What does having “wealth” mean to you? Do you think of material possessions and money? Or do you think about less tangible things you value? In this episode of Career Relaunch, Byron Trzeciak, a former Security Analyst turned Online Marketing Agency Founder shares his thoughts on why money isn’t everything, the importance of being able to control your time, and the toll your job can take on you when you’re doing unfulfilling work. I also share some thoughts on what it means to be truly “wealthy.”
Key Career Insights
- Reaching a career goal doesn’t always lead to career satisfaction. In fact, it can make you question whether that goal was a truly meaningful one to word toward in the first place.
- When money’s the main reason you’re happy staying in your job, it can lead to a vicious cycle of rewarding yourself for doing work you don’t enjoy then continuing to do that work so you can reward yourself.
- Material wealth (assets, money, stuff) is distinct from personal wealth (happiness, flexibility, freedom). Which matters the most to you?
Tweetables to Share
- Byron’s Medium Article, The Day I Earned a Six Figure Salary Was the Day I Quit My Job.
- Sept 2016 NY Times Article on Hal Hershfield’s (UCLA Anderson School of Management) research on how people perceive the value of time vs. money.
- Tim Ferriss’ Book, 4 Hour Workweek.
- My Huffington Article on 4 Ways Self Employment Changed How I Define Wealth.
- Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast and his About Page.
- You might also enjoy my Fast Company article about how 3 people redefined what wealth meant to them in their careers.
Free Tool: Redefining What Wealth Means to You
About Byron Trzeciak
Byron Trzeciak is Director and Founder of a conversion-focused digital marketing agency called PixelRush based in Melbourne, Australia. He builds profitable online businesses by turning clicks into customers, empowering businesses to gain 4x return from their online marketing investment across a variety of digital channels & media. He’s also passionate about inspiring others to build a life they’ll love by creating flexible lifestyles & career paths using online income. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
To learn more about online marketing and SEO, be sure to check out his PixelRush blog. I read this article they wrote about WordPress vs. Squarespace. I can definitely attest to their arguments for going with WordPress (what I use!), and I think you’ll find many of their articles useful. You can also listen to Byron’s podcast on
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Episode Interview Transcript
Teaser (first ~15s): By reaching that salary, you can buy something else that may make you happy, but in reality, that’s often not the case. It needs to be something more than money as a motivator, I believe, if you’re going to feel genuinely happy about what you do.
Joseph: Hello, Byron. Thanks so much for being on Career Relaunch. I’m really excited to say that you’re our very first guest from Australia.
Byron: Beautiful. Thanks for having me, Joseph. It’s great. We can make the connection from so far away.
Joseph: Technology is amazing these days. Definitely. Welcome to the show, and thanks for taking time to speak with me. I know it’s getting late in the evening over there for you. I was wondering if you could just start us off by telling us a little bit more about what you’re focused on in your life and career.
Byron: Right now, I’m focused on my own business, which is called PixelRush. We’re a conversion-focused, digital-marketing agency, and our main aim is to help businesses build profitable online businesses or online marketing strategies. We’re really focused on getting a good, quality return for the businesses that we work with.
Joseph: I definitely want to hear more about PixelRush, and I know that you do a lot of work in the space of SEO and conversion. Maybe we can come back to that topic, but what I would really love to talk with you about is your career and your life and how you came to found PixelRush. I was wondering if you could just take us back in time a little bit.
I first discovered you from the medium article that you wrote in June of 2016, which I thought had a great title, which was ‘The Day I Earned a Six-Figure Salary was the Day I Quit My Job.’ It definitely jumped out at me, and I’d highly recommend this article to listeners out there. We’ll include a link in the show notes. You started off that article, Byron, which kind of made me chuckle, you said, ‘Two years ago on January 6, 2014, I quit my job.’ What was going on for you at the end of 2013?
