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    22 Life Lessons I Learned From My Mentors That Every Person Should Know

    life lessons - man on hill

    With every conversation I have, book I read, mistake I make, and new knowledge I acquire, I feel less sure about everything.

    French philosopher Voltaire said it best:

    The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.

    When I got my first degree in business, nine years ago, I was certain I knew nothing. So I got a master’s degree after that. That took me about two more years.

    Still, I knew nothing.

    So after that, I did my best to learn from mentors, family, business partners, clients, friends, colleagues.

    I tried to absorb all their knowledge.

    I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people who I’ve learned a lot from. And if you also want to learn from people you look up to, just observe them. Understand how they behave, think, talk, work, conduct business, etc.

    That’s why I think everyone has mentors. But not everyone actively observes them.

    Most of us expect a mentor to show up and say:

    “As of today, I’m your official mentor. Here‘s lesson one: Don’t be an idiot.”

    I don’t know about you, but that has never happened to me. Instead, I find ways to spend time with people I want to learn from, and learn by observing them. That strategy has helped me a lot in recent years.

    Here’s a list of things I’ve observed my mentors saying. I hope you find it useful too.

    life lessons - man in sunglasses

    1. “I like to work because that keeps me young.”

    One of my mentors is in his seventies. If you believe scientists, he should be a rusty old man with only a few good brain cells. Instead, he’s a vital person. Good genes? Maybe. He doesn’t have time to think about that stuff. He just does things.

    2. “Adults don’t need to ask for permission.”

    Screw gatekeepers and naysayers. If you believe in something, do it. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s always better to ask for forgiveness.

    3. “People who always complain give me a headache.”

    Don’t be a party-pooper.

    4. “If people want to go. Let them. And wish them well.”

    Over the course of your career, you’ll lose friends, colleagues, team members, employees, bosses, partners. Shit happens and people move on. Friends become enemies. Know when it’s time for you to move on. And never hold a grudge.

    5. “Be smart about your career.”

    Don’t be a sheep. Understand that everyone is competing for the same things. Be smart and think about winning. Just stay ethical. And yes, that’s possible. Life is not House of Cards.

    6. “Treat people well. The world is small.”

    We’re humans. And humans are emotional. And emotions make people do weird things. Don’t do weird things to people.

    7. “Life is not fair. Get over it.”

    Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re sad. You didn’t get that promotion. No one cares about your product. These things happen. Don’t wish things were different. Just be better next time.

    8. “Know yourself. But also know your industry, business, friends, enemies, competition.”

    Self-awareness is the start of personal growth. But if you want to truly advance your career, you must understand your environment too. Otherwise, you’ll be a monk who only knows himself.

    9.“I always make the best out of everything.”

    Stop trying to find your passion. And don’t be a spoiled little brat. Just enjoy your life, have fun, relax, be a sport. You don’t need a dream job or a million dollars to do those things.

    10. “I hate it when people are not prepared.”

    No matter how small your next assignment is, come prepared. It’s the difference between an amateur and a pro. Know your shit.

    11. “Hard things will always remain hard. Things don’t get easier by putting them off.”

    Difficult conversations, firing people, admitting mistakes, saying you’re sorry. You never really get used to hard things. It’s always better to rip the band-aid. Just get it over with.

    12. “Not everyone thinks the same way you do.”

    I often hear people saying: “That person doesn’t understand me.” Have you ever thought that it might be the other way around? People are different. Do your best to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

    13. “Bad people only hurt themselves. I feel bad for them.”

    Never try to get back at bad people. Their punishment is that they are a bad person.

    14. “Always have a side-business.”

    Everyone should be able to make money independently. Create something of value. When people pay for it, you’re in business.

    15. “Everything comes to an end.”

    Your good health, relationships, family, pet, business. We all know how things end. Just make sure you appreciate the things you still have. Before you know it, everything will be gone. And so will you.

    16. “I fail all the time. I just don’t give up.”

    Failure is overrated. It’s merely a different word for learning. We just get all emotional about it. “I suck.” No, you don’t. But if you give up you do.

    17. “Why does everyone want to be happy all the time?”

    There’s nothing wrong with being sad, angry, frustrated. Just don’t stay in those emotions. Acknowledge it, and then move on.

    18. “People are in love with their own voice.”

    Sometimes it’s good to shut up and listen to other people.

    19 .“I hate fabricated fun. It’s not fun.”

    For the love of god, stop forcing people to have ‘fun’ at your stupid office party. It’s not fun to tell people to have fun. Just relax and be human, you weird android in a suit.

    20. “Resting is more important than working.”

    The art of resting is a difficult thing to learn. We’re all so restless. We want things to happen today, now, this very instant. Let it go. Just breath for a second. Rest.

    21. “I don’t give a shit.”

    I can’t tell you how often I heard my mentors saying that phrase. Somehow, happy people don’t care about shit that doesn’t matter.

    22. “My goal is to learn one new thing every day.”

    Learning is something you do deliberately. Remind yourself every day that you want, no NEED, to learn something new.

    What new thing did you learn today? After writing this list, I learned that all the stuff I know, I learned from others. Does that make me stupid? I don’t give shit anyway. It’s time to rest.

    Darius originally published this on his blog and it appears here with his permission.

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    11 introverts reveal how you can still be introverted and meet your significant other

    introverts - couple on beach

    We’ve said it before, but being introverted is a great thing!

    Introverts truly embrace who they are and they are better for it as a result.

    An introvert embraces who he/she really is. An introvert works and takes pride in their output, they connect well with others on an emotional level, they have the ability to determine what truly matters to a person, and they understand that the difference between success and failure lies in the actions we take.

    BUT, if there’s one area where being introverted can be frustrated it’s in dating – a space where being bold, outgoing and flirtatious has its advantages.

    So, we wanted to know…

    How can you be an introvert and still find your significant other?

    These are 11 quick stories from several self-proclaimed introverts and how they came to meet their significant other.

    introverts - couple on lake

    1. Be bold

    We’re both introverts, but I definitely can force myself to be bold. I was a waitress at a restaurant he came into. He asked to borrow my pen, I told him “only if you write down your number.”

    Sometimes introvert guys need a girl who is not afraid to make the first move.

    We’ve been together almost 14 years now. (/u/KlvrDissident)

    2. Be honest

    I told her, “If I weren’t so socially inept, I’d be trying to have a conversation with you.”

    Married almost 9 years. (/u/Moni3)

    3. Go shopping.

    I met my husband while I was shopping. I spent a good six weeks buying incredibly overpriced avocados from the shop he works at and then after coincidently winning at ‘fruit box weekly draw’ I added him on FB (through the shops FB page, minor stalker alert here) and just asked him out.

    And here we are, a year later, married.

    Bonus, The avocados are now free. (/u/NZ-Food-Girl)

    4. Be clever on Tinder.

    Tinder. His picture was him hanging upside down from a tree and his bio said “proof that nerds grow on trees“. We both made it clear we were looking for a relationship, met up the day we matched for coffee, hit it off, and that was that. (/u/zlae)

    5. Realize.

    Both of us work at a grocery store. I saw her and thought that she was the cutest there but never really did anything about it. She works as a cashier and I work in produce. She would always do the reshop and I soon realized that she was doing that for a reason and started flirting with her back.

    We have been together 11 months now. (/u/Smirking_Sheep)

    6. At the gym

    I’m a female… but I am very introverted. I met my now husband at the gym, I would always work out with my brother and my now husband thought I was dating my brother because we were always at the gym together (ew). When he asked my brother how long we had been dating, we both looked at each other and said “uhh.. we’re sibling so never…” He asked my brother if we could all work out sometime and I went full on awkward when we did.

    He was showing me a new work out and he almost smashed my face in with a dumbbell, I walked off because I was so embarrassed and started working out alone then he asked me out to lunch and we hit it off. (/u/beatbox28)

    7. Dog watching?

    She came over to me in a coffeeshop while she was on vacation in my country, to ask how to tip. We had a two-hour conversation, and then an amazing five-hour lunch two days later.

    She complained about her hostel and I offered her my spare bedroom. She accepted. Nothing happened although it seems crystal-clear in retrospect that we were falling for each other (duh). I didn’t want to be douchey and make her feel uncomfortable under my roof, so putting the moves on her was not something I seriously considered.

    Two nights later, I had to be gone for most of the night, on a work assignment, and I asked if she would please watch and walk my dog in my absence. I came home at 5 a.m. and was greeted by my suddenly very soft, very fluffy dog. She had somehow understood “Will you please wash my dog,” and apparently didn’t find that a strange request at all.

    The next evening, after we’d been talking over a bottle of wine for hours, it seems she’d had enough of my apparent indecisiveness, took the wine glass out of my hand, put it down, and leaned in for a kiss.

    That was 26 years ago. We’ve been married 23 years. (/u/DaytonaDemon)

    8. Find something that excites you.

    (He’s the introvert) he kept coming in to the bar I worked, and I kept asking him questions trying to get a conversation going. But l kept hitting a wall! For 4 days all we did was:

    me: question.

    him: answer

    me: …

    me: question.

    It didn’t stop me from trying though. (It confuses me to think back on, because I was also very annoyed with him!) But anyway. After asking about so many things, I finally on day 4, asked him about books… and the boy never shut his mouth there after!

    So to all introverts out there: asking questions is difficult, but you’re all passionate about something, whatever it is. Lead the conversation towards that one subject, that you feel confident talking about. Then all the rest will come more easily.

    I can’t believe my husband didn’t ask “so do you read any books? Who’s your favorite author?”, when he’s so passionate about them! (/u/flyingmops)

    9. On the bus.

    On the Greyhound.

    During my time in the Army I was stationed at Ft. Eustis, VA. On my way home (Denver, CO, at the time) for Christmas I saw her sitting across from and slightly behind me. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to her at first, but my buddy, seated next to her, did. After getting shot down repeatedly for a day and a half, he finally got off the bus. Shortly thereafter she came over and sat next to me and we started talking.

    After that we got split up (put on different buses) and I kicked myself for not getting her number. Then, when the bus stopped in St.Louis, there she was standing right there in the entrance, almost like she was waiting for me. If my bus had arrived 15 minutes later Id have never seen her again.

    Then I found out the bus to Denver was delayed due to snow, and wasn’t going anywhere for at least two days. She hurried over to the ticket counter and had my ticket changed to Des Moines, IA (where she was going) so I wouldn’t be trapped in St. Louis for two days. We spent the next four days getting to know each other, then I continued home. We had a long distance relationship for about six months until I came home permanently, by which time she had moved to Denver and rented an apartment.

    We got married three years later and have been together 10 years total. (/u/kevon87)

    10. Walk the dog

    I was living in a duplex with some friends. One day I decided to take one of my roommates’ dog for a walk, which I never usually did. Shortly after leaving the house I was stopped by a girl who asked “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I had never seen her before, but it was enough to start the small talk.

    She helped me walk the dog around the block and we were basically inseparable from that point on. WHAT MY INTROVERT SELF FAILED TO NOTICE AT THE TIME: She had been “stalking” me for weeks, trying to get me to notice her. Walking her own dog past my house, riding her bike next to my car, waiting for me to get home from work when I would unknowingly street park in front of her house where she would be “doing yard work”. She succeeded by catching me walking that dog which, remember, I NEVER EVER DID, it was fate I guess. 6 months after meeting her I moved out of the duplex and 5 houses down the street, lol.

    Married 16 years now. (/u/Kalfu73)

    11. Volunteer

    Volunteered in Thailand to work with elephants. I was one of only two guys with 18 girls (volunteering is very often dominated by compassionate, smart women, especially if it involves animals). My girlfriend is an absolutely beautiful, amazing girl that is now a vet student. We are completely in love.

    I recommend volunteering to anyone, and especially to people who are depressed and lonely. It is rewarding and if you’re not a shit person, you will meet amazing people and​ have amazing experiences.

    Edit: I know this is a late edit, but I wrote this when I was tired and now I’m remembering how we met. I said we’re in love and I just get warm every time I think about her. The night it became obvious we liked each other, she broke my finger. Well, that’s what I tell everyone, by the truth is I was carrying her up some stairs to a movie theater and tripped. She landed on my hand on the corner of a stair and basically shattered my knuckle. I ignored it, we skipped out on the movie with the group and had drinks on the roof.

    It was one of the best nights if my life. I never told the instructor I broke my pinky because I didn’t want to get sent away and miss the rest of the trip with her, so now I can’t bend it all the way… It’s permanently disfigured. I love it because it’s such a good story and reminder of how much fun we always have. Hmm well, I tried to upload pictures of my broken finger and​ the two of us but it ain’t working. Oh well. (/u/sqectre)

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    A Mini-Guide to Not Being Frustrated All the Time

    frustrated woman

    Pretty much all of us experience frustration on a daily (or even hourly) basis. We get frustrated by other people, by ourselves, by technology, by work situations, by small crises that come up all the time.

    You know you’re frustrated when you find yourself sighing, or complaining about people, or fuming about something that happened, or going over why you’re right and they’re wrong.

    Frustration is normal, but holding on to frustration is not so fun. It’s not even helpful: if the situation isn’t great, adding frustration on top of it just makes it worse. Often frustration will make us not happy with someone else, and worsen our relationship with them. Or it will cause us to be less calm, and handle a situation less than ideally.

    How can we calm ourselves and let go of our frustrations, so we’re not so irritated and angry throughout the day?

    Let’s talk about why we get frustrated, and how to address this problem.

    The Origins of Frustration

    Where does our frustration come from?

    It’s from not wanting things to be a certain way. Not wanting other people to behave a certain way. Not wanting ourselves to be a certain way.

