The True ROI of Listening to Yourself

Return of Investment (ROI) — A profitability measure that evaluates the performance of a business by dividing net profit by net worth

I wasn’t one of those kids who, growing up, had a clear picture of themselves in their ideally fabulous late 20’s. I didn’t think that at 28, I would be a semi-independent overseas Filipino worker living & working in a foreign country, much more so in an extremely lucrative, stressful & competitive industry — technology.

I had other expectations for my life, then. Granted, they didn’t go beyond paychecks that would allow me to spend a weekend or two on trips, and could still afford me to help out at home, financially. Happiness wasn’t relative, it’s temporary, and can still be found in any beach I lay on, according my early-20s self.

It had a lot to do with me losing faith in myself, and on what I did back then — design. My first few years in the industry were uneventful, and mediocre. So much so that I oftentimes questioned the value of it and more so, the value of me. What am I doing? Who am I doing it for? Why don’t I care more about kerning? Who is this awkward person in front of the screen? Why can’t I do more that could actually be of use to the real world?

To say that it was years of frustration is an understatement, truth be told. I was privileged, and at the same time, naive and in dire need of a wake up call which could be summed up in this statement: You aren’t good enough, yet. You haven’t been hit in the kicked in the guts, yet. You haven’t put out enough fires to speak about suffering, yet.

What I also found out, between then and now, is that people just genuinely wants you to be safe. In my case, I know for sure no-one is rooting against me: family wanted me to be stable, and secured, friends see what they think they see and map out advices from there. The idea of taking risks is simply not a comfortable thing to talk about, and someone is always going to say don’t take it, especially when it’s all coming from radical ideas: internet, and self-teaching, career pivoting minus formal education, revolutionary principles, self-branding in the age of social media, yourself as a business, et cetera.

“But what if my darling you fly”

I still consumed those radical ideas though, and I took even more risks after the age of 26. It is probably safe to say the most defining moments of my career so far were born out of risk taking, forced resilience, eating dirt and fear and insecurites, and plunging into the deep waters of job hunting without a clue on where to get my next month’s rent. In the one of — if not, the — most competitive cities in the world. On top of that, without a proper mentor — not by choice.

“Without a doubt, uncaring people can tear you down and make this more difficult, but at some point, you can make a choice.” — Seth Godin

By no means, I’m not saying everybody should just jump ship at the next opportunity, or shut well-intentioned advices from their parents, and things like that. In fact, given the choice, I wouldn’t even recommend doing all this without a mentor, online and/or offline.

Central thesis

It’s this: No one in the world knows what’s really best for you other than yourself. You know exactly what you need to do, you’re probably just not brave enough, and that’s okay. You won’t get that bravery from listening to others humming a different tune for how you should live your life, or for my case — how to get out of a career rut when I know I wanted more for myself. I guess this is what most people define as: ambition and self-awareness.

Foundational values to me are things that I’ve looked at very, very carefully about myself and I’ve deliberately chosen and said, “You know what, this is a habit. This is a way of life. I’m not going to compromise on it. I’m going to stay this way forever. I don’t want to live life any other way.”

- Naval

Keep walking among the giants

Other voices

Media content for people who don’t have mentors, or access to mentors, or just wanted a different voice in their head other than the ones they currently have:

  1. (podcast) Seth Godin’s Akimbo
  2. (podcast) Gary Vaynerchuck’s DailyVee
  3. (twitter/printed books) Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  4. (twitter/blog/printed books) Naval
  5. Van Schneider

If you have similar books/titles/podcasts, I’d love to get recommendations.

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On the intersection of life and work. No in-betweens.

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