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Diary of a made man

Building a Six Figure Lifestyle Interview

by Ian Balina

A year ago


Tim and I flip roles for a second interview. This time, Tim interviews me on my journey to building a six figure lifestyle and about the concept of a Made Man. Apologies for some of the background noise, the perks of filming outside by the Jefferson Memorial…that view tho!!!

Be sure to check out Tim’s site, Spirited Travelpreneur.

Tim: Hey guys, welcome back to the channel. My name is Tim and today I have a very special friend on the channel. I want to welcome you into the show.

Ian: Hey, what’s up, man?

Tim: How are you doing, man?

Ian: I’m good, I’m good. I’m glad to be here. It’s an honor.

Tim: Thanks for coming, man. I appreciate it.

So today I want to talk to Ian about– because his lifestyle, his Made Man Hustle and I want to share with you guys kind of what he’s doing in order to live his lifestyle.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Made Man Brand?

Ian: Yeah, so I have a site called Diary of a Made Man, which began as a journal and diary of my life, my travel. I love filming. I have a video production company and it all started for me just traveling the world in my new job in sales at IBM. Of course I had a job in IT as a developer and I will travel a lot whether with IBM or Deloitte Consulting, being a consultant traveling Monday to Friday.

And when you’re traveling, you’re kind of gone to all these different places and you want to document the journey, so I’ll just film stuff, take pictures, share that on my blog and it kind of happened, I went from being a grad student in Engineering like a broke grad student in Engineering, to a point where I barely had like two dimes to put together, like I was going to McDonald’s getting Happy Meals, you know, like Happy Meals, a dollar menu and stuff.

And within two weeks after I graduated school and got that first job, my entire lifestyle just totally shifted to a point where I’ll go to a restaurant and not even check the price and just order anything I want. And I was like, “Oh, my god, this has happened almost overnight.”

I kind of went from being this person who’s just grinding away, studying, right, all these engineering classes and stuff, to now where I have this lifestyle. And I was like, you know what, mama? I made it.

I have this like, I’m a Made Man now, but once I reached that lifestyle, everything made sense then because, before, I was kind of slaving away or grinding away, not really seeing the purpose of studying so hard in school, like seeing the purpose of doing all of this.

But once I actually achieved this lifestyle, I was like, this is why I worked so hard. This is why I was working, right?

So, all that suffering, I found meaning in that suffering, right? So I mentioned earlier to you, my favorite quote is by Nietzsche, a philosopher, “To live is to suffer. To survive is to find meaning in that suffering.”

So, now, I have found meaning in that suffering, meaning in that grind and that process, right? So now I have a better perspective. When somebody says trust the process, people don’t really know what it means, but now I truly understand what that means.

Tim: So, you’re like, by trusting the process, you have to put in that time. You have to raise your skill level to get to that point of greatness.

What was your motivation in all of this, trying to become like someone better than average? Greater? The Best?

Ian: So it kind of goes back to, I mean, I am in a way a narcissist, so that element, that’s a fear factor. I’ve kind of purposed this, I’ve gone through because I’m an immigrant. I was born in Uganda, Africa, in East Africa. We came here in 8th Grade so all the things my parents have done for me as a kid, I kind of want to pay homage to that. And there are also a lot of people out there, I have lots of friends in high school.

People I was having fun with, going to the same class, playing basketball, they were smart kids, bright kids, but they didn’t make it.

Some didn’t go to college because they didn’t have the money or loans or what have you. Some people just fell in the wrong groups and I’ve kind of seen all the friends I’ve had fall off. So it’s kind of like if you view this as a video game, not everybody has made or passed this level, right?

So kind of like you have high school, you have college, then you have the corporate world. They’re level stages, but not everybody has reached this level where I’m at now because I’m only 28 years old, my last year I made 200 grand like I was blown away.
Tim: Wow, that’s impressive, man.

Ian: The last three years, I’ve made over 100 grand and I wasn’t the smartest kid in school at all. I mean, I was smart. I went to school on a Merit Scholarship, but in graduate school, I was not the smartest kid. I barely graduate college like grad school. The threshold to graduate was 3.0, I had a 2.9 and I had to take a whole bunch of classes, drop some other classes, basically doing like I could then make an engineering in hacking just to graduate with a 3.1, right?

Then, in undergrad, technically, my school should have kicked me off my scholarship because I didn’t make the threshold, but I was just able to figure out different hacks to keep on going.