    It’s a rejection of how things are.

    From this, we start to tell ourselves a story: she shouldn’t act that way, she should do this. And she always does this! Why can’t she just see that she’s wrong? She’s so irritating!

    We tell ourselves stories all day long, and we get caught up in them, and this is where we dwell in our frustration.

    A Guide to Overcoming Frustration

    You can’t help frustration coming up, no matter how Zen you’d like to be. It’s natural, and so are the stories we tell ourselves.

    However, you can develop an awareness of it. Are you mad or irritated with someone right now? Do you find yourself clenching your jaw because of a situation? Sighing? Complaining to someone, wanting to vent? Are you fuming? Arguing your case in your mind?

    When you notice yourself experiencing frustration, pause. Just sit still for a moment, even just a few seconds, and notice your frustration. Notice how it feels in your body.

    Then start to notice the story you’re telling yourself. What are you telling yourself is wrong with the situation? What are you saying the other person should or shouldn’t do? How are you characterizing the other person or situation?

    Now ask this: is this story helping me? Is it making the situation better or worse? Is it helping your relationship with the other person? Is it making you happy? If it’s not helpful, maybe you’re creating your own unhappiness, entirely in your mind.

    Instead, perhaps you can see this frustrating situation as a lesson in mindfulness, in letting go, in acceptance, in finding happiness no matter how other people act, no matter what situation you’re in. Every moment has a lesson, if we’re willing to look. If we open up ourselves to this situation, we can learn a lot about how to see other people not as we want them to be, but in the glorious messy beauty of how they actually are, without needing them to change.

    If you’re learning from this situation, you can also see that the other person is suffering. Not in the sense of “life is simply miserable and I’m suffering in agony,” but in the sense of “something is making me unhappy.” Something is causing the other person to act “imperfectly,” because they’re conflicted about something, they’re frustrated themselves (as you are). In this way, you are both experiencing the same thing. You are connected, and you can understand how they feel because you’re feeling it too. They are behaving imperfectly, yes, but we all do that. That doesn’t make it right, but perhaps you can empathize with them, maybe even try to understand their story, where they’re coming from. Try to see how the way they’re behaving makes sense to them from their perspective. It does, you just can’t see it.

    Now perhaps you can let go of your way. You want things to go your way, want people to behave the way you want them to. But you don’t and can’t control the universe. You aren’t entitled to getting everything your way. Other people get to act imperfectly, behave their own way, and it’s true that you don’t have to agree with them or love the way they’re acting, but insisting in your own mind that things go your way or people act the way you want them to won’t work, and will only make you frustrated. So let go! So “c’est la vie” and loosen your grip on the way you want things to be.

    Finally, say “yes” to this experience. It’s perhaps not ideal, but what is? Say “yes” and embrace the way this moment is. Practice this saying “yes” on a regular basis, and you’ll loosen up on your clinging to things, you’ll start to appreciate what is beautiful about the present moment, and start to be frustrated less often.

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    How investing in real-estate taught me the single key to life

    man jumping in city

    Appreciation (n): to increase in value.

    I want my life to appreciate more than my real estate investments and my other businesses.

    Most real estate investors who have seen appreciation have done so on individual properties and/or entire real estate portfolios. I’ve witnessed it on my own properties.

    I have since been running my other businesses to appreciate, and as of most recent I’m making sure my life appreciates too.

    In 2013 I bought my first property and began my real estate journey. The journey I first discussed with Prsuit back in December about how I went from clueless college graduate to $13MM in real estate in 4 months. It was a four unit. Eleven months later I picked up the four unit next door to the first. Combined price: $380,000.

    They appreciated. Yes, value was added. Remodels and makeovers were done by a great team. Yes, rents went up because of those improvements, and also because of the bounce back in the market.

    With appreciation, in 2016 the buildings had a new value of $450,000. The debt on the buildings had been paid down to $300,000. And the buildings were now valued at roughly $450,000. The bank always wants a minimum of 20% in the deal – we were able to take a new loan of $360,000 (or 80% of the $450,000 value). The old mortgage of $300,000 was paid off using the $360,000. We then had $60,000 in pocket that goes untaxed – wealth isn’t taxed, income is. That is how I had an amazing year in real estate investment in 2016. That $60,000 was reinvested to build more wealth.

    Another year later, in 2017, similar properties to the original two have sold for $560,000 – that’s appreciation. I am currently in the process of adding 1 and 2 more zeros to the end of those numbers!

    Since directly benefiting from appreciation in real estate, I chose to run my other businesses with the aim of them appreciating.

    I’ve yet to take a salary from my businesses. I take out what I need, to pay the basics. Until I am 29 or 30, I probably won’t choose to draw a salary greater than $1,000 from my property management company. Why? I want to pour those dollars back into hiring and keeping the best talent around me, to my team, to technology to run as efficient as possible, to scale a nationwide, and worldwide company. I’m determined for my businesses to appreciate despite the economy. They are appreciating.

    All this talk and thought of appreciation towards real estate and business is great. But there have been many things going on in my life in 2017. Building new relationships, loosing people in my life and attending their funerals, seeing old and new friends get married and starting families. It’s soaking in the time that is flying by – really, really fast. Anyone at anytime can be gone in a blink of an eye.

    This is why, more than anything, I want my life to appreciate.

    In my mind, the best way possible to increase your life’s value? Easy.

    As hard as it can be on some days.

    Every single day I first choose to be grateful and happy – no matter what.

    I choose to always forgive, but never forget.

    I choose to not dwell in the past.

    I choose to immediately pick my foot up and move it forward no matter what.

    I choose to treat others better than I’d ever want or expect to be treated.

    I choose to smile, wait and hold the door open at 5:30AM when walking into the gym and see the old couple walking 40 yards behind me.

    I choose to give more than I ever receive.

    I choose to tell my family I love them (and mean it) after every conversation in person, on the phone, etc. – there aren’t going to be any regrets.

    I choose to pour into, strengthen, lift up, cheer on, and love those around me.

    I choose to make other’s lives appreciate too.

    I believe the way I live my life, is the reason why the businesses have grown. It’s always about the people. That’s how I choose appreciation.

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    How to turn your hobby into a business (while working your 9-5)

    hobby into a business - guy on skateboard

    You make delicious cakes, take great photos or can play guitar like nobody else.

    You’ve heard many times that you should open a business around your talent and have been encouraged by the prospect of being your own boss while doing something that you love. But you don’t know if that would realistically work. After all, it’s hard enough to deal with the responsibilities of your 9-5, your career and everything life throws your way – where would you fit in starting your own business?

    Is it possible to create a successful business from a hobby or passion?

    In this day and age, it is more easily accomplished than ever before. The internet and the ability to “go viral” and gain followings quickly makes now more than ever before the best time to cash in on your passion.

    Becoming a passion-driven means you are intrinsically motivated by something that moves you to create and gets you genuinely excited to do what you do.

    Passion is a great fuel for the success of your business. This can come without a doubt from a hobby,” says David Pinto, director of the Longitude School of Entrepreneurship. “You will naturally have quiet days and challenging days, in which you will need to seek the strength to overcome. If your business is already part of its essence, it will be a further incentive not to give up.

    From my experience as a digital nomad working in the digital industry and consulting for startups and young entrepreneurs, passion is the intangible factor that I look for.

    Excited and want to start a business from your passion, but don’t know how?

    Here are my 4 tip for turning your interest into a business.

    hobby into a business - woman on laptop

    1. Do you have time?

    Before starting a business based on your passion, respond honestly: is there room for your venture, given the existing competition, and are you willing to battle for your space? Or are you feeding an unsustainable dream just because you like what you do? I think everyone has the ability to turn their passion into a business, but think long and hard about this. Turning your hobby into a real business takes work, blood, sweat and tears. It won’t be easy and you’ll have to make sacrifices. Think through this first.

    It’s one thing to enjoy cooking for your friends and family. Another is to run a restaurant and have to fulfill a series of natural requirements in the business world, such as working overtime and buying its raw material efficiently.

     2. Is there room for it to succeed? (or how can you make it unique)

    Now, it’s time to do an extensive survey of the industry in which you want to launch your business.

    Do other people say there is a need for your business? In my experience, there are people who follow with dreams that do not have viability, then it is doomed to failure.

    Are you going to start just another dog walking business? Are you looking to start your own restaurant? Whatever it is, take a look at the market, competition and what people are saying.

    Even though you are only just becoming an entrepreneur, treat turning your passion into a business as a full-fledged business plan. You’ll thank yourself later.

    3. Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

    A common flaw that I’ve observed amongst young entrepreneurs just launching their first passion-based business is that they often think that everything remains the same when it comes to their passion and that the only thing that changes is a new dedication to that passion. However, to succeed in a venture, you need to change your behavior and recognize that you now need to use your talent to generate revenue.

    Besides having a hobby that performs well, you need to become an entrepreneur. Many are good at what they do, but they are not good at managing the business,” explains Rand. “Now, you will not only sell to friends and family, but will sell to customers.”

    Change your behavior and attitude to realize that your hobby has become a venture.

    4. Do you know how to balance fun and duties?

    Another part of the process of recognizing oneself as an entrepreneur and not just a hobbyist is knowing that, however much your endeavor is derived from a passion, you will need to do more “boring” tasks in order for it to work.

    You will not always do what you like. There are activities that are not pleasant and do not bring glamorous results to those who see from outside, but that are essential for the day to day business, It may happen for a long time that the business owner cannot show its differential or outcome to others.

    These not-so-enjoyable activities involve all forms of business management (ya know… the stuff you probably do at your 9-5): from conducting a market study to having to deal with finances and managing all matters of finances. A real entrepreneur knows that it is always necessary to recognize his shortcomings and seek improvements: whether in his own knowledge of his hobby or management aspects.

    “Read, take courses, and stay informed. If your disability is in the ability to sell, try to at least understand how the area works, how to identify a productive employee and when to know that your product is the cause of low sales.”

  • ,

    What to do if you have ‘no idea what to do with your life’

    A silent majority of millennials feel stuck in life. For them I offer one piece of advice: Do something that scares you.

    “Still no major, still don’t know where I’m gonna go to school, still no life plan.”

    I received this text from my little sister one lazy Sunday afternoon. I replied with a few 10-second Snaps trying to give her the best advice I could think of.

    Many millennials, especially the ones coming out of college, feel the same way my sister does: stuck.

    I tend to focus too much on helping the millennials who already have a dream, who have a sense of purpose and want to go after fulfilling it.

    In doing so, I neglect the silent majority of millennials who have no idea what to do with their life.

    So here’s my advice for the neglected: do something that scares you.

    thinkingman4

    My Fear Factor

    Growing up I was the shy kid. I rarely spoke up in class and never shared my opinion. Talking to anyone outside of my small circle of friends caused nervous anxiety to well up.

    Somewhere, deep down inside me lives this kid. Every time I write a new blog post I can hear his crackly pubescent voice: Nobody wants to listen to what you have to say.

    But I hit “Publish” anyway and release my words to the interwebs.

    Writing scares me, that’s why I do it.

    Being a father scares me, that’s why I do it.

    Selling a book scares me, that’s… you get the idea.

    Writing scares me, that’s why I do it. Writing scares me, that’s why I do it.

    Fear is More Than Resistance

    Besides my brief anecdote, why does doing something that scares you help you feel unstuck?

    “Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

    For our ancient ancestors, fear was a survival response used to frighten us away from physical danger (lion attacks, snakes, volcanoes, etc.).

    As young children, we feared because we felt vulnerable.

    Fear, like all negative emotions, is hard-wired to hold precedence over positive emotions. So when you feel stuck and want to Step Forward in a new direction, fear floods our brain:

    “What if I don’t get the job?”

    “What if I look stupid?”

    “What if she says ‘No’?”

    Successful people sense the same fear we do. However, they re-frame this fear to see the opportunities instead of the consequences.

    They don’t see fear as a deterrent. They see it as a compass.

    5 Steps to Re-frame Your Fear

    Instead of waiting to propose to my wife during a romantic visit to Chicago, I popped the question in my aunt’s basement while watching Shrek 2 (she was half-asleep at the time).

    I feared I would lose the ring before the trip. My fear lead to a lackluster proposal (but a good story nevertheless).

    It is possible to overcome your fears strategically and go after your goals. There’s even an app for it!

    manthinking2

    However, I boil it down to 5 steps:

    1. Find your point A and point B – Every goal or dream has a starting and ending point: where are you now and where do you want to be. Write these down.
    2. Map out the obstacles between A and B – List out every possible obstacle starting with the most probable and ending with the least likely.
    3. Confront your fear of said obstacles – For each obstacle, ask yourself what do you have to fear? Write these out too.
    4. Develop if-then actions – Again, for each obstacle, determine what you will do to overcome it. If X happens, then I will do Y.
    5. Embrace the fear and Step Forward – Start Stepping Forward. You know what fears lie ahead of you. You have a plan for each obstacle. All that’s left is movement. Go!
    It is possible to overcome your fears strategically and go after your goals.

    What do You Have to fear?

    If you feel stuck in life, find something that scares you, apply the five steps above, and Step Forward. Embracing your fear instead of allowing it to consume you will bring you closer to your dream.

    The only thing you have to fear is not chasing your dream.

    This article also appears on millennialtype.com

    Photo credit: flickr, 2

  • ,

    Why impostor syndrome is holding you back in life

    I hate feeling like a fraud. All throughout my 20’s I struggled with this notion of impostor syndrome, despite having all the standard prerequisites of a person who should be successful, who could be successful, who was successful…in an average sort of way.

