I knew when they said, "Come in for the meeting?" that I was dead.
I said, "Can we meet at a cafe?"
"No. Come in."
I was fired. And humiliated. And had to clean up and walk out. Nobody said goodbye. I had nothing to do and no plans,
The guy who fired me is dead now. Life is short.
I feel like every time I have a job, something is taken from me. Something that was once special. And I never found them again.
When you're dead, nobody will care how many hours you put in at the office.
It seems like every year I write a "10 reasons to quit your job this year." But there are different reasons. The reasons are adding up.
We all quit our farms 400 years ago to have apprenticeships. We all quit the apprenticeships to work in the factories. And we quit the factories to join the cubicle army of Corporatism of the 20th Century.
Feed me, give me meaningful work, help me improve, and then lightly drift me to shore in a safe suburb, happy and content.
And then corporatism died.
The reasons why you should quit are also the reasons why things are going to get a lot better. I'll get to that …
10 reasons you need to quit your job this year:
1. Salaries are disappearing
Average income for people ages 18–35 has gone from $36,000 to $33,000 since 1992.
This is not political: There was a Democrat, a Republican, a Democrat, and now a Republican.
This trend is not going away.
2. 94% of all new jobs created in the past 10 years are part-time or freelance
This is not a bad thing or a good thing. It's just a fact. An example: When the Internet was created, you no longer needed programmers to write "networking" code. People even forget what that is.
When digital music started, music stores died.
Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, told me, "When self-driving cars are everywhere, 90% of the auto industry will disappear."
With 90% of the auto industry gone, the car insurance industry will disappear. The oil industry will turn upside down. The real estate industry will change. And so on.
3. Productivity is for robots
Amazon is building a new store: When you walk in, your phone beeps.
When you pick up a book and put it in your basket, your phone notices. When you walk out of the store, your phone logs into your account in Amazon and buys the books in your basket.
That's every store. And then maybe every restaurant.
Where will the cashiers go?
I ask economists. Technologists. Billionaires. And cashiers. I asked a billionaire and a cashier yesterday (two different people. It would be funny if the cashier was also a billionaire).
The billionaire said, "I don't know."
The cashier said, "Well, the networks will still need people to maintain them for that store."
Not one store, I said. What happens when there are 1 million stores and you don't need to need add more people to maintain the networks?
The cashier said, "I don't know. I hope I'm dead by then."
4. The great knowledge hand-off
Humans are handing computers the keys to our lives.
Why trust a human doctor when my toilet can run genetic tests, blood tests, brain tests, tests that haven't been invented yet and use AI to diagnose me.
Then prescribe medication. Then check up on me every day when I sit in my chair that has all the circuitry to analyze every electric signal in my body.
Or JP Morgan has just outsourced hundreds of legal decisions to AI. Why talk to a lawyer when AI has 10,000s of legal precedents it can go through in a micro-second.
But can AI do that?
10 years ago, AI couldn't recognize your face.
Now if you turn your face into a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle, scramble it, put it in a blurry picture of a full stadium, and Facebook will still ask you, "Do you want to tag James Altucher in this picture?"
Goodbye 90% of lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, programmers.
5. The illusion of passion
But what about the arts?
In 1994 I interviewed a professor of music, David Cope, from UC Santa Cruz for Mondo 2000, a magazine which no longer exists. (Magazines only exist now as small pamphlets.)
David wrote software that even then would make classical music compositions. They were good then.
I looked up what he is up to now.
He couldn't get a record label to produce his music. So he did a test: would classical experts tried to tell the difference between his software's compositions and Mozart.
Not only could they not tell the difference, they thought his compositions were more beautiful.
What is beauty without soul?
It's a poetic question but it has a pragmatic answer: it's the music written by David Cope's computer program.
6. The access economy
When I spoke to Chip Conley, head of Hospitality at Airbnb, he used one phrase which changed my opinion on the entire economy.
"Nobody is sharing," he said. "It's not the sharing economy. It's the Access Economy."
This is the business model of every business in the access economy:
- Some people have an excess of an item (e.g. empty rooms, empty car seats, etc.)
- Some people want access to that excess.
- And then there is a platform in the middle to help with discovery, transactions, problems, mediation, etc. (Airbnb, Uber, etc.)
If you brainstorm where there is excess in your life (even an excess of knowledge that others might not have) you can create a business in this model.
Economics lesson: What happens when people have access to things they never had access to before?
Supply goes up. Demand remains basically the same.
So Economics 101: Price eventually goes down. Which means deflation for the first time in 100 years.
Warren Buffett once said that deflation is the worst thing that can happen to the economy.
