HOW TO MAKE AS LITTLE MONEY AS POSSIBLE (EP.21)

By Justin Kerr

HOW TO MAKE AS LITTLE MONEY AS POSSIBLE (EP.21)

The less money you make - the happier you are? Sounds counter-intuitive but our special (foreign) guest Tom Tobia comes on the MR CORPO podcast to talk about his strange ideas about purposefully making less money so you can be more happy. If you are someone who is trying to figure out what to do with your life - and trying to figure our how you get from here (boring corpo blah blah job) to there (your ideal life) - you should listen to this podcast and get a blank piece of paper - Tom will tell you everything else you need to do. BONUS SECTION talks about how to identify, invent, and maximize your free time. Tom Tobia is the founder of award winning start-up Makerversity in London and Amsterdam, as well as a trustee, advisor, and professor in Sheffield, England. (Consider yourself warned - he talks about Nobel Prize Winners and System of Thinking - so pay close attention or you are likely to miss something).

 LISTEN HERE:

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

How To Make As Little As Possible

JUSTIN: It's like the more money we come across, the more problems we see. B-I-G, P-O-P-P-A, no info for the DEA...

 

(Intro music)

 

JUSTIN: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. Today's episode is "How to Make as Little Money as Possible." And I am really excited to announce that we have our first foreign guest on the Mr. Corpo podcast. Yes, we are going global. In case you're wondering, we did have a guest whose name was Jason Poland, but it turns out he's actually American. So that was -- he was not from Poland, it turns out. So our first guest from across the pond, Tom Tobia. Am I saying that right?

 

TOM: Yeah, that's pretty good. I'm good with that.

 

JUSTIN: Okay. Now, Rob, do we have some kind of filter so that people can understand Tom's accent? I know the ladies are gonna go crazy for this episode, because everybody loves a British accent.

 

TOM: I can translate tomato and things like that, but I'll say...

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah, as much as possible.

 

TOM: Okay, no worries.

 

JUSTIN: Um, so let me just give a brief intro of Tom, and then we'll get to the episode and figure out how do you make as little money as possible. So, Tom is kind of a do-everything, done-everything, doing-everything, does-a-million-things kind of guy. He started Makerversity, which is based in London and also in Amsterdam. And it is basically a shop that allows makers to come together and incubate new ideas, startups, come together and talk. It's about the people, and also facilitating the making. He's also a trustee at Meanwhile Foundation. I have to say, whenever you can say you're a trustee, it sounds important. Also, I noticed you're an advisor to several startups. That also is very impressive. You get trustee on your resume, advisor. I'm almost intimidated, sitting here with you. (Tom laughs) Um, you're building your own house in Sheffield. You've had a couple startups. You've taught at Sheffield University. And uh, anything I missed on that?

 

TOM: No, that's pretty much it, I think. Yeah.

 

JUSTIN: Okay. That's a good start. But uh, without further ado, let's jump into it. We're gonna talk about how to make as little money as possible. And this idea came from you. This was your topic. So tell me, tell our listeners, where do we start? Where should we jump into this topic?

 

TOM: I guess it's a counterintuitive topic in many senses. Um, most people thing about the exact opposite. Um, and sometimes that can lead to making decisions that maybe aren't necessarily pragmatic. So I've always been interested in how you can create enough space in your life, enough runway in your business, to develop whatever it is that you wanna do, whether that's side projects, whether it's a startup that you have an idea for. Or whether it's simply just making sure you have enough time for hobbies. And one of the ways of doing that is to earn loads of money really fast. And another way, potentially, I suppose, is to -- is to try and earn as little as possible. Work out what it is that you need, and uh, rather than earning as little as possible in terms of an hourly rate, just figure out what you need to live, and then how you need to get there. So --

 

JUSTIN: So, so let me stop you there for a second, because I think you said a lot of different stuff there. But the first step to me, it seems, is breaking the paradigm and the social structures and the pressures and the peer pressure and the parental pressure of, "What is success?" Because what people think is successful is bigger titles, bigger offices, more money. This is what people -- when you say, "I got promoted," people say, "Congratulations." When you get a bigger title on your job, people say, "Wow, he's successful. Wow, she's really doing great." So the first step, it seems to me, is let go of that peer pressure. Now, do you have any advice for that? Cause that in itself is a real danger. Or, how do we look at that in a different way, in terms of what people expect of us versus maybe, might be different from what we actually want?