    It wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that I realized I had been living a lie.

    Go to college, get an education, get a job, climb the corporate ladder, BS my way to the top, and most importantly, continually sell myself along the course.

    I hate selling {myself} even more than I hate feeling like a fraud, but maybe that’s because I’m terrible at it. And in this world, if you can’t at least sell yourself, then why should anybody believe anything that comes from your mouth?

    impostor syndrome - girl walking

    Now, I can see that selling myself was the underlying crack in the foundation of my life. It made me no better than the house built upon the sand. I couldn’t sell myself because I constantly felt like a fraud, and who wants to sell that?

    Impostor syndrome is believing everyone in the room has a right to be there, except you.

    It’s that feeling of sitting in a meeting amongst your peers, and yet believing you are the most unqualified person on the planet. It’s listening quietly to the opinions of others and taking their word as certified gold (though it’s usually worth exactly what you paid for it…nothing). And when you leave that meeting to hurry back to your desk to go about your average life, you think to yourself, at least this way I’m not pretending to be someone I’m not. At least this way I’m not a fraud.

    This shitty technique was largely how I lived my life in my 20’s. Despite being equally, and sometimes more so, qualified than my peers, I still felt like a fraud. Like they should be present, voicing opinions, and making important decisions, while I sat silently disagreeing in my head. I hated living this way. And it wasn’t until my very late 20’s when I first heard the notion of “fraud theory” or “impostor syndrome,” that I had an epiphany.

    impostor syndrome - girl wearing hat

    Like every businesswoman on the planet (again, just being average), I was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s, Lean In, when the notion of “impostor syndrome” first rocked my world. I practically jumped out of my chair. THIS IS ME! SHE IS SPEAKING TO ME! Actually, she was speaking to hundreds of thousands of people who could relate to the struggle. Even confident, funny girl, Tina Fey confessed that she sometimes screamed “I’m a fraud” inside her head. Suddenly, things made a hell of a lot more sense. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone, and almost immediately, I began to feel less fraudulent.

    It turns out that women are plagued by this phenomenon more than men. While both can have similar feelings of inferiority, life experiences are the differing factor in how each gender lets it define them. Valerie Young, longtime lecturer on the subject, says this stems from the ways boys and girls are raised. While boys are raised to exaggerate and bluff their way through scenarios, girls learn early on to distrust their instincts and to stifle their voices (ahh the good ol’ ‘be seen and not heard’ quip we frequently heard from our parents).

    Consequently, over time, the bar for a woman’s physical and intellectual capacity has been set very high, to the point where perfection has become the ultimate goal. Each misstep has become a point of contention that can eat away at her self-confidence, and essentially, become gasoline for the fraudulent fire that is burning within each of us. The craziest part of all of this is that WE do this to OURSELVES.

    I made it my mission to learn more about ‘fraud theory’ and ‘impostor syndrome’ and to overcome that hurdle in my life.

    It was holding me back from reaching my true potential. It was causing me to stifle my knowledge, to let others believe I was not nearly as smart or as capable as I was. Feeling fraudulent was causing me to always look over my shoulder, waiting for someone to discover I wasn’t who I said I was, or to call my bluff. It ate away at me so much so that I started to really believe I was undeserving and inadequate when compared to my peers.

    Feeling like a fraud caused me to bypass job opportunities, promotions, and leadership positions, all because of the stupid voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough.

    impostor syndrome - girl posing

    As I embarked on my 30’s with a newfound confidence, I quickly realized that the world was full of bullshitters and fakers. I was learning that it wasn’t always about what you know, but what you pretended to know. It’s the air that you gave off, the way that others perceived you. Bullshitters don’t have any clue what they’re talking about, but they are excellent at persuading a crowd, at selling themselves, and at selling their ideas. As I began to realize that 80% of the people I came across within a single day weren’t really smarter, or more powerful, or more well-equipped than I, the world became a lot less frightening.

    Around this same time, a job opportunity came up that I had been eyeing for well over a year. But when the list of required skills was released, I was dismayed to discover that I only had a portion of what was asked for the role. Not wanting to feel like a fraud, I put my tail between my legs and gave up the fight before it even started. As the application process continued, I became keenly aware of all the men who applied for the job, yet had equal, or even less, of the required skills than I had. How dare they! What were they thinking? Turns out, this scenario is totally typical in modern society. Females rarely apply for job openings unless they meet nearly all of the requirements, while men are much more likely to apply when meeting far less.

    After a nudge from a coworker, I finally did apply, and I ended up getting the job. Turns out the team was waiting for my application all along and couldn’t understand what took so long. Sometimes the fraud is all in YOUR head, no one else’s.

    The moral of this story is simple to understand, yet complex to put into practice.

    Stop discounting your worth and letting your fears of inferiority hold you back. This doesn’t just pertain to work, but to life in general; to running that marathon, to trying that new hobby, to taking that backpacking trip to Europe that you’ve always dreamed about. Stop letting your inner voice tell you that you aren’t deserving and that your opinions and worth should be overlooked. Stop apologizing for being smart, or worse, for being right. Even if bias in the workplace exists around you (which it most likely does), don’t let your own feelings of fraudulence be the defining factor that hold you back.

    So thicken that skin. Put on your big girl pants, stand up tall, and voice your opinion (and for God’s sake, say it like you mean it). If you want to play with the big boys, act like you belong. Act like you have a right to have a seat at the table. Act like you are better than average, because you are.

    Success is not reserved for a select few. It does not know race, religion, nor gender. It is out there for everyone who is willing to grab it. Much like Glinda tells Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “…you don’t need to be helped any longer because you’ve had the power all along, you just had to learn it for yourself.” Turns out, I hadn’t been BSing my way through life, I just needed the confidence to realize I wasn’t a fraud after all.

    Image credit: Unsplash

  • ,

    Why Combining Coffee and Yoga Saved My Life

    woman doing yoga outside

    I am a yoga teacher, academic and a mom to three teenage daughters, based in Vancouver, Canada. During most of my waking hours, I promote and practice wellness – it is my passion above all others.

    Yoga Saved My Life

    When my daughters were small (I had three under five years old) my personal yoga practice ground to a halt. There simply was never a time when I could be alone on my mat for an hour. I felt scattered, flustered, and utterly unwell. Previously healthy, I developed massive and explainable physical ailments: asthma, paralyzing digestive issues and allergies, amongst others. And despite all the help I looked for, health professionals couldn’t fix me.

    One morning, in a gesture of desperation, I unrolled my yoga mat on the kitchen floor, determined to do as much of my practice as I could fit in while I enjoyed my morning cup of coffee. (THAT particular habit I always made time for!). It took about seven minutes to close my eyes, deepen my breath, drink a cup and practice some seated postures.

    yoga saved my life

    I felt instantly better. Right then I resolved to make this a daily ritual and eventually named my healthy habit Java Yoga.

    That was fifteen years ago, and I still practice Java Yoga every single day, even on the days I teach, or hike, or run, or do any sort of exercise. It grounds me, sets up my day for success and ensures that I always get some mindful movement in my life, no matter what surprises the day has in store for me. And yes, all of my debilitating health issues have since disappeared. I’m almost 50, and I feel younger and better than I did at 30.

    Along with me and my children, Java Yoga has changed and grown. It certainly wasn’t effortless, with spilled coffee cups and happy accidents along the way – three toddlers climbing all over me made for interesting adaptations and variations!  Now they are independent teenage girls, and I have more time to focus on the other things I love; I teach weekly public classes, run Java Yoga retreats, instruct yoga teachers, and research and write on the process of teaching and learning at the University of British Columbia. But what has remained constant is my morning practice, which now includes a breath and meditation component. The original concept still rests on the same foundation: linking a healthy habit we want to adopt with a pleasurable habit we already enjoy.

    I get the question all the time: “Why coffee and yoga, together?”.

    To many, the caffeinated beverage seems at odds with the ancient exercise tradition. “Yoga calms me down”, they say, “And coffee winds me up”. However, I think it’s a lot more complicated and interesting than that. First of all, the actual contents of the cup are irrelevant; occasionally I practice with bone broth in my mug, or tea, or hot chocolate.

    yoga saved my life

    What is important with Java Yoga and coffee is the element of ritual. 

    Routines in general, and morning routines in particular, are soothing and impactful over the course of a lifetime. When I add a few minutes of mindful movement into that ritual, all sorts of good things happen to the body, mind and soul. I am more alert, peaceful and creative. All the systems of my body work better. I am a more effective problem-solver and a better parent.

    In the back of my mind was a little voice telling me this is an idea that could also significantly improve other people’s lives, especially considering the millions of people around the world who drink coffee everyday. I had passed along my daily yoga and coffee habit to several students and friends and had received great feedback, particularly from those too busy to get to a yoga studio or gym on a regular basis but I challenged myself to think beyond word of mouth.

    Three years ago I was having coffee with my friend and local filmmaker, Arun Fryer, and I mentioned Java Yoga to him. His imagination was immediately captured by the simplicity of the concept. He loves coffee, he knows he should practice yoga, and he loved the idea of bringing together two rituals that traditionally clashed with each other. He saw how they could peacefully and symbiotically coexist, and we agreed to collaborate on a series of Java Yoga instructional videos, with our first video premiering on June 21, 2016, International Day of Yoga, and can be found at javayoga.ca

    yoga saved my life

    We decided the videos would be free of charge, with the goal of creating a community of people who incorporate healthy habits into their everyday lives, regardless of age, income or social standing. The fact that Java Yoga is gentle, predominantly seated and home-based makes it appropriate for those who feel they can’t get to, or are intimidated by, a conventional studio class. As we develop and prepare to release further routines, it becomes more and more obvious to me:

    the ritual of a daily yoga practice has enormous benefits for a wide spectrum of the population, and introducing a new healthy habit is easier than we realize.

    If you’ve ever wanted to shake up your mornings and begin your day with the benefits of mindful movement, I invite you to join me and try a week of Java Yoga. It saved my life, and might even do the same for you.

    Image credit: unsplash

  • ,

    The most important human need you are not currently satisfying

    most important human need - woman thinking

    I recently had a life changing epiphany.

    You wouldn’t think it would take me 37 years to grasp a fundamental human need. I had the basics down. I knew I needed food and water before and I appreciated the importance of being secure, out of harm’s way

    I probably recognized the importance of food, water, and safety by the time I was three, but…

    It took me thirty four more years to grasp the next most fundamental human need.

    I remember the moment it hit me (in retrospect, I had been careening toward this moment for years).

    It was a rainy summer night in New Orleans in 2015 – one of the most difficult years of my life. My last endeavor, a psych-tech company dedicated to helping people explore their inner realms, was on life support. A relationship I cared deeply about was, too. And that mixture of commitment and belief that fuels start-ups and relationships was gone. My co-founders and I were too defeated to support each other through the last chapter of a failed start-up, and the woman I loved deeply was too hurt by me, and I was too hurt by her, for us to comfort each other without cringing.

    In that ragged state I found myself wandering through the streets of New Orleans that night beneath the canopy of live oaks that overhang the streets, while rain slipped through the trees and hit my face. I rarely cry, so that might have been nature’s way of bringing me closer to a sensation I needed to experience.

    Like many times before in my hours of need, I tried to reach the people closest to me.

    All I wanted to hear was something along the lines of:

    I’m here for you. I can stay on the phone as long as you want, you can talk to me about whatever you want. I care about you. You’re going make it through this. I’m here with you.

    Fortunately, I have an incredibly strong network of family and friends: two loving parents, two incredible brothers, and six friends, scattered across the world from Germany to Kentucky, who would do anything in their power to support me.

    I just needed to reach one of them.

    Each attempt to reach my first seven ‘favorites’ went straight to voicemail.

    “You have reached . . . at the tone, leave a message.
    You have reached . . . at the tone, leave a message.”
    You have reached . . . at the tone, leave a message…

    On my eighth and ninth attempts, I successfully reached someone, my older brother and my friend Andrew, but neither of them had time to talk.

    I’m in the middle of . . . can we talk tomorrow?
    I’m feeding the kids . . . can we catch up this weekend?

    On my tenth and final call, I finally reached someone who had time to talk to me: my father.

    What’s going on?”
    Silence
    Jeremy?”
    Silence
    Jeremy, what’s going on?”
    Don’t worry about it . . . I’m fine.

    This sequence of events repeated itself numerous times that summer. Time and time again I struggled to reach the people closest to me when I needed them most. And when I was fortunate enough to get a friend or family member on the phone, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for the thing I wanted most — for someone to listen to me, comfort me, encourage me . . . to remind me that they cared about me.

    most important human need - woman laughing

    It wasn’t until months after these ‘failures of connection’ that I discovered that the thing I was looking for wasn’t a special indulgence justified by unique circumstances — it was a fundamental human need generally described as “emotional support.”

    That need was emotional support.

    There is no better way to understand emotional support than to view your own life through the lens of this basic human need. Try it now — it only takes 60 seconds.

    On a nearby piece of paper or any blank screen where you can type, answer the following three questions:

    In a typical week, how much undivided attention do you receive? — time in minutes or hours spent outside of work when someone puts down their phone and casts everything else aside, and dedicates their entire focus to you, as they make you feel heard, understood and important?

    In a typical week, to whom do you give at least an hour of your undivided attention? If you’re checking your phone or multitasking during this time, you aren’t giving your undivided attention.

    In a typical week, who gives you at least an hour of their undivided attention?

    Your answer to the first question is a rough measure of how much emotional support you receive in a typical week. If you answered less than four hours, you may not be getting enough of a vital ingredient of human health.

