The Treasure Map

Imagine you are tasked with finding a treasure buried in a field. You and one other person, with the same skills and starting at the same time. Now imagine the other person has paid someone for a map that will lead him to the treasure.


You are not going to get the treasure; he is- because he got wise advice from someone who knows how to find it. If you do not want to invest money for the map, you are thinking about money wrong. Not spending the money to find out how to get to the treasure ends up costing you the treasure.


It’s the same with business. If you try to save money by not hiring people who can help you get exactly where you want to go, you actually lose money, and will watch all your competitors who do invest in themselves pass you by.


Like I talk about in much of my writing, we’re wired to fear loss and avoid risk. So, our initial natural reaction to spending money, is the feeling of having a loss of money. We fear spending money, and possibly not getting anything in return for it.

Ironically if we go to the store and buy $300 in clothes we feel good about it because we immediately receive the $300 clothes we purchased.


But if we can invest $300 to potentially improve our business, we don’t get the instant gratification of the results.


That’s why coaching and courses and books that promise overnight success often sell better. Even though that’s the wrong treasure map to be buying, sold from people who play on the emotions of instant gratification rather than having the optimal thought processes to be following. The chance of having an immediate payback makes you feel better about the risk.

When you buy $300 worth of clothes you know what you get… $300 worth of clothes in return. If you were to hire a consultant, or buy a course, or a book, or whatever it is, since the result is uncertain, most people don’t like that risk.

There’s no guarantee. Investing in yourself is a series of bets. You can read about some of my bets in this post.

Some work out, some don’t, but you want to make bets in a way so that the ones that do work out pay you back significantly more than you invested.

I think you may view me as a “risk taker” just because I talk about how important it is to take risks and make bets, but keep in mind I’m just making bets I believe are +EV. I don’t think that’s risky, as the risky option would be taking the -EV route by making no bet at all. I’m relatively conservative compared to a risky person.

I just had lunch with a friend who is definitely a “riskier” person than I am, but they’re +EV risks so he reaps big rewards as a byproduct when they pay off. He just did 7 figures… in a month. He’s got multiple mentors and has invested in all sorts of consultants and coaching. The people on the outside just see the end result and want the same “luck”. They don’t see the time and money that was invested.

You can’t get those type of returns if you’re afraid to spend money to talk to a coach, or on a mastermind, or going to a conference. Is it any coincidence a lot of highly successful people know each other? Not really, they’re all making similar time and monetary investments so they cross paths and have a similar network in common.

I get so many emails from people who want all the results that they see people getting who take risks, but they don’t want any of the risks.


That’s not how it works.

You don’t have to take huge risks. In this post I talk about how small of a monetary amount I risked to get some pretty significant returns.

Now, if you want to make bets, it’s +EV to have someone in your corner who’s been where you want to go and understands the roadmap that’s necessary to get there.

Many people get confused when I talk about the silliness of the ‘business/make money’ space online. I get a lot of emails asking if it’s bad to invest in coaches/courses, etc…

Of course not! It’s bad to invest in the wrong ones, and there happen to be a lot of them. People advising to go one route, when that’s not the route they actually profit from, and/or temporary income streams that are no longer optimal. I’ve mentioned a number of them in past posts like Infrastructures of Wealth, The Apple Stand Empire, The Penny Stakes of Business, Entrepreneurial Quicksand.

People who don’t invest in themselves to save money are just proving they don’t have an understanding of simple math.

If you’re trying to start a real business, and you could hire someone who’s started a real business to advise you, how much is that worth?

You could try to do it on your own, which is less short term ‘cost’, but it’s definitely -EV.

Example, let’s say you paid a mentor $5,000 to help you start your first business. That’s a big investment.

They say 80% of businesses fail, but most people go in blindfolded and hope for the best. It’s not really a surprise that they failed.


They “save money” from not hiring people who know what they’re doing to help them succeed, and instead waste years of their time and money, because they wanted to save the “risk” of a +EV investment.

Anytime I want significant results from something in my life, I take the risk to increase the probability of success as much as possible.

Trying to re-invent the wheel every time would cost me significantly more time and money. The better play is to find someone who’s already been where you want to go and knows how to get the results you desire.

Study their blueprint, and you can always put your own twist on it later. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

When I started in poker, I got poker coaches. I spent thousands of dollars on coaches. But I made hundreds of thousands in return.

