Financial growth to freedom

Lately, I’m getting questions on “how to invest” income beyond direct living costs.
Just like with GTD systems, I find it very important to have a financial system that one can relax into fully. Not having concerns about money frees up a lot of mental and emotional energy, and can shift one from a scarcity to abundance mindset.

My advice and practice is go implement this once the daily living costs have been covered, in the below stated order:

  1. Put an amount of at least 6 months of living costs + one big unforeseen cost (e.g. suddenly needing a new car due to an accident) aside in a savings account as buffer for hard times.
    Taking out a loan is very expensive, both in money (interest) and in energy (loss of abundance mindset).
  2. Invest at least 15% in a financial freedom fund, some form of savings that does not easily lose value but is accessible if you need it within half a year, relative to the way you live.
    In my case it is my own house and office, as I don’t likely need to move anytime soon. If you are like a lot of my friends and you want to stay more mobile for a while, consider an investment fund that has the same distribution as the Dow Jones, but mind the costs and risks!! I highly advise reading Tony Robbins’ “Money, master the game” on this topic. Management costs above 0.5% annually of your investment will kill any value accrued.
  3. Invest 10-30% in development of skills and contacts that make you more valuable, more productive and widely skilled, so that you upgrade your market value by at least one order every two years. Examples include workshops that really stretch you beyond what you think you could do or mastermind groups at a level you think is beyond your stature.

After the above, you can put the remainder into further tweaking of your financial growth and stability, with your choice of:

  • Extending your safety buffer to 12-24 months (I aim for 18+ months, allowing for a safety margin to abort ventures)
  • Reducing any costs you have (e.g. paying off outstanding credit card, loan or mortgage costs)
  • Investing in quality products and services that require reduced upkeep costs and make you much more productive
  • More investment in financial freedom capital
  • More investment in totally different skills and contacts

And whatever you have left and are entirely ok with losing completely, gamble that by:

  • Paying it forward to a personally worthwhile social goal. Ideally, this could be bootstrapping someone you personally care about towards their self independence, their growth, while expecting nothing in return (and probably getting a lot from that in feeling good).
  • Trying an investment in a start-up you believe in will work financially (with a return of at least 10x) and do your kind of good in the world. Then don’t touch or even look at that investment for at least 5, preferably 10+ years. Don’t expect it to return anything, be positively surprised when it does.
  • If you really must learn that lesson yourself: lose it by gambling on the stock market, stepping into or out of the latest crypto coin hype too late, or other such “I can beat the system” delusions.

I hope this view helps you decide wisely where to put your money.

For the growth!

Time hack: speeding up podcasts and audiobooks

One of those small hacks that I enjoy a lot, is to set the playback speed of podcasts or audiobooks to 1.5-2x the normal speed. Modern players such as the iOS podcast Overcast app and Audible app will keep the pitch normal.

So the effect is similar to giving the speaker a cup of coffee, not a hit of helium and making him one of the chipmunks. Especially with speakers … who … speak … with … … profound … … silences … like Osho, this speed up saves me a lot of will power to keep listening.


The Overcast app has a more granular setting for the speedups. Not only can you select speedups in 0.25 granularity, you can also vary the speedup per podcast (so usually slow speakers can get even higher speedups). In the speedup it also removes the pauses, which gives another 0.25-1.50x speedup without any loss of information.

The Overcast app has a few other features that make life easier: downloading of new episodes is reliable (iOS app is crap at this), skip forward button step is configurable, it automatically plays the next priority episode (iOS app stopped doing this for unknown reasons). And they are very well aware of the impact on our mental well being:

Overcast knowing the cost of attention
Overcast knowing the cost of attention

For iOS podcast app

Podcast speed is to the left of the play buttons:

Podcast speed is to the left of the play buttons

For the Audible app

I like Audible for audiobooks, and quite a few of the speakers have this profound … silence … speaking style that I’m not really interested in anymore, so this works well for me. Tapping on the lower left corner brings up the Narration Speed menu.


Even more ideal would be removing the silences automatically, similar to how my videos are edited, but I’m not aware of something that does that.