    Your answer to the second question gives you a sense of the people you are showing that you care about them — not the people who matter to you, but the people you are actually showing, concretely, that you care about them.

    Your answer to the third question may help you take stock of the people who are actually showing, in a typical week of your life, that they care about you.

    Food, water, security . . . and emotional support.

    It may not surprise you that emotional support ranks near the top of our hierarchy of human needs. You have presumably heard of this hierarchy of needs — the more fundamental the need, the more quickly we develop health problems if we fail to satisfy it.

    As you might expect, food and water are at the top of the list: we can only survive for three days without water, and we put our life in jeopardy after three weeks without food.

    Security is next on the list. Keeping ourselves out of harm’s way is fantastic for our health.

    But it is the human need that follows food, water and safety, emotional support, that should be making headlines every day. (Turns out it is making headlines, though you have to watch and listen closely—a follow-up to this piece will focus on that.)

    Emotional support is another person’s undivided attention, compassion and encouragement.

    Because human beings are an ultra-social species, we need regular doses of emotional support to be healthy and happy.

    Our ancestors had an easier time getting emotional support because they lived in small communities near their extended families, and pre-iPhone technological advances, from fire to the first telephones, generally enabled rather than impeded genuine human connection.

    Today is a different story. Families are more dispersed than ever, and the human connections that have replaced familial interactions are less rich — often the equivalent of empty calories. You can spend hours “connecting” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat and not feel “full”— not feel truly heard, encouraged or cared about.

    most important human need - man in glasses

    These transformations of how we live and communicate are having devastating effects on our health. Nearly a third of the U.S. population suffers from significant deficits of emotional support, a depletion that is manifesting itself in three related epidemics: chronic loneliness, chronic stress, and substance abuse, each of which affects millions of Americans and is deadlier than diabetes or obesity.

    What does this mean? This means that a deficit of emotional support may be having a greater impact on your health and happiness than almost anything else you’re doing (or not doing).

    If you want to receive or provide more emotional support, which we all should want to do, it helps to understand what emotional support is.

    Emotional support in three dimensions.

    Three pillars of emotional support are undivided attention, compassion, and encouragement.

    The foundation of emotional support is undivided attention—the feeling you experience when someone leaves their world completely and enters yours. Undivided attention is the combination of time and focus, two of the most valuable resources people provide to each other. Time is the currency of life. When someone gives you their time, they give you a piece of their life. Focus – another person’s commitment to cast everything aside and dedicate their entire attention to you – is precious, too. There are few more effective ways to demonstrate you care about someone than to give them your undivided attention.

    If undivided attention is the floorboard of emotional support, compassion and encouragement are its blankets and candles. Compassion is the balm we seek when life wounds us. It is another person’s comfort, their arms around us, their soothing voice. When we give someone our compassion we accept their pain as our own, lessening its impact by dividing it among two bodies rather than one. When someone gives us compassion, they see us wounded and sacrifice their own peace of mind to embrace our pain.

    If compassion soothes us when we are down, encouragement stirs us to get back up. Encouragement is the light that illuminates our greatest gifts and the path ahead. When someone encourages us, they remind us of our natural gifts, our unsung heroics and our proudest accomplishments. Encouragement makes us glow inside. And the more clearly we see that the most valuable resources we need for the road ahead are inside of us (and cannot be taken away), the more confident we will be when we take the next steps of our journey.

    This is emotional support.

    Think about the last time you gave it to someone.

    Think about the last time you received it.

    We will continue this conversation about emotional support in subsequent pieces.

  • ,

    33 millennials share the best life advice they’ve ever received

    woman looking up

    I’ve always lived by the motto that you shouldn’t listen to advice from someone who doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of it. BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to the perspectives of others. Being open to and listening to the advice and experiences of others can be a profound and long lasting catalyst for change.

    Life advice is great… but it’s what you do with it that matters.

    The internet can be a great place when it comes to increasing your perspective on life. Places like Reddit, Quora, Imgur and others are full of people sharing their stories and the advice that came from living them.

    Here are 33 pieces of life advice from those who lived it and believe it.

    1. If you are constantly comparing your life to the lives of others, you’ll never be happy.

    2. If you blame it on someone else, don’t expect it to get better.

    3. “If you’re going to f*ck up, and you’re going to, make sure it’s your fault.” – I was training to be a boat captain and he was explaining how to deal with the inevitable accidents. I have found owning your mistakes generally is a best practice.

    4. Try not to take anything personally. No one thinks about you as much as you do.

    5. If you want to remember something, write it down.

    6. Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

    7. Act like you know what you’re doing in whatever situation, and 99% of people will leave you the hell alone.

    8. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there will always be someone who hates peaches. (-Dita von Teese)

    9. Don’t worry about what other people think about you. They are generally too worried about what you think about them.

    best life advice - man by pool

    10. Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.

    11. It doesn’t matter if you spend 1000 hours practicing if you’re doing it wrong, all you learned is how to do it wrong.

    12. Don’t be afraid of being alone. sometimes, you’re better off that way.

    13. If a person is nice to you but not nice to the waiter, they’re not a nice a person.

    14. Figure out what you love to do, and then figure out how to get someone to pay you to do it.

    15. Wait 24 hours before getting mad and reacting at anything. If it doesn’t bother you in 24 hours time, it probably isn’t important enough to get mad over.

    16. There is nothing wrong with not knowing something, there is something wrong with not doing anything about it.

    17. Never make decisions when you’re angry. Never make promises when you’re happy.

    best life advice - man on steps

    18. When dealing with conflict, always use the “when you do/say X, it makes me feel Y because Z” formula. It gets conflict out of the way, minimizes screaming and tears, and works towards a solution much more constructively than just blaming the other person.

    19. Learn something about everything, and everything about something.

    20. When your anger passes, the relationship is still there. Basically, when you’re no longer angry, the damage done to your relationship while you acted on your anger remains and permanently hurts the relationship.

    21. In a year from now, you’ll wish you started today

    22. Don’t promise when you’re happy. Don’t reply when you’re angry. Don’t decide when you’re sad.

    23. Don’t look at what people say…look at what they do.

    24. When you have a generous impulse, follow it. If it randomly occurs to you to give money to a homeless guy, or offer to help a friend move, or pay the toll for the person behind you…just do it.
    I’ve noticed that I have thoughts like this all the time, but then I’m talking myself out of it by the next thought. If I keep this advice in mind, then I’m much more likely to go through with it. And performing small acts of kindness makes everybody happy.

    25. We judge ourselves based on our thoughts. The world judges us based on our actions.

    26. You’ll notice you live your life so much more when you stop giving a shit about what YOU think others think about you. Surprise everyone, show them you’re more than a pretty face and then laugh at them when they look shocked that you’ve made it.

    best life advice - woman lying down

    27. “You deserve what you accept ” One of my university professors once told me that and it has stuck with me and I will never accept failure, and it taught me never to blame my shortcomings on circumstance or anyone else.

    28. If you think you know something, find someone who disagrees and listen to them.

    29. You have to be your own person first.

    30. It’s better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do’

    31. Be confident and act like you belong.

    32. “Don’t take life seriously, no one gets out alive anyway.” Has served me very well over the years

    33. You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themself into.

  • ,

    How I became internet, TV and radio famous in 5 Days (and how you can too)

    cam adair press cover

    How I got 25 media interviews in 5 days

    On March 1st I had a speech in Calgary at the Children’s Hospital Aid Society (CHAS), and the media blew up.

    What followed was one of the craziest weeks of my life.

    I was featured in the newspaper three times (Calgary Herald, Metro News, and the Toronto Star) — the latter had 350,000 views in 24 hours and was the second largest story the paper had all year.

    I was on TV for the CBC Evening News at 6, CTV Morning Live, Global News at 6, and Breakfast Television… and had radio interviews on the BBC, CBC, NewsTalk770, SiriusXM, SAIT, NAIT, and NoFunIntended.

    I get a lot of questions from people asking me how I did it…

    Did I hire a PR firm to set it all up for me? The answer is no.

    So how did I do it? And how can you do it too?

    KEY LESSON #1: The media cares about stories that have three components:

    Something Current, Something Interesting, Something Local.

    Without your story being timely, they’ll have no urgency to feature it. I’ve recorded multiple interviews (national segments here in the U.S.) that are just sitting on the sidelines waiting for a timely event to release them.

    Current: Since I had a talk coming up in Calgary, I knew I had an opportunity to go for a media blitz.

    Local: Although I no longer live in Calgary, I was born there, so I added “Calgary-born” to my pitch.
    Interesting: Game Quitters reaching 20,000 members/month in 76 countries all supporting each other to overcome their video game addiction.

    KEY LESSON #2: “Just-in-time” Learning

    Instead of consuming content to hoard in my brain, I like to focus on finding content relative to the specific challenge or goal I have at the time.

    The week before my talk in Calgary, a mastermind group I’m a part of (Archangel Masters) was holding a discussion on PR and the Media with expert Selena Soo. Boom. I set aside the time, and came prepared with a number of questions to ask about how I could apply her expertise right away.

    Based on what I learned from Selena, and my homie Clay, I made my pitch:

    “My name is Cam Adair, a Calgary born and raised entrepreneur who’s the founder of Game Quitters — the largest support community for video game addiction. We currently help 20,000 people/month in 76 different countries around the world — including those in Calgary!

    Recently we’ve been featured in Forbes, Vice, and have upcoming features in the Toronto Star, CBS Evening News and *******. My work in this area began through my own experience of being addicted where I dropped out of high school.

    I was invited to speak in Calgary on Wednesday March 1st at CHAS (Children’s Hospital Aid Society). What do you think about doing a story on how a Calgary-born entrepreneur is solving the problem of video game addiction worldwide?

    I’m also open to any other ideas, and really looking to bring the most value to your audience.”

    KEY LESSON #3: Take Dumb Action (and ask for help!)

    It’s easy to overcomplicate things. Should you write a press release? Hire a PR firm? Cold email news stations? I’m sure some of those work, but the lowest hanging fruit is what I like to call Dumb Action.

    The night after watching Selena’s talk, I posted a status on Facebook asking if any of my friends in Calgary had contacts in the media, and included my pitch in the status. A few friends tagged a few friends, and boom.

    Especially nowadays with social media, you’d be surprised how close you are to being connected with anyone you want. Checking your EGO at the door, and being vulnerable to ask for help goes a far way.

    It also helps to provide tons of value to other people first, instead of being someone who is constantly asking for how someone else can help YOU. Give more than you take.

    KEY LESSON #4: Have “The Goods”

    You have to be able to back it up. Pitching, or getting warm intros will only go so far. But is your story interesting? Have you shown actual traction? If you can’t get a random stranger on the internet to care about your story, how do you expect to get the media to care about it?

    Obviously Game Quitters reaching the scale it has so far (25,000 members in 80 countries) is a testament that there’s significant interest, and a need for this work.

    I’ve pitched this story before and never heard back from people. So instead I’ve focused on becoming too big to ignore. Eventually you reach a scale where people have to pay attention.

    I also take the opportunity anytime someone asks me what I do to share our story in a way that will connect with them on a deep level. I “pitch” Game Quitters to people all the time, and in doing so have learned what words or phrases, what angles really connect more with people. Refinement over time.

    KEY LESSON #5: The Media is Fairly Overrated

    No offense! But you have to understand why you’re pursuing media, and how (or if) it will benefit you. If you’re going for traffic to your website, you’ll be sorely disappointed. You’ll have more success with a YouTube video or Facebook Live than you will with the media.

    However, for brand building, it’s a total hit. Since the media blitz I’ve found our “word of mouth” has skyrocketed. The perception of Game Quitters due to all of the media attention had a major impact. And that compounds over time. It also helps in some other places like credibility.

    The lesson here is that the perception of the media in people’s minds is still there, but the traffic you will get from it is not. So use it wisely.

    Special thanks to Selena, Clay, Giovanni, and my personal Uber driver while I was at home, my MOM! And to each of you for all of your support with our mission.

  • ,

    7 Effective Ways to Free Yourself from Your Insecurities

    how to stop being insecure - redhead girl

    Insecurities are just questions. That’s all they are.

    Questions like…

    “Will I be good enough for [that] job?”

    “Am I accepted by [this] group even though I lack [that]?”

    “Can I have real friends who are [overweight, too tall, too short, too skinny, etc.]?”

    “Does my spouse love me when all the magazines are filled with perfect people, and I’m not one of those people?”

    “How can I be a good parent with the examples I had growing up?”

    Some of the questions that you’re asking yourself are rhetorical, but most of the questions require an answer.

    Depending on whether you decide to answer these questions or not, your insecurities can become either instruments of self-actualization or obstacles to overcome.

    how to stop being insecure - man tapping camera

    Your insecurities can become obstacles when you disregard the questions you need to ask yourself. As a result, they become statements about who you are.

    To avoid this, start by phrasing your insecurities as questions and then address them head on. Give a detailed answer to each question including your personal history, circumstances, and environment. Do it out loud. Finish your answer with options and steps that you can take to improve, change or readjust what you need to for a better result.

    There is no problem without a solution because when a problem arises, the solution is born with it.

    Here are 7 ways that have helped me learn how to stop being insecure.

    how to stop being insecure - woman in forrest

    1. Have compassion for yourself

    From the minute you are born, life is constructing your personal history. Some of the events in your life are consequences of your actions, some are due to chance; some are under your control and some are not.

    No matter the case, treat yourself with compassion. Trust that you are doing the best you can at every given moment in your life.

    Having compassion for yourself gives you the break you need from everything and everyone else, the break to recharge yourself with love and understanding.