Byron: Back at this particular time, Joseph, I was working for a very large bank. I’ve been employed to work in a brand new team, which was basically a global security operation center which we were there to identify and manage security incidents. Anyone that’s out there in security will know something about it and knows what businesses we’re up against now with hackers and that sort of thing. It’s a very challenging role, and it caused me a number of issues back then.
Joseph: What were some of the issues that you were wrestling with as a security analyst?
Byron: We were forced to become more of an audit checkbox machine, the tick-box mentality where we were doing things because it satisfied audit requirements rather than actually give us the chance to identify the types of attacks and respond to them in a way that we would like to. You had a very capable team. I worked with some incredibly smart individuals within that team, but it just wasn’t something that we were able to transition into effective processes for the business. It was a struggle to have that innovation and do things at a high level. That opportunity to succeed and to put your best forward was a real struggle.
Joseph: What was ultimately the biggest issue that made you start to think that it was time to move on?
Byron: I started off very passionately. I’ve always been very passionate about IT security. At the time, I was doing a lot of self-education and really trying to up-skill so that I could move into high roles in the future and progress my career, and you basically continue to come back and see the lack of progress. For example, we used to have a meeting every Monday, and it was just a shift changeover which was between 3:00 and 3:30. We’d basically come back and discuss the same issues that we discussed the week before, and there was never any progress.
I’d term it a little bit like ‘Groundhog Day’ if you’ve ever seen that movie with Bill Murray. It was like you were coming back and nothing had changed. The weeks went on, and all of a sudden, you’re getting older and you’re seeing the days pass by, and you’re kind of wondering, ‘Why am I turning up here when I’m not really making an impact?’
Joseph: How long did you feel like this before you decided you wanted to make a change?
Byron: I would say probably the 12 months before actually quitting is where I really started to struggle and really started to question whether this was where I wanted to go with my life or whether there was something else out there, smarter ways or more enjoyable ways to play out the rest of my career, I suppose.
Joseph: One of the things you mentioned in your article, Byron, was that your job was taking its toll on you. I was just curious if you could explain to us what kind of a toll was it taking on you in your life and your career.
Byron: It’s probably not something that I fully realized until after I’d left. I think even within the article, I talk about a feeling of depression but yet not really wanting to admit that to myself at the time, thinking that I’m probably a stronger person than what I thought I was. All of a sudden, you just feel negative and dark throughout the day and that whole feeling comes through the door with you when you get home and you see your wife and so forth. Rather than saying, ‘How are you?’ or sitting down for a cup of coffee with each other, you tend to be discussing some of your frustrations from work. All of that bubbles up into your home life as well, and it took me a while before I got pointed back in the right direction.
Joseph: One of the things that you talked about in your article was that, when you earned your six-figure salary, which I know is this sort of alluring goal for many of us, and I’ve definitely been there when I was in the corporate world. I actually remember the moment that happened to me. It kind of feels good, but at the same time, you realize it doesn’t really drive happiness. What did you mean in the article when you were talking about the idea of money not being everything and how earning the six-figure salary was the trigger to you deciding to leave your job?
Byron: It’s something that I had from quite a young age. I think it gets instilled from your parents as well who typically come from more asset-focused mindset and earn a big salary, buy a house, get a car, get married, have kids, that kind of traditional conforming mentality. I think it came from that, and I continued to strive for it. I think you’d go through this cycle where you would start a new job, and it would be great because it was new and fresh and something different for you.
I find with any new job, there’s always a degree of learning involved, and when you’re learning, I think that’s when the mind is most interested in what it’s doing. Then you get to that point where you typically want to innovate and improve upon the things that you’ve been given, and I think that’s probably where a lot of businesses struggle: allowing people to innovate and to improve on things within the business.
When that didn’t happen, it came back to me saying, ‘Maybe if I got more money or I got a bigger salary, that would fix these feelings and these frustrations that I was having,’ so you continue to change jobs and then push for a higher salary. By reaching that salary, you can buy something else that may make you happy, but in reality, that’s often not the case, and it needs to be something more than money as a motivator, I believe, if you’re going to feel genuinely happy about what you do.
