Back when I was still employed at the large consulting company with a three letter acronym, I participated in a book reading club where we decided on books to read and discussed them in a monthly telco.
The big question was: “How many days can your passive income (for which you don’t have to work) sustain you (i.e. cover all your costs)?” Back then, it was clear for me, that I fully needed my active income (salary). I needed my job.
Another book, “The Cashflow Quadrant”, described the way to financial freedom:
- 1. Being an employee – where you work for someone else
- 2. Being self-employed – you own your job and you are your own boss
- 3. Being a business owner – you have others to work for you
- 4. Being an investor – your money works for you
Quitting my job felt frightening, so I didn’t do that right away. Still, I started thinking about it.
Another book from the book reading club was “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt (#612 on Amazon’s best seller list), required reading in all MBA courses, I guess.
It really was inspiring for me. I kept reading a lot more books around the “Theory of Constraints” (TOC), the school of thought that had been developed by Eli Goldratt and his followers.
The book features a character, Jonah, who solves tough business problems in Sherlock Holmes style. The proposition of the TOC is that any system is governed by one (or a few) constraints. And any system can be improved by the following 5 focusing steps:
- 1. Identify the system’s constraint(s).
- 2. Decide how to exploit the system’s constraint(s).
- 3. Subordinate everything else to the above decision(s).
- 4. Elevate the system’s constraint(s).
- 5. Warning! If in the previous steps a constraint has been broken, go back to step 1, but do not allow inertia to cause a system’s constraint.
The wording takes getting used to – but I wanted to know more about it. Why? The supposition of the TOC was: if you have a goal, the TOC can help you to reach that goal faster.
Remember, I had a goal in the back of my mind (financial freedom), so reaching that earlier pushed me to keep learning.
The Catalysts Way was still a personal story at that time, so back then it needed one more thing to get me going. In one of the last conversations with my former manager, I checked with him what the next career steps could be. He trusted in me, but he said that there were others who were not yet sure, who needed more evidence that I could actually deliver on the promises.
It was this distrust from others in the organization that was the last straw. I quit my job and became self-employed (step 2 on Robert Kiyosaki’s way to financial freedom).
What followed was depressing, from >300,000 colleagues down to just me.
If I had known how hard it was to get some business, I surely would have refrained from quitting my job. I only made a few thousand euros revenues during the first half year.
But that was a healthy diet, one could say.
I had enough time to think about the future. I even went on a private two-weeks workshop with Bill Dettmer (author of “The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving”) which I finished as a “Certified Jonah”. I built logical trees for every aspect of Catalysts (back then still just me).
Many years later, I can say that those two pillars or schools of thought were very important:
- Robert Kiyosaki’s way to think about money, investment, doodads
- Eli Goldratt’s way to think about a system, its goal and its constraints
Since 2005, Catalysts has grown from 1 person to a group of companies with more than 200 people. Our success stands (among others) on those two pillars. I’m grateful and humble for all the advice that I’ve received from there.
Don’t you think there might be something in it for you as well?