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100th blog post: secret identity revealed!

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To celebrate reaching 100 posts, I decided that it’s time to reveal my secret identity.  My name is Daniel Shin, and I’m the Darwinian Doctor!

Hi!  My name is Daniel Shin, and I’m The Darwinian Doctor.  I’ve written these posts on a weekly basis since 2018. During that time, I’ve written anonymously.  The only people who knew about my writing were my wife (the Darwinian Dr-ess) and a few fellow bloggers and friends. 

To celebrate the 100th blog post and the New Year, I’ve decided to reveal my identity.

When I thought of the best format for this identity reveal, I thought it would be fun to interview myself.  So here we go:

Who are you?

Here in the US, we define ourselves by what we do for a living, so I guess I’m a surgeon.  But I’m also a thinker, writer, real estate investor, father, and husband. 

I’m married to the wonderful Darwinian Dr-ess and I have two boys.  They’re three and six years of age.  They’re super cute, but exhausting as well.  

My family on a beach clean-up day.

Where are you from?

I grew up on the East Coast in the 1980s in an era dominated by Madonna, the movie E.T., and the fall of the Soviet Union. 

I did all my schooling in the northeast then moved to Southern California for residency training.  

What’s The Darwinian Doctor blog about?

At its most simple level, The Darwinian Doctor is a blog about my journey to financial independence. More specifically, it’s about how a well paid yet indebted physician is using real estate to break free from “golden handcuffs.”

After a few years of practice as a surgeon, I felt handcuffed to my job and burnt out. I looked ahead to the next thirty years and wondered: “What’s next? What other goals and challenges are left to conquer?”

After much thought, I realized that I wanted more:

  • More time with my family
  • More opportunities to see my friends
  • More freedom to enjoy all the wonders that life has to offer

I decided that achieving financial freedom is the single most important key to fulfilling these desires.

So here on the blog, you can trace my development from a traditional index fund investor in 2018 to an active real estate investor with a growing portfolio of rental properties today. 

I also write about doctor life, general personal finance, and the importance of mindset in generating success. 

Why did you decide to write anonymously?

From early on, I decided to share an uncomfortable amount of information about our finances.  For the first couple of years, I found anonymity really liberating. I posted freely about our true monthly spending, student debt, and my aggressive initial plan for financial independence

Without the anonymity, I worried about running into a coworker in the surgeon lounge who knew how much money I had in my bank account.  I also worried that my friends would judge me harshly for my life and money choices if they knew the nitty gritty.

So what changed?

A few things, I guess.  First of all, the more I wrote, the more I got used to the idea of sharing my personal details with the world. Second of all, I got over myself.  

I realized that the chances of my coworkers putting two and two together were pretty small.  Most will never know or care that I write a blog.

I’m also in a good place professionally.  I’ve had time now to establish an identity at work as a valuable member of our medical group.  I’m well liked by my patients and have a track record as a skilled surgeon.  I’ve contributed administratively as well, so now I feel like I have a solid foundation to reveal other aspects of my life to my colleagues.

Finally, I’m excited to share my story and convictions with more people.  I want everyone to know that a bright future of financial freedom is within their grasp.

What’s the meaning behind your motto:  “Intentional evolution, every day”?

This motto captures my approach to life and investing.  I believe in continual improvement into the ideal, best version of yourself.  This applies to all areas – your finances, your health, your relationships, everything.  It’s a journey of a lifetime, but I don’t think it has to be overwhelming.  It just takes small yet intentional changes on a daily basis to make massive progress towards your goals.  

Evolution isn’t always perfect. It can be messy and it implies some trial and error. But with intention, consistency, and good mentorship, positive change is inevitable.

What do you want to say to your new readers?

Hello and welcome to my blog!  I can’t wait to share my journey with you.  I’m taking massive action to free myself from golden handcuffs and create a future of financial freedom for my family.  I hope you’ll find my story entertaining and inspiring.

–TDD

What do you think of my identity reveal? Comment below and subscribe to follow my journey to financial freedom!

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16 comments

FiPhysician January 4, 2021 - 6:48 am

Glad you came out in the open! I’ve been out since the beginning and started writing about the same time you did. And you are right, no body cares!

What do you think about “Darwinian?” Do you wish you would have used a different name? People respond very negatively to evolution and I bet more than a few write you off based upon your name.

Like, for instance, I wrote a book recently about evolutionary medicine and covid and I don’t even have the word evolution in there more than once or twice. The book is about it, but I thought if I highlighted that fact, it would lose interest!

Keep it up!

Signed,

Fictitiously Named The Fi Physician

Reply
The Darwinian Doctor January 4, 2021 - 9:31 am

Thanks for your perspective! I really liked the alliteration of Darwinian Doctor, and honestly it’s a big reason why I chose the name. But also, I do believe in the ability of people to change themselves into whatever they wish (intentional evolution). I haven’t had any blowback regarding the concept of evolution, thankfully.

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John January 4, 2021 - 7:29 am

Congratulations on your financial journey and this decision to share your identity! It took courage to do so. Thank you for inspiring many of us to “intentionally evolve, every day.”

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The Darwinian Doctor January 4, 2021 - 9:32 am

Thanks for the kind words!

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Medimentary January 4, 2021 - 9:04 am

Congratulations on the 100th post and the big reveal! I look forward to reading more of your posts in 2021. “Small intentional changes”…couldn’t agree more.

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The Darwinian Doctor January 4, 2021 - 9:34 am

Many thanks, Medimentary. I enjoy your posts as well, thanks for your sharing your voice in our community!

