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What it means to quit your job and live the life you want

Do you know how you get potato chips (like Lays) at pretty much a constant price and stable quality on any given day of the year in any shop that is within a kilometre of you no matter where you are?

A company like Pepsico manufactures a product like Lays. In order to keep the shelves filled all around the year, what does it need the most? An equally consistent supply of reliable quality potatoes, of course! And how does it manage to ensure that? By signing contracts in advance with the farmers that they will buy the potatoes that they grow at a certain price irrespective of the quality, as long as they follow the agricultural practices recommended by the company. 

This is a low risk option for the farmers. They can either grow what they think will be worth growing that season and risk market and environmental forces or sign agreements with the likes of Pepsico and grow potatoes. Eliminate risk. Just like the company itself is trying to eliminate risk.

Once the potatoes are grown, they are turned into chips, packaged, and distributed to stores across the country. A lot of planning goes into what variants and what quantities and what sized packs to send to stores in various areas, what frequency to replenish them, etc. And then, there is the resources spent on advertising the product to the consumers (you and me) so that we go buy them from the stores near us. 

There are several people running their businesses in this chain. There are the farmers that are growing the potatoes. There are the likes of Pepsico making the potato chips. There are the distributors and wholesalers that bring these potato chips from the manufacturers to the stores near you and then there are the stores themselves that finally sell it to you.

If you were to treat yourself as a company, then you can run it like any of these. You can treat yourself as the farmer who takes up a seemingly safe "job" with the likes of Pepsico or risk the market forces by doing something on your own. 

If you do take up that seemingly safe job, you need to follow the rules just like the farmer does. Just like he can't sell potatoes to anyone else but Pepsico, you can't sell your skills to anyone else but your employer. 

Although signing this contract seems like the safe option to the farmer, it isn't easy. Not any farmer can do it. They need to meet certain criteria. They need to own a certain amount of land, and need to be located in certain areas and so on. Just like you and me with our employers. Although taking up a job seems safe, it isn't easy. We have to have a college degree, or prior relevant experience (of growing potatoes), etc. 

But it is definitely the less riskier option. Which is why Pepsico is still able to source its potatoes and nearly every company is able to hire all the employees it needs. 

But if you're treating your career as a company, Me Inc., and you're the CEO, you need to take away some lessons from the potato farmers and from Pepsico. 

Pepsico doesn't just make Lays. It makes Kurkure and Uncle Chipps as well. And it makes completely different things like Pepsi and Mirinda and Quaker Oats. But by taking up a job (or by starting up), you are making yourself the equivalent of a Pepsico making just Lays. Of course, there are companies that do one thing only. But they do it really well. 

So those are the two options for Me, Inc. For you and me. Either be really good at the one thing we do (be it our job or our startup) or be able to do multiple things that can generate revenues. Like Pepsico.

This is the risk equation to understand if you are thinking of quitting your job and starting up. Even if you do startup, you are still having one job, one product, which means you had better be really good at it. Or you're simply running yourself off a cliff. Financially, at least. 

Now, you might think starting up is not all about money, but about passion and wanting to do something that you really believe in. 


On average, a person is really passionate about hundred different things in their lifetime. That's one passion a year. At the least. If you're passionate about something and that fails, then you move on to the next thing. You don't start up because you are passionate about something, alone. That is a given. You do it because it is more rewarding to do so, be it financially or in terms of social prestige, or freedom or whatever it is that you tell yourself. 

If your career is a company, then the life you want is like a shareholder in that company. And shareholders are only interested in returns on investment. The life you want is the return you get on what you put in. If your job is not giving you the life you want, then it is like a company not returning value to its shareholders. Which means things need to change. And that's all that it means. It doesn't mean that you need to quit your job, it doesn't mean that you need to startup. 

It just means you need to diversify, cut back on the loss makers, shed the flab and focus on the growth opportunities. And that, at the end of the day, is the job of a CEO. So treat your life like a company and take the role of the CEO. 

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