If I hired them and poker didn’t work out, fine. I move to the next bet. When the bets pay, they pay well. Remember, capped downside, high upside bets.

When I decided I wanted to get in incredible shape, I sought out someone who was in incredible shape to help me.

I didn’t just hire some random trainer because they said they were a trainer, I found someone who’d already had the results I wanted. Then I made a bet.

I paid $750 for the initial 10 sessions.

It was getting me the results I wanted, so I continued. I would go back to my trainer once/week to check in and get a workout in. So, I made lots of $750 investments. However, I got the body I’d always wanted. Small bet, ridiculously high payoff.


If I’d tried to do it all myself, I’d still be struggling, and not have the results I wanted.

When I started in e-commerce it was the same thing. I got guidance from someone who’d already ran several successful e-commerce businesses. If I’d gone in blindfolded it would have been very difficult to have success.

No matter what you do you’ll have some risk. Getting guidance from the right people help lessen the risk, as well as maximize the upside.

I’ve hired multiple business coaches. Some end up being bad investments, some end up being good ones. The ones that don’t get a good return, the downside is capped. The ones that work out pay me back for any of the ones that don’t work 10x.

Same with business conferences. Some are horrible, and you leave feeling like you wasted time and money. Some are good. Some are great, and the great ones pay back for any of the others 10x.

As I’m writing more, I’ll either hire a writing coach, or pay a highly skilled editor. Maybe both. It’ll be almost impossible not to get a return on doing so. I’m investing in something I want to be better at, and will get better results for doing so.

The results you or I or anyone else have over the long run is a clear indication of if we’re willing to invest in ourselves.

The people who try to do everything themselves… they can succeed. It’ll just be less likely, and if they do it’ll be a lot slower road. Because the road they take to the end result they desire is filled with constant turns down the wrong road trying to get to the most optimal path. Someone who’d already been down the optimal path could have saved them a lot of time and money showing them how to find it.

Let’s say you’re trying to start a $100,000/yr income business, and it costs you $5k to hire a business coach to help you along the way, what’s the risk? Well, $5k, but that’s not the way to think about it.

Let’s pretend you fail 80% of the time without a coach, and 50% of the time with a coach.

Without a coach:

$100k/year business 20% of the time:

It means 4 times out of 5 you just fail and just stay on the same road you’re on right now. This gives you:

An additional $20k income(in expected value) year 1

With a coach:

50% of the time you succeed. This gives you:

An additional $50k income(in expected value) year 1

(note: This is obviously a very simplified example, but shows that even if you only made a slight increase in your chance of success and still failed 50% of the time, an investment in yourself is still a no brainer).

So not only do the people who attempt to ‘save’ $5k go way slower whether they’re succeeding slower, or just failing, they also lose a really obvious bet.

They lose by not betting at all, since they choose the -EV route of not investing on themselves.

In this scenario, a $5k investment would make them an additional $30k in year 1. That’s only including year 1, it doesn’t include the fact that for the times you succeed you continue making money. Money and knowledge compounds. So the 600% increased return in EV year 1 is just the initial return.

Yet, the people who don’t want the “risk” of losing $5k in this example, instead choose the -EV route of a path that’s 600% less expected return, just to avoid a short term monetary risk. They keep it safe in the bank making 1% a year, and wonder why they never get ahead. It’s because they constantly choose -EV routes to avoid temporary “risks” of betting on themselves.

If you’re getting the right map, it’s a smart investment.


Stop being cheap and pay for the map.

Your attempt to “save” money, is costing you massive amounts of income and success in the long term.

What’s the treasure map you need? 

Why haven’t you invested in yourself to get it yet?

One of the smartest bets you’ll ever make in life… will be the bets you place on yourself.

Investing in your own success will reap you the greatest returns.


21 Responses to “The Treasure Map”

  1. Timothy Durgin

    Like the old saying goes (paraphrasing):

    “The cost of education is low compared to the cost of ignorance. The cost of education just appears higher because it’s paid up-front, whereas the cost of ignorance is spread throughout a lifetime.”

  2. Hai

    This is life-changing Billy.
    I haven´t bet a lot in the past and wanted to learn and do everything by myself. I always wondered why other people are learning faster than me, even though I put the same effort in. Obviously they are betting higher.
    I´m working on a project for 6 months now without ROI yet. Obviously it´s going really slow. The lesson I learned from 6 months of doing that is to seek the best to make the best. I obviously could have executed way better if I made the right bets. Thanks for this. You are unleashing the full potential of all of the readers.

