Rabbit hole -> Rabbit -> Magician.  Get it?  Yeah, it’s stupid. And I’m actually allergic to rabbits. Sorry I subjected you to that.

I remember having a conversation with myself sometime in my last year of undergrad. It went something like this:

“This has been fun, but it’s almost over. What next?”

“I guess we have to grow up and get a job.”

“Why? You love creating new stuff on your own. Why not head to grad school? MIT and Carnegie Mellon both have great programs in what you want to do. You’ve got the credentials to get in.”

“Yeah, but I’m barely scraping by now that I switched from performing to being a research assistant. Won’t grad school be another 4 years of poverty?”

“Good point. Maybe I should be practical. If I stay here at KU and get a Masters, the difference in starting salary should be more than the cost of the degree [college was cheaper then]. Plus it’ll only take 18 months. That sounds like a solid plan!”

And so I did…

In retrospect, I think this was one of the first times I seriously started considering return on investment and, more importantly, Return on Time & Energy. I could put in a little bit of time, energy and money and get “paid back” within the first year of having a job.  The Master’s cost me about $8K and, as suspected, the difference in starting salary from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s, plus my signing bonus, was almost $10K.

Unfortunately, I made this decision solely based on the monetary gain.

Don’t get me wrong; I like money and am a very disciplined investor. Specifically, I tend to agree with a sentiment from an episode of the wonderful Nero Wolfe TV series (based on the books by Rex Stout). Paraphrasing:  “I’m not in love with money, it’s just that my lifestyle requires a lot of it.”

But I had lost sight of the big picture. I had big dreams of helping people build careers doing what they loved and were uniquely qualified to do.

Now I was planning to “sell out” for a paycheck.  Not good.