 

TOM: It's a good question. And I think it's a really hard thing to do, and there's no two ways about that. Um, probably the best example I can give is that uh, when I started Makerversity, lots of people looked to what I was doing and asked me how I was doing it, how I knew what I was doing. And I found, the more that I told people that I had no idea I was doing, the better they responded. And so I started to think about why that was, and get into it more. And so realizing that if you can tell people everything you don't know, then they listen to you when you say you do know something.

 

JUSTIN: Mm, fascinating.

 

TOM: And that kind of reverse psychology, I think, also can work for earning status, etcetera. If you're comfortable in telling people, if you can feel comfortable in yourself, and comfortable telling people, "Listen, I've decided to step off this treadmill," you know --

 

JUSTIN: Right.

 

TOM: Um, then people tend to respond to that in a very interesting way. Because it makes them immediately reflect their own choices.

 

JUSTIN: Right.

 

TOM: Um, but you do have to start with --

 

JUSTIN: Right.

 

TOM -- taking that 05:01 leap yourself, I suppose, and saying, "Okay, I'm not going to necessarily follow this path.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, so alright. So we've acknowledged that there's gonna be different peer pressures going on. But let's assume we find our way through that. And we're -- let's say we don't even find our way through it, but we're thinking about, how to I make a change in my life? Cause I think this topic is gonna be relevant for people that might be stuck in a job, might be doing a job that they're happy with, but they might know there's something else they'd rather be doing, or there's another passion they'd like to spend more time and energy on. But most people end that thought process or that conversation at the point of, "But I could never make any money." Or, "I couldn't make as much money as I make now."

 

So I think that's what enters into this idea of, how little money can you make to still live well, um, and be happy and fruitful in your life? And I think that gets us to our topic, which is this counterintuitive way of: don't try and define the future by what you know now. Re-define the future. And I think what I hear from you saying is, build up from the bottom, right? So in some ways, what is the least amount of money that you can make, that you need to -- should we be talking about what you need to make to survive? Do we have to pick a number that we should make? How do we approach it?

 

TOM: I think you do need to make some money, right? And so what that level of money will be for different people is hugely different, depending on your circumstances, the number of dependents you have, things like that. Um, and so I don't necessarily think picking a number is helpful. But I think it is very helpful to kind of appraise your -- the things you enjoy in life --

 

JUSTIN: Okay, okay.

 

TOM: Um, so I can go into that a bit more in a second, around the, sort of, five things that I've been thinking about. Having lived in Portland, Oregon for a couple of years, and then deciding to move back to the UK, that created an opportunity for me to do that. Um, and the one other thing I think is kind of interesting is, we are talking about starting from the bottom here. But if you think about starting from the top for a second, um, Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman, who won a Nobel Prize for Economics a couple of years ago, for a piece of work around earnings, relating to happiness. Their work, which won them the Nobel Prize, talked about the fact that happiness and earnings stop being intertwined at 75,000 bucks a year. That's quite a lot of money to a lot of people, right?

 

JUSTIN: Fascinating, yeah, yeah.

 

TOM: It's a lot of money to a lot of people. But really it's not as much as you would necessarily think. So once you get past that point, their research said, you are no longer any happier if you earn more than that.

 

JUSTIN: Right.

 

TOM: And so that's a kind of piece of evidential work that suggests that this is not complete madness, basically.

 

JUSTIN: Okay, okay.

 

TOM: And if you think that 75,000 bucks is an amount of money that in a large city like New York, will get you so far but not everywhere. But if you're living in Nebraska, or Sheffield, as we do, then it's a lot of money. It's enough to get by.

 

JUSTIN: Right.

 

TOM: Um, that's just -- it's a fascinating...

