Behind The Headlines: My Experience Working With The New York Times

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On August 7, 2023, I received an email from Amy X. Wang, nan adjunct editor astatine nan New York Times Magazine, inquiring astir nan modern-day FIRE activity and its Fat FIRE offshoot. Amy is simply a self-proclaimed FIRE enthusiast who has worked broadside hustles to gain other money and utilized rewards points to save.

As 1 of nan pioneers of nan modern-day FIRE movement since launching Financial Samurai successful 2009, I was eager to stock my insights pinch Amy. My extremity is to thief arsenic galore group arsenic imaginable execute financial information truthful they tin lead amended lives. During our ~40-minute telephone conversation, we discussed various aspects of financial independence, including why I decided to discontinue astatine 34 and why I’m considering returning to work.

However, arsenic pinch galore interviews, I understood that not each stories make it to print, and there's nary guarantee of being quoted aliases mentioned. Thus, I considered it a regular portion of my time and forgot each astir it aft a mates of weeks.

Then connected April 13, 2024, I received a follow-up email from Amy, reminding maine of our speech and proposing a “day successful nan life” photoshoot of individuals who achieved FIRE successful San Francisco. I was some amazed and impressed by nan dedication of Amy and her team, realizing they had been moving connected nan communicative for astatine slightest 8 months.

During this period, Amy spent hours gathering and conversing pinch FIRE enthusiasts from divers backgrounds crossed nan state to trade her story. I was peculiarly impressed by nan breadth of her subjects.

Even though astir half of nan U.S. organization lives successful costly coastal cities and is rather diverse, overmuch of nan FIRE sum by nan media has chiefly been astir group from nan mostly surviving successful lower-cost areas of nan country. It’s bully to no longer beryllium ignored.

Sending In A Photographer

Given I've been penning for truthful long, speaking to journalists isn't different anymore. However, for this piece, I sewage to activity up adjacent and individual pinch 1 of nan New York Time's freelance employees.

The New York Times sent photographer Maggie Shannon, a celebrated photographer pinch complete a decade of acquisition astatine nan New York Times. She has captured images of celebrities for illustration Conan O'Brian, Paul Rudd, and Kristin Wiig.

When Amy, nan editor inquired astir my readiness to get photographed, my first guidance wasn't enthusiasm, but alternatively a thought astir nan clip and disbursal progressive successful photographing me. As a individual finance enthusiast who values frugality, I suggested sending her a photograph instead. Easy peasy!

Despite my reservations, Amy and Kristen Geisler, nan photograph editor, urged maine to beryllium photographed, truthful I acquiesced. If they wanted to walk nan money and clip to photograph a regular nobody, past truthful beryllium it. It mightiness beryllium a nosy acquisition to stock pinch nan kiddos.

Maggie and I past made plans for nan weekend.

Realizing What It Takes To Get That One Shot

After overmuch coordination, I met Maggie, and her partner Roy, extracurricular my daughter's ballet workplace astatine 9:08 americium connected a Saturday. They had driven 5.5 hours from Los Angeles that morning. We exchanged pleasantries and discussed nan day's photograph crippled plan.

Weekend clip is precious clip pinch our children, particularly our son, who is successful schoolhouse full-time. As a result, I wasn't consenting to walk hours wrong my location getting photographed arsenic antecedently suggested. Instead, I wanted to support our existent plans pinch our children, which was arsenic followed.

A Day In The Life Of A FIRE Parent: Saturday, April 20

9:08 am: Drop disconnected girl astatine creation workplace to opportunity hullo to Maggie and Roy.

10 am: Meet maine and my girl extracurricular nan creation studio.

11 am: Meet me, my son, and my girl astatine Acrosports, a activity studio.

12 noon: Walk crossed nan thoroughfare pinch america to Kezar Stadium, wherever we often spell to runaround and race. My woman meets america pinch onigiri, a Japanese snack.

12:45 pm: Follow america to Blue Heron Lake successful Golden Gate Park to spell connected a quality walk.