So, looking back now, I can see that just one small slip off and I would not be here where I am today, so it makes me appreciate that. So, in a way, I’m kind of trying to help other people figure out how to get where I’m at right now, so I went to document that journey by giving out the blueprint.

Tim: That’s very impressive of what you’ve achieved for the past couple of years and to say something like that now, you know, people don’t see the hard work behind it and what goes into it and part of my channel is I’m talking about an unconventional lifestyle and I feel like you’ve hacked the system in a sense and faring out what’s working and how to maximize your investment.

So I want to ask you about, so if someone who’s living an everyday lifestyle or a 9 to 5 job and the conventional lifestyle, what can they do? How do they start thinking differently, meeting the right people and to actually make more money?

Ian: So I think the first step is to make an internal shift with the way you view the world, so basically a mental shift, the more of your inner psychology on how you think about things.

So I have the reasons to kind of change my whole perspective on life, but the thing is, once you make that mental shift, everything just kind falls in place. So if you’re out there working 9 to 5, you start to view opportunity everywhere.

What’s your dream? Where are you trying to go? You’re going to break that down into action steps, action plans. Break it down, how do you get there? Then work rigorously every single day on that goal. Like for today, for example, we’re supposed to be here at 1 PM, but I was late, right?

So actually, so I woke up at like 1:30 and I’m like, “Oh snap, I have to be here with Tim,” but you know why I was late? Because I was working until 6 AM on Diary of a Made Man.

Tim: And you know, I want to mention something funny too because the first time you and I met, you know, I think you are waiting in the Starbucks and I was the one running up late so I feel like this is a trade off or something, right?

Ian: Right, so that’s the kind of dedication it takes, right, because whether you’re working 9 to 5, whatever goals you have for your lifestyle or for your dream, you can do that from 6 to 2 AM, right?

So figure out that goal then work vigorously towards that. Then once you kind of reached that point where you can pursue that, then do that. Then, whatever you’re doing currently right now, take out anything that’s toxic that holds you back from achieving your goals.

So, for example, prior to joining IBM, I was working as a consultant at Deloitte. I mean, it was a nice gig but the pay was all right, but it was only like $85K, but I still have this delusion of grandeur where 85K when I was 24 years old was not enough for me because I was thinking like a billion.

Tim: You got big ideas.

Ian: Right, so when you’re thinking of a billion, you’re like what is 85K, right? So I was very ruthless and I kind of hacked the system. When I figured out, I was working on a project for two weeks. They had me flying randomly to the middle of nowhere in Kentucky on an IT project the whole time.

And when I was there, I was waking up 8 AM working until 8 PM because in consulting, they charge by the hour. They bill by the hour, so they don’t really reward efficiency. So when I first work in at like 2 PM, I can’t just leave early because that’s less money for the company because I have to bill by the hour. And we had this old principle where you don’t leave until the manager leaves. So if the manager’s there until 8 PM and you’re finished at 2 PM, you’re stuck there until 8 PM.

Tim: See, that’s not right at all.

Ian: Yeah, so that was not right at all for me, right? Then I’ll go back to my hotel room and I have to join conference calls at midnight to deal with our team in India and I’m like, you know, after two weeks I was like, you know what? I can’t do this anymore at all, so I quit the job. I just dropped it. But I also had a leverage because I had an offer from IBM. But that wasn’t just a random offer. I had a friend of mine arrive who works at IBM and he told me he has a better work-life balance.

He told me, “Dude, this is one of the easiest jobs I ever had, like he has a work-life balance like today I’ll only work for two hours. I just went to the office, had a meeting and that was it. I wasn’t there from 8 AM until 8 PM. So knowing that insight, I applied to IBM, knowing that IBM lets you work from home.

So having that life hack saved everything, like once I left Deloitte and went to IBM, things totally shifted like my schedule wasn’t that hectic. I had more control, more flexibility with my schedule because I was working at home. I didn’t have a boss or a manager overlooking at my shoulder like in my other job who always told me, “Hey, what’s that, what’s that, what’s that?”

So having that life hack kind of helped me being able to have other side hustles on the side. So it helped me have time to start my own video production company, start doing other things to start making money, right?

Tim: So to summarize kind of what you said, it looks like you were at a 9 to 5 job to start with.

Ian: 8 to 8 job.

Tim: Okay, well that’s what your work has been. And then you found a gig with IBM in order to free up more of your time so you can use that time to hustle and try other things to become successful. And so, what are some of the things that changed your mind or maybe some of the books that you’ve read or what was that “Aha moment” that you got?