Joseph: It was interesting, because in your article, you also talked about that you reached this goal or at least the financial monetary goal, but you weren’t happy when you got there. Can you just explain what that was like for you?
Byron: It was a strange feeling. I mean I sort of explained to my wife how, on the weekends, you’d get to the weekend, and maybe you had a significant amount. We had a good salary. She had a good salary as well. The week was such a struggle though. You were struggling every day of the week. You’d get to Monday, and you’d have those Monday blues. A lot of people have that. They get up Mondays, and they hate that day. They hate the morning. They hate the feeling of it, but you get to Friday, and it’s this feeling of elation, and music sounds better and everything sounds great on a Friday afternoon.
Then you’d get to the weekends, and you take your pay packet, and you probably go and buy something new and say, ‘Here’s a reward for you getting through the week.’ Basically, you’d find that you were kind of in this rut. The more you earn, the more you spent, and you tried to find something as a treat for getting through another week of your life and your career. You sort of realize after a while that this money that I’m earning isn’t making me feel great. I’m still waking up with those Monday blues regardless how much I earn.
I think after a while, we kind of all accept that Monday should be the worst day of the week, but when you talk to people that are successful and they love what they do and they’re very passionate about what they do, a lot of the time Saturday and Sunday or Friday evening is the worst day of the week, and Monday is actually their best day because they get to go back and do what it is they love and they enjoy, and it doesn’t feel like work to them anymore.
I think that’s really important. When you’re looking at money for happiness, just realize, how do you feel when you get up each day, and come Monday, are you excited for your week or are you looking for that weekend treat to congratulate yourself for getting through another week of your career? Think that’s an important mindset to think about.
Joseph: That’s very interesting. I hadn’t thought about it like that. It’s almost like you’re dangling your own carrots in front of you just to keep yourself going.
Byron: That’s it, yeah.
Joseph: Interesting behavior if you think about it. It’s like you’re conditioning yourself to be okay with your situation.
Byron: I don’t know how I thought about that one day, but I’m just like, ‘Is this what I’m doing?’ and, ‘Is this what I’m trying to do to keep myself happy with where I’m going in life?’
Joseph: One other thing you mentioned, Byron, which I thought was interesting was you talked about legacy in your article. First of all, what the legacy of your life was going to be, and then what it would be like if you lived an ‘unfulfilled’ life. What was making you start to wrestle with that particular question?
Byron: At the time, I remember saying to a lot of my colleagues that I was working with and saying, ‘Say you got terminally ill and the doctor said to you, “You’re going to have X amount of time to live,” would you still continue to turn up to this job?’ The majority of responses I got were, ‘There’s no way I’d come in,’ ‘I’d probably travel the world,’ or, ‘I would go and do that one thing that I love so much in life but never have the opportunity to go and do it.’
I think death, as morbid as it sounds, has a way of putting things into perspective and has a way of encouraging you to take action. Life has a start and a finish, and when you’re 90 years old and you’re looking back on your life, you want to make sure that you’re not saying, ‘I wish I’d done that,’ or, ‘I wish I’d done this,’ or, ‘I wish I’d spent more time with family,’ or these sort of things. I think it’s important to think about what those later years of life are going to be like and be happy that you pointed yourself in the direction that you felt was going to give you the best experiences and the most rewarding life, because we do only get one shot at it, and we’ve got to get it right I think.
Joseph: Another thing you just mentioned was family. I know you wrote about how you realized that you were spending more time with your colleagues than your family, and I’ve definitely been there too. It’s kind of this weird, confusing feeling. What was the moment when you realized that?
Byron: Previous roles, it’s something that I’d always thought about going, ‘Why am I spending so much time here with my colleagues when my wife’s at home or other family members that I prefer to spend more time with?’ It ended up that they got the less-quality time at the end of the day when you are tired and exhausted from such a long day. It’s a challenge these days to fit in family and especially with shift work.
