Here is the full transcript of entrepreneur Alex Szepietowski’s TEDx Talk: Design Your Dream Life Through Passive Income at TEDxUniversityofYork conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Design Your Dream Life Through Passive Income by Alex Szepietowski at TEDxUniversityofYork
Alex Szepietowski – Entrepreneur
The average person in the UK has only 11 weeks’ income saved in the bank. How much do you have saved? How long could you live for if your paycheck stopped coming in? Maybe you never thought of that, and it might be a little bit scary to think about.
Today I’m going to share with you about passive income and how to design your dream life through building up your passive income streams.
Designing your dream life through passive income has got a big claim. You should be like: Why is passive income important to us and what is it?
Well, in October 2012, I knew absolutely nothing about passive income. I was here, it’s like you’ve said I was at B Block at Derwent Uni and I knew nothing about passive income. I knew how to make income, I knew that you go and swap your time for money, that’s called active income or earned income. And it’s what you do when you get a job. And that’s what 99% of us in the world do.
The opposite of that is passive income, or recurring income. It’s where you do the work once and you continue to get paid recurringly for very little or no actual work. When your passive income, recurring income, exceeds your cost of living, what you spend on food, utilities, petrol, all that kind of stuff — when your passive income exceeds your cost of living, you are then financially free. And if you happen to lose a job or not get a paycheck you can live infinitely forever.
Now why is that important? So this is a question, get ready for it. Let’s have some audience participation. Can you think of reasons why your paycheck would stop coming in? You break a leg; perfect. So you’re sick or you’re incapacitated or you’re unable to swap your time for money. Thank you.
Anybody else? Get fired, fantastic, perfect. Has anyone been fired in the room? Perfect.
Anybody else got any other ones? Yeah. That’s a really really good point. So your industry changes, that could be a global financial crisis or it could be modernization, things like the Lehman Brothers collapse or the mining industry or steel structural changes that can affect us, and that might have nothing to do with your competency at your job.
You might also be taken over by a new firm. There’s a merger and there are two of you in the same job and you’re made redundant. Well, maybe you just fall out of your boss, and he asks you to trot along your way and it may not actually be due to your competency whatsoever. That’s not a great position to be in; is it? If your financial security is effectively based on circumstance or things that might be out of your control.
So when I was at Uni, I just finished my second year, I got a first which was great in PPE, and I tried — I took a few years to get to Uni, I tried banking, I tried Citigroup in Canary Wharf, I tried accountancy, I tried law, I tried sales, IT sales, PR, then I tried Proctor & Gamble. And I had this long list of proper jobs of what I thought, as you know, respectable people, they go and do these things.
I tried working with children and I enjoyed — I didn’t dislike the jobs, I liked the people I was working with. So if you’re watching, please don’t think I didn’t, but it didn’t light me up. I couldn’t see myself spending the next 45 to 50 years. So what have you on the retirement age now, is it 65 or 67? What happens when we get to that age now – 75, 80, 100, who knows. I couldn’t spend the next 50 years of my life doing this thing.
And I remember Procter & Gamble, they said to me on my final day in Hornbeam Park in Harrogate, and they said, “We want to offer you the job when you finish Uni but we’re not quite sure if it’s right for you.” And I thought well I have to take there and they said, just pop out of the room, we’ll bring in the other boss and we’ll have a chat.
And when I came back in that I was smiling and they were like, what are you doing smiling, we thought of saying we don’t really want to offer you the job. And I said no one has ever said that to me. I thought it in my head, I thought I can’t do this, but I didn’t know that there was an alternative and it took someone else to say it to me to say you know what, they’re right I can’t do this. So as scary as that was it’s like I’d shut that door and now it was like well let’s start something from fresh, what can I do.
So I went home that night and started googling. As any self-respecting person does when they’re faced with a life crisis, they jump on Google. And I started discovering terms like “how can you be your own boss?”, “passive income”, “wealth creation”, and words I’d never come across before and I started to read.
