Random Questions with Physician on FIRE

MSF Preamble

Physician on FIRE is fully recovered from his run in with Legosaurus Rex and is ready to take on the Random Questions Challenge.

I’ve discovered dozens, maybe even hundreds of bloggers since I started this blog. It’s been a great way to get to know the community. But I’ve been reading a handful of personal finance blogs long before I started blogging. I’ve come to look at these select few bloggers as the cool older brother bloggers.

It is a real honor to have one of those cool older brother bloggers featured in today’s Random Questions. I discovered Physician on FIRE sometime in 2016 after stalking the Rockstar Finance Net Worth Tracker.

His story was inspiring, but it was his creativity and writing style that won me over. Which I can only describe as the perfect combination of financial wisdom and witty repartee with just the right amount of 80’s & 90’s pop culture thrown into the mix. (It’s like we had the same childhood.)

Speaking of childhood, PoF writes great content about the intersection between fatherhood and finance. He also happens to be one of the inspirations for the Random Questions Challenge. He is the creative genius behind the Christopher Guest Posts, reviving memories of the greatest faux rockumentary ever made.

Which makes this video the perfect merger between his Christopher Guest Posts and my Random Questions Challenge. But enough of my ramblings, let’s learn more about Physician on FIRE.

  1. Who are you?

That’s probably my third favorite song from The Who, behind Baba O’Reilly and A Quick One While He’s Away.

But to answer the question, let’s shift gears to a contemporary who once said “I’m just an ordinary, average guy,” which is what I believe I am.

Joe Walsh quotes aside, I’m also a blogger known as the Physician on FIRE. I’m a financially independent anesthesiologist in his early forties. I stumbled into all of this. I don’t belong here.

I didn’t know what financial independence was until I read about it and realized I more or less had it. I’ve been practicing Stealth Wealth since I first started collecting a ridiculous paycheck. After eleven years of stacking them up, I’ve realized my family and I can do whatever in the world we want to do.

While I treasure and respect the profession and know I’ll miss it dearly, the truth is I’ll be a happier man spending my time with my family exploring the world and the facets of this globe we find most interesting.

 

  1. What are you passionate about?

LEGOs. Seriously, check out the pic.

 

sorted legos

 

I also geek out over travel, craft beer, and my beloved Golden Gophers.

In all seriousness (who could honestly be serious about the Golden Gophers?), now that I have acquired enough money to do the things I want to do, I am fairly passionate about charitable giving.

I made it a goal of mine to build up a charitable giving fund equal to 10% of my nest egg prior to retiring from my lucrative day / night job. I’ve done that via donor advised funds and I highly recommend the avenue to anyone who wants to share a bit of their good fortune with others. I will never be a Charles Feeney, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable retiring so soon if I hadn’t worked an extra year or two to give some of my earnings to charitable causes I believe in.

I’ve also pledged to give half my profits from my website to charity. I couldn’t justifiably monetize my blog without such a mission, particularly coming from a standpoint of financial independence, which, by definition, says “I don’t need this.”

 

  1. What song do you want played at your funeral?

The Beastie Boys “Root Down.” On one hand, the funky beat would positively bewilder the gatherers, which suits me. But the fact is, if you drop my body in the ground, I’m puttin’ roots down. Plus, I love the beat and some truth hidden in the lyrics, such as “Everybody knows I’m known for dropping science.”

Can I have a playlist and not just a song?

I’d also include Sinatra’s “My Way,” because, yeah. It’s perfect. And Ozzy Osbourne’s “See You on the Other Side.”

 

  1. Who’s your favorite comedian?

Am I allowed to answer “me”?

No?

Darn.

I like a comedian that makes your brain work a little for the humor. The subtle, dry as a chip, “oh, now I get it” kind of humor. Steven Wright is the champion, while Mitch Hedberg is a close second (and Minnesota native, I might add).

So, yeah, Steven Wright.

“I intend to live forever. So far, so good.” -Steven Wright

Joel Stein is my favorite comedic writer, but that’s a different thing, entirely.

