Is your job boring? Are your true skills being wasted on mindless drudgery day after day? Then you should quit and get rich following your passion, no matter how stupid it is.
Can you make a living selling custom mouse pads made from old magazines? Yes. Rake in millions knitting extra allergic baby sweaters out of old cat hair? Absolutely. Create computer games out of recycled paper? It’s never been done, but yes! You are a special snowflake, and if you can dream it, you can get rich doing it.
Hi, I’m Julian Wickers, Minimalism guru and internet celebrity. I got filthy rich by following my passion, and you can too. To show you how, I’m going to tell five stories of inspiring individuals who quit the rat race to pursue their ultimate dream, even if it was really, really stupid.
Jerry Smith, “Now I’m making a real difference”
Jerry, 54, was a high school math teacher, tired of wasting time at a boring 9-5 job. He felt that teaching, mentoring at risk youth, and being a dad to six foster children was not making a difference in the world. He quit teaching and community outreach to follow his true passion: making bean bag chairs out of used cat litter.
When I visited Jerry showed me his prototype. It looked like a giant black trash bag filled with sand. I declined to sit on the disgusting heap, but Jerry demonstrated the comfort by awkwardly splaying out on the top. I’ve never seen a many so happy to sit on a bag of shit. His eyes were clouded by tears of joy, or possibly leakage from the harsh ammonia odor that permeated the entire house.
Because Jerry had the courage to follow his dream he is already making money. Since his wife divorced him and moved away with the kids he has saved hundreds of dollars on food and electricity. Most of that is spent buying litter for the twenty cats he adopted, but Jerry knows that each failure is a chance to get back up again.
Nowadays he spends his time in a with a gas mask on, tinkering in a dank basement, knee deep in clumpy old cat litter. Truly living the dream. Jerry shows if you believe in yourself, you can do it!
Sammy, “No Experience Necessary”
Sammy, 26, is an aspiring entrepreneur whose heart is bigger than his brain. He’s never had a job, so he follows his misguided passion: building environmentally friendly medical devices using only common household materials.
His past projects have included bone screws made out of recycled cardboard and a colonoscopy scope made entirely from old rake handles. Unfortunately, Sammy’s complete lack of medical training, or even a basic understanding of human biology, means that both projects were dangerous failures.
Despite his numerous horrifying setbacks Sammy is not discouraged. He knows that a lack of medical experience can be overcome by sheer desire to succeed. The neighborhood pets that “volunteer” for his ghastly experiments might disagree, but none could be reached for comment.
His newest idea is the boldest yet: a pacemaker made entirely out of old aluminum cans. When I visited he showed me the device. It looked like he had just cut open a can and nailed a fitbit to the center. When I expressed concern he told me that if you can dream it, you can do it. He’s right. The first clinical trial is next week, on his neighbor’s Golden Retriever.
Tristan, “Those Meddling Kids”
Tristan quit his job as the CEO of a high powered investment banking firm to follow his true passion: building furniture out of bundles of cash When I visited he showed me a recliner made out of 10 dollar bills, an ottoman “ironically” made out of 2 dollar bills, and a sectional made out of 20’s. He shuddered when I asked about one dollar bills, and claims he never touches the stuff.
Tristan may seem successful already, but he isn’t done dreaming: his eventual goal is to build an entire guest house using only bundles of cash as bricks. The important thing, I told him, is to never give up. He laughed and said that is good advice for everyone, except for the SEC, who should “give up” their investigation into his finances. When asked about how to buy his furniture sculptures he said they were not for sale, although he did offer to plunder my retirement savings for a small fee.
Samantha, “Excitement is in my DNA”
Samantha was tired of her job as a mountaineering guide and base jumping instructor in Nepal. She felt that leading expeditions up Himalayan peaks and jumping off of cliffs with a parachute was too boring. She quit to to pursue her “truly exciting” passion: blogging about marbles.
According to Samantha marbles are so intriguing because “there are so many different sizes and colors”. She has since moved back to her parents basement where she spends her days typing 500 word “articles” about the wondrous world of marbles. Her latest pieces include “Cool Marble Colors #45: Yellowish Green” and “Getting Marbles Through Airport Security”.
Instead of jumping off mountains, Samantha’s adrenaline rush comes from arguing about money with her parents and lying to billing companies on the phone. Money is tight, but the important thing is that she believes in herself. Never let go of your dreams, especially if they would roll all over the floor and make a mess.
Mandy & Michael, “We are Starving”
Mandy and Michael liked organic food so much that they quit their jobs at a high profile marketing firm to follow their true passion: farming. Despite not having any experience even gardening, and killing every houseplant and pet they’ve ever owned out of neglect, they blindly took the plunge. Luckily they believe in themselves 100%, which is the most important thing.
The enterprising couple left the big city and moved to the small town of Lake Woebehere Minnesota, where they put their entire life savings into a small plot of rocky land. When I visited they were both out in the field, arguing vigorously while Michael tried to till the soil with a plastic rake. It was late November, and the ground was frozen, so he wasn’t having much luck.
They saw the groceries I had brought and rushed over to eat, probably for the first time in days. Their once proud Calvin Klein overalls were torn and caked with mud. The loaf of bread was gone in an instant. The eggs were cracked open and slurped right out of the shell. Even the raw potatoes were ripped apart and eaten in their feeding frenzy.
I took their zeal to consume raw eggs was a sign of something greater: a hunger to succeed. To truly follow your passion you must be driven, and in Mandy and Michael I saw that hunger. I told them to never give up, and that winter was coming.