Recording: Paul Millerd's Pathless Path

Recording: Paul Millerd's Pathless Path

Earlier this week, I chatted live with Paul Millerd about careers, uncertainty, and finding the right balance between living and making a living. The recording and transcript are available below.


[00:00:00] Dror Poleg: Hi everyone. I hope you can all see us and hear us. My. Dror Poleg. I am an economic historian focused on the evolution of work cities and buildings. I'm the author of one and a half books. One of them came out three and a half years ago called Rethinking Real Estate, and the other one is currently in the works called After Office.

[00:00:20] Dror Poleg: And today I'm hosting a very special. Friend and interesting person Paul Millerd, who is the author of the Pathless Path which is a book about his own kind of career and life story with a lot of advice for other people's lives and careers. He's also the host of a podcast with the same name.

[00:00:36] Dror Poleg: Paul started his life is a normal person. He worked in some large companies, ge, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group. He got an mba from MIT. It looked like he was all. But then his life was turned upside down. An illness, sidelined him for I think more than a year.

[00:00:51] Dror Poleg: And he really started to rethink how he wanted to spend his time, his relationship to work, how he defines himself, what he aspires to become. And I think what, even rethinking what is even possible to even think about and know at certain parts of your life and the path dependencies that we create for ourselves.

[00:01:06] Dror Poleg: So Paul wrote a wonderful book. And I thought it would be great to invite him and chat about the book and about his ideas.

[00:01:14] Paul Millerd: So welcome Paul. Thanks, Dror. Excited to dive in today.

[00:01:20] Dror Poleg: So first of all, where do we find you?

Paul Millerd: I am in Austin, Texas. And in, in the timeline of my life, I'm also like a few days or a week before having our first child.

[00:01:31] Dror Poleg: That's amazing. We'll come back to that because I think it's relevant, to our discussion. But let's start with the gist of the book. You're writing about the Pathless Path. What is the other path? Does that mean that all of us are on a different path? Where are we, where do you think we should be?

[00:01:45] Dror Poleg: And what prompted you

[00:01:46] Paul Millerd: to write a book? So I argue in my book that there's something called the default path, which is the path we grow up with. Every culture has its version of the default path. It's this is what you do as an adult to be seen as a successful person. For me it was go to college, get a job dot, question mark, maybe get married and have kids too.

[00:02:08] Paul Millerd: But, it's a pretty surface-level script. Most people can repeat it and tell you what it is in most countries, and it's the path I found myself on in my twenties. And in that reality, you don't really think about any other paths. And my. My proposition is the pathless path is basically an alternative to the default path.

[00:02:30] Paul Millerd: But it doesn't come with a clear story. It's a figure it out yourself, contemplate life a little more, and experiment and figure it out as you go.

[00:02:41] Dror Poleg: So I'm sure many people who are listening to this are saying, all right, that's easy to say, but what does it mean in practice? Tell us a little bit more about what happened to you on your own journey what you explored and, the dilemmas that you faced, and how you approached them.

[00:02:55] Paul Millerd: Yeah. I think I grew up always pretty good at school and enjoyed school. It wasn't until college, though, that I was surrounded by people. You might call me a high achiever, aiming at prestigious institutions, prestigious grad schools, and jobs, and I got sucked into that. And every internship I had, I always just wanted to work at a better company the next year and it was fine.

[00:03:20] Paul Millerd: I. Really liked that in my early twenties, it was probably a good thing. It gave me an aim and a direction in life in order to develop and learn new skills. But in all those jobs, I would always look around and be like, why are these adults doing the things they're doing? There was always so much stuff that didn't seem necessary, didn't seem valuable, and when you question these things, people cynically shoot you.

[00:03:47] Paul Millerd: What do you think? You can't work? And these questions for me never really went away. I dealt with my discomfort with a lot of the stuff people were doing in the workplace by basically just jumping jobs every year and a half to two years. And essentially, I just ran outta moves in my early thirties.

[00:04:05] Paul Millerd: . And ended up leaving my job. And I didn't really have a good plan, but it was, how can I find a new way forward? And in doing that, I basically needed to invent my own story because I felt really lost and in opposition to how most people were seeing the world and what was worth doing.