 

  1. What’s are you insecure about?

I was insecure about approaching females, but then I approached my future bride after several beers and totally got over that. Or did she approach me? I’m not entirely sure; my memory is a bit cloudy, but it all worked out extraordinarily well in the end. Now, I have no need to approach females. I’ve got the only one I’ll ever need, and she’s perfect.

To be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable with my everyday friends, acquaintances, and family knowing all about this blogging thing that I do. I’ve shared a lot of information, understanding that it’s all out there, but if I knew everyone I interact with on a daily basis could be reading it, that would make me a bit uncomfortable. In other words, I’d better retire quick before I’m found out!

 

  1. Tell us something the readers of your blog don’t know about you?

That’s an intriguing question, MSF, because on one hand, I’m very open, but I’m also very guarded in some respects. Here’s a short list of things I don’t believe I’ve revealed.

  • My older brother was a better athlete, a better looking dude, and far more popular in high school, but still looked after his younger brother one year behind him.
  • I’m just an ordinary, average guy. I know I said that before, but the biggest difference between me and my readers is that I started writing about my journey.
  • I can walk fast. In certain ways, I’m an extraordinary, unaverage guy. I finished a walking 1-mile race in 8:07 a few years ago.

 

  1. What are you afraid of?

Heights.

And snakes.

 

  1. What are you most looking forward to in the next 12 months?

All the things.

I finally decided to exercise my FI muscle and will be working part time as of October 1st. In medicine, we tend to work round-the-clock hours, which sounds rough, but we bank up hours by doing so. I’ll be squeezing in my part time schedule into seven days a month. I’ll work a forty hour work week in four days, tack on a 72 hour weekend, and be done for the month. Score.

We’re planning a three-week stretch in Central America this fall with the first week spent in a Spanish immersion language camp. Next winter / spring, we anticipate spending a few weeks in Hawaii. I’m also exploring several ways in which I might be able to take my family along on a medical mission trip to an impoverished nation. If that happens to be in Peru and we can visit Macchu Picchu afterwards, I won’t be disappointed.

 

  1. Why did you start a blog/podcast?

This question deserves an entire blog post. I think I may have answered it in a post or podcast, but I’ll indulge.

I paid no attention to blogs for the longest time. Blogs were for people who felt they hadn’t already overshared on Facebook. But they had. No thank you.

Late 2014, I was studying for a bogus exam. It was an expensive ($2,100) test that didn’t address the information I actually needed to know to do my job. I took a study break and Googled a phrase that I thought might connect me with a dude I read about named Pete that retired at 30. It worked! I read all his stuff, found The White Coat Investor shortly thereafter, and learned so much from both of them.

After devouring the words of those guys, I discovered numerous other bloggers and realized these people were all legit. I also realized I was positioned squarely between the ideals of my two aforementioned blogging idols. I could find no site that bridged the gap between the two. I decided I’d be that bridge. Why not me, right?

Some 15 months later, I visited my most influential blogging idols on back-to-back days. I’m still trying to figure out how on earth that happened. But it did.

 

  1. What post/episode are you most proud of and why?

Pride is a kind of a big deal, so it’s tough to pull out a post that brings me the most, but I’ll nominate Investment Fees Will Cost You Millions.

I put a lot of time into it, made a calculator that would help my fellow investors (i.e. you) determine their own fee scenario, and channeled Biz Markie all in the same important post. I encourage each and every one of you to input your own data into the calculator, whether you’re an Agnes, Agatha, Jermaine, or Jack, to see what you’re giving up.

 

 

  1. How is blogging different from what you expected?

It’s way easier.

I kid. I kid. I kid!

When I was a couple months into this endeavor, my mentor The White Coat Investor told me I would spend 90% of my time “promoting” my site and 10% writing. I thought that was ludicrous. I didn’t know where on earth he was coming from.

