DiscoverChooseFI288 | Mad Fientist
288 | Mad Fientist

288 | Mad Fientist

Update: 2021-01-18
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  • Should you rush to reach FI? Or use it as a map in a lifelong pursuit to master your relationship with time, money, and happiness? Brandon, from the Mad Fientist, wishes he would have found more free time to work on other goals while on his journey to FI.
  • When Brandon was first on the show four years ago, he had just reached FI and discussed the psychological hurdles he had to overcome. What's changed for him since then, and with the benefit of hindsight, what would he do differently?
  • Brandon's dream as a child was to write music and put it out in the world. However, his musical tastes are not mainstream, so becoming a pop star was never one of his ambitions.
  • He did not want to just be a consumer, he wanted to be a creator and always felt that it was his job that was holding him back.
  • It wasn't until after reaching FI that he realized it wasn't was what holding him back at all. He had been spending his free time on things like television on travel instead of his music project.
  • His problem was psychological. As a math and science guy, he didn't believe he could do it. Trying meant the risk of failure, and if he failed, the dream would be gone. It took Brandon two years to come to grips with and get over that hurdle.
  • During his pursuit of financial independence, Brandon has tunnel vision, with all his time and effort devoted to making and saving more so that he could reach FI more quickly. The result was a decrease in his overall happiness.
  • He admits that he did it wrong. The whole point is to master the relationship between money, time, and happiness. Mastery is probably better to focus on over goals.
  • Goals delay your happiness because you are always looking to the future instead of enjoying the present or the journey.
  • Reaching FI for Brandon didn't have an impact on his life other than making him more confident that he could step away from his job.
  • Motivating yourself to do something is hard when you don't have any sort of external motivation to do it.
  • In 2017, Brandon wanted to do two things: get better at songwriting and get fit.
  • The personal trainer he was working with asked him how much he wanted to bench press or how much muscle mass he wanted to put on. Those were goals Brandon didn't care about. With his mastery mindset, he only wanted to get healthy and stay healthy.
  • In contrast to getting fit, his specific goal for songwriting was to write a song and share it with his brother. When he finished it, not only was it awful, but the whole process was awful and it caused him to quit pursuing any additional songwriting until he summoned up the courage again in 2019.
  • Pursuing mastery may be summed up by asking, “Am I better today than I was yesterday?” Continuing to answer yes is pursuing mastery.
  • Brandon found it to be true that doing something consistently changes who you are. He never felt like a musician until he was doing it for 25 hours a week.
  • He still feels like his triangle is skewed toward money at the expense of time and happiness so he has been trying to figure out how to use money to get more time or increase happiness.
  • For example, he wrote eight songs and wanted to get them to sound as great as possible, so he hired a Grammy award-winning sound mixing engineer to help mix his album. He was able to both learn and make a better final product.
  • He doesn't want to waste money but does want to figure out how to use it efficiently and maximize the triangle of money, time, and happiness.
  • There's a lot of unconscious spending in society that doesn't really bring happiness either. Getting on the path to FI helps you sort out the equation a bit more.
  • We're terrible at knowing what will make us happy. That's where experimenting comes in. Experiment with your spending and your activities. What still feels good a week later versus ended up being meaningless.
  • It's okay to spend money sometimes as long as you do it from a place of value. If you are in a deprivation zone, one thing that helped Brandon was to relax for two years with respect to his spending. If it was something he and his wife wanted to do, they did it. At the end of the year, although it felt like they had lived an extravagant life, they spend just $3,000 more than normal.
  • In the deprivation zone, you are testing the lower limits. You can test the upper limits and then hopefully find the sweet spot. It's difficult to find where the sweet spot is for you without testing the limits.
  • Once you have the bigs things taken care of, the little ones don't seem to matter. Brandon had already limited his large structural recurring expenses. What he had given himself latitude with were the everyday one-off decisions that in aggregate, turn out to barely move the needle of his finances.
  • Brad and his family have anchored themselves to a $2 per person per meal per day rule. It helps them to apply intentionality to their meal planning. He thinks it's better to try and optimize and then dial it back if gets to be a little too much than continue to go through life being unaware.
  • Brandon is an introvert, so announcing publicly that he is releasing his first album is a big deal.
  • Back when he wasn't making progress because he wasn't putting the time in, he talked his brother into going to a park and playing a show. The thought of doing it was scary, but he already knew what it was like not to it. He wanted to know what the world would be like if he did do it.
  • While playing in the park, a man slipped Brandon his email address. It turned out he source talent for a music festival in Scotland and asked if they wanted to play at it.
  • Brandon taking that chance in the park reminded Brad of a quote by Scott Young, “Your deepest moments of happiness don't come from doing easy things. They come from realizing your potential and overcoming your limiting beliefs about yourself”.
  • Both financial independence and the pursuit of financial independence allow you to begin building armor. Failure is good. You have to be bad at something before you are good at it.
  • FI definitely helped Brandon build his armor. He didn't have anyone to answer to or worry about stumbling across what he was doing.
  • He also uses an alter ego for his work in the financial space, as well as another for his music.
  • Something that Brand did to progress with his music was conduct an ultralearning experiment. He took three months where he blocked out all other activities competing for this attention to do the thing that he wanted to do, which was write songs.
  • He committed to devoting 25 hours a week and built spreadsheets of prioritized tasks. He says it is the only reason he succeeded. He focused on the hours and the effort and then by-product comes out of it.
  • For others just trying to get started learning, Brandon thinks copying what you love is a great place to start. Your unique set of influences is enough to make what you do unique.
  • The unique skills each of them possess is what lead to this very podcast. Brad being a CPA with a travel rewards website is what got him a guest spot on Brandon's podcast. Then Jonathan heard the podcast and discovered both Brad and he lived in Richmond, which lead him to first contact Brad.
  • Every good idea comes out of a bad idea, or an okay idea, or even a mediocre idea. You do not need to get it right the first time. The fact that you are willing to try gives you the opportunity to get feedback and iterate into something amazing.
  • Brandon's album is available for just $5! You can pre-order your copy at ChooseFI.com/album.

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288 | Mad Fientist

288 | Mad Fientist