Before I share with you what I learned from this very interesting interview of the CHF 25 millions, I would like to thank all the readers who sent me their questions for this interview. You guys.gals are the best!
With that said, here are the 14 lessons I took away from this exchange with Pasquale. Their order does not indicate their importance; I have simply taken the interview from beginning to end and added my notes.
1. Prioritize your life choices, drastically
Pasquale has made the choice to prioritize his life on all levels, which has brought him to the level of financial success where he is today.
His choice of career first of all. After careful consideration, he kept soccer as a hobby, and put everything into masonry. The “Rule of the 10'000 hours” did the rest.
Ditto for his family. Rather than flitting about, he found his life partner who was a crucial element in his mental stability (see point 6 below).
And finally there are his investments. He has focused on one investment vehicle — real estate in Switzerland — rather than spreading himself too thinly to test everything.
Add to that the fact that he was careful because of his education, and also thrifty.
Listening to Pasquale speak, I realized that he was Mustachian from a young age without realizing it :)
2. “Follow your passion” is the worst career advice!
When Pasquale explained to me that appetite comes with eating, and that his passion for real estate grew as he practiced it, it immediately made me think of a book: the bestselling Cal Newport “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”.
In his book, he explains that the advice to follow your passion is one of the worst pieces of advice you can be given to succeed in your professional career (even if it means contradicting Steve Jobs, or at least looking at his famous quote in a new light).
For indeed, no one is born with a passion. It comes through a journey:
- a. Working to learn the craft
- b. Accumulate enough experience (10'000 hours is a good start) to reach the level of uncontested mastery
- c. Cumulate small bets to move to the next level of expertise, step by step, without risking everything
- d. Use this accumulated “career capital” as leverage, and reach CHF 25'000'000 of wealth in the process ;)
- e. Have control over your life and your choices. Freedom in short
Looking back at the table of contents of this book, it’s as if it captures the essence of Pasquale’s success in one piece. I highly recommend it!
For my part, I’ve been following this same path for more than 8 years with my “passion” for writing which started with this blog you’re reading, then my book, then my first investment program for beginners. And I plan to continue to capitalize on that “career capital” too!
3. Negotiating with those assh**** bankers — and insurers!
I agree 100% with Pasquale on this point. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll remember my misadventures in buying my main residence… first the quasi-illegal sales attempt by the advisor of a cantonal bank with a green logo. Then how I finally got screwed by my insurer concerning my 3rd pillar linked to a life insurance… twice in a row…
My recommendation when you buy real estate in Switzerland (or anywhere else) is to go in with not too little equity, in order to have some negotiating power. Otherwise, these bankers and/or insurers will eat you alive…
4. “If you have [money], you buy, if not, you don’t!”
I still remember nodding my head when Pasquale explained to me what his father used to tell him when he was young about money. Because indeed, that’s exactly word for word what my parents always told me too…
It was so obvious to me before I heard it from someone else, that I never would have thought about making a blog post about it. But in fact, it always made sense in my brain because I was reminded of it for years.
It was never innate actually.
So, as simplistic as it is, it makes sense to point out here a strategy that works in education — Pasquale and I are living proof of that.
This strategy consists of repeating (and implementing in action) this little phrase regularly to your children from a young age. It doesn’t cost you anything financially, yet it will have a far greater impact than simply creating a savings account for your offspring.
5. The power of delayed gratification
Along the same lines as point 4, it was while listening to Pasquale speak that I realized that my ability regarding delayed gratification was not innate either…
This ability also comes from my education. And we can say that so far, it has worked for me. The most concrete proof is my net worth which has gone from CHF 48'000 to more than CHF 800'000 in less than 8 years. The famous marshmallow test was right.
My parents always taught me not to be gourmand in life, to want everything, and right away. Both in words, but especially in actions. They never made an impulsive and thoughtless purchase.
You know what you have to say and show to your kids every day now :)
6. This little known secret, but key to any financial success
I also recognized myself in Pasquale’s point where he explained the importance of personal stability (family, friends, entourage) in his financial success.
So when he explained this principle to me, I showed him the first page of my book:
Even Warren Buffett talks about it: “You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you want to be. That way you’ll be moving in the same direction. And by far the most important person in that regard is your spouse.”
I don’t remember where, but he also wrote something like this: “Keep the same woman and the same house all your life, and wealth will come automatically!”
The most misunderstood secret of how to become rich is not so much financial as it is human… finding stability in your family and in the people around you is your next goal.
7. Work hard… THEN know the levers
Working hard is the first solid foundation for honing your skills and mastering your craft. That’s what I practiced for the first decade of my professional and investing career. Then I understood and applied the principle of leverage.
First, in my job, I learned to involve more people in my projects, in order to have an impact beyond what I could accomplish alone.
Then as an investor. I first used the stock market to get employees of 8'000 companies to work for me while I slept or went about my business. Then I took it to the next level, which is to put money I don’t have to work, via the purchase of our first investment property abroad. We repeated the practice with rental properties in Switzerland recently, as described in this article.