[00:04:25] Dror Poleg: So when you say, you mentioned this kind of.

[00:04:28] Dror Poleg: this rebuttal or this critique where, when I hear this, I'm like, alright, so does it mean that okay, it's not fun to work, so people should chill and not think about work? What is the practical alternative? What do we do instead? Let's say I, I hate my job.

[00:04:43] Dror Poleg: Or I get to a point where I feel like, yeah, I'm running out of moves. I tried a few different companies. The problem might be deeper than what I thought. It's not just about changing a position. There's something else here. What do I do instead if I still have to make a living

[00:04:56] Paul Millerd: and, yeah. I don't think most people should quit their job and follow my path. It happens to work really well for me because I get joy out of the uncertainty. Me not knowing where I'll end up in five to 10 years. And I know you're wired the same is exciting for me. I love the joy of finding things out, as Richard Feynman might say.

[00:05:15] Paul Millerd: And. I think what I am proposing is that we look at the system we are operating in, right? In our modern world, work has become the center of life. It has become so ingrained in our lives that we don't even think or question it anymore, which is why most of us design our lives, assuming that as adults, we work continuously throughout adulthood for a company, right?

[00:05:47] Paul Millerd: The digital transformation we've been undergoing for the last 20 years, which you've written quite eloquently about, has exploded the possibilities for how we can structure our work in lives. So there are other possibilities and it's worth contemplating. Is this the actual right setup for me? The, there's a hidden assumption that membership in society.

[00:06:10] Paul Millerd: is determined by your participation in formal work. Formal we work means full-time employment, right? , this is why when you quit your job and you're still making money, people go, oh, you're unemployed. Oh, you don't work, right? This stuff is so deep and I think for many people acknowledging this and realizing these scripts and stories are dictating how we think about our lives can be a release.

[00:06:38] Paul Millerd: because people even in jobs can say, oh, okay, I'm running this script. This is why I feel stressful when I'm not working on a workday, or I don't feel productive on a Sunday. Where do all these things come from? And then people can start like building back and saying, okay, how do I wanna spend my time?

[00:06:56] Paul Millerd: What trade-offs? What sacrifices am I willing to.

[00:07:00] Dror Poleg: Yeah. So let's come back to that because I feel like so far we've focused a lot on what the, what we don't want. But what did you end up doing? You, I assume you, you earn a, and I don't assume, I know actually, but some of our listeners might not know, you, you are earning a living.

[00:07:15] Dror Poleg: How did you, why do you actually do, and how did you figure out that this is what you wanted

[00:07:19] Paul Millerd: to do? Yeah, so when I left my job, I really just wanted to run. , I felt trapped by it. I felt stifled. I felt I was becoming cynical, and I really felt like I was dying in a sort of metaphorical sense. But I was on a path that was smart.

[00:07:39] Paul Millerd: I got a lot of praise. People supported me implicitly because I was in a high-paying job, in heading in the right direction, right? And I just wanted to run. . I just wanted to work less. My frame of work was very much work sucks. How do you minimize that? , so in the first year after leaving, I freelanced for a bit.

[00:07:59] Paul Millerd: I figured out how to make money. I dramatically lowered my cost of living down to 35 grand a year in Boston.

[00:08:07] Dror Poleg: Paul, so in the book you mentioned a few concepts.

[00:08:10] Dror Poleg: That kind of shape people's views about their careers and I want to emphasize, I think Paul, you said it yourself, we're not here to try to convince everyone to leave their jobs and do whatever they want. But I think there are degrees to this and a lot of what resonated for me in the book and I think to many other people that I know is not necessarily following exactly in that direction.

[00:08:29] Dror Poleg: But this call to really reconsider a lot of things that happen to us by default, that we just think that no alternatives exist for them. And you write a lot about how much our early decisions shape our lives and we create these path dependencies for ourselves. And you mentioned a few concepts that, that I want to double-click on get you to explain and elaborate on the first one.

[00:08:51] Dror Poleg: What you call the end of history illusion. So can you explain what that is and how does that apply to our

[00:08:56] Paul Millerd: careers? Yeah. The end of history illusion is and you see this all over the place once you learn about this it's people's default bias that they think the world is stopped in the present, right?