    Trust yourself that you have done the best you can with what you know. When you know better, you will do better.

    2. Practice constructive envy

    How can a negative feeling like envy be put to constructive use?

    Any and every feeling you have is useful in some way under the right circumstances. Channeled in the right direction, even a negative feeling like envy can produce positive results.

    Here’s how to use envy to address your insecurities.

    When you feel inferior to someone or are insecure about being around that person, you get envy! Put your interpersonal skills to good use by studying why you are envious of this person.

    Collaborate with that person and find out:

    What is making you feel inferior?

    Where is your insecurity coming from?

    What is that person doing better than and how can you get similar results?

    What is their secret to be more successful than you are?

    Add any questions that you might find useful to model your subject.

    Turning your insecurities into envy and asking these types of questions can uncover a surprising truth. That truth is the fact that many people who intimidate you are not as great as you think. This will level the playing field.

    It happens. It happens because what makes you feel insecure and intimidated is not who other people are or how well they know certain things, but rather it is your internal dialogue; the way you perceive yourself and how you speak to yourself.

    3. Positive internal dialogue

    A negative internal dialogue is like a peppermint candy in a bottle of fizzy drink. It explodes when you least expect and makes a big mess.

    Pay attention to the positive and beautiful things that are all around. Stop overthinking things. In time, practicing positive thinking about things and other people will grow your positive mental perspective so that, pretty soon, you see yourself in a positive light as well.

    Respond to your insecure questions positively.

    • “Will I be good enough for [that] job?” “Yes, I will!”
    • “Am I accepted by [this] group even though I lack [that]?” “I am and if I am not, I will find a different group to share my ideas and passions.”
    • “Can I have real friends being [overweight, too tall, too short, too skinny, etc.]?” “Yes, I can. I’m much more than [what you can see on the outside] and those who can’t accept me as I am have no place in my life.”
    • “Does my spouse loves me when all the magazines are filled with perfect people, and I’m not one of those people?” “My spouse didn’t marry a magazine perfect poster, but a human being. We are perfectly imperfect for each other.”
    • “How can I be a good parent with the examples I had growing up?” “I can be a good parent no matter my past.”

    Sometimes you won’t entirely believe the answer you give yourself. However, your subconscious mind will not allow you be a liar. In those instances, view your answers like positive self-fulfilling prophecies.

    As it works with your negative self-fulfilling prophecies, it works with the positive ones as well. It is the same mechanism: your unconscious mind helps you to prove you are right no matter what you say: negative or positive about yourself and your abilities.

    4. You don’t have to justify your existence to others

    You deserve to walk this Earth as much as the next person does. You are entitled to pursue happiness, freedom and love in this life as much as the next person does.

    Your road in life belongs to you. Be happy with what you have. Own it and pave your journey through life as you please.

    5. Invest more in your passions

    Everything you are passionate about becomes an instrument to help you overcome insecurities.

    Invest time and energy in one passion and allow it to branch out into other areas of your life. This will help you build up your strengths, abilities, and skills.

    Plus, it helps you to stay focused on what you want to accomplish because what you are doing with passion is fun, pleasurable and exciting. Is it not?

    6. Life is not an exam that you have to pass

    Even though insecurities can be a teaching tool for you, life as a whole is not an exam. It is not pass/fail or graded. Life is giving you many chances and even more opportunities. Train your mind to see, notice, and identify what you are given and then take advantage of life’s gifts.

    Yes, you will make mistakes…who doesn’t?! That is how we learn to be better next time; that is how you know how far have you come and that is how you know what works for you and what doesn’t.

    Be ready to acknowledge and give yourself credit for every big or small accomplishment in your life.

    Know who you are and who you are not because allowing others to define that for you is taking your self-esteem and self-appreciation away. Why? For the simple fact that you can’t possibly satisfy everybody.

    Therefore, who are you? Who are you if not the one you define yourself to be?

    7. Reframe your weaknesses

    It is true; you are not the best at everything, and perhaps you are justified to be insecure about certain things. However, your weaknesses are opportunities to grow and to discover new and exciting things.

    Reframe your weaknesses as opportunities. Get curious about the ways you can improve every aspect of your life.

    If you were perfect, you would have no drive to stay alive. Life would be boring. The point of living is to grow through time; to be pushed forward by all the things you don’t know today. Therefore, view your weaknesses as colorful incentives for self-discovery.

    Rest assured that flaws and insecurities are bridges to be crossed, they are not who you are as a person.


    Now, do you feel challenged to answer some questions? Is it the provocation in this article enough to help you reframe your insecurities and turn them into questions? If not yet or yes, feel free to share your experience with the rest of us because we learn the most from those like us.

  • ,

    Stop trying to find your passion in life. Find passions instead.

    Remember when you were about to graduate from college?

    Most people don’t really remember what they were doing during those final few weeks of school, but what they do remember is the feelings they had.

    Nervous, apprehensive, excited, confident.

    If you were one of the “lucky” ones, you had a job offer waiting for you, an award to receive, or better yet, your life planned out in front of you. However, most people are not that “lucky.”  They might not have had any job offers waiting for them and they certainly did not know what they wanted to do with their life.

    That was me. I was one of those people.

    I am from the Philippines and there, quite a high number of students choose careers that will give them job security instead of committing to the things they love or feel passionate about. You can ask any Philippine high school student and they will likely have chosen to become a doctor because it’s “in”, or to go into engineering because the demand of the job is high. There’s a culture that shames art or literature majors for choosing professions without this realistic expectation of security.

    I was one of those people who chose a pre-medical degree for that reason. Sure, Dr. House intrigued me, but it wasn’t because I felt passionate about curing people: I already knew, early on, that I never wanted to work for anyone but myself.

    find your passion - man painting

    I was told that you need to quickly find your passion and live it.

    I remember a few weeks before graduation where I was lucky enough to get a few job offers and I was terrified. At first I thought it was because it’s a new phase in my life but later on, I realized that I was terrified because this wasn’t what I wanted.

    Don’t get me wrong. There’s definitely nothing wrong about wanting to work for prestigious companies, but if it isn’t the life you envisioned (like me), then you need to fix it.

    I wanted to work on something related to my creativity but also appease the science-geek in me. I had many passions and was terrified of having to commit to just one. All my job offers only appeased small elements of my passion, and the thought of having to work a 9-5 job was difficult for me. I didn’t want that life and at 21, people thought I was crazy.

    I was supposed to go to medical school and become a neurosurgeon – that was something that everyone wanted to hear me say I would do.

    But I chose the “destructive route”, where I started working 3 different freelance jobs online and a bit of photography on the side so I could afford to travel and explore.

    Right now, I’m living according to my belief that you don’t need to have identified and committed to one passion. I am not sure what that is but what I do know is that passion is supposed to be in the plural form. Passions.

    You don’t have to find your passion and accept it as one and done.

    Nobody was built for only one opportunity or one purpose. I certainly don’t see having to work for other people as fulfilling my purpose or my passions, but I see it when I travel, listen to different languages, and experience different ways of living. Passions!

    Travel as much as you can – hell, make it your living!

    Whatever path you choose, don’t make my mistake: thinking that it’s the end of the world. There are so many great opportunities and windows for your soul to grow. Believe that the “hustle” isn’t all about becoming an entrepreneur but beyond that, it’s becoming your own person.

    I never thought I could have a life where I can pay for my own travels and develop myself according to my own schedule and desires, but it happened because I hustled my way while also leaving room for personal growth. I left room for my passions to develop.

    Do you believe it? Do you believe that everything you’ve ever wanted can be achieved? If you do, that’s great. You’re already halfway there.

    If not, it’s going to take a while but trust that you will get there. Just continue to explore and let yourself grow. That’s what life is all about and of course, remember to never stick with only one purpose or passion. That’s not what we’re made of. Believe in that.

  • ,

    The 6 best self improvement books of all-time (they’re different)

    best self improvement books of all-time - man reading book

    Self-improvement is a throw all term for anything feel-good, inspirational or motivational that makes you excited to “better” yourself.

    But what does that really mean?

    Hop onto your Facebook feed and you’ll be bombarded by life coaches (what is that?), hustle gurus and blog after blog touting the next best way to improve or better yourself.

    While I am often skeptical of the whole self help genre in general, who am I to judge or say what works or what doesn’t? I’m not in a position to do that.

    What I can say, however, is that the truest route to self improvement (of any kind) is perspective… and books offer that perspective with no strings attached.

    Self-improvement books provide perspective unlike anything you’ll read online or in social media.

    Perspective doesn’t tell you to do this or that. It doesn’t tell you how to live your life or provide you with a checklist of how improve certain elements of your life. What it does offer is a catalyst for change.

    Perspective is the truest motivator for change as it exemplifies what has worked in other person’s life. It doesn’t offer conjecture on what might work. It doesn’t try to sell you an online course for self betterment or require that you radically alter x,y  and z. What it does offer is a window into the life or mind of an individual – take it or leave it.

    So, instead of seeking out generic guru-like advice from the hottest new online expert, seek out stories that inspire. Seek out stories that offer perspective  – plain and simple.

    In the pursuit of this, I have found reading (ya know.. the good old fashioned kind – books!) to be the best way to find this perspective. You won’t find this kind of perspective in your newsfeed or being retweeted. You’ll find it in the written word – from someone who bothered to take the time to share it.

    Here are my 6 favorite self improvement books to help kickstart change in your life.

    best self improvement books of all-time - woman in bookstore

    1. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

    Adam Grant approaches success and self improvement from the perspective of being original and examines the subject with a variety of real-world cases across all industries.

    Grant covers ideas, creativity, building an ideas and covers people like Steve Jobs and creative wonders like Seinfeld.

    Takeaway: Learn how to reject conformity and be original in a world of the same status quo.

    Get It: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

    2. The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection

    Michael A. Singer writes this book from the heart because it is a true story. It is a reflection on what happens when one let’s go and let’s life happen.

    Reading this book is a true look into amazing life events from a life of solitude in the woods to a billion dollar company and a major FBI raid – all stemming from one man’s decision to embrace what life throws his way.

    Takeaway: Look at your own life in a radically different way.

    Get It: The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection

    3. Outliers: The Story of Success

    Malcolm Gladwell’s book is very well-known but I included it because it examines real-life examples of true to form outliers – high achievers.

    In the book, Gladwell differentiates between what successful people are like (their habits, patterns, etc.) and where they are from/their upbringing. It is a fascinating look into how experiences and perspective shape life and your ability to have massive impact.

    Takeaway: Perspective can radically alter your life.

    Get It: Outliers: The Story of Success

    4. Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

    Tom Rath offers a unique perspective on what it takes to forever improve your health and happiness. It is derivative of his own experience, having battled health issue for over 20 years when he wrote the book. He did an incredible amount of due diligence and research to cover proven and logical ideas for prolonged health in every aspect of life.

    Takeaway: Little things can have a massive impact on your life.

    Get It: Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

    5. The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study

    Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin cover the most extensive study of life ever conducted and the result is an incredible look at what truly impacts health and happiness. The study reflects on the practices that actually impact health and happiness.

    Takeaway: What it really takes to live a long, healthy and happy life.

    Get It: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life 

    6. Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy

    Mo Gawdat’s thesis on what it takes to truly be happy is a reflection of his own journey – having surfaced from a time of being incredibly unhappy to the quite the opposite. This book is great as Mo approaches happiness from the only angle he knows – engineering precision. He built his thesis on what creates permanent happiness by creating an algorithm around it and step by step how to achieve it.

    Takeaway: We can all be content with our present situation and optimistic about the future.

    Get It: Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy

    Photo credit

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    Why you need to stop hating on peoples’ dreams (I did and it changed my life)

    stop hating - man peering over edge

    They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. My name is Brendan and I hate on other people’s dreams.

    Before you start thinking that I’m a big asshole going around putting people down, I want to clarify that I usually quarantine those thoughts in the back of my mind.

    Whenever I hear seemingly outlandish and unconventional goals, I couldn’t help but think toxic thoughts like “well that’s dumb”, “that will never happen”, “he will never make any money doing that”, or my all-time favorite “what’s the end-goal in that?”. It wasn’t until I lost sight of the end-goal in my career path and found myself unemployed, sitting on a beach in San Diego that my mindset started to shift.

    My corporate drone phase.

    Since childhood I have always chosen the conventional path. The path that our teachers told us lead to happiness and success. I got good grades in order to get into a good college and find a steady job. After checking all three boxes I found myself in New York City working for one of the largest Investment Banks in the world. I was on the fast-track to success.

    However, at 26 years old I was miserable and felt like my story was already written for me. Unfortunately, the story wasn’t a very interesting read; commute to work on the subway, run spreadsheets in Excel for 10 hours, commute home on the subway, repeat.

    Meanwhile, people around me were living on their own terms as small business owners, designers, travelers, performers, artists, film-makers, adventurers, and musicians. These were the same people whose dreams I would have previously scoffed at.

    I did all of the things I was supposed to, right?  All of those unrealistic millennials chased lofty dreams; they are supposed to be losers, right?

    I was wrong.

    After seven years, I finally hit my breaking point and decided to quit my job and move to San Diego.

    I spent the following six months sitting on the beach, wondering if I had made a huge mistake, and applying for any positions that loosely fit my experience. The thought of going back to corporate America made me sick to my stomach, but I felt directionless and kept applying.

    I began to wonder, maybe the people I had been dissing for years had it right all along? And maybe I had been hating on their dreams because I envied them for following their passion – or even having a passion for that matter – and being in-charge of their own destiny.

