A new type of rich – Q&A with Matt Esof – Stuntman, Martial Arts Instructor and Tech Entrepreneur

“The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.” – Tim Ferriss

I am fascinated by people who take the Third Door option to life.

For those not familiar with this term, the analogy is life is like standing in line to a club. The first door is for the privileged and connected, they walk straight in, the second door is for those prepared to queue and wait their turn. Then there is the third door, it is for those people that head down the alley and climb through the bathroom window or persuade a cleaner to let them in through the fire exit.

These are the people who think differently, they haven’t got it all figured out, but don’t have access to the first door and are not prepared to queue waiting for the second door.

To hijack and slightly tweak the concept from the godfather of the third door, Tim Ferris (The 4-Hour Work Week), he identifies people that he calls the “New Rich”.

These are people who choose experiences over things, people who don’t live in the 5x9x5 cell (5 days, 9-5), people who haven’t necessarily struck gold or are wealthy in the traditional sense, but live comfortably and frugally, simplifying their lives, using geographical arbitrage and a whole range of tools to escape. They focus on what I call proportional income, in that time invested has a direct and proportional result.

The New Rich: Matt Esof – Q&A

To better understand the mindset of the New Rich, I am interviewing people living alternative lifestyles, this week we hear from Matt. I’ve known Matt since my University days when we lived in Residence together and recently we have gone into business together. I love his openness and the way he embraces life.

Where are you from?

Harare, Zimbabwe.

Where are you now? Why there?

Cape Town – It has become home by accident – initially I came here to train with a Korean Taekwon-Do master living here before I traveled to TKD World Championships, and I made some really good friends, I loved the vibe, the scenery, the culture, the social life and the opportunities it has afforded me. I’ve thought often about leaving, but there is so much here for me, and it scares me to think of leaving it behind. I have left for brief periods over the years but always with the knowledge that I would return.

What formal study have you had, have you used it?

BA (Philosophy and Industrial Relations) – not directly, no, but I feel that some of the skills I’ve learned have come in handy at various points of my work life.

Give us the highlights package of your career so far?

  • TEFL teacher HESS Taiwan
  • Executive Customer Relations for Amazon’s Independent Publishing Program (real time global platform issue management with a direct line to Jeff Bezos)
  • GM Fenner Travel and Tours
  • Freelance Stuntman in the film industry
  • Business Director at Envisio

How did you get into what you are doing now?

Everything that has happened has been very serendipitous.

I fell into stunt work (excuse the pun) because of my martial arts background. I’ve been training since I was quite young and releasing content on social media. One day I got a call asking me to work on a film and it just snowballed from there. I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity.

I got quite badly injured at the end of 2017, and a part of me decided to leave stunt work behind, but had no idea what to do. A drunken talk with a mate then developed into a real idea. We saw an opening and with the help of another friend who also saw the potential, it turned from talks over a drink to “Heck, we’re actually on to something – let’s do this!!!!” and with that Envisio Virtual Reality was born.

I also love the film industry and stunt work, and it wasn’t long after I recovered from my injury that I started taking jobs again… I feel that it is something I will do until my body its actually unable to any longer.

Likewise, I coach Taekwon-Do at the University of Cape Town, I’ve grown up with the art and it is something I love and I am committed to growing. As I mentioned, I also used to teach English in Taiwan, and I have been working with a former colleague in Taiwan recruiting teachers from all over the world, primarily focused on SA, to go teach abroad.

How many hours do you work a week?

It varies a lot, anywhere from 20 to a upwards of 70 hours when I work over the weekend (just this week as an example) – a lot of the weeks with long hours involve film sets where a 12 hour working day is standard.

What is the best advice you have received and why?

“Say no” – with my fingers in so many pots at the moment I still struggle to say no to things that come my way. If there is more to be done, I tend to always say yes to more work and then panic when I realise I have over extended myself. This is still something I am working on, and have not perfected.

What was your biggest learning on your journey?

That you can make things happen on your own. Up until just 18 months ago, I used to live waiting for opportunities to happen. I’d work hard so when they came my way I’d be in a good position to be chosen to fill a new role or grab the opportunity and be ready for it. But what I’ve come to realise is that when you’re ready, the onus is often on you to create the space… to create the opportunity.

I didn’t think that 18 months ago I would have started a company with friends and that this company would be pushing the boundaries of what marketing content looks like for companies in various industries. Growing up I never thought I would work along side actors I saw on the big screen….

What do you do in terms of financial planning?

Again, very late to the party on this on…18 months ago, my version of financial planning was saving up in my bank account for my next goal (whether it was a new car or a trip to a new country). All relatively short term. Over the last few months my mindset has changed and I have been thinking more long term and have taken on a financial planner to assist with investments (Retirement fund, stock and I’ve started a trust for my niece so when she hits 18 her tertiary education will be covered).

What does being Rich mean to you?

Well I certainly am not “rich” by conventional definitions. I am comfortable, but I wish that I had more to support those closest to me an take more pressure off them – that is often all the motivation I need to keep juggling so much in the air and pushing the long hours.

My sister and brother in law are quite an inspiration in that regard. I know that one day I do want a family of my own – I definitely am not there yet, but I know that that will be fulfilling for me and know that that will certainly make me feel more content. I guess “rich” to me is more about those you have around you and the security you can provide for them to ensure a happy life and future for them… again, shout out to my sis on that gig!

What is your number one bit of advice you can give to someone looking at shifting towards a new rich lifestyle design?

Depending on your background, risk is a perception. Most of the people in my circle have the ability to “fall-back” on something. My fall back has always been teaching English abroad if the risks I took failed and I found myself without income. For some it could be working in a bar etc… but there is always a fall-back option until you can get back on your feet for most (granted, not for all). So the risk is perceived, in fact it is fear that prevents you from aiming for the lifestyle you want. If there is a fall back that can get you through a potential failure, take the chance.

What’s next?

At the moment, my priority lies in solidifying the lifestyle and various income streams that I have, for the immediate future I don’t foresee and major changes and am quite comfortable where I am. As mentioned earlier, my mindset has changed towards more long term thinking and I feel that any changes that will occur will be in that area.

How can people learn more and support what you are doing? 

Hahaha, don’t pirate movies, buy VR headsets!

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