Thoughts on making a living.

Richard Caetano
Richard Caetano

"We should help people realize that they are human beings who are wired to care for each other and that they could - and should - bring their humanity into their professional activities. It is possible to show them that this is a win-win situation."

Matthieu Ricard, How Altruism Can Save the Planet


Finding meaning in work is something I think most of us deal with. Questions of purpose and worth seem to arise often.

Over the years of my professional life, I've found a playbook that seems to simplify the ways of making a living in the modern world. The three levels below condense many perspectives into a few simple terms.

If it's helpful for others, I would be all the more happy.

Level One

There are two ways to earn money: working with your hands + brain OR working with your money + capital.

You start in the world earning money by selling your time. The amount of money you can make doing this is only limited by market conditions.

Some jobs pay less than what's needed to making a living. Other jobs pay a thousand times that. Either way, you have to start with labor.

What's key here is that working with your hands and brain gives linear returns. Your income is based on your experience, expertise, and availability.

The other way to earn money is by putting your own money to work. Savings, investing, bonds, gold, bitcoins. These are all assets that earn money for you in two ways: income and appreciation.

Just like you, an asset can generate income. If you own certain stocks for example, at the end of the year they may pay you a dividend. Assets work for you by generating income.

As the income potential of an asset increases, its value increases. Assets can increase or decrease in value while generating income.

What's key here is that by investing in assets that generate income and appreciate you get exponential results.

Level one is about making money for yourself and your family. It's about working and selling your time to earn money. And it's about transitioning from labor to investing your money so that it works for you. The altruistic aspects involve extending the returns to your family and loved ones.

Level Two

Level two is about combining the two ways of making money, labor and capital, into one. Level two is about STARTUPS!

Startups are an exciting phenomenon in the modern world. One or more people get together and form a company. Each individual owns a share of the company and is a dedicated employee of the company. Then they launch and shoot for the moon!

Startups can be a magical moment in space-time. Many are not. But some groups can thrive when the conditions are just right for the magic formula:

  • Find a customer that has a problem
  • Find a solution for the customer
  • Offer the solution to other customers

As founders are investing both their labor and their capital into the company they have one of the most important conditions for success: skin in the game

One phrase that I learned early on was "money flows to where money grows", which is particularly true about startups. Startups are where one can realize spectacular results.

Investing your time and money into a startup gives you the means to manifest the best of your world view into reality. In this perspective, we can extend our view of family beyond our biological relationships.

We can view our customers, employees, and partners as part of our family. And to see them as integral to the success of the company.

Level two is about making money by combining your labor and capital into a venture startup. The results can be spectacular. At this level, the altruistic aspects are about benefiting your customers, employees, and partners.

Level Three

As we share this planet with 7 billion other humans, level 3 is about integrating that perspective while making a buck.

So you're able to make a living from labor and capital. You've incorporated those skills into building a startup. Your ventures are providing for the family. The company empowers its employees to better serve the customers. Your partners and investors are earning returns.

So what's next?

Here we can expand our family circle to include everyone on the planet. All people, all animals.

With a global world view, we can orient our business towards social, environmental, and progressive issues. We can work in green industries or improve access to critical services for the underserved.

The returns at level 3 are much greater than the monetary returns from levels one and two. When our actions and effort are in alignment with benefiting all beings, the results become limitless.

Level three is about orienting your labor, capital, and ventures towards the benefit of all beings. The results here are grounded in altruism. In other words, what's good for you is good for me.

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En bref.

Born and raised in California. I learned to code while growing up on a dairy farm. Eventually, I made my way to Paris France.