    I decided to reach out to a few of them to pick their brains and figure out what makes them different than the rest of us.  I have shared many of their stories, and more, on The Unconventionalist; a website dedicated to finding people “Living Life Another Way and bringing their stories to light.”

    My hope is that in my personal pursuit of understanding these fundamental questions, readers will extract valuable lessons that they can apply to their own lives. Not everyone will quit their job to travel the world, but maybe someone will be inspired to travel more, start a side business, learn a new hobby, or just push the boundaries of their comfort zones.

    With each case-study, my inner-hater’s voice becomes more suppressed and I become more inspired. The exciting and creative ways that these people make money doing what they love never fails to astound me.

    Instagram would lead us to believe that the free-spirited artist is just hanging out in the mountains painting all day, but what we don’t see is the hustle of running a small business behind the scenes. She is no less an entrepreneur than the Stanford graduate with the latest tech start-up. Entrepreneurs seek to live life on their own terms and in that regard she is a very successful entrepreneur.

    Throughout the stories I’ve shared on The Unconventionalist, common lessons have emerged.

    I have learned more than I could possibly convey to you, but here are 10 of the most fundamental lessons.

    stop hating - man walking on street

    1. They take ACTION and don’t wait for stars to align

    When pursuing a goal or a dream, timing is never going to be perfect. We are all guilty of thinking that once X happens, we will finally be able to do Y. It’s an easy excuse for in-action; the path of least resistance. Talking about your goals with others may feel good, but studies show that this satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed. “One day” may never come so you might as well take the first step today.

    2. They focus energy and time on authentic human connection

    I’m not referring to occasionally attending work sponsored networking events. Get out into the world and touch people’s lives. In a world that increasingly relies on computers and automation, human connection is the greatest currency one can possess. It will enrich your life personally and professionally in an unquantifiable way.

    3. They are supportive of others

    Instead of being bitter, resentful, or jealous (like I was), be supportive of others’ dreams and goals. Unconventional people often have a greater sense of community and believe that we are all better off if we help each-other. The key is being confident in your own abilities. If you KNOW deep down that you are going to succeed, then you won’t feel insecure about the success of those around you.

    4. They treat fear as motivation, not a deterrent

    Individuals inherently crave a life that is unique from the person next to them, but fear standing out as different. Much like the Japanese proverb “the nail that sticks up gets hammered,” society is designed to urge you to fall in line with the crowd. The desire to carve your own path must outweigh the crippling fear of failure or being labeled a “weirdo”. By definition, unconventional people go against the status quo and challenge conventional wisdom in society.

    5. They constantly push the boundaries of their comfort zones

    Staying within the comfort zone is safe and pleasant but leads to a life without flavor or excitement. Everyone’s tolerance for pushing that boundary varies. Unconventional people often describe engaging in a type of self-induced exposure therapy where they push their boundaries often enough to cause them to permanently expand. Newly established boundaries then become a new set of goals or fears to conquer.

    6. They don’t let inexperience or money hold them back

    You will never feel fully prepared to follow your passions or dreams so stop using your lack of experience or the fact that you don’t have financial backing as excuses. Many of the most influential people in history were amateurs and in today’s world you have access to technology that allow you to make an impact or start a business from your family room. Thirty years ago, making a film required expensive equipment and large teams of people. Today, you can make a film using the smartphone in your pocket and free editing software. Regardless of what you want to do, the best way to learn is to start trying.

    7. They often feel compelled by a higher calling

    According to the Harvard Business Review, “any kind of change is risky when you are comfortable with the status quo. And evolutionary psychologists are not surprised at all by the fact that, despite the excellent press that change is given, almost everyone resists it—except when they are dissatisfied.” In other words, human beings are hardwired to avoid change unless they feel threatened or discontent. Unconventional people use their dissatisfaction for particular world issues, such as climate change, as motivation in their daily lives; often adding a greater meaning or purpose to jobs or tasks that may seem inconsequential.

    8. They don’t chase trends or worry about others

    We are bombarded by images on a daily basis with which to measure our own lives

    against. Expectations of the wedding ring you should receive, the girlfriend you should have, the house you should buy, the body you should strive for, or the life you should lead. Unfortunately, content on social media sets the status quo on expectations and is always one thumb swipe away from reminding us of our inadequacies. Ignore the crowd and run your own race.

    9. Happiness, NOT money, is the driving force in their lives

    Envy of billionaire entrepreneurs is often misguided. People tend to focus on their material possessions, but what we all really envy is their freedom to live how they choose. A true entrepreneur is someone who strives to live life on their own terms. These people are by definition unconventional.

    10. They focus on the journey, not the finish line

    Goals, big or small, can often look like unclimbable mountains staring us in the face. Just the thought of getting started is enough to cause crippling anxiety in many people. As mentioned in #7, humans are hardwired to avoid stressful situations and therefore seemingly insurmountable goals get pushed aside. However, this anticipatory fatigue is avoidable and unconventional people have found the solution. Break apart your larger goal into smaller tasks. Then your mountain turns into a series of short hikes. Before you know it, momentum builds and you have reached the summit feeling inspired to take on your next challenge. As explained in #5, exposure to these situations pushes your tolerance to new heights. Your next goal won’t be so daunting and the positive cycle begins!

  • ,

    The two secrets to staying motivated & hungry (from Gary Vaynerchuk)

    stay motivated - girl text conversation

    People ask me how I constantly stay so competitive and motivated.

    It’s tough for me to answer this question for others because for me, being motivated is hard wired. It started for me at a very young age. Whether it was playing [my brother] AJ in basketball or negotiating the best spot to sell my baseball cards, I was always hungry for the win. I always hated the look on somebody’s face when that person beat me at something. I am very visceral to that feeling; I hate it.

    stay motivated - Gary Vaynerchuk basketball

    But when I really think about it, being hungry is a perspective.

    It’s the genuine understanding that you only have one life and a certain amount of time to accomplish everything you want to do.

    Because of that, there are two major factors (that seem at odds) that can drive your motivation:

    1. Selfishness and 2. Gratitude. You have to be selfish with the time you have left and grateful for the time you’ve had.

    stay motivated - man working at night

    1. SELFISHNESS

    When I say “being selfish” I’m not talking about money. I’m looking for legacy. If you told me that I could have $500 million and the narrative of my career in the advertising world at VaynerMedia was, “He did a nice job—He did well for himself and he made money” or I could have $200 million and the narrative would be, “He mentally changed how the industry thought about attention,” there’s no question which one I would choose. It’s more important to me to have the impact and the legacy. I’d much rather be known as the guy who changed the wine or advertising industry than the dollars associated with either.

    What makes this easy for me is that I genuinely enjoy the process more than the things the process can get me. I love putting in the work. I love the grind. I always value the victory over the fruits of the victory. It’s a great mindset to have and if you can shift your perspective that way, it will help you stay motivated too.

    2. GRATITUDE

    Most of the time when people ask me about motivation, 80% of the time I attribute it to gratitude. If you want real fuel to win, be grateful.

    Gratitude is what has gotten me through my toughest moments in business. Whenever I have lost a deal to a competitor, or an incredible employee, or millions of dollars in revenue, I default to gratitude. Why? Because I recognize that even if bought the Jets tomorrow, none of it would matter to me at all if I got a call the next day that someone I love was sick or had died. You’d be surprised then how quickly I would stop giving a crap about business. It comes from a dark place, but it’s true.

    Knowing that I was born in Belarus in the former Soviet Union, probably the least capitalist place in the whole world—and having had the serendipity of being able to come to the most remarkable country on earth when I was three—I have a full perspective on where I come from. I got really lucky that what I’m great at (entrepreneurship and business) is really appreciated in the US.

    My perspective on both the health and wellness of my family, as well as where I came from, allows me to handle anything and everything. My gratitude allows me to step away from any issues and remind me of all the great things I’ve been given.

    It’s impossible not to stay motivated or get too down when you’re feeling grateful.

    Be grateful for the time you have and selfish with the time you have left.

    Being motivated is all about a mental shift in perspective. It’s the understanding that time is your number one asset; you have to do right by it by being grateful with the time you’ve had and selfish with the time you have left.

    You have to make the most out of the one life you get. This “you’re going to die” mindset might be considered dark, but it helps me stay motivated very easily. The selfishness of legacy over the currency, along with the urgency of a limited amount of time, adds up to competitiveness and drive. Because, who really knows what tomorrow brings? That’s what keeps me hungry.

    Gary originally published this on his blog and it appears here with his permission.

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    How to become an influencer (4 new ways to use your talents)

    how to be an influencer - man on rock

    Influence may be the highest level of human skills”. Unknown

    I have always considered myself an influencer, a motivator, and a person wired to inspire people. Even on days when I’m not on a motivational high, I still find myself dishing out encouragement to those who need it. I find joy in public speaking, writing, or simply using my social media platform to post something uplifting and inspiring to help others. But lately, I have been thinking about my role as an influencer and if my influence is determined by the opportunities I get to use my gifts and talents.

    I have to be honest with you: I have been looking at my influence through the wrong lens. Somewhere along the way, I’ve adopted this belief system that to be truly influential, you need a stage and an audience, and if you are void of these two things, you have no influence.

    But that’s wrong… to be influential, you need to rethink everything.

    For example: You call yourself a painter, a speaker, or a writer, and the goal is to share your work with the world, but it’s taking you a long time to gain the exposure and traction that makes you believe your dream is possible. You might even think, based on the lack of opportunities, you don’t qualify or that you cannot really call yourself an influencer.  You see people on social media who have hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers. Your amount of followers may not even come close. You would like one day to amass a large following for your business, but you’re not there yet, so again, you measure and doubt your ability to influence.

    I can see how all of this can cause you to question your gifts, talents, and your adequacy to have the impact and influence you aspire to have.

    You don’t need to be discouraged because your influence hasn’t gotten to the level you desire it to be. The truth is, although there are platforms and outlets that allow you to express your creativity, I believe you can still thrive without them and connect with the world.

    You can still have a voice that matters. You just need to shift your mindset and approach about how you view your influence.

    Here are 4 new approaches you can take to become the influencer you were created to be.

    how to be an influencer - woman in garden

    1. Real Influence does not begin on a stage, it starts with the inner person.

    So, why do we begin our influence journey here?

    We start here because, above everything, great character leads to great influence. Our gifts and talents may get us on stage, but our character will determine if we can stay there. You see it all the time, people of great stature fall because their heart and character were not right. So, for me, influence starts with “A Heart Check.” It’s asking yourself, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” “What is the motive behind the opportunity I am pursuing?” “Is this purpose driven or ego driven?” These are all great questions to ask yourself in order to keep your character, focus, and purpose in alignment.

    True influencers show a genuine, sincere interest in others. They don’t use their platform as a means for self-elevation; instead, they use their platform as a way to elevate others.

    2. The universe places people right in front of you, so start with them.

    Once I stopped focusing on the influence I haven’t achieved yet, it became easy for me to use the influence I already have. Sometimes, we get so consumed with the influence we haven’t gained, the popularity, the title, the fulfillment of that dream that screams I have arrived, and if we don’t achieve this level of greatness, we feel as though we can’t have an impact. Nowadays, you can buy followers. In other words, we can buy our way into influence. The more followers we have, the more influential we will look. But not so, influence cannot be purchased, nor can it be given; it has to be earned by serving one person at a time. When you break the habit of obsessing over your future influence and think every day about the ONE you can inspire, the ONE you can serve, as a result of focusing on helping one person, your influence expands.  Influence builds on influence.

    I was missing opportunities to grow my influence daily, because I was so focused on a number that it took away my sensitivity to see the people right in front of me. So now, I don’t pursue a number. I pursue a person, and I wake up every day with the goal of making ONE person’s life better. I now know, the universe does not have a shortage of opportunities for us to use our influence. We just need to bring our awareness to the people placed right in front of us instead of overlooking them.

    Influence does not begin with a big platform or a greater reach; it starts by touching the people placed within your reach.

    3. You have to inquire if you are going to inspire.

    Influence requires you to cultivate the gift of curiosity. I know it’s been said that curiosity killed the cat, but curiosity won’t kill your influence; it will enhance your influence and enlarge the capacity of your heart to care for others. Influencers are always paying attention to the needs of others. I learned the importance of that while vising my mother in the hospital. I met a young man named Brian who worked as a cashier in the cafeteria. I selected what I wanted to eat and then walked up to the register to pay for my food, but Brian had this look on his face that said, ‘I would rather be somewhere else. I could tell his body was there, but his mind was not. His coworker shouted, “Hey Brian, way to look enthusiastic.” I said, “You look tired.” He then replied, “I am.” I asked, “Why are you so tired,” and he replied, “I have two jobs.” I dug a little deeper in a friendly way without being intrusive and asked, “Why do you have two jobs?” Brian replied that he has 2 kids.  That explained why this young man looked so out of it. In that moment, I felt what it would be like to be in Brian’s shoes, and I was moved by our conversation.

    I proceeded to give him some encouraging words and advice and even gave him my number to call if he ever needed someone to talk to. I felt for him. It taught me a valuable lesson about the art of influence and how questions are the gateway to people’s hearts.   Start by asking people what I like to call:

    The Heart Questions

    This is something I do all the time, and I want you to try it. The next time you get in an uber, don’t just sit there; strike up a conversation with the driver, or the cashier at the super market, the teller at the bank, because:

    Wherever there are people, there is an opportunity for influence.

    Ask them what they love, what they care about, or simple how they are doing today. You will be amazed how life changing these small inquiries can be if you take the time to be curious about others. These are all chances for us to use our gifts and prove we need not wait for the BIG opportunities to live a life of significance. We can have it right now by seizing the opportunity to meet the needs of the people we meet.