I was working, sometimes, on late shift for six to eight weeks in a row. That meant you basically got the transition periods of the day. For example, if it was in the morning, I’m probably asleep still from the late shift the night before, and my wife would get up and she’d get ready for work, and just before she went out the door, she’d come in and give you a kiss on the forehead and say, ‘Hope you have a great day,’ and, ‘I’ll see you later on.’ By the time that I got up and I got to work by around 3:30 in the afternoon and then get home at midnight or later when she was already asleep, I’d come in the door, give her a kiss in the forehead and say, ‘I’m home safely. Hope you had a great day.’ That was kind of how it went for the quite a few weeks in a row and consistently with these late shifts overtime.
After a while, especially when you’re not enjoying your job—and my wife’s such a big part of my life—when you limit that time with family and the people that you really want to spend time with, it just tends to send you into a darker place as well. It’s something that I felt that I should be able to have a career where I can balance both career and family, travel, and all those sorts of things, and join them in one. It shouldn’t be something that’s separate. It shouldn’t be something that if you want a career, then you have to forsake the family. You should be able to have them all.
Joseph: It’s interesting. It reminds me of this topic of wealth and how, in the traditional form, wealth is all about financial or monetary or physical assets, but I think what you’re getting at is how there are other measures of wealth, like control of your time or time with people you love. How did you begin to think about the value of your time?
Byron: At that particular time, those past prior 12 months before I quit my job, I started doing a lot of reading. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss was one of the books that I read, and Tim has a lot of interesting opinions on smarter ways to make money. While I was working this job, I realized that I could actually complete the work that I needed to complete in a much shorter period than 40 hours per week. The problem was that my managers and the company had the expectation that you must be here for these 40 to 50 hours per week if you’re going to do the role to an acceptable standard. This 40-hour workweek is a very outdated mindset I think. There’s an expectation regardless of workload or work rate that you must be in the office, and they’re between the hours of 9:00 until 5:00 for example. There should be more flexible ways of working.
Joseph: Some of these constructs are completely arbitrary. You mentioned the six-figure salary, which there’s a sort of milestone or a construct that we’ve created as a society. Then there’s also this 40-hour workweek, which if you think about it, who came up with 8 hours or who came up with the 40 hours? It’s just always been there, and it’s somewhat arbitrary.
What has been one of the more surprising parts of your life now that you have switched out of the world of being a security analyst, and now, you’re running your own agency? What’s that been like for you?
Byron: The flexibility is something that’s definitely changed in life. If, for example, I need to rearrange something in my life, if I need to do something, you have flexibility and a choice about what you do every day. It’s not so structured. If you want to go for a coffee at 11:00 a.m., then that’s something you can do. If you want to work between the hours of midday and midnight, then that’s something you can do. If you want to work from overseas or work in a different location throughout the day, then that’s something that you can do as well. There’s a lot more flexibility in the way that you go about your day to day.
Joseph: It sounds like you’ve got that flexibility in your life now that you didn’t have before. One of the things that on my mind is we started this conversation talking about money. Is there any aspect of that that you miss from the corporate world, the money or the six-figure salary? Do you feel that right now at all?
Byron: Since quitting, there’s been times where I know I’ve definitely struggled with the lack of stability in that regular income that comes in. Some days, I might make more in a day than I would make in two months of my old job, so there’s moments where you have really good days, and it really outweighs. Then there’s other months where you might make half as much as what you made in a month. There’s always those stability issues when it comes to business and nothing static as you would’ve known in working for somebody else.
Joseph: What’s been the hardest part of making this career change for you?
Byron: When it comes to running your own business, you always have to be great at everything or be able to employ people to do so. I think the biggest thing has been overcoming individual hurdles, like fear hurdles. For example, podcasts like this, you got to get over the fears of, ‘How will my voice sound?’ and, ‘Is what I’m saying something that is going to resonate with people?’ Then the everyday marketing of your business, making decisions, you typically learn how to fail and accept that as great way of learning moving forward.