All you have to do, no matter what’s your field, is work hard to hone your skills. And once you’ve got the basics down, all you have to do is look for leverage to increase your impact tenfold. Start your own business? Investing? Hire your first virtual assistant? There are plenty of leverage opportunities. What will be yours?
8. Are you 40 years old? It’s NOT too late to invest!
Pasquale thinks that if you have CHF 1'000/month to invest at the age of 40 (with two children), the best thing to do is to open an account for your children so that they will have a “nice plus” when they start in life.
I don’t agree with that. There are two reasons for this.
The first is that I’d rather give my kids another gift for when they start their adult lives (see point 9 below). But in any case, not to put a silver spoon in their mouths, without them having to do anything. This is a point that ties in with one of Pasquale’s life lessons: by not giving me a “little push” to get started in life, my parents made me hungry. And I had to fight myself to get where I am today.
The second reason why I don’t agree with Pasquale is that you can start investing at 40 even with only CHF 1'000 per month. Because at 40 you still have a long future as an investor — at least 20-25 years when you can invest your salary savings in the stock market. And by following a Mustachian strategy like mine, you can expect to reach about CHF 600'000 after 20 years, and almost CHF 1'000'000 after 25 years.
Thanks to the magic of compound interest!
9. The only gift you have to give your children
As I often say: the greatest wealth you can leave to your children is education.
The greatest wealth you can pass on to your children is education.
The education you give your children is the best gift you can give them. They are sponges, and absorb everything you teach them between 0 and 10 years old. And I mean instilling through actions, not theory.
So yes, even if you’re struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month, you can leave a huge legacy to your children. Starting today. And without having to spend any money.
10. The power of positive energy
“There is an opportunity in every failure”, Pasquale explained to me after his stock market setbacks due to a middleman.
Such a positive mindset will take you further than any amount of CHF! Because no fear will stop you thanks to it.
I’m not saying you won’t be afraid, I’m saying that whatever the fear is, you know you can overcome it. In business as well as in your relationships, such a mindset will bring you abundance and wealth because you will be unstoppable and will always rise again.
11. The criticality of independence in financial advice
I was positively surprised to hear Pasquale praise VZ services (who have offices in Lausanne in case you wonder), as they were also the ones I turned to several years ago to get my FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) plan validated at 40 as explained in detail in my book.
And clearly, from my experiences with Swiss banks and insurances, I can only recommend you to pay for an independent service, rather than believing that bankers and insurers do it for free, when in fact the cost of their services is hidden in their product fees. And in the end, it will cost you tens of times more than paying for a few hours of consulting from a financial advisor like VZ.
You need independence above all else in financial consulting.
Assumed highlighting: this blog is independent and will remain so. You can help it stay that way in the long run by supporting it via this win-win mean.
12. Better to handle it hot than cold :D
I can only agree with Pasquale’s recommendation to put your personal affairs in order in case something happens to you. It’s not fun to do, but once it’s sorted out, you feel lighter and your loved ones feel more serene.
I recently wrote my will so that it would be valid according to the official Swiss guidelines. And I also took the opportunity to create my mandate in case of incapacity. You will find more information about these two subjects in this article.
13. All equal in front of health and death
I didn’t expect Pasquale’s answer when I asked him what he would exchange his entire wealth for.
Some people say that rich people are venal and live in another world. Perhaps this discussion will prove to them that we are all equal when it comes to death and health issues. And that even a Swiss multi-millionaire has the same basic concerns and priorities as someone who earns CHF 3'500/month.
14. Understand what you are doing, by yourself
Pasquale said of one of his financial mistakes: “Investing my money through an intermediary [was a bad decision]. I had a lot of confidence in the intermediary, but it wasn’t enough. The right thing for me to do is to invest my money myself [and understand the ins and outs].”
I can only echo that.
Because that’s what I’ve been doing with the stock market for the last 8 years. I could have gone to a banker, and had them give me products with fees of more than 1% in commissions and such. Instead, (very) slowly but surely, I learned all the basics by myself, and I now master the subject.
I understand what I am doing when I invest my savings in the stock market. Without any fear in my stomach.
This is actually word for word the subtitle of my “Swiss Investor Program” for beginners, because it seems crucial to me too: “Start to invest your CHF in the stock market (while understanding what you are doing!)”
All this makes me say that Pasquale has indeed many features in common with the guiding principles of a Mustachian:
- Critical thinker rather than conventional
- Lifelong learner rather than complacent
And you, what speaks to you in this life story? What do you agree with? Are there points where you see things differently? Do you have any other questions for Pasquale?
How to invest in real estate in Switzerland — by understanding what you are doing!
As I recently indicated in my newsletter, you’ll find here my paid program specifically dedicated to Swiss real estate investing for beginners.
If you prefer rental yields to investing in the stock market, and you are completely new to real estate in Switzerland, then this program should interest you.
What did you take away from this CHF 25 million interview? Share your feedback with us in the comments section below ⬇️.