Last week, I wrote about the growing belief that our current late-stage capitalist economy is dying.
For millennials, this essentially means that even if we follow the system, we’re not guaranteed to obtain the level of wealth we were promised by the ideals of capitalism, as demonstrated by the generations before us.
This puts my generation in a difficult position because popular financial advice is still based on the assumption that capitalism is in good, working order.
A few outliers seem to be embracing this opposing belief. Such as Bryan Franklin, coach to CEOs and co-author of The Last Safe Investment.
Franklin, along with Michael Ellsberg, has documented a new method for thinking about and thriving in our changing economic climate. It’s called SAFE, the Self Amplifying Financial Ecosystem.
Their advice to anyone wanting to increase and sustain their wealth: Invest in yourself first.
I talked with Franklin and his colleague Josh Zemel – coach, facilitator, and founder of the upcoming True Wealth Institute – about the book and the SAFE plan.
The New Plan
The SAFE plan focuses on investing in what the authors have dubbed the 22 super skills, which enhance the value of all your other skills and make everything you do more marketable.
These super skills include things like sales and persuasion, writing, being a team player, creativity, or personal health. According to the plan, it’s best to pick a skill or skills that you’re not already well versed in and that also serve a need in your community, workplace, or business.
“Regardless of which one you choose, [success] all depends on if you make a commitment that requires the skill,” says Franklin. “So, you literally have broken your commitment to your workplace if you don’t do it. That is what activates the need for the skill.”
Investing in yourself is all about enhancing your value, which can lead to promotions and new jobs, more clients, new products, and/or a growing personal business.
“Time and energy invested in yourself is much more likely to develop a high ROI,” says Zemel. “For most people, their greatest asset is their earning potential. If you’re under 40, that’s probably a seven figure number.”
Franklin and Zemel say the SAFE plan can help you to earn plenty of money and save enough to retire. But they also say that this plan can lead to more enjoyment in life.
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One of the keys to the plan is continuously asking the following questions:
- How can I help?
- How can I help my workplace or business?
- How can I help my community?
- How can I help myself?
The question “How can I help?” allows you to see what abilities are needed, but it can also change your motivation from solely making money to contributing to the world around you.
“[In following the plan] you are actually living life. You’re spending your time contributing and honing your abilities to make a positive difference in a way that delights you,” said Bryan.
“The plan makes it more likely that you will be able to retire, but it also makes it more likely that you won’t want to,” said Zemel.
A Bigger View of Wealth
What makes the SAFE plan so interesting to me is that it measures wealth in more than just money, but also experiences, health, connections, community, and overall happiness.
According to the SAFE plan, investing in a super skill leads to being more valuable to the community or network you’re in. Through these contributions, you’re strengthening your ties to a group of people working toward a common outcome.
Therein lies the real value.
“One of the lies that the marketing engine is telling you is that for anything to matter you have to have bought it,” says Zemel.
But, according to the pair, being part of a community encourages resource sharing, which makes it more likely you’ll have access to the material things you want without having to spend money on them.
Zemel uses wanting great sushi as an example.
By investing in a few super skills, he could gain more clients and thus be able to afford to buy great sushi whenever he wants. Or, he could create a business that allows him to live next to the ocean and catch fresh fish. Or, his skills could connect him to someone who owns a sushi restaurant and likes to have his friends come eat for free.
All of these situations add wealth to Zemel’s life, but not all of them require lots of money.
Going even further, Franklin and Zemel would argue that your desire for material things lessens when you have a strong community because your emotional needs are met.
By being young and more open to change and flexibility, millennials are in a good position to explore and profit from these ideas.
I believe our economy and culture are on the precipice of a major change. And my peers and I are in the necessary position to ask the questions: What does wealth mean to us? And how do we want to attain it?