Ian: Well, first of all, going back to that self-belief, it’s the book called Psycho-Cybernetics, which is a book, probably my favorite book of all time. It’s a book by Maxwell Maltz, that’s the author’s name and he’s known as the father of the entire self-help conditioning. All the stuff you see now on self-improvement, this guy started that field.

Tim: This is going back…

Ian: Yeah, like way back. I think like the book came out in 1960s, I believe. So he was a doctor who used to do surgery on people, but he would notice that when he did surgery on people, they still have the same belief system. So people would come in to see him saying, “Hey, I want to have a surgery on my face, on my ear, my nose,” whatever, right, lose weight, right?

And he noticed that although he will fix them up externally, they will still have the same belief system internally that they aren’t beautiful, they have issues, so he used to go, “You know what? External surgery is not the route. It won’t solve this issue. So he figured out how to solve this internally by changing how people view and think about themselves, but the good thing about it, though, it’s different from other self-help books that have come out after that in the sense that it’s not some woo-woo magical thinking type book, like it’s an actual scientific doctor giving his scientific principles on how to change the way you view yourself, how to kind of become more positive thinking, have a better outlook on life, how to lose fear and anxiety, how to become more successful, and it’s all based on scientific research, so it’s not like flop. So, that’s why it’s one of my favorite books of all time.

The second book is Tim Ferriss, obviously, The 4-Hour Workweek. I read that, I think, when I was in college. So ever since that, my outlook on life has been 80/20, 80/20, 80/20.

Tim: Is that the Pareto Principle?

Ian: Yeah, the Pareto Principle, right? So pretty much 80% of your success comes from 20% of your effort. So everything you’re trying to optimize and downsize. So that’s been a very helpful book.

And the third book, I would say is actually Rich Dad Poor Dad, but the second book, I think it’s called the Cashflow Quadrant, something quadrant, and that book was vital.

I read that book back in high school or college, but it talks about how most people who make money, make it by starting their own business and being investors, right? It kind of goes a level deeper on the first book Rich Dad Poor Dad by talking about there are two sides, there’s this quadrant, but there’s two sides to it.

Most people who make money are people who start their own businesses, from Elon Musk to Facebook and Amazon and all these other entrepreneurs. To the other people, the investors, who invest in entrepreneurs, so he was like, if you want to be rich, there are two things you have to do. You go start your own business or invest in people who start their own business.

So that book kind of gave me that kick start to have an outlook on life where I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have my own business. Even back in school I kind of slacked off because I knew the system was just a conveyor belt to make me an employee and my goal was not to be an employee. I want to become successful, to make millions, make a billion. I’m not there yet but that’s the goal, right?

And to get there, I always knew I had to start my own business or invest on other businesses. So everything I did in life was kind of hacked to go towards that route.

Tim: So it seems that what you are doing was you were doing these jobs and then, you found like certain hacks in certain ways like hack the system, in a sense. Can you tell us more about some of the ventures that you tried or even the ones that flopped and the ones that were successful? So give us an idea.

Ian: Yeah, so I was like how can I afford this expensive camera? So I kind of tricked myself by saying buy this expensive camera, but freelance on the side to recoup some money back. So I bought the camera using that business justification, went out and filmed stuff for people like for five months or so. I had some experience editing videos with my travel blog, but they’re videos on my phone, so I had some basic level of expertise, then I kind of took the camera, went out there, filmed different events and fashion shows to parties, events, and so forth, and just kind of learned, got better, then I came to a point where people were going to hire me for free. I mean, not free, but they pay me, right?

So they’ll start up with– I began starting like $25 an hour then end up changing the price to 50 bucks an hour, then I was like, you know, why not? 100 bucks an hour. So I kind of graduate up. I went from doing this for free to now people hiring me I put up a site. I put up a listing on the app and ended up getting clients and book them.

Then it came to a point one time where I made more in one month, I made like 7 grand, than I did with my day job after taxes. I was like, “Wow, this has some potential.” But being the hacker that I am, you almost kind of won’t settle for anything.

Tim: Always one up.

Ian: I actually ended up ditching that business now because I have a job now where I’m making more money in my day job and it’s more hectic, but I also realized that this was a service business. I was exchanging time for money and I can’t scale that up infinitely. That’s why I kind of want to go more through having that business where I don’t have to exchange time for money. I’m exchanging value for money. If I do that, the sky’s the limit, really, and so that was one business that I had.