Now that I’ve got just a little bit of time under my belt, I totally understand what he meant by that. Occasionally, I do actually write something for my blog (and that remains the best part of being a blogger), but I also spend a lot of energy messing with people on Twitter, commenting on my new friends’ blogs, participating in forum discussions, and other fun activities that could be considered self-promotion. I enjoy it all, so I don’t consider any of it wasted time, but it’s true that actual writing has become this rare thing I do once or twice a week.

I enjoy it all, but it’s true that actual writing has become this rare thing I do once or twice a week. And sometimes, the words I write don’t even end up on my own website. Like these words, for example.

 

  1. What unique skill do you have?

Define “unique.”

I got skills to pay the bills, but I suppose my most unique skill is the uncanny ability to work in an Amazon Affiliate link into the most seemingly innocuous question. I make them “smile” links, so our favorite charities are benefitting. I’m a big fan of charity.

 

  1. What is your favorite book that doesn’t relate to the topic you write about?

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

The first time I read it to my first son, I almost cried. And the second time. And the third time. And by almost cried, I mean I was steadily leaking tears about two thirds of the way through. It gets me every time.

 

  1. Dog person or cat person?

Dog.

 

 

  1. What celebrity have you been told you look like?

People are always telling me I look like My Sons Father.

But that’s a terrible answer. He’s not a celebrity. No one’s ever heard of him; I’ve never heard of him. Why am I doing this, again?!?

I look a bit like Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And Timothy Blake Nelson in O Brother Where Art Though.

 

  1. What famous person have you met?

I once met My Sons Father.

Wait! That’s not true!!! And even if it was true, he’s not remotely famous. All he’s known for is creating LEGO versions of loser bloggers. Like this one.

I’m afraid I don’t hobnob with celebrities much. I said hello to Kevin Nealon once when he jogged by us on the beach in Malibu and I got an awkward picture with the Biggest Loser Lady and some other dude about thirteen years ago in Vegas.

 

biggest_loser

 

My Mom, though. My Mom destroys me in celebrity connections. She was a bridesmaid in John Denver’s wedding. How cool is that?

 

John Denver Wedding

 

  1. Let’s stretch those writing muscles. Write a Haiku summarizing you blog/podcast? (Remember a Haiku is a 3-line poem. First line- 5 syllables; second line-7 syllables; third line-5 syllables.)

I know the haiku

You don’t have to explain it

Lego freak loser

 

I am a doctor

But I’m so much more than that

Just getting started

 

  1. What random question would you add to this list and what’s your answer? (If I like the question, I might add it to this list.)

What do you bench, bro?

I threw this one out somewhat jokingly on Twitter, and my mentor The White Coat Investor replied 250. I would not be surprised if Mr. Money Mustache could match that. Or top that.

I can’t. I maxed out at 215 in college #humblebrag. No, wait, that’s just a normal brag. That felt like a lot for a skinny kid like me.

Tim Ferriss asks his podcast guests what they would put on a billboard. So I think about that.

My simple answer is to Pay Attention.

Pay attention to your children. They need your attention.

If you’ve got none of those, pay attention to your spouse. You married that one for a reason, and he or she deserves your attention.

If you’ve got no spouse, pay attention to your surroundings.

Pay attention to what’s happening around you. Is the world becoming a better or worse place and is there anything you can do about it?

There probably is.

 

  1. Name three days that changed your life, for better or worse? (Courtesy of 1500)

 

1. I had narrowed down my college choice to one of a few elite schools. Duke and Dartmouth beckoned, but Vanderbilt had offered me an enticing scholarship worth 75% of tution for four years. Then the phone rang.

The University of Minnesota offered me a full tuition scholarship. The school was good enough for my mom, my dad, and his dad. I spent eight good years on that campus.

 

2. A buddy of mine was hosting a party to commemorate the 101st meeting between Ohio State and Michigan on the gridiron. The Gophers weren’t playing, but they beat Alabama in their next game, which has nothing to do with this story.

I was finishing up a couple weeks of night work as a resident and I plopped down on the sofa next to an absolutely delightful grad student. I was exhausted but quietly excited to be next to her.