    Curiosity opens you up to empathy, and empathy allows others to open up to you.   

    4. Be a purpose driven influencer.

    Purpose driven influencers know who they are and that they were created for a reason far greater than themselves.  Our influence was given for the purpose of helping others. Until we understand that and choose to use our gifts and talents with purpose in mind, the gifts and talents we have will never truly have the impact they were destined to have. Purpose driven influencers are driven by one thing, to make the lives of others better. Influencers who do it for prestige, power, popularity are also driven by one thing, themselves. What kind of influencer do you want to be?

    As an influencer, your greatest influential, and life-changing impact on others will not come with a paycheck, awards, or applause, and you have to be okay with that. You have to be okay with serving people and not getting any recognition for it. When you sign up to be an influencer, you sign up to be a vessel of hope and change, and vessels don’t always get the credit they deserve. The work they do is the reward. I’m not saying you should not chase greatness. We should aim for it because we were not put on this earth to be mediocre, but the pursuit of these things will require us to resist the temptation of wanting them for power. I have learned that, when our intentions are pure, and we set out to use our gifts from a place of love, not from a place of ego, greatness will take care of itself.

    “People who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” – Condoleezza Rice

    When love is the fuel behind our influence, instead of it being fueled by power, we find fulfillment, purpose, and contentment in our work. Purpose driven influencers know, if they show up for others, show up with the right intentions, show up with people and purpose in mind, the universe will show up for them. Life will create expansion for us and enlarge our influence territory. Our gifts and talents will open doors for us to be great and allow us to be on great platforms. On my path to becoming a purpose driven influencer, the game changer has been this:

    Choose to put purpose before elevation, because elevation comes to those who put purpose first. 

  • ,

    How to get ahead in your career when you have nothing to offer

    girl looking forward

    You’ve been lied to.

    Ever since you were a little kid, you were told that in order to be successful, you have to train, prepare, study, and pick up certain skills. Only once you have these skills can you take life by the horns and get ahead. Once you are qualified, only then can you get that job you dream of, land that raise, make that money, or move to that neighborhood in which you want to live. So you study hard, you specialize, you stay up late and take internships in the industry in which you work.

    But you struggle still to get ahead. It feels like everybody else is moving up in their game as you move up.

    As you try to get ahead, so does everybody else who is nearly as skilled. So you study harder. You work to become more qualified. You put in long hours in entry-level jobs and work your way up the corporate ladder. The stakes keep getting higher as you move higher and it still seems like you can never get ahead.

    Or even worse, you have nothing to offer even after all of this studying and working towards qualifications. Sure, you may have the bare requirements for the job, like a college degree or a fancy internship, but when you come to the table and a potential employer or business partner or investor asks you what you can offer, you feel yourself grasping for straws and bullshitting your way through the conversation.

    How did this happen? You followed the advice of your well-meaning guidance counselors, teachers, career coaches, and mentors. You went to the best college you could afford and you didn’t slack off.
    Or, you’re just starting down this process and you have an uneasy feeling in your stomach that what I just described is what’s going to happen to you.

    I’ve seen it happen firsthand. I’ve spent the last four years traveling the country and working with young people to accelerate their careers. I can feel the uneasiness on college campuses and the look of “what have I gotten myself into?” in recent grads’ eyes.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    In fact, if you’re a young person today, you have a superpower that older, more established people lack.

    We all have two things in life: time and opportunity costs. These two functions of the fourth dimension interact with each other but are not the same for everybody.

    Time is the great equalizer. A hobo and a billionaire both have the same amount of time in the day. You have 24 hours in your day. Warren Buffett has 24 hours in his day. Elon Musk has 24 hours in his day. Donald Trump has 24 hours in his day.

    The most productive and prolific among us do not magically create time out of thin air. You can figure out all of the productivity hacks you want, but listening to every episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is not going to open up a wormhole and give you more hours than everybody else in the day.
    This is something that should reassure you and empower you. You can leverage this egalitarianism of the universe in your favor. This is where your superpower comes in handy: low opportunity cost.
    Opportunity cost is an economic concept that refers to what you miss out on by not choosing the next-best use of your time.

    Any choice you make has opportunity cost. That I chose to sit down and write this article instead of reading a book or working on spreadsheet work brings with it the cost of not getting those things done. As you become more skilled or experienced or specialized, in theory, your opportunity cost goes up. A brain surgeon has higher opportunity cost than a janitor. Warren Buffett has higher opportunity cost than you do. If Warren wanted to go on vacation, imagine all of the value that would not be captured since he wouldn’t be working! If you chose to go on vacation, chances are the value you wouldn’t capture would be less than that which Warren wouldn’t capture.

    For Warren to use his time effectively, he should spend it doing that which has the highest return for him. This could be learning more about potential investments, managing existing investments, or doing high-value meetings. No matter how much he optimizes his time, though, he’s going to leave value on the floor.

    See where I’m going with this?

    We needn’t use extravagant examples like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates to get the point across, either. A small business owner or a startup founder has a ton of things that need to be accomplished on any given day but her time is limited to 24 hours (realistically, 20–16 hours to account for sleeping). This time might be best spent focusing on her product or leading team meetings or sitting down with investors.

    In a perfect world, this is why we have division of labor. The startup founder might find her time is best spent meeting with potential clients but the books still need to get done, so she hires a bookkeeper. Marketing may need to be accomplished so she hires a marketer. An inbound funnel needs to be managed so she hires a sales rep.

    But we live in an imperfect world. Often it doesn’t make sense to hire a full-time marketer for quite a while, or to have a dedicated person handle sales until everything else is also handled. Until revenue starts flowing, it can be downright stupid to start dividing labor that early.
    But time marches on. She hits the point of diminishing marginal returns with compartmentalizing her work.

    This is where you come in.

    There exist people in this world — they are all around you, I promise you — with high opportunity cost and who need things done, many of which are not highly specialized things. You have low opportunity cost and you aren’t so specialized as to be pigeonholed into a specific area.
    You can solve this problem for them. You can create value without having to be super-qualified and specialized. Value-creation is the core of getting ahead. While your peers are busy racking up credentials, you can start racking up social capital.

    I’m not just blowing abstract smoke here. I’ve lived this myself and have seen dozens of young people live it out. Personally, I went from being an undergrad studying philosophy (don’t ask…) to becoming a founding team member of a prominent education startup to now even confidently launching my own companies. All without being “qualified.”

    Here’s how I did it:

    When a sophomore in college, I was doing well and learning a lot. I had landed a research fellowship that allowed me to learn a lot about philosophy (and be paid for it!) and had even designed a course for the major. But if you had asked me what I was qualified in doing, I would have chuckled and told you, “sitting on the beach and reading books about moral psychology.” That’s about it. I lied to myself and told myself I could “write well” (if you think writing well in school means writing well in the real world, you’re in for a rude awakening).

    And I was bored out of my mind.

    I had met somebody (cc/ Isaac Morehouse, who has elucidated the below concept of social capital well over the last few years) a few years prior with whom I kept in touch and I knew was building a company (I was even in the focus group). I knew he had a ton of things to get done. He was busy launching a company while working at another company and taking care of his wife and kids.
    I offered to take some work — any work — off his plate.

    In time, I learned new skills about writing copy, doing sales, and organizing content for the product and my role became more specialized, but I started with nothing to offer besides time and an extra set of hands.

    In time, I was hired full-time and given equity in the company — something I could never have achieved in such a short time if I made my case based on “qualifications.” It is from this position that I’ve been able to publish a book, appear on major news networks, and meet mentors and new business partners I would have never otherwise interacted with on my old track.

    For a while, I wasn’t being paid in cash (though that did come sooner rather than later). I was paid in something much more valuable: social capital.

    Like money, social capital can accrue in an account of sorts when you make deposits and can shrink when you make withdrawals. You make deposits when you create surplus value for others that isn’t captured by cash money. You don’t have to work for free while going to school to do this. You can do this by introducing two people who should know each other, by doing favors for people who need an extra set of hands, and by picking up the value left on the floor. (Similarly, when you make introductions that waste people’s time, when you yourself unnecessarily waste somebody’s time — learn how to google questions! — and when you drop extra value on the floor, you make withdrawals.) Once this account is sufficiently large, you can cash it in for benefits and goodies that money cannot buy — you can’t just purchase a job.

    Besides focusing way too much on qualifications, the other mistake young people make is focusing on the wrong kind of capital. They focus on the job that will pay them the most money now rather than the one that will allow them to accrue the most social capital, open the most doors, and gain the most applicable skills they’ll need later on.

    So, how do you get ahead when you have “nothing” to offer?

    You leverage your low opportunity cost to pick up value left on the floor. This might not immediately get you cold, hard cash, but it will give you social capital. Deposit this social capital in your social capital account, let it accrue value and let that interest compound and new doors will open to you.
    Find value to be picked up.

    Pick it up.

    Accrue social capital.

    Dominate your career.

    Zak originally published this on Medium

  • ,

    How to improve yourself (Fam Mirza’s 6 keys for major change)

    How to improve yourself - Fam Mirza

    Do you find yourself watching the clock everyday at work? Do you feel fed up with your 9-5? Are you not feeling passionate about what you do 40 hours a week?

    You’re not alone. 52% of the workforce is reportedly unhappy with their job. I’d be willing to bet that a significant portion of those 52% are millennials – folks in their 20s and 30s who entered the workforce as bright-eyed and enthusiastic college grads only to find that the passion they thought they’d quickly develop simply hasn’t surfaced.

    Lucky for you, if you’re a 20 or 30 something and unhappy at work… there are many ways to improve yourself.

    I recently sat down with Fam Mirza, CEO of 1Face watches, event consultant and marketing strategist for the likes of Sean “Diddy” Combs, Drake, 50 Cent and others, and all around serial entrepreneur, adviser and mentor.

    While Fam became a millionaire by the time he was in his early 20s, it is his continued mentality towards purpose and drive for passion and success that impresses me most and drove me to connect with him. He epitomizes the millennial mentality of diversifying one’s skillset and refusing to be typecast or placed into something other than one’s own manufactured destiny.

    How to improve yourself - Fam Mirza entrepreneur

    If you don’t know Fam, know this… his approach to success is varied.

    Fam is the guy who took the viral sensation Antoine Dodson and turned an idea into 7 figure sales of Halloween costume in under 30 days.

    Fam once lost $127,000 in one day in 2007 as the result of a bad investment.

    He put split jerseys on Nelly, toured with the likes of Drake and has created custom clothing for some of today’s top artists.

    He told me a story about how Yung Joc once called him for his video It’s Going Down to get him to create a custom shirt for him.

    In Chicago alone, his name is the go-to for anything apparel or footwear related. But more than that, his name has come up time and time again for me when chatting with others about journeys to self-improvement and what it means to progress.

    Even when we were chatting for this interview on a rooftop in downtown Chicago, a young musician approached us and asked humbly for 2 minutes of Fam’s time, asking Fam to check out his track. Fam took 5 minutes to listen and gave him his contact info to help him at Def Jam where he has high level contacts.

    Point being, Fam is someone who has been hustling since he was young, respects the grind and epitomizes the millennial mindset of furthering one’s self through effort, networking and gusto.

    As a fellow millennial who wants nothing more than the most experiences and appreciation of life possible, it is important to always be improving and progress yourself. Start by asking yourself this question:

    What would you like to improve about yourself?

    Is it related to frustration with your job? A lack of passion or purpose in your life? A desire to see and experience more of life?

    Having made millions before 30, I asked Fam what continues to motivate him most and he said it’s inspiring the next person to change their life.

    If you’re in your 20s or 30s and feel like you’re just existing and living within someone else’s framework of success, now is the time to take action.

    I chatted with Fam for over an hour to understand his story and how you might find inspiration in it to apply to your own life.

    These are 6 ways to learn how to improve yourself everyday and take charge of the decisions you make.

    How to improve yourself - Fam Mirza Chicago

    1. If you want to change, you have to take responsibility.

    If you’ve ever traveled through Europe, you’ve likely seen a ton of young adults traveling around… Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. In Europe, when you come out of high school, most graduates take a year or two off to travel to figure out what they want to do. Following that year or two, they then decide to go to college.

    Fam brought up this trend to me to illustrate the point that in anything in life, you need to have a certain sense of surety before you jump in.

    Would you make an investment without knowing what you’re investing in? Unlikely.

    If you’ve already made a career or life decision but were undecided when you did so (i.e. chose a major just to choose it, got into a field just to get a job, etc.), it’s not too late. I asked Fam this.

    If you’ve already gone to college and are just floating within your 9-5, how can you re-engage yourself?

    You graduated, got into accounting that is meh and you get off at 4:59 and go home and eat TV dinner and just live life. That’s terrible!

    TGIF? I hate that acronym! TGIT, man. If you don’t love today, you’re screwed!

    It’s hard to change habits after you’ve been doing them for years. However, even if you’re already 30, 35, you CAN still do it. It’s going to take time and effort as far as when you’ll do it.

    Come home at 6, 7pm. Spend another 5-6 hours to learn a different field! Are you willing to commit that time to get out of it? To change? Most people would say no. But you might as well do it when you’re 35 instead of looking back when you’re 70 or 80 and regret it. Don’t regret.

    One of the most powerful things to realize is that in life and business, you don’t regret what you’ve done. You regret what you haven’t done.

    As you get older, you gain responsibility and get bogged down and your lifestyle becomes habitual. It becomes hard to change habits, so you have to do it now.