[00:09:09] Paul Millerd: So we always underestimate how much will actually change. When we look back and say how much we've changed, it's almost always more than we. So we'll look back and say, yeah, the last 10 years I changed a lot. And then ask people to predict how much will you change in the next 10 years? . And people will say, not much.

[00:09:27] Paul Millerd: Pretty much the same. , my frame around this is given that we're probably going to change more than we expect. Why not actively lean into that and shake things up proactively? I think in today's world, we're shifting away from a very stable industrial work culture, which life was built around this full-time job.

[00:09:49] Paul Millerd: This story of you can just pick a job and follow this path towards one that is much more probabilistic. You've written a lot about this and a lot more unpredictable, so why not proactively? Shake things up, do experiments, try different things two lean proactively into that inevitable change that's going to happen anyway.

[00:10:13] Dror Poleg: So I, so if I understand it correctly, so I see two insights here. One, to lean into our own change not try to resist like when our preferences change over time to, to embrace that and also accept. , maybe even economically it might not be the worst idea because society and the economy itself is changing faster than it did, let's say in the 1950s.

[00:10:34] Dror Poleg: And it might be even beneficial for us to embrace that change, but also to plan for change or to assume that it's coming. That when we make certain decisions, when we're 18 and decide what to study in college or when we're 25 and we just more or less get settled into our careers in some countries , avoid some path dependencies, or at least to be aware of them and to know that, okay, yes, there's some decisions that I've made when I was 23.

[00:10:58] Dror Poleg: They shape my life now and I'm, let's say 35. And if I'm aware of that, I can reconsider them now and not just assume that the life I have is the only life that I could have had and the life that I must have now for the next 70 or 80 years. Is that a correct understanding?

[00:11:13] Paul Millerd: Yeah, I think that's right.

[00:11:15] Paul Millerd: I think I talk to so many people, especially in my generation, the millennials, the older millennials who have played this game, they've climbed to higher levels of success in their career and they're in their mid to late thirties, and there's this empty feeling like there's gotta be more to this than this.

[00:11:35] Paul Millerd: The truth is we're not designed to work continuously throughout, throughout our entire adult lives. The Americans somehow have conceived life as basically slotting in a few vacation weeks, into work, right? So everything is downstream of work. Even people with kids these days, many people conceive of a life built around two full-time lives.

[00:12:03] Paul Millerd: two full-time careers, right? So downstream of that, you have very limited space to reconfigure your life. And I don't think, and I think one thing that holds people back is most people conceive of life as like an all or nothing leap. So it's like you're either in a full-time career or you dramatically shift to what I'm doing now.

[00:12:25] Paul Millerd: That's an illusion. . The reality is you could take three months off in a sabbatical. You can ask your company for an unpaid sabbatical. Many are giving them. Now I have people message me all the time that are like, oh, my company just let me do this cuz they didn't want me to leave the labor market's tight.

[00:12:43] Paul Millerd: Now lean into that, right? You can also take a year and try to freelance, do some experiments, move abroad with your family and your kids. A lot of people are doing this. The insights and the modes of being you tap into that space might give you the source energy that fuels the rest of your life, right?

[00:13:05] Paul Millerd: And so if we can disconnect the idea that like life is downstream from full-time employment, and say employment might be downstream of a life well lived, it leads to some really interesting different ways of thinking about. .

[00:13:22] Dror Poleg: So you mentioned a couple of times in there, the, the kind of the contrast between the US and elsewhere and the need for travel.

[00:13:29] Dror Poleg: How, and I know that, both of us have lived in different places and spent a lot of time working remotely and working on the road and still do. How do you think some of the attitudes that you criticize or kind of rail against in the book are different in the US versus other countries and what do you think shapes those differences?

[00:13:46] Dror Poleg: What are they underpinned by?

[00:13:48] Paul Millerd: I think this is the most powerful thing about living abroad, and I think more Americans should live abroad. We're like the richest country in the world at the richest time in history, and for some reason, most people, Don't seem to realize this. I think just living abroad is way cheaper than living in the US and you can see how healthcare is set up differently and a lot cheaper and more accessible and I think most people could pull it off if they set that as their central goal.