I also launched an app in App Store called Peer Hustle, so that’s a mobile on demand local freelancer marketplace. That came from the need of me being a freelance videographer and doing videos for people, and having to hire other people to help me out like the second shooter, photographer, makeup artist, whatever, right? Other local freelancers within minutes or basically in a time frame of one week or less, having them help me, and there are already platforms out there for these freelancers. You can’t find those people on Upwork or whatever because they’re more locally-focused. I had that problem that I need, so then, you know what, let me solve them myself.

Tim: When you need someone right away.

Ian: Yeah, so let’s say somebody hires you for two days to film this show or this event and I want to hire a second camera guy, where do you find that besides your network? To find that, I’ll just post comments on Facebook, “Hey, anybody who want to help out?” I want to have a more optimized platform for that so that’s when I launched Peer Hustle.

Now Peer Hustle obviously hasn’t taken off like Uber or Airbnb. I’m still going through growing pains, but I’ve learned so much from that that I’m now taking everything I’ve learned from that hustle and parlaying that into my new venture Diary of a Made Man.

Tim: So the two hustles you tried, the video production company and the Peer Hustle app has been released.

Ian: Yeah that was an app. I have hustle and hustle and hustle. I also have the Amazon hustle as well, so I basically do Amazon FBA and I do that for over two years now and now I’m making anywhere from three to four grand a month on autopilot. Now that’s probably my best hustle to date because it’s almost like dropshipping. I import stuff from Alibaba with my supplier in China. My last order was 4,000 batteries because I sold batteries. I have private labeled batteries, so they’ll send 4,000 items to Amazon’s warehouses across the country.

I don’t touch them. I don’t do anything. All I do is just see if inventory is low, I order more batteries. You know, pay for it and that’s it. And on autopilot like every month like clock work. Every two weeks, Amazon sends me a check and that check comes in handy because sometimes you’re like, “Damn, I’m out of cash,” and the check comes in and I’m like, “Oh, thank you Amazon.” So the Amazon hustle has been great for me as well.

I also dabbled with Airbnb where I basically list out my house–my entire house–on Airbnb. Last year, I made about 27 grand on Airbnb on the side, so pretty much I’m out there where I travel a lot, so those days when I’m traveling, I make sure it’s booked. But sometimes the money’s so good I’d actually have people stay in my place and I’ll go spend the week in my parents’ place. I’m like, “Hey mom, I’m home.”

Tim: Another hack.

Ian: Yeah, right, because I’m like, “Hey, money is money,” because my place, I was charging anywhere from $300 to $340 per night. So somebody books the place for four days, that’s $1200. I mean, are you not willing to go see your parents for four days to make $1200?

So that’s kind of the mindset I’ve had because I use all these different hustles to finance my other hustles like Peer Hustle and that also financed Amazon and Airbnb, like people will say, “I don’t have the money to do this business.” You can make the money. Just find a way and be willing to find a way to do that.

Tim: So you’re trying all these different hustles and part of this channel also, there’s a lot of freelancers, you know, people who are working overseas, and you are talking about how you are trading your time for money, in a sense, at the beginning of your business. You scaled up your business as a freelancer, you know, $25 an hour, $50, $100 and so can you share with us a little bit about how some of these hustles might or might not work for someone who’s in Thailand, for example, because I think like Airbnb will be depending on the location hustle.

Ian: So in terms of the location for most people across the world?

Tim: Yeah, like what can they do or some of the hustle that you did that can be…

Ian: Location independent?

Tim: Location independent.

Ian: Actually, those two are–Amazon and Airbnb–because Amazon, the people who are staying in Australia, anywhere around the world, you can still buy items, send them to Amazon into America and sell them and make money, so it’s not really location independent, because there are people in Thailand who just do that full time, like the nomads who’d go there, the expats, and the same thing with Airbnb as well because Airbnb is a global company.

I’ve used Airbnb in Brazil, in Peru, Machu Picchu, everywhere. But the good thing about them is you can do them anywhere in the world. There’s no restriction in terms of where you can do that. And it’s also a platform you can leverage and make money very, very quickly.

Now in terms of the things like video production, you can do that as well. I’m not sure about the pricing per se because the cost of living in different locations is maybe totally different, but for me, I’m kind of seeing that as a new platform, to kind of brand myself and do things like YouTube and blogging because not really in a way that to be like here I’m selling you this course or this book, I mean, this course or this program, but I feel like information, if you’d put out an information product, that has more value and you can make more money on that because with Amazon…

Tim: You can sell over and over again.