 

JUSTIN: So let me just kind of touch on that. I was thinking, in preparing for today's podcast, I was thinking, "When I got out of college, I made 40,000 dollars. And I made 40,000 dollars, and at the end of one year, I think I had 990 dollars in my bank account. And I look back -- I look back on it now, and in the moment, I was as happy as could be. I could do everything I want, I could buy dinner, I could buy as many drinks -- and my gosh, did I drink a lot back then -- um, I could take vacations, I could buy clothes, I could do anything. And at the end of the year, I had a thousand dollars. And I thought, "This is great." Okay, I'm paying a thousand dollars rent a month, you know, and I'm making 40,000 dollars. So that was happiness for me. And so what I'm hearing you say is, then, as you keep going, there's a certain threshold, let's say, use this example, of 75,000 dollars. You get up to there, each amount you're making up to 75 is increasing your happiness. Maybe opening possibilities. But after that, all you're really doing is maybe upgrading choices that you already have.

 

TOM: Yeah, I mean, it's just human nature, I think, to expand into any space that you are presented with, you know? Whether that's financial, spacial, you know, in terms of population growth, we see the same thing. We just can't help ourselves but fill the void. Um, and so you -- in order to break that cycle, it is a constant thing that you have to re-evaluate, I think. I don't think there's an easy answer to that. I mean, my tastes have changed same as yours. I'm sure, in the past ten years --

 

JUSTIN: Right, right. You wanna buy art, or you want a nicer jacket, or you like coffee, and now you're a coffee snob. And now it's 6 dollars a cup. But let me go back to something you kinda mentioned off the cuff there, which is, where you live has an incredibly powerful impact on how much money you need in order to be well, and take care of your basic needs. So you've lived in London, you said you've moved out to Sheffield. Tell me, why did you move out to Sheffield? What was the tradeoff there?

 

TOM: So, after being in London for a decade or so, working, um, I made the move with my partner to Portland, Oregon, for 10:02 a while. Um, largely for a change of scene. And --

 

JUSTIN: Portland's super boring, by the way. Do you agree with that? Are you bored with Portland?

 

TOM: Well, I really -- l love the outdoors. So -- and I have lots of friends in Portland, so I should probably say that I don't find it boring. But --

 

JUSTIN: Okay, he secretly agrees with me. Okay. That's why you moved back, right? Okay, that's a side topic. But keep going.

 

TOM: Um, and I guess that threw up -- Portland's a very different place to London, and it threw up a lot of things.

 

JUSTIN: No kidding. Okay.

 

TOM: Um, lots of things sort of that we hadn't lived in or around before. Things like proximity to the outdoors, for example, was something that was -- that's the, one of the great sides of Portland, and Oregon in general, is the wilderness on your doorstep. And so when it came to moving back, uh, I think we'd got used to the space. And also the freedom that having -- that having less overheads gives you, I suppose. So when you say, "Portland's boring," it's a -- it's an interesting thing, because if you're happy to make your own fun, then it's the most fun, because there are no pressures on you, right?

 

JUSTIN: Oh, okay.

 

TOM: So, when we came to move back to the UK --

 

JUSTIN: Oh, fascinating. I see what you did there.

 

TOM: Yeah, we were thinking, okay, we could go back to London, saddle ourselves with a mortgage that means we're gonna be chained to whatever it is for the next 20 years, bring our kids up with no backyard, you know, that kind of thing, right? Um, or we could try and find somewhere where we can access that stuff quite easily. And the UK, as you know, is not the same size as the US, so it's much more easy to find somewhere that's a bit further away but still within a couple of hours reach.

 

JUSTIN: So it's fascinating. I mean, right there you just gave an insight. It's like, hey, you don't have to live in New York City, you don't have to live in London, you don't have to live in San Francisco to make your life, if you don't want to.

 

TOM: No.

 

JUSTIN: And it again, it's gonna depend on what's important to you, what type of person you are. But especially in today's world, when you can work from a computer, work remotely, the idea of paying 1000 dollars rent, or 1000 dollar mortgage, versus an 8000 dollar rent because you want to be in the middle of downtown New York City -- that changes everything right from the start, right?

