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The Delusion Of Hard Work (And Why It Won’t Make You Rich)

You can work hard at anything but that doesn’t mean it’s useful to the progress of humanity.

This is the delusion of hard work.

You can put 4 years of work into getting a degree.

You can put 10 years of work into climbing a corporate ladder.

And still, you won’t be paid anywhere close to what you want.

So, rather than taking your future into their own hands, you whine and complain.

“I deserve to be paid more!”

“I’ve spent 14 years working hard and this is all I get for it?”

“I barely have any time for my family. I don’t have enough to take a vacation. I slave away with no light at the end of the tunnel.”

The complainers of the world are missing one crucial piece of the puzzle:

The labor theory of value is that you should be paid for the amount of work you do.

To feel as if you have jumped through hoops.

To feel like you deserve something.

But that’s not how reality works.

Money is a unit of value. Value is a measure of how much people care about what you do.

How valuable you are = the magnitude of problems you solve, the results of the solutions you create, and your ability to get people to care about your creation.

If you aren’t happy with how much you make, it may be time to take a brutally honest look at what you contribute to the world.

It does not make sense to pay someone based on the amount of work they do. It does make sense to pay someone based on the level of problem they solve.


I can work hard for 1 year at writing to become an author, but 1 year isn’t enough to justify $100,000 of compensation.

You only make as much money as other people care about what you’ve done within that year. That is, how your creation benefits them so that they use it to solve a problem, change their life, and bring progress to humanity.

Complaining about not being paid enough is not going to get you paid. In fact, it will probably get you fired or ignored. Or just hated by anyone you come into contact with because they are thinking, “Ok… what are you going to do about it?”

The only option is to take matters into your own hands.

The Irreplaceable Individual

You are worried about what will be relevant 20 years from now because you are dependent on everyone but yourself for your success.

Successful people aren’t worried because they understand what makes anyone successful.

The highest-paid earners are the visionaries, strategists, and innovators of the world.

The highest-paid earners are not those who work hard, nor smart, but leveraged.

If you want to secure your future, you need the traits that allow you to succeed in any environment.

These traits comprise The Irreplaceable Individual:

  • Self-experimentation – how to solve complex problems through trial and error and come to your own conclusions.
  • Self-reflection – how to understand the motives of your mind, so you can understand the motives of others.
  • Self-development – cultivating a valuable mindset and skillset that can help others.
  • Self-reliance – how to get what you want by taking responsibility for the outcome of your life.
  • Self-education – the ability to gather, make sense of, and utilize information on an unknown subject.
  • Self-sufficiency – the ability to sustain one’s ideal lifestyle and acquire the resources necessary to do so.
  • Self-mastery – an unwavering dedication to the process of navigating reality.

When you master yourself, you master the world.

If you want to become irreplaceable, you are required to become valuable.

If you want to become well-paid, you must convince people to see that value.

The perception of value changes as the world does.

With the advent of AI, we may not know what the future of value looks like, but we do know that there will be value.

Humans may not be paid in dollars, but may still be paid in prestige, status, and anything else that will run the human economy.

Money as dollars may not persist, but the ability to profit from your creations will.

How To Secure Your Future

Your skill set isn’t valuable if nobody knows or cares about it.

There are 2 issues here.

If nobody knows about what you create, it isn’t valuable.

If nobody cares about your create, it isn’t valuable.

In business, you need a product and group of people who care about that product enough to buy it.

You can place your product in front of people on the internet, but if they can’t see why it benefits their lives, they won’t care about it.

You can have what you believe is the most valuable product, but if you don’t place it in front of people, they don’t have a chance to care about it.

In relationships, you can place yourself in front of a group of potential partners, but if they can’t see where you fit into their life, they won’t care about you.

You can believe you are the most developed individual, but if you sit inside all day, potential partners don’t have a chance to care about you.

1) Become An Entrepreneur

You only gain full control over your time and income when you realize that entrepreneurship is the only path to do so.

At a job, you are not in charge of the product, the tasks you are assigned, or the customer acquisition process.

In other words, your employer is in charge of everything that pays the bills. Therefore they are in charge of your entire life.

Some are more lenient then others yes, and there’s nothing wrong with a temporary job, but I am writing to those who want to eventually be free.

2) Build Distribution

There is one big trap in entrepreneurship.

