Finding FI Interview #26: An Expert FI Practitioner Speaks his Truth

Michael QuanBeliefs, Education, FI / FIRE, How to, Interviews, MiscLeave a Comment

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Welcome to the Finding FI interview series where we highlight and learn from individuals focused on achieving financial independence and the strategies they are using.  Everyone is at different stages of their FI / FIRE (financial independence, retire early) journey, so let’s learn from their personal stories and be inspired.

Table of Contents

Finding FI Interview #26

My guest today is Myles Wakeham, a self-made millionaire (before 30), and an experienced “Financial Sustainability” practitioner. I really hope you have some extra time to dig in deep to his Finding FI Interview because it is fascinating. I can’t tell you how many times I had to pause and think about how he just answered… loved it, and you will too.

Take it away, Myles!

Finding FI Question #1

What’s your story?

Finding FI

I’m a mid-50s yr old expat Australian, living in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I moved to the USA in 1989, after 25 years of being raised as an Australian.  Never went to college, never finished high school. Was a millionaire before I was 30.  I’m a software developer by trade, but that comes from starting a software business around 1980 as a kid – like an Australian version of Bill Gates. 

I moved to USA, and worked for a startup in California that became Amgen (largest biotechnology corporation in the world), cashed out stock options and “retired”.  Hated it. Went back to work with the dawn of the Internet, rode that wave. Discovered Bitcoin in 2011, and rode that wave, etc. Today I am an evangelist for contrarian investing, and folks looking to break free of the “system” in the western world, which all happens over at and my Podcast, “The Unconstrained Podcast”.

Michael here – Wow, Myles, it sounds like you caught some pretty nice waves in life! I’m always fascinated by different stories of financial freedom.    

Finding FI Question #2

What types of routines and/or life hacks do you use?
I do the polar opposite of what everyone else does.  If everyone is investing in the stock market, I buy gold and hold.  By being a contrarian, I make 10x the return that everyone else does because when markets move from bull to bear, that’s when you make the most money.

Michael here – That’s an interesting strategy. So does that mean you’ve been investing in gold the entire past bull run (10 years)?  

Finding FI Question #3

What 3 things that you are you most proud of?
  1. Learning at a young age to never be afraid of anything – particularly business, money and travel and by knowing myself, I had the confidence to do business with anyone.   
  2. Recognizing and knowing that we have a finite number of years of life with all of us, and to waste any day of that life is a crime.
  3. I discovered how to be “sensitive” to opportunities when I was young, but it wasn’t until I was about 40 that I understood how to trade-off opportunities I had discovered in such a way that I could significantly raise the odds of success.  Once I discovered that everything started to get really incredible.

Michael here – Well it certainly sounds like you had the courage to act early and often. That’s a great strength to have when seizing on opportunities.   

Finding FI Question #4

Describe your past relationship with money. How has it evolved into your present views today? How do you want it to change in the future?
I don’t really care too much about money, and maybe that is why it typically always finds me.  I know that if you follow your passion, the money will follow you. If you spend all your time chasing it, it is like herding cats.  But if you just do what makes you happy, the money will eventually find you anyway.

The key is to learn how to surf.  You see, when I was a kid I grew up, like many Australians, near the ocean.  I learned to surf in my early teenage years and that was the best lesson I ever got in life – particularly in business.  And it is why money finds me. You see, a surfer knows that you can never catch a wave when it is upon you or has passed you.  You have to see it looming in the distance, go to it, position yourself for it, paddle-like crazy and know how to seize it when it unveils itself.  This is how money works.
Money is always out there – like the ocean it moves and changes hands all the time. You have to position yourself like a surfer ahead of it, and be where it will be.   You can’t force it to go anywhere – it will go where it wants to. But if you position yourself for it, you will get the most awesome ride on it. Surfers know this. Money surfers are masters of it.  I like to think of myself as a money surfer.

Michael here – That’s such a cool analogy! I love the idea of positioning yourself strategically and catching the wave of success (financially, or otherwise).  

Finding FI Question #5

Who taught or influenced you about money when you were growing up? What was the impact?
I taught myself pretty much everything – often through the school of hard knocks.  I’m a born businessman – have been since the age of 8. I love business and economics.  To me, it is the language of people. However, I found people along the way that have codified what I believe in – Robert Kiyosaki was one.  Michael Gerber is another.

