Original question from Quora:

I’m starting as a software engineer at Google at 22. What steps should I make now to maximize my career ambitions (see question comments)?

So I’m able to graduate college with a CS degree and will be working at Google as a software engineer. However, tbh I don’t really know where to go from here. I want to do something like tech management instead of being a developer my whole life.

What would I have to do from this point on to do something more at the intersection of business and engineering? And also, pardon my bluntness, but what’s the most lucrative path that I can take at this point?

My Answer:

First of all, you are young and you will probably spend the next decade figuring out a lot of things about what you truly want out of life. That being said, there is one thing you can do that will help your career more than almost anything else.

There is a simple, but important habit that a wealthy man did and told other people to do that also want to be wealthy. It works something like this….

For every dollar you bring in (gross), take anywhere from 1–10% and put it in a savings account (let’s call it the wealth account), and take 1–10% and put it in an account for giving away (call it a giving account).

The amount you put in each one doesn’t matter at first. After a while both will end up being 10% once you see how it works.

The wealth account side makes a lot of sense. You put money in there and you never touch it. Ever.

It’s not for a house. It’s not for a car. It’s not for a boat. It’s not for anything other than a true investment.

So, leave it in the savings account, put it in a CD, put it in a bond or stock that pays dividends. Buy gold or precious metals. Buy real estate and charge rent. I don’t care.

The point is, the wealth account is a TRUE investment.

You see, time equals money and vice versa in the sense that with enough money you can buy out your time. With enough income coming in from various non-work sources, you are able to buy out your time.

The giving account is where you take the money in there and give it away. It could be to church, nonprofits, homeless people, friends, family, or even just tipping well at restaurants.

What you do to give your money away is less important than the act of giving it away.

Ultimately, two things happen. First, you make the world a better place by helping people. Second, you are reminding yourself that you are wealthy enough to give money/resources away.

Both of those things put you in a better place to succeed and often it inexplicably makes it easier to make more money.

If you do this long enough, you’ll find yourself being exceedingly generous, but also very wealthy as that wealth account piles up fast.

Now, what does this have to do with your career at Google? Everything.

It’s easier to jump out of a plane with a parachute on your back.

There will be times in your career where you have to take a risk. You won’t be at Google forever. The stronger you are financially, the more you can take risks or prevent failure in tough times.

There will be tough times at some point.

So, if Google is paying you $100,000+ as an engineer, in five years, you could build up $50,000-$100,000 in cash/investments that are a very strong backstop. By the time you are 30, you could easily be in a position where you have no debt, are sitting on a full year worth of income in savings, and have a good chunk of money flowing toward you in investment income.

That puts you in a position to do a lot of interesting things that your colleagues with big houses, big mortgages, fancy cars, and loads of debt won’t ever be able to do because they are wage slaves shackled by their lifestyle.

Investing in yourself over the next decade both figuratively and literally will pay a higher dividend in your career than anything else you can do.

-Brian

P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.