I don’t come from entrepreneur-style parents or anything. They’ve all got very successful careers but no real business mentors and things like that. A lot of it has been self-taught and trying to learn things as I go. Not every day is a diamond I guess.
Joseph: Before we wrap up with talking, I do want to talk about PixelRush. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Byron: What does Monday feel like for you? If Monday is a very negative day, then I think that’s a good time to reassess. See if you are still passionate about your career. If you are, maybe it’s the job, maybe it’s who you’re working for, and maybe you need to do your own thing. If you’re not passionate about it, then try to find what it is. I think that is a challenge for a lot of people: to find what it is that really gets them going and what gets them excited and then trying to find out how they can make a career from that and earn some money from what it is that they love the most.
Joseph: It’s always really useful though to take a step back and think about what you’re really passionate about. At the same time, it’s got to be one of the hardest things to figure out out there. It’s got to be up there with your life purpose and things like that. It’s definitely a worthwhile topic to think about.
I want to wrap up today by talking about PixelRush, which I know is a conversion-focused, digital-marketing agency there in Australia. Can you tell us a little bit more about your current projects and what you’re focused on there?
Byron: We basically offer web design, search engine optimization, paid traffic solutions like AdWords, and combining all of those strategies to build a profitable online business presence for the businesses that we work with. We’re very much focused on driving sales and improving the revenue for the businesses that we work with.
Joseph: Do you have a simple tip that you could share about ways that people can drive up their conversion?
Byron: The main one is learn what problem it is that you’re trying to solve for your customers. If you can really nail what their problem is and how your service or product basically solves that problem for them, then I think you’re halfway there.
Joseph: Very helpful advice. I know that it’s one of the things I struggle with myself because I have this tendency, especially on websites, to get caught up with talking about everything that I’m offering, and it’s kind of about me, and I sometimes forget to make sure I word things in the context of the actual customer and what’s in it for them and what’s the benefit to them, what’s the problem I’m solving for them.
Byron: There was a good article about that from Pat Flynn, The Smart Passive Income. I’m not sure whether you’ve heard of Pat before. That was big on saying your ‘about page’ is not about you. It’s about what you can do for your audience. That’s quite interesting because I think your ‘about page’ is one of those pages where a lot of people probably get carried away with listing out their resume and their achievements and so forth, but what most people are looking for is how you can help them. Your ‘about page’ is a very important page to your website and one of the most frequently visited ones. It’s certainly one that you can look at tweaking and trying to get right for yourself.
Joseph: Very helpful. If people want to learn a little bit more about you, Byron, or if they want to learn more about SEO or conversion or if they’re looking for a good digital marketing agency, where can they go to learn a little bit more about PixelRush and the work that you do?
Byron: We’ve got our website, which is PixelRush.com.au. That’s the best place. Jump across to blog, and you’ll find a lot of great information there. We also have a few podcast episodes that provide a wealth of information as well, and I’m always available via email. I know you’ve added me on Twitter and LinkedIn, Joseph. I really enjoy that whole process of seeing how I can help. Don’t ever ask me how you can market your online business because I’ll probably talk to you for the next hour or so.
Joseph: That’ll be a separate podcast. I know I’ve always got questions about that. We’ll definitely include links to all those resources that you just mentioned in our show notes, Byron. I just wanted to thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts about your own career-change journey and reminding us how important it is to figure out what’s important to you and the value of time. I believe that a lot of people are going to find this to be really useful, so thanks so much for your time.
Byron: Beautiful. Thank you very much for having me on the show, Joseph. I really appreciate you reaching out. I really respect what you’re doing, and I really hope that a lot of people are inspired by relaunching their career and really attacking their life like they’ve only got one chance at it and making it the absolutely best life that they can make it, because it’s all up to the individual.
Joseph: Absolutely. You only got one life to live, so you definitely should make the most of it.
Byron: That’s it. Make the most of it.