Even Billionaire Ron Conway Stands In Line To Wait His Turn, Why Can’t You?

Ron Conway Angel Investor Venture Capitalist

I was driving up to participate in a fun community picture collage event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts when I noticed Ron Conway, one of the fathers of angel investing stand in line just like the rest of us. He was probably in line for 10 minutes as the process took forever.

The reason why he’s a billionaire is because he invested in Larry Page and Sergey Brin when their company was still called Backrub at a sub $75 million valuation. Google is now worth $379 billion. Then there’s other hits such as Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Pinterest, Airbnb, and Zappos.

I briefly met Ron at a fund raiser for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee a couple years ago, but didn’t say anything more than a “hi.” What strikes me about Ron is that he seems like a nice guy who deeply cares about the city of San Francisco through his various activism.

Ron’s patience reminded me that no matter how rich you get, it’s a good idea to stay humble and wait your turn like everybody else. Entitlement is a poison that will ruin you. And if you don’t want to respect the existing organization’s methodology or people, feel free to start your own.

See you at Ed’s election party this Tuesday Ron!

Do You Have The Right Money Mindset To Get Rich?

Money Mindset, Financial Samurai

A blank canvas can be worth millions

A 63 year old man knocked on my garage door at 9:30am. I let him in because he was one of my contractor’s helpers. His task for the day was to install baseboards in my downstairs hallway and put up crown moldings in my master bedroom and master closet.

For a couple months I deliberated whether to put crown moldings in my downstairs rooms to match the upstairs rooms. I was so tired from sanding and painting all the walls that I thought “good enough is good enough.” But as I went to view several nice open houses for design inspiration, I realized that what differentiated the truly nice houses from the average houses were the detail, i.e. crown moldings, wainscoting, draperies, wood panels, furniture, and electrical covers.

The total cost for the baseboards and crown moldings, including materials was $780. If Bed, Bath & Beyond can force me to buy $1,300 worth of curtains (ridiculous!), I figured I could spend $780 on some woodwork.

The older gentleman greeted me with a smile and told me in Mandarin, “Son, great job on choosing crown moldings. You will be elevating the feel and stature of your home! And when you turn around and sell it, you will be able to sell the house for much more.”

I thanked him and wished him good luck in the walk-in closet where the space was extra tight because I had built in some shelves the day before. The man and his helper were supposed to come a week before to install the baseboards and crown moldings, but their boss changed the schedule last minute as is commonly the case when dealing with contractors.

He proceeded to ask, “What about the lower level part of the house? Do you plan to develop it so you can rent it out in order to pay off your mortgage sooner? I’d definitely do that!”

I wasn’t evening thinking about developing the storage area downstairs. All I wanted to do was get the existing footprint squared away. “No plans, sir. I’ve had enough of remodeling and I just want to keep things simple,” I responded.

When I came back home from work at 6pm he was filling in the staple holes with silicon. He was proud of his work, and I was impressed with his work ethic. The crown moldings definitely made both rooms look much more luxurious.

Now all I have left to do with my remodel is blow a hole in the closet wall to install a window, install sliding glass doors in the bedroom, build a 250 square foot deck, create a new bathroom and I’ll be done!

Should I Contribute To My 401K Or Invest In An After-Tax Brokerage Account?

foragingThe great thing about a 401k is that you are contributing with pre-tax money. The higher the tax bracket you are in, the more tax savings you will have. If you can start withdrawing from your 401k when you’re in a lower income tax bracket, then you’ve successfully conducted some tax engineering to boost your wealth.

The problem with the 401k is the 10% early withdrawal penalty before age 59.5. If the government gets desperate, they can raise the early withdrawal penalty percentage or increase the age limit. I ascribe a 75% chance one of these two things will occur over the next 30 years.

It’s easy to understand why saving for retirement is difficult. The value proposition is that you put your money away in an institution like Fidelity, which operates under the confines of the omnipotent government, who punishes you if you err from their rules, all for the chance that your money will grow decades down the road.

With no assurances from your money manager or the government that your money will be there in retirement, spending money now on instant gratification makes perfect sense. Give me the latest iPhone vs. the potential to have $25,000 more in retirement! Therein lies the dilemma of the 401k contributor who can’t max out his or her account every year, and who therefore doesn’t have excessive after tax savings for liquidity and other purchases.

Why Would An Aerospace Engineer Want To Be An Uber Driver?

Uber Driver

Harry Ubering

Previously, I had written about my struggling friend Jabir who was unemployed for a couple years before he discovered Uber. He drove for Uber for a year before switching over to be a dedicated hotel driver. In this post, my other friend Harry shares why he drives for Uber even though he’s financially thriving. Enjoy!    

Normally when I’m out putting around in my SUV driving people around for Uber (or Lyft – I do both), the first question they ask is: “So do you do this full time?”  Reluctantly, I usually tell them, “No, I also work for an engineering company as an aerospace engineer.” (odds are, if you’ve ever flown, you’ve been on one of our planes). It’s not that I’m embarrassed to be a full time engineer/part time Uber driver, but it always elicits a very strange reaction from my passengers.

Why would anyone who has a perfectly good job want to drive around a bunch of jokers during his free time? They don’t outright say it, but I’m sure that’s what they’re thinking. But there are actually a lot of reasons why I enjoy it and as you may have guessed, it’s not just about the money. Well a big part of it is about the money, so let’s explore that a little more first:

How One Company Is Trying To Screw Over A Loyal Employee

No Freedom

No Escape by Horizon

For 10 years, Rachel dedicated her life to working for Up Yours Inc. She rose through the ranks from analyst to senior manager. But her path wasn’t smooth. I told her to find another job many times before because they weren’t treating her well. When it was time for her to get a promotion two years ago, she was passed over for another male colleague. The guy was qualified, but she was more qualified. Unfortunately, she had to wait another 6 months before being considered again.

The great kick in the pants is that the guy who got promoted quit six months later to take some other job. For managers out there, this is your worst nightmare because those employees who you didn’t promote will not only secretly laugh at your poor managerial decision, they will also make you regret your choice as well.

Two months after being passed over, Rachel walked into her manager’s office and demanded not only the promotion she should have gotten earlier, but an even higher raise than she should have received.

“If you don’t like my term, unfortunately it’s time for us to say good-bye,” she told her boss firmly.

Her boss was taken aback by quiet, little, loyal Rachel. He apologized about the situation and promised her a promotion during mid-year. Rachel not only got that promotion, but also a retroactive raise as well.  It’s unfortunate meritocracy doesn’t work on its own.