Ian: Right, yeah, so that’s where I kind of I love Amazon and I love Amazon FBA, but I kind of every single time I have to order new inventory, that’s to check in to my supplies. And I was like, “Hey, if I was doing an information product, it’s just a one-time check, that’s it.”

So, for example, right now, I’m publishing a book. So let’s say you have an eBook or you have a video program or whatever, as you do, once you know the up front cost, after that it’s just pure profit. You don’t have to rebuy video inventory like you do for products. So with products, you have to be concerned with margins. For information, the margin is higher, really.

Tim: So you’re mentioning about your book, your eBook and I know you released it recently and you’re also working on another product or another book?

Ian: Right, yeah.

Tim: Can you tell us a little bit more about the book that you have released right now and the one that you’re planning?

Ian: So, actually the book is still in review. I have to postpone the launch date, but that book is completed after that. While launching Peer Hustle, we produced this enormous amount of content with our writer, with our team, right, and it was about freelancing, freelancing guides, trying to get other people to come to the website and get value from the freelancing category. By the way, if we can get a larger reach, if you take this content and repurpose into a book. So we got– we had to go through like almost two years worth of content to find out just the stuff we like and turn that into an eBook, into a print book and into an audio book.

Tim: You got all three.

Ian: Yeah, all three. So in about one and a half to two months, we’ll be putting out there in Amazon for people to use, so being able to have that content out there and it basically guides people who have the interest to become freelancing but don’t really know where to start, don’t know what the process is like, don’t know the little nuances they have to take care of, so just the access of point A to point B to freelancing.

Tim: And so I want to shine a little bit more light on your brand as well, so I know you have the brand Diary of a Made Man and so, what’s in the work? I know you got hustles going on all the time, but what can we expect to see from you in terms of maybe video, information or products?

Ian: Yeah, so on my site Diary of a Made Man, I’m pretty much putting out content every single week and this is not too rough at all like I’m basically giving the game away every single week I’m dropping one 5,000 word “how to” guide on something, so like how to make money on Amazon, how to make money on Airbnb, how to become a better public speaker and how to find that six figure job, right?

Every single week, I’ve got a 5,000 word guide, a blueprint really. Most people will usually put this out on the eBook. I’m putting this out for free and it comes with an accompanying– about a half hour video going more in-depth on the same topic on my channel on YouTube. Then I also put that out on my podcast as well.

So like clockwork, I’m doing this every single week and this is all for free. I’m not charging for this, just giving out all these information to show people that you can do this. This is not that easy. I mean, this is not easy but it’s not that hard. So here’s the blueprint, now, there’s no excuse not to take action because I’m doing all of these and hopefully, towards the end of the year, I want to launch my second book called Hacking the System–The Blueprint for Making $100,000.

I just want this book to really be your bible to make you successful, right, like I’ll talk about my story, my journey on how I came to this point, then also give actual examples on exercises and insights and action plans for you to go out there and make six figures.

Tim: You know, I think your fans and your viewers will really appreciate that you’re sharing all that content and I’m sure everyone’s looking forward to it too. I don’t want to take up too much of your time here and is there anything you want to talk or mention about before we set off here.

Ian: I mean, just check me out at Diaryofamademan.com, Diary of a Made Man on social media and Like it on Snapchat, Instagram. I also love traveling as well, so you just have to kind of evangelize that Made Man lifestyle and show people this is what it looks like and I wanted to inspire people. So people have other dreams but when they see actual inspiration, but also having some sense behind that with actual action plans and blueprints for achieving that same thing, having to change this world.

Tim: Yeah, so it’s all about changing those beliefs and maybe you’re saying someone else who’s able to do it, so you can do it too, so it’s very inspirational in a sense and I really appreciate you being here in Washington DC.

Ian: You know, our nation’s capital, the monuments, baby.

Tim: And you know, I’m definitely going to link your website and other resources that you have. And is there anything else you want to say before we go?

Ian: This guy’s the best, man. This guy’s the best. He’s going on a heck of a journey and I wish you all the best.

Tim: Thanks buddy. I appreciate it and I’ll see you on the road some time?

Ian: Yeah.

Tim: And keep hustling and I’m sure we’re going to do this again some more, maybe in another country, right?

Ian: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Tim: All right, thanks guys and thanks Ian and I’ll see you guys later.

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