The Day Jobs

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The Day Jobs: Interview with a successful businessman.

Interviewer: Hello, Mr. Businessman, welcome to the show.

Businessman: Thank you. I’m just here to talk about my day job.

Interviewer: Ok, so is it your main job? What is it that you do?

Businessman: Uhm, well it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s kind of complicated. You could say that my main job is making money, but really it’s more like a hobby.

Interviewer: Why did you choose this as your hobby?

Businessman: Well, first of all because I like making money. And second because I wanted some kind of stability in my life and this seemed like the safest way to get it…

Interviewer: Ok, so what exactly do you do at this job?

Businessman: Well there are two phases to the job. In the first one I try out different ways to make money and get feedback on how well they work…

Interviewer: Interesting, so in a way your job is also a test bed for other businessmen?

The Day Jobs, a collection of short interviews with successful businessmen, offers a revealing glimpse into the lives of men who have built successful careers. The typical “day job” for these men is running a small business that provides them with a comfortable income and flexibility to pursue other interests.

Trent Hamm, the author of this book, owns an online magazine that provides him the resources to travel widely, write about what interests him, and interview interesting people like the ones in this book. He maintains his own website at

Hamm’s interview subjects reveal how they balance their work life with their personal lives; how they make sensible choices to provide for themselves and their families; how they handle unexpected changes such as layoffs or family illness; and how they maintain their sanity while working long hours each week.

The wisdom that comes through in these interviews is that we all need to find a career that works for us. We aren’t likely to be able to do something we hate for 40 hours a week every week until we retire. By finding something you love to do and then building a business around it, you can succeed both personally and financially–without hating what you do in the process.

I highly recommend this book to

How did you start making money?

I started doing day jobs in high school. I was really into art and music, and I wanted to be a rock star. So I thought, “If I play music all day, I can’t make any money.” So I decided to get a day job.

I got a job as a janitor at a car wash. Then I started getting more responsible jobs—working in the office, then moving up to manager. I worked there for a few years, then started my own car wash business.

The first thing we had to do was find our locations. We looked around for about three weeks until we found some good locations. Then we bought them and built new car washes. That’s how you make your first money: you buy things and resell them with a profit margin.

As we grew, we just kept buying more locations and building more car washes. And that’s how it went for about 20 years: owning and operating car washes.*

I don’t think I can be much help in getting people to believe in themselves. That’s a personal thing. But I can tell you what it’s like to be an artist and make a living, so maybe you’ll believe it’s at least possible.

I’m not an especially successful artist or businessman. You could do this just as well. If you have something to sell, there are many ways to get it out there.

You need a day job that is flexible enough that you can use some of your time for your art. What’s important is not the amount of time, but the degree of flexibility – the more you can vary the hours, the better.

If you want to make a living from your art, then you have to actually charge for it, and the best way to do that is by making your art freely available and getting it seen by as many people as possible. It is a lot easier than most people think, because if you use the internet, then you don’t even have to deal with physical distribution; people will find your work for you.

And if anybody ever asks how much money someone like me makes from their art… well, I’m not telling them anything they don’t already know or suspect. You could make

“I tell you, I had one of the most interesting jobs doing what I do now. Just imagine, I had a job that was actually making money.”

The man across the table from me is about my age, maybe a bit younger. He has a beak of a nose like Trotsky’s and an air of suppressed hysteria that makes me think he’s going to start yelling before the end of the meal. “I had this amazingly interesting job,” he says again.

“What did it involve?” I ask.

“Making money,” he says, as if this were self-explanatory. “You know how they say money doesn’t grow on trees? They’re wrong. It grows on bushes. And you have to pick it off the bush at exactly the right moment or it will fall off and you’ll lose it forever.”

Well, he seems to have mastered this timing because apparently he has managed to accumulate a fair amount of money over the years. He radiates an intense aura of smugness that makes me want a cigarette, but I don’t smoke anymore so I just drink my water instead and try not to stare at him too much because his features are so sharp they look like they might cut me if I get too close.

I had a boring office job. I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever and that the longer I stayed, the harder it would be for me to change careers. So every day, before work, I would sit down at my laptop in my living room and write.

I wrote about my life. The past few years had been really dramatic — divorces, a bankruptcy, life-threatening illnesses — and I was determined to capture everything that was happening to me before it slipped away into memory.

The result was a memoir called The Four-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich .

The book came out of a growing sense of urgency in me: If I didn’t do this now, I never would. It’s easy to talk about taking action now instead of later when you don’t have any immediate responsibilities. But when your family is eating into savings and you have a mortgage payment due next week, it’s a lot more difficult to think about playing video games all weekend or going out with friends instead of working on your business idea.

What changed? What made me decide that it was time to take action?

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