 

TOM: It does, yeah. And that -- this is one of those things that when you're talking about -- when you're talking about peer pressure or social pressure, um, being able to justify in your own mind and feel comfortable with your post code, or your zip code not being what it might be --

 

JUSTIN: Right, right.

 

TOM: -- and what that says to people about who you are, then very quickly you can see past some of the decisions that you make with real blinkers on about stuff like that, potentially. And so something that sounds a bit more pragmatic. And I'm not suggesting for a second that my lifestyle or the choices I've made are particularly dramatic -- I mean, I live two hours from London now, in a city about the size of Portland, about 600,000 people. I go to -- I can go to London or Amsterdam for work in a day, either of them. Um, but we have just bought a four-bedroom house for something -- you couldn't buy a garage in London for the same price, you know, literally.

 

JUSTIN: Right, right.

 

TOM: It's crazy. So um --

 

JUSTIN: Now what are people gonna say about, okay, yeah, maybe you can move to Sheffield because your job lets you move to Sheffield. Now, what do you have to say to people that might not be able to work remotely or independently? Do you have any thoughts on that? Or...

 

TOM: I think it's difficult. And um, it's really important to say that all of this and all of my choices and the things that I'm saying come through the lens of like, a highly middle class upbringing, with like absolute social mobility and so that definitely has affected my ability to make these choices from the word "go." Reflecting on your -- what the things are, say, the top three or top five things that you want from life helps, possibly, to do that. Um, so for me, I guess, the best way I can describe it is to talk about what those choices are for me.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, please. No, I -- and let me just say, I think it's interesting. So the place to start if you're just -- if you're getting into this topic and you're wondering, where do I even start about doing what I want with my life, and this idea of what -- how much money do I need to make a living...get out a blank piece of paper and, you're saying, write down those one to two to three to four to five things that are the most important to you. Is that right?

 

TOM: I would say definitely, yes.

 

JUSTIN: Okay.

 

TOM: So --

 

JUSTIN: And in your case, what did that look like for you?

 

TOM: So for us, uh, we had the opportunity in our life to do that, where we were moving continents, and so it becomes a very stark choice. And so that kind of forced the issue more than anything. And the five things were, the ability to raise children in a place where we have enough space to do that. Wanting to be outdoors, and active in the outdoors. So being in a place where, you know, outdoor sports are possible. And to be within sensible reach of family, business -- so for both of us, me and my partner, that's -- that's London. And Amsterdam as well. To wanting to be near other cultures' foods, and be near the arts. So culture with a sort of capital C as well as a small c. Um, and then wanting space and time to try new things, and build new projects.

 

JUSTIN: So we've sat down, we've made this list. I think it's interesting even as a starting place. Most of the time we never sit and make a list to actually 15:04 figure out what is most important to you. You know, I'm thinking about -- my list would be, I like to sit by the pool in the sun. I want to write books. And I think art and culture is important to me, but having said that, it's not like I use it all the time. I just like to know that it's there, or that there's the possibility of it being there. So I think it starts to open up where and when and how you can live. Um, so that's interesting. Okay.

 

TOM: So looking at those five things for me, I mean, most of them have very little to do with spending of money, in a big way or in an irregular way.

 

JUSTIN: So let me ask you this question, though. Is this -- is the idea of figuring out how little money you can make, is it connected to getting the big decisions right, such as where you live and what you do for a living, or do you think there's equal weight in the small choices that we make, so for example, if I lived in London, and I'm buying six dollar coffees instead of one dollar coffees, or I'm drinking at the pub, versus I'm drinking at home. Is it just about getting the big ones right and then forget the little ones, or what do you think?

 

TOM: I think you can go either way. So, uh, a friend of mine who has been working in London for the last 15 years made a decision on his first day of work that he would save 50 percent of every single paycheck that he's got. And he's done that ever since. He's just said, right, you know, I'm not earning loads but I'm gonna put away 50 percent. 15 years later, he is sitting on a serious amount of cash, right?