I fell into it 7 times.

That’s why I failed at 7 business models when starting.

I was so enamored by the skill I was learning. I just wanted to build projects all day. I loved being the architect of the business.

Website, landing page, logo, portfolio, but rarely did I try to actually get customers. You know… the one’s that pay you.

When I did start learning to get customers, it was manual outreach or paid ads. Think cold email, cold DMs, and Facebook ads that I didn’t have the money to run.

Times are different.

You have the ability to build an audience of potential buyers by becoming a one-person media company.

Everyone is on social media. That’s where the attention is right now. Your customers aren’t looking at the TV. Your customers aren’t listening to the radio. Your customers aren’t reading the newspaper.

Your job is to place your business where the attention is right now. That may change in the future, but not any time soon. And when it does, you must be adaptable.

Building an audience with education, inspiration, and entertainment through content is the best way to start a business these days.

You get to prove your value in public, attract a following you don’t have to pay for, and put a product in front of them so you can get paid to do what you want.

Study those who are doing what you want to do. I guarantee they are posting on social media, building a name for themselves, and selling something (because they aren’t selling something for someone else anymore).

3) Learn To Write

The greatest skill of an irreplaceable individual is writing.

It knocks out 3 birds with one stone:

  1. It teaches you to articulate your value from reader feedback.
  2. It is the foundation of media (how to build distribution by getting your writing shared).
  3. It is the morning habit that builds any project you build.

Posts, threads, emails, outlines, modules, advertisements, direct messages, books, video scripts, and the rest all start with writing.

Another bonus is that writing is a meta-skill.

By meta-skill, I mean you can start without experience and stack skills underneath it.

You don’t need to show your body. You don’t need to have an English degree. You write every day with texts and messages.

With speaking or video, you need editing skills and the confidence to not stumble over your words. You need to think on the fly.

Writing teaches you to think clearly in the comfort of your own home (or coffee shop).

This is why I recommend starting your journey on X/Twitter.

Once you’ve got the hand of growing distribution (your audience) you start a newsletter to double your impact. Then, you build a written product and monetize that.

By the way, we hold your hand through this process inside Kortex University as you progress through The Synthesizer, Authority, and Builder tiers.

4) Learn To Sell

Sales = survival.

If you don’t sell your own product, you will be forced to sell someone else’s.

You can complain all day about how “everyone is selling something nowadays,” but you are missing the point behind that.

Yes, everyone is selling something because they have to if they (1) want to survive (2) contribute to humanity and (3) receive money in return.

Another point:

People only invest in what they care about.

Sales and persuasion go hand in hand.

If you don’t learn to sell, you will be disappointed when you put your product in front of a crowd of crickets.

Sales is how you persuade people to see the value in what you have to offer. Persuasion is inspiring people to make a good decision for their life.

The sales process is not inherently sleazy.

It is guiding people through a story, because that’s how humans relate and determine value.

  1. You make them aware of a problem.
  2. You make them realize how that problem will impact their life if it goes unsolved.
  3. You introduce a solution (your product) that can solve that problem.
  4. You show them proof that change is possible with testimonials or personal experience.
  5. Give them the clarity to act and continue on a new path.

That’s how you write a landing page, run a “sales” call, direct message people, or get people to read your newsletter like I did here.

If you don’t like sales, you may not realize that you are selling people on your beliefs, ideas, and worldview every single day.

Flip the switch from mindlessly manipulating people to mindfully helping people.

5) Learn To Build

Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable. – Naval

Every day, set aside one hour to build a project that actualizes your ideal future.

That is the only way to escape building projects for someone else.

To build, you need technical know-how.

You must either learn to code or learn to use the technology available to you.

What used to take 10 people now takes 1.

What used to take 10 hours now takes 1.

What used to take 10 dollars now takes 1.

You live in a beautiful time where humans can leverage technology to build what they want.

Website builders, email marketing software, AI, social media, course builders, and more.

It is your job to create and distribute value by learning and building on the internet.

If you don’t know what to build, start with:

  1. What you already use, but make it better
  2. A problem you’ve solved in your life
  3. Building what you want to see in the world

We discussed this in last weeks letter.

Turn your adversity into a good story. Turn your story into a brand. Turn your journey into a product.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the rest of your day.


Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

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