I work with a high school dropout who’s an absolute genius at making money. When you talk to this guy about anything, or bring up any subject at all, he goes off on these bottomless riffs about how things can be “monetized.” I’m talking about anything. You see one of these hot Manhattan girls walking down the street, he can monetize her ass without her ever even knowing it. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you.
I know he knows what he’s talking about, because he’s made tons of money for other people. I also know he knows his shit because I can’t even begin to understand most of the stuff he tells me about. My eyes glaze over. His concepts are so fucking brilliant that they put me to sleep. I wish I had his ability to think of everything in the world as a way to make money.
He’s also a very nice guy, and I like working with him—and that’s not a disclaimer because I think he’s reading this. He’s not, and he never will. I actually mean what I’m saying about him.
I pointed out the fact that he’s a high school dropout in the opening sentence because he’s shown a rather frightening lack of command of what I’ll refer to as the “basic body of knowledge.” I seem to know some very rudimentary, fundamental things about the world that seem foreign to him. Like time zones. He doesn’t know what time zones are when he sees them on paper, and he doesn’t understand the notation you’re supposed to use when you’re in one time zone, someone else is in another, and you’re trying to tell that person when a meeting is being scheduled. Our text conversation on Sunday went something like this (starting with his part):
“Can you be available for an interview at 11 EST on Monday? The girl said she could do it anytime after 9:30 EST.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“I’m going to be in Texas, so that’s like 9 EST my time. So does 11 EST work for you?”
“I want to interview that girl at 11 EST on Monday.”
“Yeah, I got that. So is it 11 or 9?”
“11 your time, 9 my time.”
“So 11 EST my time, but 9 EST your time?”
All of which, of course, leads us to a discussion of what in life, exactly, is important to know. Me being me, I sit back and laugh when I see someone who doesn’t know what the EST notation stands for when giving someone a time for an appointment. He, in turn, couldn’t give a flying fuck because it hasn’t ever prevented him from becoming very wealthy. Who’s right?
Well, on some level, it’s definitely not me—at least in terms of the ability to make money. I mean, shit—this blog still gets more daily traffic than websites people have actually managed to make their living from. I’d try to tell this guy that I didn’t start doing this—or keep doing this—to make money, and he’d just walk away thinking I was a world class fucking dumbass for not taking advantage of my cash flow potential when I could have. Writing practice? Learning a skill? What the fuck is that?
You know what? He’d be right if he said these things, at least to a point. Back when this thing was kicking, so to speak, I could have made a killing through ad sales, Adwords, and affiliate marketing. I know that now. Back then? Eh. I really couldn’t have cared less at the time. Still can’t, pretty much. I know he wouldn’t be able to come to grips with my irresponsible commitment to God-knows-what, so I don’t mention this shit show around him.
Would I want to go through life cash-and-asset rich without knowing what the different time zones are when I see them on paper? Not knowing who the Vice President of the United States is? Not knowing the capitol of my home state? Thinking that calling someone a “looser” is a legitimate pejorative?
I don’t know, really. I’m not sure where one goes from there. I suppose you learn your niche—from what I can gather, he’s one of the best in the world at what he does—and make tons of money. Once you’ve done that, I guess you’re free to go out and learn about time zones, geography, and spelling. If you’re interested, anyway.
That’s always been my issue with these wealthy guys I know from Long Island—the ones with multiple Jet Ski docks, Belgian block driveways, and fugazi view-of-nothing balconies they need to contort themselves and snake through bedroom windows to access. How many fountains do you need to install on a postage stamp lawn before you realize that your his-and-hers Hummers and that Mary-on-the-Halfshell you’re so proud of can’t disguise the fact that you can’t carry on a conversation without sounding like a monumental buffoon?
I want money like anyone else, but I don’t want that.
Anyway, this guy isn’t like that, so I don’t want to come off like I’m saying he is. His little time zone faux pas has had me off on this tangent for the past day or so. I guess the happy medium, if there is one in this case, is to be very good at what you do, with at least some grasp of that basic body of knowledge. Barring that, you can at least avoid being an asshole—which this guy has managed masterfully. That’s a good start.