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Richard T Bosshardt January 5, 2021 - 5:18 am

I am fairly new to your blog and have followed it with interest for a few posts. I admire your drive to be financially independent and am envious of your progress at such an early age. You said something in your coming out blog that bothered me. I chose to be a surgeon. I felt that it was the pinnacle of medical practice, requiring both high cognitive skills and better-than-average hand/eye coordination. I have never looked back on that decision. I did my general surgical training in the Navy, in CA, and practiced as a general surgeon for 3 years before returning to Miami for my plastic surgery training under one of the greats in the specialty, D. Ralph Millard, Jr. I have been in practice as a plastic surgeon for 31 years. I am not a cosmetic “nip and tuck” plastic surgeon. I do a 50:50 mix of cosmetic and reconstructive work. I take emergency room call for plastic and hand emergencies every other night and weekend. I am not a good financial manager, never lived on a budget, but have also never had an extravagant lifestye. My wife never worked and raised three wonderful children who are all professionals with good careers, happy marriages, and have given us 4 grandchildren with another on the way. We have a wonderful relationship with all of them. One is a physician. Life has been good. I did not begin planning for my retirement until I was 45. Fortunately, I enlisted an excellent financial advisor who set me up with a savings plan such that I reached my retirement goals a couple of years ago. I still work, but I do so because I love it.As of this December, I have no personal debt. The only time I sought another avenue to financial freedom was back in 1996-7 when I was drowning in debt from building a new office, building a large home, and taking on a young partner. For a while, I felt terribly financially stressed and, thanks to an introduction from a medical colleague, I became an Amway distributor with big plans to go Diamond and leave medicine altogether (a surprising number of doctors see Amway as their way to financial freedom). I came to my senses a couple of years later, thanks to a great mentor. I dropped Amway and focused on my practice. I have felt privileged to be a surgeon and practice my craft all these 34 years. I am now 68 and hope to keep operating for a few more years. I look back without regret and see that I did my best to give my family as much of myself and my time as possible. Medicine is a demanding mistress and you have to be careful that she does not take over your life, but if you practice ethically and diligently, she will reward you in ways no other profession can. I am troubled when I hear of young surgeons feeling burned out after just a few years. That tells me something is very wrong. Either you picked the wrong specialty or profession, or you are going about it wrong in some way. If surgery is not fun, it is not worth pursuing. I hope you achieve the financial independence you seek, but I also hope that you come to find a way to practice surgery with joy and a real sense of fulfillment rather than seeing it as a burden. There is more to life than financial freedom. God bless you and I will keep checking in now and then. Rick Bosshardt, MD, FACS, Tavares, FL.

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The Darwinian Doctor January 5, 2021 - 7:00 am

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, Rick. I think you’re onto something when you say that “something is very wrong” when young physicians feel burnt out after just a few years of practice. Studies on physician burnout tend to show the causative factors to be stuff like depersonalization, lack of autonomy, and administrative/EMR related tasks. For me, it was all these things on top of a long workweek and crushing commute. I love surgery – it’s the most fun and satisfying part of my job.

Physician burnout is very common too: In 2020, it’s 42% of physicians, which is pretty consistent with years past.

Here’s my writing on the subject: The Epidemic of Physician Burnout

Since starting this blog and making some changes to my hours and my commute, I feel much less burnout, thankfully.

Thanks again for your comment.

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Max @ Max Out of Pocket January 10, 2021 - 7:08 am

Hi Daniel.

My blogging progression seems a lot like yours, and I am a lot less concerned with anonymity these days. When you first start writing it seems like “everyone can see this”. Doesn’t take long to realize that is not the case!

Max

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The Darwinian Doctor January 10, 2021 - 7:44 am

Hi Max! It took me a couple of years to realize that my concerns over revealing my identity were mostly in my head. Good luck on your blogging journey and congratulations on your family’s upcoming baby!

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Max @ Max Out of Pocket January 10, 2021 - 3:50 pm

Thanks! Looking forward to this!

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The Sunday Best (1/10/2021) - Physician on FIRE January 10, 2021 - 9:50 am

[…] The veil of secrecy is lifted as The Darwinian Doctor steps out of the shadows and into the light of day. Who is this free-spending west coast surgeon? 100th Blog Post: Secret Identity Revealed! […]

Reply
Kat Rucker January 11, 2021 - 6:58 am

Great idea to do the big reveal as a way to celebrate your 100th post!

When I started blogging, I really struggled with the decision to not be anonymous. I started out posting monthly net worth reports, but since I started blogging while taking a year off of work to travel I knew that I’d probably be judged quite a bit for slipping backward financially.

I ended up taking down some of the more personal posts in favor of more slowly sharing financial details as I get to know my audience a bit better. The funny thing is that I am totally happy to discuss these things with anyone, but you can’t always be there to add info to a post someone is reading!

I’m excited to follow your journey, Daniel. It is so nice to meet you!

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The Darwinian Doctor January 11, 2021 - 8:05 am

Thanks for the guidance, Kat. Learning how much to share with the world is certainly a work in progress. It’s a good point that any post can always be taken down!

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J. Money January 18, 2021 - 5:23 am

Heyyy very cool!! nice to “meet” you! 🙂 (says the guy who’s anonymous still, lol…)

Reply
The Darwinian Doctor January 18, 2021 - 12:46 pm

Nice to meet you too! Welcome to the blog J Money!

Reply

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About Me

Dr. Daniel Shin

Dr. Daniel Shin

I’m Dr. Daniel Shin, a surgeon, investor, and educator on a mission to fast-track your financial freedom. From a $300,000 debt to a diverse investment portfolio, I’m now just years away from financial independence. Ready to join me on this journey? Let’s go!

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