Amusingly, we were both reaching out to potential dates who were both at this other party, but were exchanging glances and pleasantries with each other at the same time. Several hours later, I asked her to marry me. I made it official with a ring some 15 months later. This August marks our 10 year anniversary.

 

3. I was preparing to head south for a music & microbrews festival on a Saturday. The phone rang. I was well aware of the shaky financial ground the hospital I was working with was on. But I didn’t see this coming.

I was out of a job.

Just like that. My wife and I had built a life, started a family with two young boys, and had built our waterfront dream home right there. Our dream came to a sudden halt. Right then and there. We landed on our feet, but not without some bouncing around.

 

I want to say thank you for the opportunity to share my story here, and MSF, whatever you do, don’t stop stacking those LEGOs.

Cheers!

-PoF

9 Comments

  1. This was great to read PoF! So that older brother of yours…married?? Just kidding. Thanks for letting us know a little more about you. That billboard question and answer, just awesome! We often don’t pay enough attention to what’s going on around us.

    Have you made a lego figure of MSF yet?

  2. Dear MSF,

    Great interview (of yourself). John Denver is a favourite of mine #RIP. My kids play with LEGO every day.

    I really liked the last question… a lot. It got me to thinking and I like to think. I’d answer it;

    1. The day I was born,

    2. The day that a friend told me “I didn’t need to marry him” (him being my then fiance, for the record, I didn’t end up marrying him). Changed my life forever. This was significant not because I would have married the wrong person but because it allowed me to see that my whole life (up to that point, I was 28) was lived based on what I thought others wanted me to do or what I was supposed to do. I have since had much more clarity in the life that I want to live for myself. Have to make the most of my one shot.

    3. The day after my son died. I was in the hospital doing what I had done every morning for the past 6 weeks, getting my mug filled up with hot water (for free, I provided the tea bag). Except, this day, the cashier was new and told me I had to pay 25 cents for the water. I didn’t have my wallet with me. I handed her the hot water back. I don’t think that I have ever felt so dejected in my life. The woman behind me in line, looked up and asked what we were talking about, I told her that I needed a quarter but didn’t have one. She went into her wallet and gave me one. Changed my life forever. She didn’t know my situation and I don’t know hers. Maybe it was just a quarter to her and maybe it was more. I think about giving every.single.day and hope that I can “be that quarter” in someone elses life.

    I’m sure that there are more days that will come. I hope that there are. That’s what makes life, all the good and bad so great. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Besos Sarah.

    1. Thanks for sharing Sarah! You’re welcome to complete the rest of the questions if you’d like to take on the Random Questions Challenge 🙂 It is a great question, I have Mr. 1500 to thank for it.

      Those are some great life changing days. Especially your last one. It just goes to show the power of kindness. You never know what a seemingly small gesture can mean to someone else.

  3. I’m surprised and disappointed that PoF didn’t include the first time he read my blog as one of the days that changed his life.

    Mitch Hedberg (R.I.P.) was incredible and one of my favorites as well. I saw him in person once and I was cry-laughing for most of the show. The clips of him I can find online don’t quite do his genius justice.

    Great to get to know you a bit better, PoF. For my own selfish reasons, I’m very much looking forward to hearing about your travel adventures with the family during your upcoming part-time experiment.

  4. Thanks for hosting me here on MSF!

    I had a lot of fun answering your questions, and I hope it showed. Strong work finding the Lego version of the Spinal Tap scene. That was fantastic!

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    1. Thanks PoF! I really appreciate you taking the time to take on the Random Questions Challenge.

      I found the Lego Spinal Tap video a couple of months ago and was just waiting for the right time to use it. When you agreed to take part in the RQC, I knew it was the perfect fit!

  5. What I learned about PoF:

    1. You give to charity. Alright, I already knew that, but I realized that it is actually a huge part of who you are.
    2. You like craft beer. OK, ok, I already knew that too from reading your blog.
    3: You walk really fast. Now I know who to walk with/follow when heading to a brewery.

    Thanks for sharing PoF! I reckon Peru is calling your name…

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