An entrepreneur who quit private equity to move to a beach in Brazil describes the lightbulb moment that made up his mind

Ben Altman
Ben Altman quit his job to move to the beach. Youtube / Charisma on Command

Ben Altman, 30, got into finance by accident.

“I fell into investment banking,” Altman told Alex Grodnik on the Wall Street Oasis podcast.

He attended the University of Pennsylvania as a philosophy major, but transferred into the Wharton school because he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life and he felt like the school had more prestige. From there, he got a job at financial services firm Blackstone Group.

He was toiling away his hours in a job he didn’t like when he had a lightbulb moment while reading a self-help book by Tim Ferriss called “The 4-hour Workweek.”

“For the first time it made me realise that you didn’t have to have a job, you didn’t have to work for someone else,” he said. “I’d never met any entrepreneurs before that.”

That revelation was life-changing.

Altman, who had worked in M&A at Blackstone before moving into private equity at a firm called Hellman & Friedman, said the book put in stark terms what his life would become if he stayed in a job he didn’t like.

“Most people take their prime health years, 18-60, when they can do the most things in their life and they sacrifice them to a company so that at 60-plus years of age they can hang out at home and do nothing,” he said.

He decided to act. The day after his contract at Hellman & Friedman ended, he flew to Brazil to start work full-time on an internet advice company he had been developing in his spare time called Charisma on Command.

Through Charisma on Command, Altman and his cofounder Charlie Houpert offer advice and teach techniques to help people learn to be more likable.

Along with Houpert, Altman convinced some other friends that they could quit their jobs and focus full-time on the businesses they were trying to grow. They all moved into what he dubbed a six-bedroom “entrepreneur house” on a beach in Brazil.

Altman and Houpert began to grow their business in 2012. They started by blogging and building a following, then moved onto offering coaching services. They eventually began selling their lessons via a program called Charisma University. A year ago, they started a Youtube channel which has more than one million subscribers and gets about five million views a month.

Altman credits his happiness to realising early on that he didn’t have to work in an office his whole life. He recommends people envision their ideal life.

“If you could wave a magic wand and your life could look like whatever you wanted and you had infinite money,” what would that look like? he asked.