Unbundling your Job

Why do we have jobs? Jobs provide us with a bundle of many things, which is why they’ve been around for so long:

  • Predictable cashflow: cover lifestyle costs, plan for the future.
  • Benefits: 401k retirement accounts, health and life insurance, paid time off, access to new capital such as mortgages.
  • Purpose: creative outlet, sense of accomplishment, contribution towards something bigger than yourself.
  • Identity: personal and company branding, access to opportunities and people that would not otherwise be attainable.
  • Community: friendships, human contact, collaborating with others towards a shared purpose.

A job as a bundle was an important innovation, particularly when people spent a lot of their careers working at the same place for a very long time. But this innovation could create fragility in people’s lives — if they stop working in their jobs they lose this entire bundle of important life pillars which increases the switching cost for work. For example, my father in law has been a neurologist at the same hospital for 35 years; his purpose, sense of accomplishment and community are all closely tied to his work. When he retires he will lose all these important parts of his life at the same time and it may hit him harder than if parts of his life were more diversified.

With the rise of the passion economy, I believe we will start to see more unbundling of work where people will get predictable cashflow, purpose, and community from different places and it will ultimately lead to more antifragility in people’s lives which I think will be positive for society.

I’ve been starting consider what it would look like to unbundle the predictable cashflow component from my job. A couple of areas that I’m starting to explore, beyond dividend focused public markets investing are below:

  • Franchises: One idea could be investing in / running franchises which can have quite low initial investment costs, fast payback periods and decent margins which can lead to predictable cashflow. You would need to diversify the type of franchises to invest in so you’re not over-indexed on specific sectors e.g. boutique fitness or fast-food.
  • Real estate: A diversified real estate portfolio which focuses on yield is another interesting product to generate cash flow from rental income. I’m currently investing in tools like Fundrise and potentially Cadre to learn how each of these work.
  • Decentralized Finance (2021 Update): Decentralized Finance powered by cryptocurrency allows normal people to access financial grade products in a distributed way v.s. going through centralized (traditional) financial services institutions which take most of the revenue and profits for themselves.

This is just an idea, and I plan to continue to iterate on this concept as I continue to refine my thinking on the subject.