And I’ve read about real life case studies, not billionaires or these incredibly talented people, normal people who had picked a strategy, there are lots of ways of bringing in passive income, I chose property but there are lots and they said about taking work, taking action: is it get-rich-quick overnight? No.
If anybody tells you it is the only way of doing that is the lottery, all right. So but it can be get rich fast, you know whatever that is for you, months, years, it doesn’t take long. Continual sustained action can get you the results you want.
So I read a loads of books, thought great, they asked me a master like Uni, I was like yeah I’m just reading other stuff. And I went along to the use of sort — I chose property, it resonated with me but as I said you don’t have to pick property. I went along to these events where I met normal people, remember guy called Trevor and a normal guy came across property, boom, he had 30 or 60 other houses whatever it was and I was like well if he can do it I can do it too. So I spent my student loan and I took out a credit card and I invested in myself to learn what to do.
I invested in myself and to cut a long story short, I started with no money and I had no knowledge or education in this kind of stuff. And two years later, I had paid off every investor I borrowed from, owned 24 houses with the portfolio worth 3.5 million quid and I won a few national awards.
Now that doesn’t mean I’m special at all. I think the biggest thing I want to get across is anyone can do it; it’s a strategy. If someone happens to get a degree, it doesn’t mean that they’re an absolute legend, they’ve just done what they’ve been told, they’ve rocked up to the classes, they’ve done the homework and they’ve got the result, whether it happens to be first or two one or two, two, you get a degree and it’s the same with wealth creation stuff. Some people are blessed with natural ability and that might get them there a little bit quicker. But anyone — anyone can achieve the same result.
And the reason I wanted to get into this stuff was because I didn’t enjoy, didn’t like the route I was heading down and unfortunately for people in the UK, 60% to 70% of people don’t like their job. 60% to 70% of people don’t like their job and of that, a third of them hate their job.
So out of 100 people whatever it is in this room, 25 people hate their job, but you don’t have a choice if you don’t know anything different. You have to go and swap your time for money, you’ve got bills, you’ve got a mortgage, you’ve got to look after the children, you don’t have an option, and often we work so hard in the day that we’re naked at the end of the day or we don’t have the headspace to start thinking about other things. And I didn’t want to be in that position.
The further you are down the line, for you students out there, this is the perfect time to take action now and really you’ve got the time to really check this stuff out because I found that the older people get they tend to maybe have a few more limiting beliefs or barriers, everyone has the same ability.
In fact, older people are the more ability they have, because they have more life experience, but there might be other commitments there that block them in their brain from doing it. And that’s the hardest thing you need to overcome is your limiting beliefs in your head.
So passive income from property is one way but you can choose network marketing, like Forever Living, or Utility Warehouse, that kind of stuff, and you start to sell, you then build up a team of people selling for you and eventually they’re all making money from you when you’re not doing any work.
You’ve got affiliate marketing where you drive traffic to websites and you make commission off all the purchases. What else have we got? Owning a business, so you’re not working in a business, you’re not self-employed. If you’re self-employed you’re not really a business owner, because you’re still swapping your time for money like a plumber unless they’ve got a firm where they oversee it and people are running out doing the work for them, you’re still swapping your time for money.
You’ve got Amazon where — you can set up a business on Amazon, where you buy products in China and sell them over here and obviously make commission on that. Property is another one; there are loads of different ways of you generating passive income.
So the other thing I want to say is those of you who’ve got money in the bank or those of you who are not in the room who are watching a little bit further down the journey, often we’re so busy on, focused on earning the money, we’re not focused on what to do with it. Albert Einstein calls the eighth wonder of the world the compounding effect.
So a little bit of action, if you’re young, a little bit of sensible investment or making that money work a lot, have a few adds up to something really special over time and that doesn’t need to be risky or you know it’s going to end in tears. If you’re smart you can make that money work really really hard for you and that’s not just coming and investing with me or no, there are loads of ways of doing that.