 

JUSTIN: Oh my gosh, yeah.

 

TOM: And so he's made the decision to live and work in London, that's what he wants to do. But he's gonna live quite frugally there. And then that allows him later in life to expand into the lifestyle that he wants, within the city he wants to be. Um, I'm a total sucker for the small things. I like my craft ale, I like my nice coffee. And so I guess I've gone the other way and said, right, well, where can I be in the world that allows me to have a six dollar coffee and a ten dollar beer whenever I want one? But I'm not so fussed about being in the center of London.

 

JUSTIN: Right, right.

 

TOM: So it works both ways, potentially.

 

JUSTIN: Let me -- you just -- I want to pick up on something that you said there, which is, you talk about your friend who is sacrificing now, they're on a budget so that in the future they can have a richer life, or they've got all this money saved up, and it hits on a key point which is: there's a little amount of money you can make to live today, and live tomorrow, and live this month, and live this year. But how much should retirement play into this? How much is this idea of, well, crap, I gotta be making money cause when I get older I'm not going to be able to make money. So, do people need to be thinking about retirement right now, in their 20s and their 30s, when we think about this question of, how little money can I make and still be living well?

 

TOM: They probably should. And I probably should.

 

JUSTIN: Okay.

 

TOM: I think it's so hard to envision yourself in 40, 50 years time, you know. And I think there are probably two key things around that. So one is that pretty much anything that you do with your money now may or may not work out for you in 50 years time. I mean, we've seen private pensions crash, property prices crash. Whatever you do with it, there's no guarantees around it. And that leads onto the other side of things, which I think is really interesting about buying yourself free space and free time to do things that you love, is that, why bother retiring if you're doing something that you love? If you look at most sort of iconic artists or architects or people who are really doing the things that they love, they never retire.

 

JUSTIN: Right, right.

 

TOM: Um, and so I'm not sure that I want to retire. I might not want to go into an office, or something, every day. But I'm planning on spending the next 30 years figuring out the things I can do, monetizing them in some way, so that I can keep doing them for as long as I want.

 

JUSTIN: Well, I think it hits on the idea of, if you're doing what you love, it's not work, right?

 

TOM: Right, exactly.

 

JUSTIN: Um, I think the other part for me is, I have this kind of controversial theory that the problem with life is, life is too long. Right? People say life is too short. My whole idea is, life is too long. Because -- let me use this as a different example. If you told me, Justin, you're only gonna live until the age of 60, wouldn't that change every single one of my choices, and what does that mean that it changes every one of my choices? Or, what if you told me, Justin, you can decide now how long you're going to live? So what if I said, I only want to live until I'm 55, and then I lived my life according to the fact of, okay, I've only got 16 more years, what am I gonna do with them? And if you think about it, there's a very powerful thread within that of, hey, take advantage of the time when you're your most active, when life is maybe the most rich and full of possibilities. But it's the fact that we don't know when we're going to die, it's the fact that we might actually have to live until we're 100, which gets in the way of my 20s and 30s being 20:01 the most fun possible.

 

So this leads me to my question to you, Tom, are you in favor of euthanasia to help with world population problems, which is, everyone only lives until they're 60 or 70 or whatever the age may be, we can all argue about it. But what if we all just signed up for a certain number of years? What do you think?

 

TOM: I think this escalated quickly.

 

JUSTIN: My wife hates when I talk about this topic. But I actually think it's quite rich, this idea of if I knew how long I was gonna live, then I know what I have to be prepared for, or I don't have to spend all my time working in an office because maybe I'm gonna be 80 and I need to pay for my little, you know, place where I'm living when I can't work.

 

TOM: Sure. There is something very interesting in, you know, spending your money till it runs out and then just saying, right, now's my time, guys. You know? Because I guess nobody knows what it's gonna feel like to be 65, 75, 85. And you see people who just get tired of it, right? And then we sort of artificially prop them up in some weird way and tell them that, you know, they're gonna have huge medical bills cause of this, that, and the other. And saddled with debt. So yeah, I'm on board with that.

