-shirts, bags, and bottles) to corporate accounts like large hospitals.  I also own an investment property that makes me around $10K a year.  But my biggest dream is to be a full-time writer/creative spirit who can inspire people to live more awesome and fulfilling lives.  That’s why I started my blog, Wealth Well Done.

 

If I was a physician, what type of physician would I be?

As you can probably tell from my drug-using history and entrepreneurial success, I’m not a natural rule follower.  So an ultra-systematic physician role would not be a good fit.  A friend once compared me to the Robin Williams character in Patch Adams for my natural ability to think outside the box and be enthusiastic about helping people.

So I think any role where I could be an inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting force inside a sometimes harsh and unfair hospital world would be a natural fit for me.

 

[PoF: Patch Adams, eh? You do share his enthusiasm. We’ll call you a hospitalist. 

Many of us doctors think we had it rough, spending our 20s studying like mad and working crazy hours as med students and residents. When I think about what you went through in your 20s, I realize it definitely could have been worse.]

 

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

 

“Wealth is the ability to say I love my life.”  Money is great to have, but massive amounts of cash is not the source of happiness, fulfillment, or self-actualization.  Happiness originates from positive action.   I write about the actions that have helped me overcome failure and create a path of success, wealth, and happiness.

I am also the child of high-income parents.  But unfortunately, just because you’re from a high-income family, it doesn’t mean your family will be immune to tragedies and crises.  My parents did everything they could to help me be successful growing up, but I was still rebellious and experimented with drugs when I knew I shouldn’t have.

If you are high-income parents, struggling with rebellious kids, I am sure it can feel like your kids aren’t listening at times.  I was one of those kids.  But I am proof that even if your kids seem stubborn, ungrateful, and rebellious, they are still listening to you.  Kids who are taught well will have the power to turn their lives around at any moment like I did.

 

[PoF: I agree. Money can only do so much to improve your life. I’m much happier having plenty than not enough, but you seem to understand the diminishing returns that come as one approaches and perhaps exceeds what’s needed to be considered financially independent.

As far as kids and hard drugs, that’s a nightmare scenario that we’d like to avoid at all costs. Opioids have become an epidemic. They ended your friend’s life and nearly destroyed yours. Congrats to you for overcoming that tragedy.]

 

 

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?

 

Sixteen years ago I wrote my first 100-page novel manuscript while in jail.  It was just a first draft, and I don’t even know if it was any good, but I felt so much pride and excitement writing that.  Writing made the jail cells I was in disappear, and I felt free in my head for the first time in my life.  At that moment, I discovered a new dream for my life: I wanted to become a great writer.

During my time in prison, I fell in love with the philosophy of having a “purpose in life.”  I decided that living with a purpose was the most valuable thing you could have, because a purpose could always solve any confusion, discouragement, or loss of direction you may encounter in life. So when I got out of prison, I saved all of my money so that I wouldn’t have to think about money.  I only wanted to think about creating and achieving my purpose in life.

I accidentally saved $150,000 living this way.  At that moment, I realized I had inadvertently discovered how to build wealth.  The equation to create wealth was fundamentally simple = Make a lot, Invest a lot, and spend as little money as possible as you pursue your purpose in life.  If you can do that, I realized you’ll have more money than you’ll need to do what you are meant to do.

Once these ideas hit me, I was like: “I should write about my journey to find purpose, meaning, and how I create wealth along the way.”  That’s how, Wealth Well Done, was born.  My short-term goal is to get my blog views over 1,000 per day.  I’m close to that now.

 

[PoF: Happy to help get you closer to that pageview goal! 

“I saved all of my money so that I wouldn’t have to think about money.” That’s an interesting way to approach it. I suppose you don’t hem and haw much over potential purchases when the plan is to save it all. 

I know you’ve loosened up in recent years, and that’s a good thing, too. I saw pictures of you retracing our footsteps in Kauai not long ago.]

 

Wealth_Well_Done_Hawaii

 

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

 

#1) How I survived prison and accidentally survived my found my way to wealth.

#2) #1 Skill to Change Your Life. 

#3) How To Achieve Your Dreams & Avoid the Prisons that Trap Your Soul. 

#4) How I Learned to Sell and Start Sales Businesses. 

#5) Building Wealth:  The Universal Truths and What’s Next?

#6) How to Be a Dynamite Real Estate Investor and Landlord.

#7) How Attending Church Helped Make Us Rich. 

#8)  Master Money in your 20’s.  Execute Your Dreams in your 30’s.

#9)  Money Revelations:  Composing a Climax With Your Money. 

