I read a lots of personal development blogs, personal finance blogs, and leadership blogs. One consistent theme among the three aforementioned categories is the praise of the uber-successful.
Rightfully so, as these people are the CEO’s, leaders, and most influential people of our time. It’s important to learn from these people. Obviously they’re doing some things right.
However, I think it’s equally important to look for success from those closest to us. Personally, it’s more inspirational to see a friend, acquaintance, or peer attain success. It creates this feeling that success is more attainable for me.
I think to myself – “If they can do it, so can I!”
This is the inspiration for “Everyday Success.” In this series of interviews, I will be asking my peers, friends, colleagues and acquaintances questions about their success. I want to focus on their habits, techniques, strategies and failures.
I am a firm believer that every interaction with an individual has an opportunity to learn something.
For the first interview, I decided to interview my mentor. He’s a personal finance blogger with a passion for accumulating long-term wealth. He draws tremendous insight from everyday life and does a fantastic job relating back to personal finance.
Matt founded Distilled Dollar because he posses a deep fervor about personal finance. He’s been featured in major publications like lifehacker, MSN, The Huffington Post, CNBC and Yahoo. He’s fully transparent with his journey towards financial independence too. His blog has great tips on accumulating wealth and the lifestyle shift towards personal finance.
Here are some of my favorite posts from Matt:
Matt is based in the Chicago area, and I am based in the SF Bay Area. While we have talked on the phone multiple times, the interview was executed via email. It was the most convenient way for both parties.
Below are the questions I sent to Matt, and his answers.
What was the inspiration for the blog?
“Oh man, the inspiration for Distilled Dollar! Well, I’m not sure if it was an inspiration to write a blog as much as a need for me to get some thoughts out on paper.
I used to craft and formulate my own theories on investing or saving money or making money and test these theories against the books I read or the charts I saw or the people I saw or the habits that seemed to work and not work (Sorry for all the and’s there!)
Over time, I ended up writing my first article about student loans and folks loved it. It took about another year before that article would end up online. As the site grew, it was only easier to continue to work on it.
Who is your role model; who do you look up to?
Within the personal finance realm it was Ben Franklin because, before he was involved with politics, he was a hard working printer who built a business over 25 years and reached financial independence on multiple stages before retiring early at the age of 42. He loved the concept of freedom and liberty and I attached to that and wanted to be on board with gaining freedom – in any way possible. Financial freedom seemed like an easy route since it serves as a foundation. Money gives me options and I know it won’t provide happiness, but I also do know I’ll be happier once the $1800/month student loan payments are gone.
Since I’m from Chicago I’ll need to drop MJ. He’s Relentless, and for those who read that book, you’ll know some of the crazier stories. One of my favorites remains MJ’s response to his flu in the 1997 NBA finals. He ended up playing that game to the astonishment of fans and his opponents alike, because he led the Bulls to win #2 in the series, before having to be carried off by Scottie Pippen.
What advice would you give your inexperienced self?
How do you balance the blog and work?
“Balance? What is that?! Hah, I believe you gotta work if you want to achieve something so I’m in my work phase. My background is public accounting and for anyone familiar, the hours drag up to the 80’s and 90’s or even triple digits. Terrifying! That’s why I left, but I still feel like I’m working basically the same. I love the old Elon Musk quote where says, “If you work 100 hours a week and somebody else works 40 hours. You’ll achieve in 4 months what takes them a year.” Sure, the #’s might not work out exactly like that, but the underlying principles resonated with me that hard work will pay off.
At the end of the day, its like what Charlie Munger says, ‘The safest way to try to get what you want is to try and deserve what you want.'”
What habits have worked for you?
“Yikes – I can go on for days on this one lol. A quick one that helps in the morning for me is putting my phone on airplane mode. In general, the airplane mode hack for my phone is absolute key to get into a deep flow state with work.
Similarly, before I hit the hay I try to avoid electronics. It is basically impossible these days with the amount of stimulus hitting us 24/7, but I try to reserve that quite little habit of slowing down before before. On a good night, I’ll pick up a book before passing out.”
What techniques have not worked for you?
What failures have you experienced throughout your journey?
How did you deal with those failures?
What motivates you to keep writing?
Why personal finance?
If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and why?
What are three things that you have learned from your tenure as a blogger?
“I can only pick 3!? Haha, well the top 3 would have to be:
Patience. My fiancee says this is one of my best, if not my best quality, but I can say that building out a blog developed my patience to another level.
Effective vs Efficiency: I developed a next level understanding on the difference between being effective and being efficient – and more critically to that transformation was knowing when to aim for one or the other, or when to aim for both. With a blog and a podcast and courses and a full time job, it sometimes becomes a matter of executing on the highest priority tasks and letting some of the lower important items fall down. Easier said than done but the blogging experience has helped me fine tune this process.
What are your long term goals for the blog?
How do you go about setting goals?
What have you learned about yourself throughout this whole process?
How do you define success?
“I would say I have a set of values that are clear to me. From those values I’ve crafted up my goals, but my goals are merely the destination. The whole point of all this is to live in alignment with my values and the goals simply act as the benchmarks and goal posts. I’m living a successful life from that perspective.
Am I successful? I wouldn’t say that yet as I feel the words,
‘Successful,’ and, ‘Success,’ are more attributed at the end of the road. “
I aspire to be like Matt, and I am inspired by the newly learned information about his blog, strategies, techniques, and failures! The Secondhand Success I garnered from Matt give me great ideas, strategies, and techniques for growth.
Readers, I hope you were able to draw some inspiration from Matt like I have! If you have any ideas of people I should interview or questions I should ask in my next interview, please comment them below!