 

JUSTIN: Alright, we'd better change this topic, cause we just totally started a new podcast there on encouraging people to not live that long. So um, so alright, we talked about the big questions of: figure out what's most important to you and then make decisions based off of that. Um, small choices can add up, I think, is something that we talked about. Um, what else? Other pieces, other branches off of this tree?

 

TOM: I think we covered quite well the kind of property thing. You know, that is the biggest decision, the biggest outgoing, you're ever going to make in your life. And also probably the one that you make with your heart more than your head. I had one year living in a factory in East London where I earned 9000 pounds in 12 months, where I was just experimenting with new things, trying stuff out...

 

JUSTIN: How did you spend 9000 dollars in 12 months? Did you pay rent? Was any of that rent?

 

TOM: Yeah, a very small amount was rent. So I moved into a factory unit with a bunch of other people in Hackney Wick, which is kind of a, heart of East --

 

JUSTIN: Yeah. How much was rent? I want to make this real.

 

TOM: So, rent there, I think, was 250 pounds a month. All in.

 

JUSTIN: Okay. Alright. So we're talking about 2500 of your 9000. You see how I did that quick math?

 

TOM: Very good.

 

JUSTIN: Okay? Now you've got 6500 pounds to spend for the rest. So let's say that's -- how much is that? That's 500 pounds a month, that you've got to spend. How did you spend it the rest of the -- each month you had 500 pounds. What did that go towards?

 

TOM: Cans of beer from the shop.

 

JUSTIN: Cans of beer, yep. Probably.

 

TOM: Um, we used to collectivize some of our cash -- there were about 40 or 50 people living in different places in this factory --

 

JUSTIN: Oh, you're a communist. A socialist? A communist?

 

TOM: (laughs) Definitely neither. But we used to pool some of our money to buy things like uh, a hawk roast once a month, and things like that. So we made our own fun by doing things like that, I suppose.

 

JUSTIN: Oh, interesting.

 

TOM: And that would work out like, you know, three bucks a person.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. Fascinating.

 

TOM: But you could create a party around it. So -- and I'm not saying that I'd want to do that forever, but I was -- I've never been more experimental in my way than I was then. I've never been surrounded by more people that I liked than then. And I wouldn't want to earn that little forever, but it was very interesting for a year, and I loved it.

 

JUSTIN: I love it. I think it's a great story, and I feel like ultimately for us as humans, and as worker bees, and whatever, it comes down to, we actually enjoy being put within certain confines. Or having rules, or having budgets. And it's as simple as making a budget and saying, this is how much money I'm going to spend on this, and then that allows me to have these other things. These other freedoms, these other tradeoffs. And so don't be afraid to put a little box around yourself and say, "I'm gonna try and live within this means because it's gonna open up these other ideas." So that's -- so that's something for people to take away. Um, you know what I'd like to do now is move us over to the bonus section, if that's alright with you.

 

TOM: Cool. Sure.

 

JUSTIN: Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Come on Tom, say something! Bonus section!

 

TOM: Bonus section!

 

JUSTIN: Yay! Bonus section, with a British accent.

 

TOM: Bonus section.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, there you go. Alright, now, today's bonus section, I'd like to talk about: how do you use free time to work on things that interest you? So we've talked about this big topic today, about you know what, what do you do, how do you make as little money as possible and still live well. So you're making these different choices. But let's talk specifically about how to use free time.

 

TOM: I'm gonna start by throwing two names at you and your lovely listeners, who will really help with this, I think.

 

JUSTIN: Okay.

 

TOM: So, one of them is a guy called BJ Fogg. And he has done a lot of work around how you can train yourself to be productive in your spare time. And the other guy I mentioned before is Daniel Kahneman. And he's a fascinating fellow, and Nobel Prize winner, as I said. And he's talked a lot about the 25:00 two systems of thinking that your brain is capable of, system one, system two. One of them being very practical and pragmatic, and the other one being extremely experimental.

