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Eric: 5 people who changed the way I see entrepreneurship

By Eric Koelma | Dare List Dad

Let me start by saying including these people in there, if you know some of them, doesn't make me an obsessed fanboy.

These are people out there doing the work, testing the limits, trying new stuff and at some point, for some reason, changes the way I see entrepreneurship.

1. Robert Kiyosaki - 'Passive income' and 'The Cashflow Quadrant'

I was referred to Kiyosaki by my cousin who was running an expat swim school in China (and had nothing to do with the everyday operations of it). That really opened my eyes up to entrepreneurialism (back in about 2008).

Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and its subsequent series of books was mind-blowing. Learning about passive income and just the fact that there was a better way to earn money than to just work harder was revolutionary. Passive income doesn't just give you freedom financially, it separates time from earning capacity and therefore gives you the ability to donate your time to other cool projects. We achieved a small form of passive income with Mulberry Magazine and it continues to work for us to this day!

But the cashflow quadrant was the one that really kicked me up into a new gear, realising that passive income and entrepreneurialism as an investor are the most lucrative combination. The 4 quadrants represent different earning styles. Employees make their money by going to work and have a directly correlated earning capacity to their time, self-employed work in their business.

They work for themselves but they still work. Business owners operate a business but have removed themselves as the primary driver for the business making money. And investors use their brains to make money without any investment in it personally with their cash. That one I'm yet to achieve, but it's on my mind - how can we use just money to make money?

2. Tim Ferriss - Lifestyle Design

The 4 hour Work Week was another brain shifter (like it was for many people). Ferriss was another entrepreneur bringing a concept to the table that shifted the social expectation even of entrepreneurs. The concept of working less to go and travel was even more crazy, but yet possible. I didn't really chase the 4-hour thing, but the location independence factor was appealing, and even just to get design a lifestyle (because I'd say I didn't have much of a healthy lifestyle at all prior to this trip!).

Back where we lived before we set off on the Dare List adventures, it was/is a bit of a bubble. Everyone knows everyone. People are all very similar. Anglo, mostly chilled out, hard-working typical Aussies. It's a self-perpetuating and cyclic environment of encouraging similar behaviours, goals, character traits, actions, mindsets, levels of commercialism, religious stance and more. I know some of them are reading this, and are happy with the consistency. And I write this not to say that our choice is better, it's just different. We feel like we achieved what was presented to us in school: get good grades, go to uni, get a stable job, get married, buy a house etc. But for what? Grace and I weren't happy with where we were at. One day (around mid 2015 I think?) we just said "okay, so is this it? Is this the great Aussie dream achieved?"

To therfore hear a different perspective to the one I'd been living (really radically different!) was both refreshing, and scary. I knew I had to act, and fast. I proceeded to change my circumstances exactly.... 0% (out of fear) for the next year... but I thought about it (and eventually, we obviously took action).

3) The Life of Pi - Productivity and UX

Yes, not all entrepreneurial perspectives are driven by entrepreneurial influencers! I read this book while on holidays a few years ago now, and what it did for me was show two things:

When your back is against the wall, (like 'about-to-get-mauled-by-a-tiger' against the wall) you become resourceful.

As humans, we have so much perseverance, resistance and grit. I felt like I wasn't testing myself anymore. I was working a comfortable full-time job. Often I would do my days work in 1-2 hours and then be waiting on 20 different people to get back to me. I could have spent 4 hours of a work day playing Tetris and no one would have noticed (I didn't for the record). In short, I was under-stimulated and unthreatened. I was staying sharp personally with the latest digital marketing skills and then being being blunted by an organisation not willing to try anything out of the ordinary.

The regularity of pay was great but the more comfortable I became, the less comfortable I became with being comfortable.

Trust your audience to work it out (UX)

It's okay to have an ambiguous piece of the puzzle left to interpretation. The Life of Pi ends with an amazing ambiguity over the interpretation of the survivors of the boat crash. It's a beautiful mess questioning human nature. This made me realise... people don't like to be spoon fed the whole story. It's kind of like travelling to a place. You can do the extensive research, but there's nothing like just getting there, smelling the real air and making memories of your own. And so I've learned to create a UX environment that paints 3/4 of a picture and then give the audience a paint brush.

I like to put this one into action when I'm building websites too. You can show a few of the quirks, but you can build pages that leave the interpretation to the viewer.

4) Dr Nic Lucas - VA's, FB ads, Sales Funnels (and more)

I remember reading early on in my entrepreneurial journey about "chimp theory".

If you're not familiar with chimp theory, it comes from a study where a chimp was surrounded by 5 other chimps. The study shows how the chimp soon adopts the behaviours of the other chimps, regardless of how stupid the other chimps' actions or decisions are. From that study comes the well-known notion that 'the 5 people you choose to surround yourself with matters'.

Now I was stuck in a circle of friends who were all following the default path - degrees, full-time jobs, mortgages etc. The only 'odd one out' was Grace's uncle Nic. He 'worked for himself' (whatever that meant) but not in a 'plumber with his own business' kind of way.

It was more like a micro-multinational, all done online, and aiming for scale beyond work hours. His work intrigued me. And the ability to help not just people in front of you, but also others all around the world, even while you slept was an attractive idea.

Over time he has been incredibly gracious with his time taken to teach me and sometimes just ghost and watch over his shoulder. I'm not with him nearly enough to be in the top 5 that I interact with, but the small doses are significant.

Thanks Nic, I couldn't have gotten to this point without your encouragement and learning from how you operate (on all levels).

5) Naval Ravikant - Perspective and perseverence

Little known dude, but I came across him in an interview with Tim Ferriss and one line was a total mindshift for me:

"All greatness comes from suffering"

The reason so few people run their own business is because it's harder than working for someone else and getting a regular pay check.  But is it satisfying?​

I wouldn't classify myself as someone striving for 'greatness' per se like some elite athlete putting on a persona for the media, but I do believe that we should take this life and maximise the experience. That's, in part, ​why I said to Grace that we needed to bite the bullet and travel. The burden of future regret far outweighed the fear of the unknown ahead if we went.

Were we 100% ready? Nope.

But we needed to suffer a bit to make things work.​

Eric Koelma

Eric is husband to Grace and Dad to Leo, exploring the world and doing everything he can to align the travel itinerary with world sporting events (hello Tour de France!). He's all logical precision and epic decision-making. Eric's also a rare kind of super-human who works best between 9pm and 2am, and still manages to get up early and chase that wilful toddler, WITHOUT coffee (he hates the stuff!)

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