[00:14:17] Paul Millerd: , most people seem to pull off affording a very expensive house in the US when they make that their goal. . And I think the most powerful thing for me was two things, is one is like realizing I have this American mind when I went to Taiwan. I'm like, I'm seeing these amazing food stalls on the side of the road that are selling this incredible food really cheaply.

[00:14:41] Paul Millerd: And I'm like, . Oh, they, if they only had better marketing and opened up seven days a week. And I'm like, what am I doing ? You can't turn your American mind off. So I like relaxed that part of me which is this. Frenzied mind of like busyness. Life is expensive. Money is the most important thing, right?

[00:15:01] Paul Millerd: So I got to soften my attachment to that. But also I learned to appreciate the US a little more too. This is an entrepreneurial place. This is a place where you can dream. Crazy things. You can try new business ideas and that is not as appreciated in other countries as much. So I think leaving the US is a really powerful psycho technology to actually appreciate the US a little more.

[00:15:26] Paul Millerd: And I think I dramatically lowered my cost of living. I made less than 50 grand for four straight years after quitting my job. . And it helped me realize that like I don't actually need or want those. So right now I am not aiming at the upper middle class ideal American lifestyle that almost everyone seems to be aiming at.

[00:15:51] Paul Millerd: We don't have a car right now. We're in a rental two bedroom. We're gonna have a kid in the two bedroom, and that's fine. And we're so happy because we have the freedom to work on our own terms and explore both of our.

[00:16:05] Dror Poleg: So I'm gonna, I was planning to ask about this towards the end, but I think it's relevant to do it now.

[00:16:09] Dror Poleg: And you mentioned the kind of looming fatherhood hopefully in a week or so. And to me, as as a father of two, and as someone who actually didn't grow up in America and even spent most of his adult life away from America, living in America I'm terrified. I feel like I need much more kind of, Security and backups than I needed living anywhere else.

[00:16:34] Dror Poleg: Because there's always this risk, it seems that, you're gonna be bankrupt because of healthcare or that in order to give your kids like basic, decent education, you have to live somewhere very specific afford, the housing there. And. Again, I don't have, I don't have an answer to that question in a way on my own, but how do you think about that?

[00:16:54] Dror Poleg: How do you think fatherhood might change some of your views in a way? we'll speak again in 10 years, what will you tell me that kind of the changed and how are you preparing for

[00:17:03] Paul Millerd: that? I don't know. I don't have a perfect plan. I might mess up we might run outta money. And . I think kids.

[00:17:12] Paul Millerd: Just approaching having kids, it makes me a lot more serious. I'm not gonna sacrifice, like I might sacrifice and live somewhere really crappy and slightly dangerous if I'm living abroad alone, but I'm not gonna do that. Yeah. With family and kids. I think the social welfare in the US is actually quite generous.

[00:17:32] Paul Millerd: , it's just hidden through. Like psychologically torturous processes. , and no, nobody wants to say this. It's weird for people in the richest country in the world to be saying like, this is a really terrible place to live. And this is like social security exist. So you can calculate your social security payments.

[00:17:55] Paul Millerd: And the reality is you could probably take Social Security even a low level and live in most countries in the world when you retire pretty comfortably. . Yeah, I agree with that. I think if you lower your income, so the first year I've been in the US and there's actually like generous subsidies if you make very little money and you pay very little taxes. . So I think a lot of people just haven't experienced earning very little. and experiencing like the , it's all like tax credits though, right? If you're designing this system to enable people to thrive, it's a terrible system. It requires you to basically just like count on things working out if you put a lot of energy into effort, into doing your taxes correctly, finding social support systems and things like that. . Yeah, I

[00:18:47] Dror Poleg: think they're actually agree. I think, and even that I find personally, it's hard for me to imagine. That is an option. But I think American, and then, especially here in New York, it's very pronounced that it's okay to be poor and it's okay to be very wealthy, but it's really tough to just be anything other than these two options.

[00:19:07] Dror Poleg: If you're like really poor, you'll get housing, you'll get schooling, you'll get like some allowance, and if you're really wealthy then everything's fine. But if you're just like someone in the middle who's trying to get by, then you get crushed. I try, not to even consider the option of becoming porn.