2 pm: Follow america to an unfastened location for waste successful Forest Hill connected nan West Side of San Francisco, which I deliberation is nan astir promising area to bargain existent property now owed to important section economical catalysts.

3 pm: Wrap things up and scheme for tomorrow.

Approximately 500 photos were taken. Roughly 200 were sent to Kristen, nan photograph editor for nan New York Times Magazine.

A Day In The Life Of A Fire Parent: Sunday, April 21

7 americium – 8:45 am: Meet maine astatine Carl Larsen Park wherever I play pickleball pinch a regular group of 4.0 – 4.5 players. This was an absorbing convention because nary of america 12 players person ever had flashes spell disconnected while we battled. It was besides a small awkward bringing my online world into my offline world.

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 pm: Meet astatine my retreat, an quiet information of a rental spot wherever I spell to constitute and relax. This was my discuss alternatively of spending hours photographing america astatine our house. Figuring retired really to support nan kids entertained was our biggest challenge.

Approximately 200 photos were taken. I'm uncertain really galore Maggie sent to Kristen. Maybe 50.

After their agelong play successful San Francisco, Roy and Maggie drove 5.5 hours backmost to Los Angeles that Sunday evening. That must person been exhausting!

Despite nan extended effort and expense, aft ~250 photos were submitted, only 1 photograph was selected. This was ever going to beryllium nan case, arsenic guided to maine successful nan beginning. But it reminded maine of nan harrowing prospects of getting into an elite assemblage aliases landing a highly coveted job.

Tremendous Effort Must Be Made To Get To The top

Creating a New York Times Magazine article demands an immense magnitude of effort: dozens of hours of interviews and thousands of dollars successful expenses. Competing publications, for illustration The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, must put akin clip and resources to enactment competitive.

Until this experience, I didn't afloat comprehend really overmuch was required to nutrient a mag article. In nan past, I sometimes joked pinch my father, who serves arsenic my part-time editor, erstwhile he meticulously spent hours editing my work: “Hey dad! Take it easy. This isn't nan New York Times, OK?!”

But now I understand nan dedication needed to excel successful online storytelling. As an under-resourced and perpetually tired stay-at-home dad, I'm incapable to spell to specified lengths, but I'm inspired nonetheless. Despite my limitations, nan democratization of nan web has allowed maine to carve retired my small individual finance niche.

How Much Are You Willing To Work To Get To The Top?

From a photographer's standpoint, Maggie Shannon has attained nan pinnacle of her profession. However, anyone who assumes Maggie's occurrence came mostly from luck would beryllium mistaken, arsenic I discovered during nan play I spent pinch her.

Maggie was consenting to emergence early, enduring brisk 50-degree upwind for astir 2 hours to seizure nan cleanable changeable of maine playing pickleball, contempt knowing nan slim chance her editor would prime nan photo.

Throughout our 5 hours together that Saturday, she only took 1 bath break connected my suggestion, moreover though she was 8 months pregnant. She persisted until she felt she had captured nan principle she sought.

Maggie's professionalism ne'er made maine aliases my family uncomfortable; instead, she allowed america to enactment naturally. And erstwhile she felt a picture's lighting was not rather right, she'd inquire Roy to set nan lighting and effort again. I'm judge Maggie made nan photograph editor's occupation hard, which is simply a bully thing.

To execute FIRE, sacrifices must beryllium made! But erstwhile you get there, you will recognize nan sacrifices really weren’t that large of a woody astatine each fixed state is priceless.

The NY Times Article On Financial Independence Retirement Early

As a subscriber to The New York Times, you tin entree my gift article, Your Neighbors Are Retiring In Their 30s. Why Can't You? without hitting a paywall. At nan bottom, you'll find nan 1 photograph Maggie took of maine and my children that made nan cut. How entertaining are nan different pictures she took? I admit nan publication for respecting nan privateness of my children.

I recovered nan main character's communicative to beryllium some poignant and inspiring. It serves arsenic a reminder to maine that nan origins of FIRE often stem from a place of discontent. This discontent tin originate from various sources, specified arsenic having a difficult leader aliases experiencing a tragic upbringing, arsenic is nan lawsuit pinch nan main character, Allen Wong.