#10) Four Traits of Success:  Featuring Physician on Fire.

#11) Purpose of Life and How to Create Wealth. 

 

[PoF: You didn’t include the one about your time in a breakdancing troupe?!? Did you hear breakdancing might be an Olympic sport in 2024? I’ve already started training now that curling (another Olympic sport) season is over.

Many physicians are now looking to start side gigs of their own, so the posts on real estate and starting your own business will interest readers. The word “Climax” is always attention-grabbing as well!]

 

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 have an “entrepreneurial version of financial independence”  I’m trying to reach in five years when I am 43. [PoF: That’s my age! And I just happen to be retiring not retiring this year.]

This version of FI means I will have $500K+ of cash-flowing assets, along with several business income streams.  Then, I want to spend the rest of my life trying to write a great American novel dealing with my favorite subjects of: money, self-improvement, and the search for meaning and happiness in America.

As far as traditional retirement goes, I don’t think I’ll ever want to fully retire and stop working.  I like being active and creating things too much.  In my mind, there is always be more people I can help, more real-estate I can buy, and a new novel I can write.

The best thing about being self-employed is that if you don’t like part of your business, you can just contract the work out or quit it altogether.  I’ll just keep doing things I like to do, and quitting the things I don’t.

I am looking forward to having fewer financial worries and more time to do the things I love to do.  Sales can be a super stressful job when you need the sales to pay your bills.  But once I have that $500,000K+ of cash-flowing assets, and continue my $2.5K per month lifestyle, I have a feeling I’ll stop worrying about money.

At that point, I’ll start focusing on just doing the right thing every day, and trying to help as many people as I can.  Since I already know what it takes to be successfully self-employed, I should have no problem making more money as I create more value in the world.

 

[PoF: You’re checking off all the boxes, and it’s just a matter of time and perseverance now. 43 seems like a fine time to pivot and worry or think even less about money.

The beauty of having business ventures is your ability to control your level of involvement in the process. You can be very hands-on and keep a higher percentage of the profits. You can also hire out much of the work, potentially making the income lower, but more passive. 

If the business scales up, you might be able to make it both more passive and more lucrative.

Everyone should spend time figuring out what they plan to retire to (or retire on, as I like to say), and you’ve got that piece figured out.]

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

 

I see myself writing around 20-40 hours a week just like I did in my prison cell.  I just like it.  But I’ll be doing it from various locations around the world.  Some days I may want to work early in the morning and some days I’ll want to work late at night.  As long as I get to decide the terms of my work, I know I’ll be happy.

I also want to spend more time engaging in my favorite hobbies during normal “M-F, 9-5” work hours.  I look forward to the days of true “financial freedom” when I can mountain-bike, ski, fish, and golf when the rest of the world is at work and I can do whatever I want.

 

[PoF: You’re the first person, and very likely the last person, to answer this question by syaing you’d like to do the same thing you did while in prison.

Of course, in retirement, you’ll have a bit more freedom, better views, fewer worries about dropped soap or who might be about to shiv you, etc… Enjoy that freedom!]

 

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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.

 

The biggest piece of wisdom that helped me during my 20’s was this:  “Your 20’s are for finding yourself. Your 30’s are for executing what you’ve found.”

Don’t get impatient.  Discover the life your soul craves to live, and then execute the steps to turn that vision into your reality.  Remember that amazing people aren’t obsessed with having the most money.  Money is just the resource you need to accumulate to accomplish your bigger goals.  Focus on your dreams, not your money.

Also, find a spouse who shares your biggest goals with you.  My wife and I disagree about a lot of stupid, small things, but we share all of our big life goals together.  Our biggest goals hold us together when we disagree about the little things in life.

 

[PoF: Happy wife, happy life, I’ve been told. So far, so good!]

 

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?

 

I grew up on a ski hill as my parents both volunteered at a local ski area, and I am still pretty good on skis.  So I’d spend three days skiing the Swiss Alps, and then I’d fly to Mexico and explore if that’s a place I want to spend my winters once I’m financially independent.

Being a life-long Minnesotan, I’m tired of long, boring winters.  I speak pretty functional Spanish (A skill I picked up in prison), so it would be fun to make some Latino friends, keep my Spanish fresh, and relax on a warm beach a few months a year.

 

[PoF: That sounds like a great vacation! I just booked a trip for my family to visit Ecuador for two months this fall. We won’t be skiing, but we will spend some time in the mountains — one week, I’ll be a guest at the Ecuador Chautauqua with some old and new friends at the Above the Clouds Retreat.