[00:19:23] Dror Poleg: Obviously this, I don't think it's anyone's goal. But I agree with you that when you actually look at it unemotionally, you see that okay, actually, you know, it's not the end of the world. If I'll try something and fail, I'm not, I'm probably not going to starve. Especially as long as I'm healthy and I can actually try again.

[00:19:38] Dror Poleg: Yeah. I'm not necessarily going to become like a drag addict homeless or a fall into like the as low as one can fall. But of course it's scary and people don't want to get anywhere near that. Someone just asked on Twitter, was there ever a specific moment or event where you decided it's time to quit and get out of the corporate world?

[00:19:56] Dror Poleg: Or was it like a gradual

[00:19:57] Paul Millerd: process? It was a gradual process for sure. I always had the doubts. I remember my first internship, somebody asked me to look through boxes of papers looking for a record of Amelia Earhart and yeah. I probably spent a week just searching through boxes and. Everyone was like, this is amazing.

[00:20:16] Paul Millerd: You get to do a project for the vice president. And I'm like, what is going on here? ? This is obviously pointless. But yeah it's, I always had these doubts and I kept changing jobs. There was so much pointlessness. In almost every job I did, I learned skills, which was useful. . It took me a while, I think, after recovering from being sick and I was outta work for three to six months and I returned and just everything felt silly.

[00:20:45] Paul Millerd: And from there it was probably over and it took about three more years from there. But the thing that tipped the scales for me was I started doing things on the side. I started writing more, I started doing career coaching on the side. I started just like engaging with ideas that inspired me. Not for money or profit, but just to express that side of me as that part became more alive.

[00:21:06] Paul Millerd: it eventually was like, I wanna explore this part of me. , I'm like, I have this numbed 40 hour a week person that shows up and then he either uses some of that time at work to explore, write ideas he's inspired by, or just waits to get outta work so he can like actually live his life. And eventually I just wanted to get rid of that 40 hour chunk.

[00:21:29] Dror Poleg: Yeah. Makes sense. So a couple of other ideas from the book that I want to cover. We're running out of time so quickly. You mentioned the tyranny of convenience. I think the idea from, was it say a little more about that.

[00:21:42] Paul Millerd: Yeah, I think most people. Full. I think full-time employment narrows our conception of the possibilities of life.

[00:21:52] Paul Millerd: , when you have more time opti saving time actually doesn't make sense. , right? When you are working a full-time life, your time is scarce. So you start optimizing, you start ordering out, you start paying for upgraded transportation. Like the example I gave was when I'd go to Boston, I would pay for the aela, cuz it would save me 35 minutes.

[00:22:16] Paul Millerd: But if you have more time, , why not just take the slower one? Train ride's a train ride. It's nice, right? You're not in a rush. . Um, And convenience promises us more time, but it cheapens life, right? Because we're often paying for experiences, we're paying for people to do things for us, and we become dependent on this sort of like convenient, comfortable life.

[00:22:41] Paul Millerd: Do that long enough and you start to think that's the whole point of why you're. , you work such that you can afford the seamless or the Uber rides. Or the all-inclusive vacation. And these things can get very expensive and they can feel very nice. But , like once you strip, basically I quit my job and I was in New York and I didn't make money for a couple months and I just got extremely afraid of spending.

[00:23:10] Paul Millerd: So I started just doing everything myself, cooking at home. I stopped going out to eat, I started riding a bike and life got more interesting and enjoyable and pleasurable. , and I've always tried to not lose touch with that. I think I still pay for some conveniences now, but it's knowing there's a cost.

[00:23:33] Paul Millerd: inherent in that and that the point of life is not to make your life ultimately convenient, because at the end of the day, if you're just trying to design your life around being efficient so that you can work so you can make money, like what? What is the whole point of it? And this is perhaps something like I haven't really talked about.

[00:23:51] Paul Millerd: Like after leaving my job, I just wanted space. And in that space, in that first year, I started creating things. I started writing. and the connection I found with writing was so deep and so profound that I suddenly realized I want to steer my whole life around enabling this creative energy to exist in me.