Finding FI Question #6

Do you discuss money or financial matters with friends and family? Why, or why not?

Totally.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But I would never disclose actual numbers, net worth, etc.   That is just empowering someone to screw you over. Those that do that are, IMHO, naive and an accident waiting to happen.  Money is something criminals want to take from you. 

Michael here – Uh oh, I’m one of those. It’s nice to hear a different perspective. Having said that, I don’t know that I’ll disclose my numbers forever. But for now it serves a purpose.   

Finding FI Question #7

What is something about yourself that only your closest family and friends know about?
If I told you that, then it would no longer be known only to my closest family & friends 🙂

Michael here – Ha!! (true, but you still didn’t answer the question)  


Finding FI Question #8

How far along are you with your FI or FIRE (financial independence, retire early) journey?
I was financially independent before that was even a term.  I’ve been debt-free since about 1993. I have never worked for a boss, so I don’t have anything to escape from.

Michael here – That’s incredible, Myles. I’m curious, is it harder to empathize with the masses the longer that you’ve live financially independent? 

Finding FI Question #9

What is your household net worth? Income?
Not disclosing that.  Seriously, this is a very bad thing for anyone to disclose.  The Internet is really easy to stalk people these days, and if you empower the bad guys to know you have a treasure chest, they will try and steal it from you.  Ever visited Nigeria? If so, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Michael here – Haven’t been too Nigeria yet. And, now you’re really making me start to think twice about this whole disclosure thing… hmmm.   

Finding FI Question #10

When did you first hear about FI/RE?
I suspect it was when MMM first started blogging about it.  Not sure the year, but probably 2015 or so?

Finding FI Question #11

Why does FI or FIRE appeal to you?
Freedom.  The problem is that most people following FI or FIRE don’t really understand the end game.  They think that financial independence = freedom. It does not. Have that discussion with a financially independent person in North Korea, China, or Russia.  Freedom has many, many forms, and in a capitalistic country like the USA, financial enslavement is designed as a system to enslave those from the age of 18 until the day they die.  The freedom to be completely unconstrained from this requires courage and information, and FI people are well on the right path towards it. But it isn’t just about money…

Michael here – Agreed.    

Finding FI Question #12

What does RE (retirement early) look like to you?
I’ll tell you a story and why I HATE the word retirement.  My father worked for a corporation for all of his working life.  The corporation made building products in Australia, and he fed his family, put me through school, etc.  Like most workers, he had good and bad experiences with his job. There were days he wanted to quit, there were days he was ok with it.  When he was 65, he retired. They gave him the traditional gold watch, and a retirement account to live off. Within 2 years, he died. I had to bury him.  That forever changed me and my relationship with “retirement”. He died of complications from mesothilioma. He worked for a massive corporation that made asbestos products.  No one told the employees about the dangers of this, but they knew for 10 years prior to his retirement. But he gave the majority of his working life to them, and lost it all 2 years later.  I’m not saying that everyone who retires has that experience. But the lack of passion in something, or engagement socially, or discipline needed to get up in the morning, get to the office on time, stay there, etc. is something that often we crave.  85% of the reason why people work is not for money. It is for our egos – for a sense of adding value, having a role, being of service to others. That’s why we identify ourselves with a job title. When someone comes up to you and asks, “What do you do?”, we know that they are asking what do you do for a job.  The thing is that we identify ourselves with that role.

I believe that work is good for the soul.  But if you identify yourself with that work, it better be your passion.  And if you sold out your future to being a debt slave to a bank in your past, just trying to right that wrong and get in control of your money & “retire” is about 10% of the challenge.  The 90% is to find out who you are – outside of the work. And to understand that you need a role to play in this world. I love the saying, “The saddest thing in the world is a shelf full of dusty trophies”.  It is so true. If you are leaving a job to pursue a passion, then I’m your best advocate. If you are leaving a job because you don’t like the job, then you better have a plan for what is next otherwise you are just another sheep in the herd that will get slaughtered. The problem most of us forget is that by selling our future self out to debt to gain something we haven’t yet worked for, means you have to honor that contract and finish it out.   The work treadmill is that contract. Retirement is the end of that contract.

