You’re a recent high school graduate with acceptance letters from second-rate colleges. Or you’ve just finished a worthless degree with no career prospects. Or maybe you’re an older fella, drifting through life and haven’t yet found a calling.

You don’t know what to do. You don’t have a clear path in front of you. You know that easy middle-class careers are hard to come by. You’re smart, ambitious and willing to put in the work, but you have no idea where to start.

If any of this sounds familiar, this guide is for you. It’s a mid-length blueprint that will teach you the basics of career planning in the 21st strategy. My goal is to provide you with an overview of the best career options available to young men, and dissuade you from the most common bad decisions.

Choosing A Career

This section will help you choose a career path that matches your skills.

Let’s start with what not to do:

  • Waste time and money on any sort of liberal arts degree, unless it’s from a top-tier institution (Ivy or equivalent)
  • Waste time and money on any sort of business degree (undergrad or MBA), unless it’s from a top-tier institution (Ivy or equivalent)
  • Waste time and money on an unmarketable science degree (undergrad or MBA), unless it’s from a top-tier institution (Ivy or equivalent)
  • Waste time and money on a law degree, unless it’s from a top-tier institution (Ivy or equivalent)

Attending a non-elite college for anything that isn’t a hard and marketable skill is a poor and risky investment, especially if you’re paying for it. Even in jurisdictions with heavily-subsidized tuition, it’s probably not the best use of your time.

The last mistake I’ll suggest you avoid is inaction. It’s usually better to pick a sub-optimal path, than it is to spend years spinning your wheels, going through repeated false starts. And of course, wasting time playing video games in your parents’ basement is never a good idea.

Now, we’ll move on to what you should do.

Default Level #1: Skilled Trades

The best career path for the majority of young Western men will be a skilled trade. A career in the skilled trades will offer you a good income and quality of life, perhaps a great income if you are hard-working and business-savvy. Do your research and identify which trades are in high demand, and are some combination of safe, pleasant, and lucrative. The best fit will depend on your personal preferences and local market.

Default Level #2: Engineering and Technology

Similar to the physical trades, but requires fairly high intelligence and an interest in tech. Network administrators, systems administrators, professional engineers, and other assorted poindexters generally earn good incomes in good working conditions. If you have the intellect and inclination to pursue a career as an engineer, do your research and find out which specialty or up-and-coming technology will provide you with a resilient skill set.

Elite Paths

Without a doubt, the most attractive careers are those that require exceptional intelligence and elite educations. If you have the opportunity to pursue an elite path, you should take it. The work will be hard and the hours will be long, but you will be a better man for it.

What do I mean by elite paths? I mean Investment Banking, Management Consulting, BigLaw, Technology (i.e. FAMGA, not sysadmin work), big advertising agencies – i.e. the sort of jobs that probably require you to be a member of the 1% cognitive elite.

These paths are great, but you have to make an accurate self-assessment before you invest resources pursuing them. There are good resources and communities available online to help you estimate your competitiveness in various recruitment processes. Don’t doubt yourself, but don’t succumb to the ‘power of positive thinking’ to the point of self-deception.

Self-Directed Learning: Reading List

Below are the books on business and personal development from which I’ve taken the most value. Recommended reading order is from the top of each list to the bottom.

General Self-Help

Getting Things Done, David Allen

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, Keith Ferrazzi

How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie

Gorilla Mindset, Mike Cernovich

The Four-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss

The Mystery Method, by Erik von Markovik

Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey

The Curmudgeons Guide To Getting Ahead, Charles Murray

Choose Yourself, James Altucher

Business Classics

Zero to One, Peter Thiel

Hackers and Painters, Paul Graham

Getting Results The Agile Way, JD Meier

The Art Of The Deal, Donald Trump

The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

Good To Great, Jim Collins

The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker

Security Analysis, Benjamin Graham

Competitive Strategy, Michael Porter


How To Get Rich, Felix Denis

Losing My Virginity, Richard Branson

How To Win At The Sport of Business, Mark Cuban

How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big, Scott Adams

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Ben Franklin

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

Education of a Bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Winning, Jack Welch


Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott

On Writing: Memoir Of The Craft, by Stephen King

The War Of Art, by Stephen Pressfield

The Elements Of Style, William Strunk


Tim Ferriss Podcast

Danger and Play Podcast

How To Start A Startup.