Rich people are too loud.
They do my head in. I’ve always been attracted to introverts and those who go about their business quietly, especially when it comes to money.
About 3 years ago, I came across a man named Justin Welsh. A few of you know him now. But back then he was a nobody. I’ve had a few interactions with him over the years.
He’s the definition of a “quiet millionaire.”
Here’s what you can learn from him.
The biggest lesson I learned from Justin Welsh
I started writing on LinkedIn before Justin.
Yet in a few short years he’s built a $2.5m a year business from writing a few short posts every day. So someone like me should pay attention.
At the start of his journey we connected. Justin was generous with his time and gave me a lot of good tips I’d never of come across. What struck me was how he interacted with me.
He’s so chill it’s scary.
Justin isn’t interested in fame, being an influencer, making $200m a year, taking selfies, making it on some rich list, driving a Lambo, disrupting an industry, meeting Mark Zuckerberg, or building a unicorn company like Stripe.
All he wants to do is build a tiny online business that he can build his lifestyle around. He optimizes his business and income for freedom instead of status or being rich.
This form of existence is rare. So many people want to build big businesses to tell everyone about them. They want cameras and PR companies at their feet begging for their time.
And most successful people are stupidly busy.
Their calendars are full of appointments. I remember last year I was trying to jump on a call with Justin. He had like 2–3 weeks free without a single appointment. I couldn’t believe it. He calls it Anti-Maximization. His example stayed with me.
I’m still trying to optimize my life to be more focused on lifestyle instead of income. I’m not their yet but I’m following Justin’s lead.
On Wednesdays I like to visit my 8 month old daughter at daycare around 3 PM. The staff can’t believe it. No other dads do this. My neighbors also think I’m a weirdo.
“Mate, you’re always home. Do you ever work?”
(I never explain what I do cause no one understands. I just say I work in IT).
I do work. But I’m spending less time going to the city and being in stupid cappuccino meetings, and more time on what I like doing: writing.
It’s about doing things you enjoy, with people you enjoy, and doing very little of what you don’t like — Justin Welsh
What if we optimized for this instead of money
In my 9–5 career it was common to focus on income.
You took jobs, did favors, and won customers to increase either your salary or bonus. There was no other reason.
Justin is a weird cat. He focuses on meeting cool people. The people we meet should be the most interesting part of the work we do.
Tomorrow I jump on a Zoom call with a 16 year old creator from the Ukraine. I accepted the invite because of what Justin taught me.
There’s no agenda other than the chance to meet an interesting person. Getting out of my Aussie bubble and speaking to someone in the middle of a war zone seems like an interesting decision.
Who we meet shapes our view of the world.
When our worldview expands so, too, does our perception of reality and even our happiness. I often think life is hard in Australia. Speaking with people from less fortunate situations helps me slash this lie into pieces.
What if you chose work based on who you could meet?
Hard work doesn’t make sense
Hustle culture is the real epidemic.
Dudes on the internet preach working as much as possible. Somehow they think that hours worked equals value created — or worse, money earned.
This is wrong.
If money really is your focus then what you want is more leverage. That is — systems, digital assets, freelancers and resources that help you get more money out for the same effort invested upfront.
Hustle culture suggests more time invested equals more money. Justin says brute force doesn’t make you wealthier.
As Naval Ravikant says, you should trade money for time, not the other way around. Because “you’re going to run out of time first.”
Quiet millionaires don’t believe in hustle. They worship leverage.
These common societal obsessions are rat poison
Quiet millionaires like Justin have a strange view of the world.
Justin doesn’t care much about politics. He doesn’t have cable tv and never watches the news. He avoids anger at all costs.
If someone tries to debate him in the comments of his posts, he just walks away. He’s a no-drama-kind-of-guy. He hates hype, clickbait, and big egos.
That last one is huge. When I chat to Justin there’s next to no ego. He doesn’t think he’s Jesus because he makes a few million a year. The focus is on being nice and approachable.
You can ask him a common question and he’s not a d*ck about it. He rarely does podcasts and doesn’t appear on CNBC.
He’s the anti-hype guy.
What’s strange is he respects people’s time. His newsletter has a read-time indicator on it because he doesn’t want you waste a second on his content that could be spent with your family. Cheesy … but true.
While most people love to live near big cities, he moved the hell away to upstate New York to drink craft beer and go on hikes.
There’s something to be said for being quiet and just wowing yourself instead of strangers.
Breaking your perception of time is true freedom
Justin says he loves to just forget what day or time it is.
It’s the same reason I crap on about flow states all the time. For me, writing online is how I get into a flow state and stay in one. When I do, my connection to reality is lost and I feel like I enter a different dimension.
Getting to do the work is more important than the outcome of the work.
I earn as much money as I can — not to buy a Lambo — but to bank enough cash that allows me to keep playing this infinite game until the day I die.
It’s hard to communicate that. But after my conversations with Justin it’s clear he gets that too.
How you feel is massively overrated.
Money can buy flashy things. It can also buy states of mind.
It can even alter your perception of time by getting to work on the things that matter to you.
Piss on the success habits of the gurus
Justin is a contrarian like me.
He thinks we all need a break more than we realize. He says you should sleep in. Even eat a donut once in a while. Or drink a cold beer and take a day off. Or don’t hit the gym today because you don’t feel like it.
Or god forbid, (looking at you Timbo) take a day off from writing and don’t go on social media.
The future of work is play.
That’s what Justin taught me. It’s not about success habits. No. It’s about exploring your curiosities, being creative, and stealing back your imagination again from a business world that wants to crush it like a bug.
The creator economy isn’t a hip trend designed to make everyone into a Youtube millionaire. No.
What’s missed is the creator economy is just the migration from bullsh*t work an AI can do over to work we’d happily do out of obsession, passion, purpose, or all three. People are waking up.
Habits are useless without play.
We should live to play, not work.
Quiet millionaires like Justin Welsh are changing how we live and work.
They’re taking the idea of the American dream and what success is, and throwing it into a bonfire. It’s time we questioned ourselves more about why we do the things we do.
Life isn’t about being a millionaire. It’s about the freedom to design a life.