We’ve got eight more weeks to fill, and I expect we’ll be working on our Spanish, as well. Ecuador, and perhaps neighboring countries, should offer a safer immersion environment for my kids than your 10-year Spanish immersion experience.]

 

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

 

My drinking habits are boring, so I’m going to look boring here:

#1) Clean Water.

#2) Cheap coffee.

#3) An occasional energy drink to spice up the creative side of my brain on a random day.

#4-#11) Whatever’s at the party…

 

[PoF: I’d say you don’t need those energy drinks unless every time I’ve seen you, you’ve been under the influence of 5 Hour Energy. But whatever gets the creative juices flowing…]

 

Now, eleven foods.

#1) Prime Rib, medium rare = My #1 food fantasy.

#2) Brazilian steakhouse, where it’s all you can eat and you just keep inviting the waiter to your table. (We have one near our house, and load up when their $100 gift cards are 2-for-1 on Mother’s Day and Black Friday)

#3) A deli sandwich with big tomato slices and salty chips.

#4) An authentic Philly cheese steak (with cheese whiz) in Philadelphia.

#5) Chili dogs to honor my grandmother.

#6) Any local favorite ethnic dish anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

#7) Colorado green chili burritos. (Learned that from my wife’s family.)

#8) Pad Thai.

#9) Italian seafood pasta (preferably with calamari) in a white sauce.

#10) A loaf of fresh sourdough bread with butter.

#11) A medium rare burger with any sauces or toppings the chef has available piled on top.

 

[PoF: Half-price Brazilian steakhouse? You’re speaking my language! 

I’ve been having fun with the sous vide immersion cooker I picked up on Black Friday week last year. I haven’t done a whole prime rib, but it’s on the list. I’ve had good success with all types of meat, including beef. You can dial in the exact inner temperature you want, set it and forget it.]

 

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

 

We met in person at a Minneapolis meet up in 2017.  Later in 2017, we did a day trip to the best mountain biking trails Minnesota.  We’ve hung out every year at FinCon since.

My one piece of advice to you:  Keep being an open-minded, helpful friend like you have been to me.  Judge people by who they are, and who they want to be, and not by the pasts they’ve risen up from.  The world becomes a more magical place when you help good people improve the quality of their futures.

 

[PoF: Thank you so much for taking the time to jot down your thoughts and allow us to get to know you better. 

The snow is melting and it won’t be long before we’re back out on those bikes. Best wishes on your blog, your businesses, and achieving your goals. You’ve come a long way!]

 

Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out a few of these Christopher Guest Posts:

 


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Readers, got a 12th question for Bill? Or a single comment. Say hello below!

 

 

5 comments

  • Amazing comeback story.

    Many would have taken that experience as a reason to live a life of blame or regret. It must have been incredibly hard to stay positive and focused. To dream of a bright future despite the bleak reality of the surroundings.

    It may not be easy to write about all that. But I for one, am glad you did.

    • Hey thanks for the kind encouragement WD!!! My positive attitude probably comes from my spiritual beliefs which I re-embraced and fine-tuned while in my prison cell. While I was alone in those cells, I had a deep down sense that I was meant for more out of life than that. I believed that there was a bigger purpose for me than just being a wasted character in a dead-end story. And because I believed that so deeply, I wanted to work, fight, and discipline myself for that second chance. I never wanted to waste another hour of my life again. Every day I believed, worked, and planned for my second chance. And I think that’s the secret to success for anyone looking for a better life: Don’t just hope. Work, sacrifice, believe, and fight for the dream life you want to live no matter what your circumstances may look like when you’re first starting out.

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  • Wow! That’s quite something. I love the message. The more I learn and pursue FI, the more I realized I’m also in the “never gonna stop” camp where FI is a means to allow me to pursue my passions. I’ve never enjoyed being beholden to someone else, a time prisoner if you will. So I always have done things on the side as passion projects. FI is allowing me to turn those passion projects into my main purpose, slowly but surely. It’ll give me the runway I need to try building up my passions into real income streams. Even when fully FI, I don’t see myself stopping work but I have always seen myself ensuring I spend the right time so that I balance my family and passions. That’s something I do now and pursuing FI makes that even easier in the future.

    • Awesome Kamran. Every time I write a post, I just hope at least one person reads it and totally gets my message. FI isn’t about quitting. It’s about starting everything that your soul dreams to accomplish. Never stop dreaming. Never stop trying. Never stop working to do the right thing in your life, and you will be able to live an adventure that goes far beyond the limits that you thought you could go in life. God bless!

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