 

JUSTIN: Make it real for me and the listeners. So what does it mean -- I thought we were gonna talk about turn off the TV at 7pm. So -- but make it real for me. What does it mean in terms of maximizing, using your free time and doing things that you're passionate about?

 

TOM: I think there are things that everybody does because they feel like they should do them, right? You know --

 

JUSTIN: For example...

 

TOM: For example, uh, I should watch this soap opera that all my friends watch. I should read rather than doing this, because reading's good for you, right?

 

JUSTIN: Or everyone said, let's go out to the pub, that's just what we do. And then I do that three nights a week, and I drink seven beers, cause -- I didn't really want seven, but everyone else did so I did. Is that good?

 

TOM: Exactly right. That's a perfect example.

 

JUSTIN: Okay.

 

TOM: And I'm as guilty of that as anybody, right? And so stopping to appraise whether anyone's really gonna die if you don't conform to that particular social norm, and the pressure that you put on yourself to do that, suddenly, in theory at least, it allows you to find a lot of free time that you didn't know you had, right?

 

JUSTIN: Right, right.

 

TOM: And then there's the sort of, the case of how do you maximize that free time. But finding it is the first bit.

 

JUSTIN: Well let me just take a slightly different approach to this, because I think for me, a lot of people have things they want to do. They have things they're interested in, but they think, I just don't have time. Oh, I gotta work. And I gotta do these things. For me, I would want everyone to understand: there is a ton of free time in your day and your week that you just don't realize is there. And it's because you're filling it with these assumptions and social pressures to fill these things. But you've gotta start from: what are you passionate about? What would you like to spend more time on? And then challenge every other place that you spend time, not on that. And you can whittle it down. If you don't drink for 30 days, all of a sudden you can wake up earlier in the morning. You have time at night. You have all these other things, right? Is this kind of an example?

 

TOM: That's a very good example. It's a good job you're here, I'll tell you. Yeah, no, that's very true. And I think that's very closely aligned to the stuff we were talking about before, about the -- you know, how much money you spend on things. Because if you can break your life even further away from the nine to five, then you're gonna find yourself with some serious chunks of more free time as well. So there's the kind of, uh, evaluating what you can do within your -- the confines that you currently exist. And then there's looking at how can I create new space as well. So again, just going back my partner, she now works three days a week, because we're in a place, in a space, where we can afford to do that. So she has two days a week, plus the weekend, obviously, to do what she wants, right?

 

JUSTIN: I love that. I'm -- actually, this is one of the things I hope to change about society in the next ten years, as a personal, kind of like, crusade. Why is it a five-day work week? Like, who decided, why is that the case? We could all get our work done in four days if anyone asked us to. But by the way, what you talked about is interesting, which is: making a life choice, or making a proposal to say, you can go into your office, and I'm thinking of doing this, and say, "I'm only gonna work four days a week. I'm gonna get everything done" -- or, guess what? "Give me 20 percent less pay, and I will only work four days a week."

 

TOM: Quickest way to do it.

 

JUSTIN: And then all of a sudden, you've got three-day weekends. All of a sudden, you've got one day that's dedicated just to whatever it is you want. I think it's really about prioritizing, making a choice. And those type of things.

 

TOM: Absolutely. Coming back to your point about the five-day week, I couldn't agree more. It's uh, it's something that's strange. I mean, throughout history, we've reduced our working week to the limits of possibility. So, seven days a week when we had to hunt.

 

JUSTIN: Right, when you're a farmer.

 

TOM: Exactly, right? Down to six days a week when we could afford Sunday off. And this is kind of the first point in history where there seems to be more social pressure to do more even though we don't need to.

 

JUSTIN: Right.

 

TOM: And people think about things like artificial intelligence, robots taking over jobs, as this terrible thing because there'll be no work. But it seems like the best thing ever, right?

 

JUSTIN: Well, but I think there's also the disappointment of robots. I think in the 1950s they said, "No one's ever gonna have to work. We're all gonna have seven days of vacation." But somehow, like you said, why did we stop at five days? Surely, if we woke up tomorrow and everyone said, "We only work four days a week and you have three day weekends," everyone would get their work done. You'd be barely any more efficient. It just means you don't waste time.