The dream is that erstwhile you accumulate capable wealth, you tin time off down those things that origin you suffering. Perhaps by purchasing a $250,000 Lamborghini and a bully location arsenic a azygous individual adjacent Disney World, Allen could alleviate immoderate of nan trauma he knowledgeable pinch his parents.

For me, a realization dawned during my first week of activity astatine 5:30 americium connected nan 49th level of One New York Plaza. Sitting nether agleam fluorescent lights while extracurricular was still dark, I knew I wouldn't beryllium capable to strengthen a profession successful finance until accepted status age. I could besides only return truthful overmuch yelling from my English manager.

While I was highly appreciative of nan opportunity to work astatine a apical finance bank, I besides instantly began readying for my exit by property 40. FIRE enabled maine to time off down a stressful occupation that didn't supply overmuch meaning aft 13 years. It besides helped america go parents and gave maine much joyousness arsenic a writer.

The World Is An Ultra-Competitive Place

Recognize that what appears effortless successful nan last merchandise often conceals hours, weeks, aliases moreover years of difficult activity down nan scenes.

Take, for instance, my 2nd book pinch Portfolio Penguin, which took 2 years to constitute and edit. After that, it undergoes astatine slightest 5 rounds of polishing by my publisher's squad earlier it's fresh for nan market. Following publication, I walk an further 3-6 months trading nan book done podcasts, TV appearances, and online channels.

The sheer effort required to people a accepted book is immense, which is why I now publication galore books. I've developed a heavy appreciation for nan process.

Even hobbies transportation various levels of aggravated attraction if you want to climb to nan top.

Recently, I took my woman to nan pickleball courts for a post-lunch game. As we played, we encountered different genitor from our schoolhouse who had been location since 9 americium drilling pinch friends. It's nary wonderment they're specified skilled players.

Good luck immoderate fair-weather subordinate who takes them connected for a pick-up game!

Underneath The Iceberg Is Massive

Underestimating nan effort progressive successful achieving thing tin lead to vexation erstwhile attempting it yourself. Perfecting a pickleball dink requires hours of practice, conscionable arsenic capturing nan cleanable infinitesimal successful a photograph demands hundreds of shots. And moreover then, mistakes are inevitable, and disapproval is bound to arise.

Please admit nan efforts of others, particularly creatives who consistently put themselves retired there.

It whitethorn not beryllium celebrated to say, but expecting to get up while working only 40 hours a week aliases less is unrealistic. When arsenic talented individuals are putting successful 60-80 hours a week, nan likelihood of occurrence are slim.

Realizing really difficult group activity to attain occurrence is why I interest for my children. If personification isn't outworking you successful your city, there's undoubtedly personification other successful different portion of nan world who is.

One of my halfway responsibilities arsenic a genitor is to someway thatch my children grit. They request it successful bid to past nan future.

In immoderate ways, I sometimes wish I were ignorant of nan effort required to succeed. As they say, ignorance is bliss! And I often agelong for that bliss.

Give your each to immoderate endeavor you pursue. Even if you autumn short, you will astatine slightest acquisition restitution knowing you person it your best.

Finally, if you ever get an overseas opportunity that makes you consciousness comfortable, spell up and return it. You ne'er cognize what mightiness travel of it!

Reader Questions

Are you alert of really overmuch effort (and luck) it takes to get to nan top? If so, does that make you consciousness motivated aliases defeated? How overmuch do you deliberation luck plays a portion successful success, nevertheless you specify it? What did you deliberation of The NY Times article connected FIRE? Congrats Maggie for giving commencement to your daughter!

Pick up a transcript of How To Engineer Your Layoff, my bestselling severance speech book that helps you break free from a occupation you dislike. If you're readying connected retiring early aliases pursuing a caller endeavor, it's worthy trying to discuss a severance. There is nary downside. Receiving a severance package was my #1 catalyst to break free from finance and alteration my life for nan better. Use nan codification “saveten” to prevention $10 astatine checkout.

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