[00:24:13] Paul Millerd: And I think most of us have this inside us. We're just either scared to find it or scared that it might cost us many of the things that others look at us as a good person for doing. And I basically, Probably a million plus dollars on fire over the past five plus years based on what I could have earned as like a strategy manager.

[00:24:34] Paul Millerd: Yeah. But it's all worth it. I do it again. . Because what I found is a re new relationship with work that I feel I can sustain this for the rest of my life.

[00:24:45] Dror Poleg: Yeah. And I think, again, like we're thinking of the extremes might make the message get lost a little. I know especially for my audience, serious people, very corporate finance, real estate, government it might be hard to imagine, okay, let's change our lives completely.

[00:25:00] Dror Poleg: But I think. The same approach and a lot of the ideas in the book can also help you, again, make those tweaks in terms of how you prioritize your time, even without destroying everything and kind of making a too extreme a jump. And I think even within a career, and you touched on that a little bit with your discovery of, liking to write and how you I know that you do other things now in terms of training people and teaching and empowering others that is both wonderful and also you enjoy it.

[00:25:25] Dror Poleg: I. To make the most out of your career, even if you are ambitious and you want to stick to a default ish path, you need to be brave enough and to be willing to lose and to of know that, you can make those jumps. There's the, in the way of the ura, they say that the way of the URA is found in death, right?

[00:25:41] Dror Poleg: Because you have to go into battle. Being willing to die. And if you're willing to lose yourself, that's the only way to keep yourself and discover who you are. And I think , without dying or using swords, I think within our careers as well, to, we have to be willing to of lose some of the stuff we have in our comforts and conveniences in order to get to the next level.

[00:26:01] Dror Poleg: As well. There's a question here from Harriet. Yeah, that's a great about managing the insecurity or kind of, how do you deal with this life of this untraditional path? And I know we're over time already, but we're just gonna keep going for a few more minutes cuz I have more questions and the

[00:26:15] Paul Millerd: internet is awesome.

[00:26:16] Paul Millerd: Yeah, I still have time. Yeah, and I think this is the fundamental question people say. What about money? What about figuring out what you're going to do? And it's yeah that's the hard part. It basically shifts if you're leaving a traditional path, there is an. Understanding in society that you were doing the right thing, you were a good person.

[00:26:41] Paul Millerd: Nobody questions what you're doing. Your colleagues don't question what you're doing. There's an uncertainty there, but you can more or less ignore it on your own path. You can't ignore the uncertainty and insecurity. The truth is it never goes away. . However, I think over time, what I've seen over and over again, I've talked to hundreds of people on unconventional paths on my podcast, stories in my book, is that the uncertainty and insecurity switches from a bug to a feature, right?

[00:27:11] Paul Millerd: You look at it as oh, that's there. That's human, that's real. That's always been there. Throughout history, all humans have always had these feelings. and it's telling me something. It's telling me I'm afraid of something. It's telling me I'm scared of something and but that is not an excuse to try to make it disappear by just doing something comfortable right.

[00:27:36] Paul Millerd: Over and over again. I found that when I lean into discomfort, there is something worth finding. And the problem is, like you, there's no playbook for this. You need like poetry and literature to guide you and it's just having faith in the world.

[00:27:56] Dror Poleg: And yeah. But you also, I think in the book you also mentioned, you mentioned some practical things and even some decisions in terms of, wanting to depend on a single income stream, for example.

[00:28:06] Dror Poleg: on a single job and trying to like diversify. on that front seems to be quite

[00:28:11] Paul Millerd: practical. Yeah, and I think a lot of people can get caught up like falling into a script. on the untraditional path, like I think the path I'm on is not that rare anymore. It's increasingly common. It's just that everyone pretends that full-time work is the only way to structure your life.

[00:28:29] Paul Millerd: There are tens of millions of alternative workers in the us. You've written extensively about this. There are hundreds of millions around the world. In many ways, what I'm doing and how you're structuring your life has been the norm for most of. It's just that we created these full-time job thingies, which sort of funnel guaranteed wealth to people over and over again in monthly injections.