 

TOM: Sure.

 

JUSTIN: And you'd have three-day weekends. And by the way, it'd probably help all the economies cause you'd have more time to spend, and make, and start businesses. Boom! Political platform! I've got a new idea, Tom!

 

TOM: Awesome.

 

JUSTIN: Maybe you could be my running mate on this.

 

TOM: Sounds good. Can't do better than the current lot, can we?

 

JUSTIN: Yeah. (laughs) Um, let me just figure out like a couple just practical questions. You're a guy who gets a lot of stuff done. You've got a lot of different companies. You're a trustee. You're an advisor. I'm sure you could use with more time, but what is your approach to your daily activities? Do you do stuff in the morning? Do you do stuff after work? 30:03 Like, do you work late at night? What's your daily routine to maximize all the different things you're doing?

 

TOM: In an ideal scenario -- and fixing up a house is not an ideal scenario, which is what we're doing right now -- but I'm an early riser and an early sleeper. I'm hopeless.

 

JUSTIN: Preach. I love that.

 

TOM: Hopeless past 10pm.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, me too.

 

TOM: And I'm -- to be honest, I'm hopeless past 2pm, really, most of the time. So getting stuff done first thing is the way to go. And then feeling great. I think there's a -- there's a difference between getting stuff done that you have to do and getting stuff done that you want to do, as well, right? So if you get to a point in the day where you're fatigued and you've got stuff you have to do, it's very hard. If you get to that point and there are things that you want to do, you can find more energy. So...

 

JUSTIN: That's absolutely great insight by Tom right there. And I think the other thing I just want to mention, too, is: I think people need to learn and train themselves to let go of work when they leave work. Don't let the little red blinking light distract you and let you know that they're trying to call you back. Put it in your bag. Train yourself not to look at the email. Don't think about work. Don't let it take up your mental space. Because if you're willing to let go of it when you walk out the door -- and come up with your own routine. If you have to clap your hands three times, then that tells you, I'm letting go of all work and I'm not thinking about it. It's giving yourself that mental space to even imagine what the rest of your time and energy could be spent on, would be important. Agree?

 

TOM: Fantastic. Yeah. Great idea. Absolutely. And that's harder -- it's easier said than done, right? But even some -- some progressive companies are now starting to tell people to leave their work phone at work and that's it. Locking down email and stuff. And that -- I think that's a -- it's a huge step in the right direction.

 

JUSTIN: Great, okay. Anything else? I think that's it for our bonus section, but before we go, I just want to give you a chance to say anything to our listeners, send them to any of your social pages, whatever it is you might want to talk about.

 

TOM: Yeah, please do check me out on Twitter or Instagram. I'm @TomTobia. I'll make sure there's a link on the site as well.

 

JUSTIN: Yeah, great.

 

TOM: And if any of you are in London or Amsterdam, or some of you on this side of the pond, are thinking about a startup or side project, reach out to Makerversity, because we're starting to build plans for over here as well. And we can give you the space and the time to do what you love.

 

JUSTIN: Fantastic, I love it. Tom, thank you for coming on the show. You raise the bar on the intellectual standards of the Mr. Corpo podcast. I will be sure to bring that bar right back down on the next episode. But I really enjoyed the conversation. I love the idea of challenging the assumptions that we have of the work-a-day world. The pressures that we have that moving up is the only way we're supposed to go. I think what Tom talked about today is, let's move outside the box. Let's create our own box, and let's create our own time and energy. So fantastic topic, look forward to having you back sometime in the future.

 

TOM: Thanks so much, that was awesome.

 

JUSTIN: Okay great, thanks. And finally, before we go, I just wanna of course thank my producer, Rob Schulte. Rob, great job. Your new haircut looks awesome. And, also want to point you to the mrcorpo.com website, because we'll have Tom's episode up there. We'll have the transcript. We'll have the links. And anything and everything else that you could possibly want. So, mrcorpo.com.

 

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