We should celebrate leaving the world of debt enslavement for freedom.  The problem, however, is that most people entered that world without anyone telling them about the setup.  That they would be the nodes in the Matrix that would be exploited by someone else. If they were told this before they signed any dotted line contract and sold their soul out to a job they will hate, and their only one life to something they didn’t wholeheartedly embrace, then it is really hard to help someone’s future out when their historical decisions were wrong.  My hope is that by telling my story that people might just apply some better critical analysis of how they choose to live their life, and that they don’t have to join the herd of others that are just following some stupid social mantra that we all forgot who created way back when.

Retirement is the endpoint of fulfilling a contract of work to pay off debt.  If you never signed up for that contract in the first place, FIRE and/or retirement would be a pointless discussion we would never need to have.  A better discussion might be how do we create an unconstrained world in which we never need to retire because we are all doing what we are passionate about, empowering each other and we would never do anything else by choice.

Michael here – Awesome. I really appreciate your insight here and the reference to the Matrix. It’s scary how true that analogy is to reality!

I also believe that work is good for the soul. It’s a way to grow ourselves and ultimately serve others better. If not, we’re dying. There’s no plateau to ride off into.

And, I fully agree that finding who you are outside of work is essential to living your best life.   

Finding FI Question #13

What type of FIRE are you pursuing (i.e. leanFIRE, FIRE, fatFIRE)?
Today I am an evangelist for those pursuing freedom.  I travel the planet telling that story. It doesn’t matter if it is to a person in a coffee shop I’ve just met, or to a large room full of people.  But I’m already wealthy. I want others to do the same. I don’t know what label you put on that, but be my guest to invent one 🙂

Michael here – I’m gonna call you UberFatFIRE!  😉  

Finding FI Question #14

How has life changed since reaching FI? Or, if you haven’t reached FI yet, how will it change?
It really hasn’t.  I still do the same things I did as a 14-year-old kid.  I seek out opportunities and I engage with them when I detect that they might have a future benefit to me and others.  And I tell my stories along the way.
The only difference today is that I spend far more time on planes and travel longer distances to do it, but life is an adventure.  Everyone should have adventures.

Michael here – Can I join one of your adventures!?   

Finding FI Question #15

Do you believe sacrifice is necessary in order to achieve FI? Why, or Why not?
I don’t believe in sacrifice.  But I also don’t believe in the gluttony that has consumed the western world.  If you have a garage full of crap you don’t use, then you are being owned by those things. 
I believe in having a minimal “burn rate” in life because that ensures you won’t sell out your future self to debt.  Debt is enslavement, and we should avoid it at all costs. There is good & bad debt, of course, but most people never even got the memo that debt should be avoided unless it delivers some positive cashflow in the first place. 
You see, I don’t see that denying yourself having things that you haven’t yet earned is sacrifice. I think it is audacious to have things that we can’t pay cash for. And yet banks have designed systems to enslave us so that we don’t use cash to pay for things.  If you are going to do a deal with the devil, you better understand your contract partner very well.

Michael here – I’ve heard some great answers on both sides of this question. And it really boils down to your personal perspective. Fascinating…   

Finding FI Question #16

What are your favorite FI or FIRE websites, podcasts, blogs, etc.?
My own, of course.  “The Unconstrained Podcast”,  where good podcasts can be found 🙂  Joking aside, I’ve been interviewed on ChooseFI a couple of times and I enjoy their show.  But really I don’t find that I learn that much from the general FI community as much as I do from those that live a more “Ernest Hemmingway” type life. 
My personal favorites are “Borderless” by James Guzman (someone I call a friend who I met in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico recently),“The Sovereign Man” (Simon Black) –  Doug Casey’s International Man  and finally Andrew Henderson’s Nomad Capitalist

Michael here – Yes, finally some new content I haven’t heard about. I’m gonna check these out. 

Finding FI Question #17

Do you actively speak with others about FI / FIRE?
Yes.  All the time.

Finding FI Question #18

Is a side hustle a key component of your FI / FIRE journey? (i.e. second job, side biz, real estate investing, etc.)?
No, because I don’t need anything “on the side” of my passion.  My passion is diverse, however, so I do own many, many rental properties, lots of digital and physical assets, vending machines, gold & precious metal trading, cryptocurrencies and I am involved in a number of blockchain startups and ventures, etc. 
All of those combined generate more than enough monthly revenue to meet my family’s cashflow requirements.

Michael here – That’s a pretty cool portfolio of passions!

Thanks again for all of your insights. It was quite thought-provoking and made me pause several times.   

Readers, what is your favorite takeaway from Myle’s story?

Michael Quan
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