Hoping I saved a few hours of your life with this,


How long to try a venture?

I’m getting quite a few questions recently about being an entrepreneur, and a specific recurring question is: so I have put my hopes on this venture, it might not take off soon, should I go for it?

To which my answer is a version of: check if you can afford to give the venture your all for 0.5-1.5 years, and that you have enough money available to last 0.5 years after that. If yes on both of these, go for it. If you’re unsure on any of these, reconsider. Read further for more detail…


This is coming from theory and quite a bit of practice: I’ve had my own company for more than 20 years (since 1995-08-08), and during that time, I have at times been employed with other companies also (see my resume for the details).

I’ve had “Really well thought out!” and “What was I thinking?” ventures over the years, and a significant amount of them did become successful within the specified trial time frame I set for it (this blog and Authentic Europe for example). I’ve also, often with pain in my heart, decided I should and would not go fully with other projects, because I did not have the finances for it.

And at the same time I’ve seen quite some people try things half-baked and fail, I’ve seen too many people run themselves into trouble by not considering beforehand how to stop, and none of them ended well.

All of this to say, that I’ve both thought a lot about this topic, and seen it play out real time.

So this post is about how to determine how long to try to make a venture work, and when to stop, in service of both you and your venture getting a fair chance.

Try the venture at least 0.5-1.5 years…

A venture needs time to be developed, deployed and especially to be marketed and sold. This time frame is best counted in months as there is often a lag time of 3-6 months between a customer becoming convinced he needs the offering, and actually receiving the money in the bank account, particularly for service offerings.

For example, a typical and fairly optimal time frame for a customer wanting a training workshop from me looks like this:

  1. Week 00: First contact, customer sends request for training workshop, I send clarification questions.
  2. Week 01: Their partial answer comes in. I make an estimate on what workshop would fit best and send it for discussion/agreement.
  3. Week 04: My response and some negotiation on terms.
  4. Week 05: My offer is sent to the client.
  5. … silence  (The contact person is gathering the signatures and budget from within the bureaucracy of the organization.)
  6. Week 07: Signed contract. (If the legal or financial departments are involved, add 2-3 weeks at least, in mutual negotiation of the planning of the workshop.)
  7. Week 11: Workshop takes place, at least one month out, as it needs to be customized. (In practice my agenda is nowadays usually full for the first ±2-3 months, but that is another discussion.)
  8. Week 15-23: Payment received. (Most big organizations have 30-90 days after delivery payment terms.)

The above timeline does not include the time gap between promoting myself and the customer actually coming to me, which is at least a few months, if not a few quarters. At least 30% of my CC training customers decided that they wanted a training from me 1-2 years ago.

Thus, seeing the above timeline, means that you have to give any venture at least 0.5-1.5 years to see if it is going to work out. You should be a “hell YES!” to this.

Anything less than a resounding “YES!”:

  • Put the venture idea in your “sometime maybe” GTD file and save up, or
  • Consider re-engineering the venture to either feel like a “YES!” or consider running it as a low-intensity experiment alongside an existing job, or
  • Hand it over to someone else.

… But make sure your money stretches that long!

So you determined you can give the venture the time it needs to succeed? Now you have to check that you have the money to make it to that end, or safely land if you can’t make the venture work.

“The venture works” when it is sustaining you financially for a good hourly rate. You should decide now to stop the venture if that deadline is reached, and go seek other sources of income such as a job.

You’ll want to have enough finances available now to last you until at least 3, preferably 6, months of living costs after the deadline for the venture. At least 3, because even when you are in extremely high demand on the workforce, it will take a month for you to be hired, and a month for you to be paid at the very least. Realistically you should have more like 6 months of safety margin.

Conclusion: Fail fast or at its due time
So my advice is to look hard at venture ideas and ask yourself if you believe enough in it to commit 0.5-1.5 years to it.
Then set a limit on how long you are going to try the venture, by making sure you’ll have enough finances presently available, to allow at least 3 months of living costs after the deadline for the venture.

Good luck with your venture, and well done if you reconsidered!