If prices fall, people wait until they get even lower, so demand goes down, so prices fall more. So less jobs are needed, so less people have money, and then demand goes down even more while supply gets higher than ever.
So prices go even lower.
Elon Musk recently addressed this. He said we might need UBI: "Universal Basic Income" for everyone to handle the economic collapse that will result.
Maybe. Who knows? Nobody knows.
7. Your boss has to fire you
If you create $1 in value, and you have a boss, who has a boss, who has a boss, who has a board, who has shareholders ... then how much of that dollar do you get to keep?
Well, now we know the answer. In the 1960s, a CEO might make five times the average employee.
Now a CEO makes 200 times the average employee. The answer: You get none of the dollar and the CEO gets all of it.
And what is that dollar? It's money you created for the company. More of it should be yours. But every day, less of it is yours.
Who will get fired first? The slave drivers or the slaves?
We know the answer. Executives took billions of dollars in bonuses when the banks got $600 billion in bailout money from the US government in 2009.
And everyone else got fired.
This is not a political opinion. Or a suggestion on how things could have been different.
But it's this: Now we know the answer.
8. You don't need the job to be happy
Depression is highest in fully employed, first world countries. The two highest countries for depression? France and the United States.
We simply were not made to work 60 hours a week. Archaeologists figure that our paleo ancestors "worked" maybe 12 hours a week.
And then they would play, in order to keep up the skills needed to hunt and forage, etc.
Why is work depressing? Not all of these reasons but maybe some of them.
- Being bossed around by people we don't respect.
- Being forced to be friends just because they share our cubicle walls and hear all of our whispered pleadings with romantic partners as we try to be as quiet as possible.
- Seeing the 80/20 rule in action where 20% of the employees create 80% of the value and the other 80% just barely (desperately, fearfully) survive.
- Being mandated by an 800-page guidebook how you can talk to people of the opposite sex or of different skin colors.
- Seeing corporate political agendas rule over financial realities and not being able to say anything about it for fear of being fired.
- Spending 6:00 am to 7:00 pm getting ready for work, commuting to work, working, commuting back, too tired to move when you return home.
- Falling in love, getting rejected, and seeing her every day and then crying in my cubicle.
Or maybe that last one was just me. A lot of crying.
Jobs are not so great. And they cause a lot of suffering. And you don't really need them. Bear with me.
9. You were meant for something else
I needed to find out what I truly loved doing.
For a while I did it. But then I got scared. I had a mortgage. I had two kids. I had people who depended on me. And I was afraid of slipping back in lifestyle.
It took me a long time to "right" myself. To give myself permission to say, "my hands were meant for something else, my life can have a larger purpose than I originally thought."
It was every day reminding myself of this. It was every day trying to sneak in moments of creativity. And of purpose.
A job might be that higher purpose. But, as seen above, it's not so clear. And things are changing.
It's not whether you chose to change. Things are changing and it's how we deal with it.
At my worst moments I would get so depressed I couldn't get out of bed to get ready for work. And that was with a job I actually liked. It was worse with other jobs.
All I knew for myself is that I wanted to jump out of bed excited every morning.
And a job wasn't doing it for me. And I had to figure out what would.
10. A job won't create well-being, but this will:
And this will help you to find the things you are passionate about. And how to make money from them.
This is not the how-to. This is the direction.
Every day, improve:
Taking small steps in each of the above allows you to still make a living while we live in "The Shift" but get your Evil Plans ready for when it happens.
Every day write down the things that excited you as a kid, and still excite you now. First steps to try to engage in them.
Many people say, "But I can't do both." They insist on their prison cells!
Rule #1: When confronted with two choices: do both. There's always a way to take the first step in a side idea.
Always have an evil plan.
Every day list ten possible evil plans. Give it six months of doing that every day.
Consulting you can do, a gig you can do, take online courses and build skills, think of books to write, or businesses to build.
Skills and ideas are the new currency. Not certificates and titles.
I had to learn how to start trusting myself again. That I had it inside me to fulfill my dreams, to find the things I love, to do them. This is what I meant by "choose yourself."
You do your job. And you do your evil plan. The evil plan will win in the long run.
You won't quit your job and find the answer from a single bullet point. No one article will tell you the destination. But it can tell you the direction.
The exact reasons that you need to quit your job, are the reasons you will find new opportunities that will be more exciting than ever before.
Technology is made for you. But only if you choose to use it.
There are more opportunities to create side opportunities than ever before. There are more ways to express your visions than ever before. There are more ways to "have a purpose" than ever before.
Just by reading this, you are ready for it. I'm not selling anything. I'm not trying to convince you of anything.
But your hands were made to create. Do it.