[00:28:54] Paul Millerd: Tremendous innovation. , but it's not the only way to structure your life in there, hidden costs in that.

[00:29:00] Dror Poleg: So let's talk a little bit to now as we, we approach the end like bigger picture. I, I'm not by no means a Marxist, but I think one of the ideas that I like from Marx is the notion that, there's some kind of technological and economic structure.

[00:29:15] Dror Poleg: And then on top of. The kind of the upper structure of our own ideologies and opinions and views and the, basically culture is shaped by technology and economic relations and that a lot of the things that we value and that we want are shaped by, essentially by what our economy needs us to want.

[00:29:30] Dror Poleg: In the 1950s people worked in these kind of, boring corporate jobs because that's what the economy, and they like them and they aspire towards them, and they wanted them because that's what the economy needed them to want in a way. And I feel like your views, on the one hand can sound, Very alternative, very off the mainstream.

[00:29:48] Dror Poleg: And they are in many ways. But on the other hand, I do see them fitting into this broader trend of this desire for more flexibility, for more meaning at work for more agency and independence. So I feel like the, there's the economy now wants us to want more of those things because it needs us to, yeah.

[00:30:05] Dror Poleg: Not value those stable jobs anymore. Maybe because there, there's not gonna be too many of them left. And to want to explore and to want to roll the dice every now and then because maybe that's what the economy needs us to do in order for things to keep growing and functioning. Is there something to that, do you feel it as well?

[00:30:21] Dror Poleg: Like how do you

[00:30:22] Paul Millerd: see. I have this thing where I say everyone's already on a pathless path. It's just that their mental model of the world hasn't shifted yet. Even people in stable careers, they're always thinking about changing jobs and knowing that they'll probably have to change jobs and stay relevant in their careers, right?

[00:30:39] Paul Millerd: There's almost no difference between them and me, except I'm just not working for another company. And I have to manage a lot more of my own inner psychology of like how to deal with the uncertainty of that. I think you've written about how the economy is becoming a lot more probabilistic. and yeah, I think a lot

[00:31:04] Dror Poleg: of us assume that we have a choice, that we can choose, yeah.

[00:31:07] Dror Poleg: Stability, that we can have that fifties, ninth lifestyle I'll just study something, work in the same place for 40 years, buy a house, retire and everything's gonna be fine. And increasingly that's not really an option for many people. I think some are feeling it already, and it's likely that over the next 10, 15 years, many or most people will realize that.

[00:31:30] Dror Poleg: This plan doesn't work. I have to reinvent myself again. I don't have enough to retire. Whatever I studied is not gonna carry me through. The profession that I chose is not like a box that I can keep ticking and always get employment.

[00:31:43] Paul Millerd: Yeah. Yeah. I think. . I like to live in the reality we're actually in, right?

[00:31:51] Paul Millerd: A lot of people's story, like people approach their lives as if it's this story in their head that they're living out. This is like the post-modern reality of the world. And so like we get inspiration from previous generations, from our parents, from what we see around us. . The reality is we're not in the 1970s anymore.

[00:32:17] Paul Millerd: We're not in the 1980s anymore. We're not in the 1990s anymore. We have digital we have digital lives. . The world is increasingly digital. The ease of getting payments for your own work is way easier than ever before. The economy, the middle class is d. . David Autor has great research on this from m i t.

[00:32:37] Paul Millerd: Middle skill jobs are disappearing. So it's like low skill and high skill. The high skill people are getting like rich and that's co causing this creeping expectation of everyone wants this s upper middle class life. And you have to just take a step back and say what am I opting into?

[00:32:52] Paul Millerd: So I'm not committed to a path in a. . It's more that for me, it's a really good setup to have to reevaluate my life every month and opt into things, figure out what the trade offs are, what are the costs, what are the upsides, and I like that. I like that thinking and that fuels my writing. And I like talking to people about these things, helping people navigate these paths.

[00:33:16] Paul Millerd: And am I part of a system? . I think this is one of the key ideas for my book is you can't actually escape work. We live in a wage based reality. The conception of how we should structure our lives now is around full-time work. And I am only living in a, like in that reality, remixing it a little more.

