‘Time Billionaire’

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16th April 2024

In 2019, Graham Duncan, the co-founder of East Rock Capital, appeared on an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show.

During the conversation, Duncan proposed a concept that changed my life: ‘The Time Billionaire.’

He said, “A Million seconds is 11 days.

A Billion seconds is slightly over 31 years.

I feel like in our culture, we’re so obsessed, as a culture, with money and we deify dollar billionaires in a way and I was thinking of time billionaires that when I see, sometimes, 20-year-olds—the thought I had was they probably have two billion seconds left. But they aren’t relating to themselves as time billionaires.”

The central point: Time is our most precious asset.

When you’re young, you are literally rich with time. At age 20, you probably have about two billion seconds left (assuming you live to 80). By 50, just one billion seconds remain.

But as Graham Duncan pointed out, we don’t relate to ourselves as the “Time Billionaires” that we really are. Most of us fail to realize the value of this asset until it is gone.

In his book, ‘On the Shortness of Life,’ the stoic philosopher, Seneca, says, “We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”

To me, being a “Time Billionaire” isn’t necessarily about having the actual time, but about the awareness of the precious nature of the time you do have. It is about embracing the shortness of life and finding joy in ordinary daily moments of beauty.

I remember, when my younger son was less than one, I was holding him & playing with him, while waiting to catch a flight at the airport & an older man approached me.

He said: “I remember standing like this with my newborn daughter, ‘It goes by fast, cherish it.’

It hit me hard.

The next morning, while lying next to my son in bed, I felt a profound sensation: For the first time in my life, I felt contented & felt I had enough and wanted to just spend quality time with my family.

As ambitious people, we spend most of our lives playing a game: Everything we do is in anticipation of a future.

When it comes, we just reset to the next one:

“I can’t wait until I’m 18 so I can [X].”

“I can’t wait until I’m 25 so I can [Y].”

“I can’t wait until I’m 45 so I can [Z].”

It’s natural, but it’s a dangerous game—one that we will lose eventually.

We waste a lot of energy on the past and future when the present is all that’s guaranteed. We push for more—but really, we need to find our enough.

Never let the quest for more distract you from the beauty of enough.

There are no “right” answers here. No one can tell you WHAT to think about time. I’m just trying to provide insights on HOW to think about time.

All of life’s most important journeys start with asking the right questions, on understanding your WHY.

Treat time as your ultimate currency—it’s all you have and you can never get it back. Spend it wisely, with those you love, in ways you’ll never regret.

P.S. My son has just turned 18 and I can’t believe how time has flown.

As the saying goes, “The days are long but the years are short.”

Use your time currency well,

Spend it wisely, with those you love, in ways you’ll never regret & stay blessed forever.