3 min read

Eight modes of work

Eight modes of work

Life costs money, so most of us work.

Have you tried not working?

Working life is inescapable for most people, and there are eight modes of work to choose from:

  1. Payoff mode: Get rich through a combination of luck, courage and hard work.
  2. Owner mode: Get a business and dictate how to run your own day.
  3. Academia mode: Live detached from reality, theorising about normal people.
  4. Inheritance mode: Allows you to play any mode more easily.
  5. Saver mode: Be an employee. Work, earn, and invest to build up money.
  6. Confused mode: Live obliviously in a cycle of getting money, and losing it.
  7. Log cabin mode: Go and live in the woods, but might become a bit insane.
  8. Grifter mode: Cheat, lie, scam and deceive people to try and make money.

Everyone you see is playing the game of 'work' on one of these modes.

Most people are playing confused mode. Lots are playing saving mode, only a very small minority play payoff mode and academia mode.

Think about how Twitter isn't representative of the whole of the UK.

Mixing modes

The modes aren't mutually exclusive. They overlap and blur.

Some mix well with each other. Like a Negroni.

You could be playing saver mode, whilst setting up a business on the side with the aim of transitioning to owner mode. Owner mode may be your best chance at playing payoff mode.

Inheritance mode allows you to play any mode more easily.

Grifter mode, the most immoral mode, can be played to your advantage and help you along the way to saver mode, owner mode, payoff mode and academia mode. You see a lot of people online playing grifter mode. They're trying to whip you up but really just want your money. Think forex scammers, trader bois, pyramid schemers and MLMers.

Academia mode is also a fairly immoral mode, at least in the softer areas of academia (not physics, maths). In academia mode you're funded by the work of other people to write books and make theories which tend to do very little for the average person.

You need to know which mode you're in, and be careful about how you mix them.

Otherwise you could end up in confused mode.

You need to be cooking using the best ingredients, using the right herbs that pair well with the flavours, having some nice wine to go with it, staying true to the classic traditions of the region.

You don't want to just be throwing random things into a pan.

Confused mode

So, sometimes the modes clash, and people end up in confused mode.

That guy from your school who shares quotes from Jeff Bezos but works a 9 to 5 in marketing? Confused mode.

That guy who's on his 10,000th hour listening to business podcasts but still hasn't set up a business? Confused mode.

There are many combinations which can end in confusion.


Because, although you can mix modes, there are different rules that apply to different modes.

If you live in a log cabin, you don't need to worry about workplace etiquette.

Similarly, if you own your own bakery, you're the boss. The advice and principles which you live by aren't of much use to someone who is very much not the boss.

You need to know what mode you're playing. And you need to be careful with the advice you listen to. You can't play payoff or owner mode if you're a normal employed person.

Here's some typical bad advice from someone in payoff mode, which can make people confused.

Me: I deleted the email you sent me, I'm not going to do that task. Also this meeting has run over 30 minutes now. I'm ending the call.

My boss: You're fired.

You see a lot of this sort of advice on the internet.

We've talked about the problem with advice before.

A lot of the problem stems from people working in different modes and talking past each other.

Be careful when you're reading advice to make sure it's not some payoff or academia moder telling you something you can't apply to your life.

The Money University mode

The Money University is for normal people - and most normal people are employed.

Being part of The Money University means:

  • Saver mode is your focus, so your family can play inheritance mode
  • You create opportunities which might let you play payoff mode
  • You remain open to owner mode, and invest in others that excel at that game
  • You have a streak of log cabin mode about you, so you avoid confusion mode and being exploited by people playing grifter mode

You know who you are, you know what your goals are, and so you combine the best of different modes. You play within the constraints of your chosen mode.

The stability of an income, the chance of a payoff, the freedom that comes with ownership and being an outsider, and the clarity that comes with avoiding confusion.