[00:33:38] Paul Millerd: And I think that's the best you can hope for in today's world. The power of economic systems and how it shapes our consciousness is super powerful. Oshan Jarow has some great writing about this. If people want to check that out. Oshan Jarow. Great writing on like consciousness and economic systems.

[00:33:59] Paul Millerd: , but yeah, it's. It's really just I want to figure out what is the base reality and like reading people like you helps me figure that out a lot because you, there aren't that many people thinking about this. Like all the thought leaders on LinkedIn they're all just like building careers around parroting what corporations want to hear because that is where the money is.

[00:34:22] Paul Millerd: And so you have to lean out to the edges a little more and explore thinkers like you and other people who are trying to figure out new paradigms for how to think about work. .

[00:34:32] Dror Poleg: So let's send our audience away with some homework. We have to get them to work, right? So in the book, I know. You do.

[00:34:39] Dror Poleg: Well,

[00:34:39] Paul Millerd: that's the thing, everyone's just watching live streams on LinkedIn, , it's like you, nobody's really working. , like you're getting paid to just be around. My friend has this thing that I, employment is basically an employer having first right of refusal on your shower thoughts.

[00:34:56] Dror Poleg: I like that.

[00:34:58] Dror Poleg: So I know that in the book you, you are reluctant to turn it into a playbook, but towards the end you do give like a list of things that, that people can do to start to evaluate. Do you wanna take us through, give people a little bit of homework, like a few things, like three or four things that they can do tomorrow or immediately once we're done with this call to, to start reevaluating their choices and where they want to.

[00:35:19] Paul Millerd: Yeah I can read some at the end. Yeah, the first is question the default. I'll just read this part and then I'll mention some others. For years I had a story about how I thought my life should go. I assumed there was only one option for structuring my life around full-time work. I tried to be a good egg, but ultimately found myself unhappy with the direction of my life.

[00:35:38] Paul Millerd: I stumbled into a pathless path and slowly realized that a rigid version of the default path that existed in my. in my mind was only one option of many, right? , you have more degrees of freedom than you think. It's just that setting up your life in this mo mode of being might short circuit your own ability to imagine and think of different options, right?

[00:36:00] Paul Millerd: So the number one thing I tell people is create some space in your life. Try to take one to three months sabbatical at one point in your life as an. Leave the country you grew up in. If you can, like you have many times and just think about life. Think about it at a meta level. What kind of life am I trying to live?

[00:36:24] Paul Millerd: If you automatically reject what I'm saying, like it's not for you, don't do it like double down in your career, try to make a lot of money in a job and do you, but if you were like, Ooh, this sounds really interesting. It's like there is a state of being worth finding that can be found like a state of being where you can feel so connected and so alive.

[00:36:47] Paul Millerd: And I think people can find this. We've people have written about it for hundreds of years, thousands of years. Go find it, go see if it's out there and see what it means for how you wanna structure your.

[00:37:00] Dror Poleg: Yeah. And I would add something also that you, you wrote about in the book, which I definitely used in my own career to go by process of elimination, basically, even if you're not sure what you want, there's probably a lot of things that you already know that you don't want.

[00:37:15] Dror Poleg: Yeah. And once you really specify them in terms of how you spend your time how dependent you are or aren't on a specific employer The kind of skills that you bring to bear and what they're used for. And I think once it's clear to you what you don't want to do and how you don't wanna spend your time looking for an Amelia Earhart document for for a month, for the VP or someone if you're clear with yourself about that, you'll be surprised about the kind of new things that open up that kind of suddenly look like, oh, I didn't consider this cuz I was so busy doing the other thing, or I was saying yes to all of these other things. So I didn't have time for something completely different once it came up.  

I'll mention the book again to everyone. The Pathless Path a lot of practical advice regardless of, again, whether you want to go as far as Paul went, and I think his journey is still ongoing, and I would love to speak again in a few years.

I think fatherhood is a huge milestone, regardless of what you're doing with your work. So it'll be interesting to hear, but I think whatever it is that you do, the book has both inspiration and practical advice on how you can reconsider some of your choices and your path. Thank you again for listening.

And thank you, Paul, for joining me, and we will see you soon.

[00:38:22] Paul Millerd: Thank you, Dror.