So in terms of the how to’s I’m not going to talk today massively about all the ways you can do it. I’ll put my blog up, sign up to that and we can — I can send you more about the how to’s and what’s right for you based on your income or where you’re at or the time you have but the main thing I want to get across to you is what happens if you don’t focus on building up passive income.
So your predictable future is where you are right now, you’re probably — if you’re a student then you’re probably eyeing up a job in the future or if you got a job at the moment that’s not going to change and that’s not a problem at all, not a problem at all. But you may want something different.
Do you want to be working — if you love your job, that’s awesome and keep doing what you do, that’s fantastic. You love it and you’re very much in the minority of doing it. But have the security and the peace of mind and the freedom that if your desires change or if your circumstances change, then you don’t have to do that job anymore. If it’s not there, you don’t have to worry.
So if you’re sick, if you’re ill, if you get fired, if your job changes or your industry collapses, there’s not a problem, or if you want to look after a sick relative.
What happens if you do get your passive income? Now probably some of you in the room are thinking, fancy car, big house, all the material — fancy logo on your shirt and that stuff is cool, right? It’s fun and it’s great and for some people that means more than others.
I think the biggest thing for me is to ask what would you do with your life if money was no object? If you didn’t have to swap your time for money, what would you do? Would you travel? Would you go and learn to surf in Hawaii or do yoga in India or go and help an orphanage in Cambodia? What would you do? What are you passionate about? And that’s maybe not something we ask ourselves a lot because we don’t see a way to achieve that.
So for me, my travel — my passion is all those things: traveling, helping others, doing stuff like this. My dream is that all people will be able to follow their heart whether that’s a musician or an author or an artist, you can follow what you love irrespective of the paycheck and you know you’ve got the financial stuff sorted by picking one of these strategies and doing a few hours a week and compound effect of that, you don’t have to worry if you’re financially successful, you can follow your heart. And for me that’s really really exciting.
Stephen Covey has got a great quote which is: before you climb the ladder, make sure it’s leaning up against the right building. And it’s really interesting, when I was at Uni at school I had the proper London jobs lined up or heading down that route but — and like I said before the further up the ladder you get maybe the more reluctant you are to step off that.
So if you haven’t started it, if you’re a student now is the perfect time for you to really think what it is you want to do and if you are further down the journey, now is the best time for you to ever think about that. It’s not going to be in five years or ten years; you’ve got to think about that stuff now.
So to summarize today’s talk: we’ve discussed what passive income is, so it’s not swapping your time for money, it’s doing the work and getting paid forever from it. We discussed why we need it to safeguard you in terms of safeguarding you from the negative stuff but also giving you the ability to design a life that you dream of and to choose what you want to do with your life and for a lot of us that’s not something we’ve ever really thought about.
It may seem risky, you may have limiting beliefs; I certainly did. I was 23, I had no money, I had no experience, I was at Uni and I didn’t want a job, I didn’t know what on earth to do. But with a little bit of education and action you can do whatever you want to do, whatever your limiting belief is maybe you are too old or too young, whatever, but that’s one side and just sit in the world of possibility, what could be possible for you if you actually took consistent action and built up this passive income.
Don’t worry about the how, just think about the what – on what would your life be like if you had 5, 10, 20, 50 grand a month coming in for very little work.
And in terms of risk, what’s the risk of you not doing this? What’s the risk of you living your life doing something that you settle for or if you are doing what you love you’re very lucky for that. But what happens if that changes? So what’s the risk if you’re not taking action?
The final thing I want to leave you with is that literally anyone can do this, I’m not special and I know a lot of other people that I know who have achieved the same thing in their different fields. There’s nothing special, they’ve been lucky enough to come across this stuff, they read a book called “Rich Dad Poor Dad” which I’d really recommend all of you guys to do and they took some action.
If you want to learn more about the ways of how to, please check out my blog which is just www.alexszepietowski.com and sign up for that. And I’d love you guys to think about designing a life that you dream of.
Thank you very much for having me.