    • Billy

      Working hard is good. Working hard + smart = faster + more likely success.

      If working hard but in the wrong direction, it can be a time suck. Making sure you’re going the right direction first is really important.

  3. Lawrence

    Hey Billy, another great article! I really have been doing most things myself….Where do you suggest I go to find a good business mentor?

    • Billy

      Depends, where specifically do you need help?

      • Lawrence

        Well, just looking for good advice, or someone experienced to bounce thoughts off of. I have a website/business Im thinking of selling, and also some other ideas ive been contemplating.

  4. Sam

    A few people mocked me when I started reading books on investing, business ect.

    Much to say, I don’t hang around them as much anymore…

    This analogy of the treasure map is great and one I’ll be sure to use in the future.

    I’ve definitely stepped up my investments in personal education recently and they’ve been paying off better than any hedge fund I know!

    Great reading as always Billy,


  5. Neil

    Agree completely! Want to coach me in ecommerce?!

  6. Scott


    Your article really hit home with me as I tend to do everything myself without branching out for help from those that have gone where I want to go. Any chance you can describe how to pick the right “Treasure Map” to minimize downside risk.

    Love your posts, thanks for taking the time to do them.


  7. Ryland

    Billy you’ve totally opened my mind to so many new ways of thinking. I’ve spent the past 3 years stashing hard at a job I mediocre like. Looking back I wish I would have found your blog 2 years earlier since I had such a huge focus on lowering my spending which ended up being as I know now a -EV move. After finding you 3 months ago through Brandon at MadFIentist and Todd and Financial Mentor I’ve started building a small design business with 2 friends and we just got our first client last week. I find myself going back into the spend less at all costs thoughts, but your words consistently remind me how investing in yourself in +EV decisions is really where the long term benefit comes in. So I just wanted to say Thank you. So much. I really appreciate all you share

    • Billy

      Really appreciate you taking time to comment and let me know Ryland!

      Spending less is totally cool, just not when it’s an investment that is +EV. As long as you build in the habit of establishing up front whether something is +EV or not, you’ll know which decisions to pull the trigger on and start seeing some compounding effects as a result of those investments in the near future.

  8. Nims

    Thanks for another great Article Billy.

    This one struck a cord with me, over the past years I have definitely been one to save money and not investing in myself.

    I’ve spend the last 6 years in the Australian defence force and finishing my contract at the end of the year. At the end of 2016 I’ll be starting a new adventure and looking for a new career/business.

    I’m interested in web development and online marketing and over the past 6 months have completed a number of online courses.

    I’m taking 6 months off for myself at the end of August to reset and for self-reflection.

    2017 will be dedicated to investing in myself!

    Thanks again for an article that is appropriate to my current situation.



    Thanks again.

  9. Joel

    Much appreciation for your post Billy; you are right that we like avoiding risks at all costs. It is especially a bad scenario here in Kenya since we are indoctrinated to look forward to employment and nil indoctrination on business. So we clear college and start learning about business literally from scratch. Apart from you, my other mentor has been a guy called Rich Schefren. He has some awesome stuff on business as well. I can term users reading materials from you and other ‘right’ business coaches as having made a +EV investment crucial for business. I’ve found out some great insights on the business idea challenge you set us up for. I will share my findings with you via email. Thanks for the content you share.

  10. Patrick Reichwein

    Awesome post billy, I am currently trying to do everything on my own and it is quite the challenge. I am now going to make the investment and hire a coach or get a “treasure map”. I appreciate all the content you put out it really helps keep me motivated and guides me.

  11. TJ Nelson

    What do your coaching plans look like?

  12. Lisa

    Great post! I’m a new reader and I’m diving into your writing head first! Thanks for all the knowledge so far – I’ll pay for my map, thank you very much!

  13. Killian

    Fantastic article Billy. I really would like to find a mentor also.

    I have had periods of massive success and stagnation over the years. Consistency really does seem to be the issue for me. I was actually considering getting some kind of business/wealth coach to work with. Can you recommend any one?

    Right now I think the key area to focus on is some who can instil the essentials of good planning, goal setting and following through with work plans and deadlines etc. Some one to chat to once a week to talk about sticking points and to bounce ideas off – and be accountable to.


Leave a Reply