    If you’ve already gone through college, graduated and you’re in a dead end job, it’s because you didn’t think about what you were passionate about before you went to college and majored in something and graduated.

    In your 20s or 30s and want to change your life?

    You need to figure out what you want to do NOW.

    This is the time you should spend to acquire knowledge to figure out what it is you want. If you want to change, that is the time to do it. DO IT NOW!

    2. You need passion.

    In order to change and fully embrace it, you need to lead with your passion. If there’s a calling card of our generation it’s that you need to find your passion.

    If it was that easy, we’d all be agree that we chose our jobs, career, profession, etc. because it aligned so closely with our passion. Easier said than done. How the heck do you know if you’ve found your passion or your purpose? With so many possibilities and opportunities, how do you know if only one is right for you. It’s tough. (more on that in a minute)

    Nonetheless, it is essential that you work from a place of passion.

    Anything that you want to do in life, you have to have an extreme amount of passion towards it. If you do it just for the money… you’ll never succeed.

    Find what will drive you without you getting paid for it. Find that and expand on it.

    Many new-age entrepreneurs get their start by deriving their passion from creative fields…photography, videography, artistic fields.

    The reason these fields produce such passion-driven people, I think is because they require knowledge and hands-on experience.

    To find your passion, you have to first gain knowledge.

    To gain knowledge that will illuminate where your passion might lie, you have to do it yourself.

    If you’re saying to yourself… ‘”Oh man! I wanna do videos for Drake or photos for Migos,” you have to start low and work up. Start with a lower level artist for example. It’s the same thing. You’ll still be shooting… just on a smaller scale.

    As you work on your skill-set and work your way up, you’ll start to learn if you it’s for you. Nothing can illuminate this for you other than doing it yourself and experiencing it.

    You’re not going to find your passion by reading about it or by researching different things. You need to try it yourself.

    How to improve yourself - Fam Mirza w/ artists

    3. Know who to listen to.

    So you’ve decided you want to make a change. You’ve decided you want to dive in on a passion or discover a passion you didn’t know you had?

    Where do you start? Who do you look to for advice?

    We live in the age of the guru where anyone can call themselves a millionaire, post pictures of yachts and Ferraris online and sell “coaching” materials to young, impressionable millennials.

    How the heck do you decide who to turn to for advice?

    The fact of the matter is… no one should be teaching anything if they don’t have the accolades.

    Don’t teach people how to do things if you haven’t done it yourself! It’s that simple.

    Don’t be a guru! How are you going to teach someone to make $1MM if you haven’t made $1MM?!

    Everybody now on IG is somehow a millionaire and knows this and that. BUT they haven’t and they don’t! That’s bullsh*t.

    If you haven’t driven down that road, don’t tell me to drive down that road.

    Take it from Fam… look to those who have been there and done it. Follow their lead to learn.

    Millennials should look to whoever it is they want to be. If you want to be a shoe designer, music producer, artist… figure out the top 3 people in that field and engage them.

    Fam recommends being bold in this approach. He recommends that you reach out to top folks in your field and offer to work for them for free.

    As we were conducting this interview, a young musician with headphones on approached Fam and asked him if he could show him his music. Fam agreed, listened for 5 minutes and ultimately offered his contact info to further the conversation.

    You never know who you might meet! Just by Fam listening to his music, he had the ability to send that to someone else – the VP at Def Jam, for example. He is connected in those circles and that is how one can advance themselves.

    When you want something, you need to go for it. When you’re making music tracks, for example, you just have to go for it and network. Networking gets you further in life than any other skill-set you can learn. It is the basis for everything. Only the right people can get you to the right places.

    The time is now.

    4. Have more than just ideas.

    When Fam is creating a new venture or advising, he always reaches out to the big dogs in that field.

    I talk to all these guys before I enter a market.

    That’s what’s silly about young entrepreneurs. If you decide that you’re going to make the next greatest pen…you have to talk to the top guys at Parker, etc. The higher ups who will give you insight into the industry, what they think of your design. I take opinions into account and move from there. I don’t just enter a market.

    When approaching someone for advice or mentorship, you need to approach with with more than just an idea.

    If you ask for 5 minutes of someone’s time and come to him/her with a vague idea… you’ve just wasted both of yours time.

    Come to them with an idea that has been thought through, an idea that has been mapped out and is missing a piece or missing a next step. Come with that specific question.

    How to improve yourself - Fam Mirza w/ artists/ NYC

    5. Take action! How?

    So you’ve made a decision to change, you’re networking and learning from those who have made changes and had success in their fields.

    You need to capitalize on the time you have.

    Everyone has time, but ideas fade with time.

    When we came out with 1:Face watch, had we done that today it wouldn’t have excelled. We came out with that design before Apple did (which is very similar). We came out 2 years earlier. We moved fast and acted on an idea.

    It’s about capitalizing on the right time and scaling.

    Everyone has ideas. Everyone can build a business, but can you scale?

    Have a plan, be ready to rock.

    6. How appreciate the journey.

    One of the first things Fam said was that there’s beauty in the struggle.

    One of the things millennials struggle with as we grow and progress is we lose sight of our journey. We become so fixated on the finish line that we fail to appreciate the process. We fail to appreciate the small wins. If you’re not careful, you can blink your eyes and next thing you know, you never take the time to appreciate what you’ve been building and improving on.

    It’s all about the journey. You journey will help you find the destination. 

    I have so much more fun and so much more excitement when I’m creating a project rather than when we launch, have success and scale it. I am so much more present in the creation of it rather than the success part of it.

    It’s the fruition of ideas that is rewarding.

    A lot of entrepreneurs get so lost in wanting the success and the Ferraris that they lose sight of why they started in the first place – to change for the better.

  • ,

    Why you shouldn’t be realistic about accomplishment in your twenties

    I saw a post on Reddit the other day where a young man asked the question:

    What should you have realistically accomplished in your twenties?

    He listed off a couple of items like home ownership, marriage, salary, etc. and asked for input on other expected items.

    The responses to his question varied but the underlying consensus seemed to me to be pretty overwhelming…

    That question is bullsh*t!

    I couldn’t agree more, so I decided to write this article to implore other twenty-somethings to please, stop asking yourself this question.

    If you are frequently asking yourself this question or find the pressure of its assumed significance weighing on you, I’m sorry, but you’ve fallen victim to the anxiety-inducing media coverage of 18 year-old tech startup CEOs, the expectations of previous generations and the pressure to adapt.

    The truth of the matter is, succumbing to this question and allowing it to shape your goals is the fastest way to mediocrity. And the fastest way to succumbing to this question is by being realistic about what you should accomplish in your twenties. It’s ok if you don’t know what to do with your life, but please…

    Stop being realistic! Stop playing by the rules.

    littlecaesar

    There are no rules!

    What do I think you should have accomplished in your twenties?

    Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

    Your twenties are a time for setting the framework for your life’s work. Not a time to compare and meet expectations.

    Your twenties are a time to do all kinds of weird sh*t. Checking off boxes on the previous generation’s life template is not one of them.

    Yes, making moves, creating, getting promoted, winning awards, getting recognition, and making your parents relieved that you aren’t a total screw-up are nice, warm and fuzzy feelings to have, but that is not what your twenties are for. They are for exploring, nurturing and embarking on your life’s journey.

    I personally know people in their twenties across all angles of the life spectrum.

    Newly married. Married with children. Jobless. In grad school. Working minimum wage jobs. CEOs of their companies. Rising stars of their own companies. Recently laid off… and everything in between.

    These are vastly different phases of life and these individuals are all in their twenties. Their respective life journeys are incredibly diverse but they are all leading them somewhere unique. So, how can we hold them to a common standard? A common expectation?

    Here are 6 ways to think about accomplishment in your twenties.

    *I never want to become a self-help blogger or “guru.” Please accept my advice below as a simple reflection of what I have learned lately. Take it or leave it.

    1. Nothing good can come from the question of ‘what should I accomplish in my twenties?’

    todolist

    This question is a lose:lose scenario.

    If you don’t match the expectations presumably set for you, you will naturally feel like a failure.

    If you have checked all the boxes and are excelling, it’s likely that you might become complacent and not continue in that manner anymore. I have seen this firsthand.

    Avoid asking yourself this realistic question in the first place.

    2. Nobody actually cares! Seriously.

    Pardon my French, but who the f*ck cares?

    noonecares

    Like many people, I sometimes find myself struck with a sense of inferiority or diminished worth when comparing myself to others.

    What must so-and-so think of me? I’ve only done xyz and he’s done abc?

    I am the odd man out here. Everyone is thinking that.

    While I am convinced that everyone is staring at me as I walk down the Chicago streets (anyone else?), this is indeed not true. The same goes for the fact that no one is judging you or truly cares! Don’t believe me?

    Check out the book Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton in which he asserts his thesis that nobody cares or thinks about what you’re doing and that you shouldn’t care either way. It’s powerful stuff and backed by some great insight.

    So, ignore this question and instead, stop comparing yourself in the first place.

    I hate to break it to you, but there will always be someone better at something than you. That’s the reality of the world. So, to compare yourself in this fashion is setting yourself up for failure and a life of frustration.

    3. Ask yourself the right questions

    I am all for setting goals and pushing oneself. This is essential for setting out in the right direction. If you don’t have your compass set, you’ll end up anywhere the wind takes you… in someone else’s dream. Plagiarizing someone else’s life.

    If you are setting your goals based on what you think you SHOULD accomplish or what you should do, you are going about it ass backwards.

    Instead of thinking tangibly about what you want to DO or ACCOMPLISH,  you should be asking yourself, what makes me happy?

    I’m not talking happy in the sense that it makes you happy because it makes you financially secure, or happy because its whats expected of you and you are relieved as a result.

    I’m literally taking about what puts a smile on your face. Butterflies, rainbows and fuzzy puppy-type stuff.

    girlandpuppy

    That is what your twenties are for. To do that, you need to establish what is important in your life.

    For example, this is what I have determined is important to me:

    • Discovering and engaging in new experiences in familiar and unfamiliar environments
    • Meeting new people
    • Finding a new perspective on the world.
    • Improving aspects of my life each and every day.
    • Never accepting the status quo. Finding meaning.
    • Surrounding myself with a small circle of people that I truly care for and vice versa.

    4.  When setting goals for yourself…don’t look back, look forward.

    manonroad

    Use what is important to you to set goals for moving those items forward in your life.

    I don’t know about you, but I get really frustrated when I hear people say “well that’s just how things have always been done.” It’s a horrible way to do business, create, innovate etc, so why are we approaching our twenties in the same manner?

    Try as best you can to create a blank slate of expectations and build on that. Don’t be swayed by the latest Forbes 30 under 30 list or media frenzy over the latest Instagram superstar.

    5. Your mom was right… you are special! So act like it.

    womanonbeach

    Seriously though, why would you adhere to measures of success that don’t match your values, believes and dreams!? It boggles my mind how easily some people push aside their own values to align with what is expected of them.

    Make your goals personal, and make it about YOU! Selflessness aside, it’s all about you.

    For example, here is how I approach what success looks like for me.

    • I have affirmed my life journey by writing everyday
    • I have attained full confidence in my core values, personality and goals
    • I have achieved personal and financial freedom outside of the corporate world
    • I have the ability and freedom to travel when and where I want

    6. Do it…now!

    streetview

    Like a baby’s ability to fall repeatedly on its face and be fine, your twenties are a time to experiment, get punched in the face, fall on your ass, time and time again. It’s amazing what you can come back from at this stage in your life, so don’t waste it.

    Push yourself to discover who you truly are TODAY. Don’t wait until a middle-life crisis comes knocking to wake you up.


    I’d love to hear about what is important to you (whether you’re in your twenties or not!). Email me case@prsuit.com and let’s chat!

    Image credit

  • ,

    How to be yourself (how many times have you heard that?)

    It’s easy” She said. “Just be yourself” She said. My eyes began to roll…

    Firmly engraved on the Holy Grail of cliché advice read the words “Just Be Yourself” This Swiss-army-knife, you-better-believe-it’s-not-butterMcDonald’s chicken-nugget of conventional wisdom seems to be the answer of all of life’s burning questions and apparently everyone but you, has figured it out. At least that’s how the story goes…

    Sounds like learning how to be yourself is pretty darn easy.

    If being yourself is the answer, and barring that you don’t harbor a severe case of schizophrenia (Which is cool if you do…no judgment here!) then in theory you should be able to wake up, fully express yourself and with just the right amount of fairy dust, all of your problems will be solved. Later on in the evening, your Fairy God Mother will turn a pumpkin into a horse carriage, escort you to the grand ball and I’ll meet you in the corner smiling, flask in hand.

    Unfortunately my sensationalized fantasy of pumpkins, grand balls, and Fairy God Mothers isn’t reality. The facts are the facts: you woke up today as yourself, yet you still have trouble fully expressing yourself. It’s ok, you and I share the same curse… we’re human.

    Learning how to be yourself is the perfect riddle: you already know the answer, but learning how to execute the answer is the real pearl of the problem.

    This article was written with the intent to help you live authentically so you can drink from the Holy Grail of cliché advice because they don’t want you to drink from the Holy Grail of cliché advice. They don’t want you to be yourself.

    Let’s go ahead and state the obvious:

    I Don’t Know Who You Are.

    How to be yourself - Liam Neeson

    I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

    Whoa, didn’t mean to go full Liam Neeson on you back there, post movie stress disorder acting up again. Sheesh.

    Sincerely though, I don’t know you or the situation you’re in. I don’t know what motivates you, what inspires you, what makes you dream and what makes you weep. I want the best for you, but I’m not sitting on tailored advice I made specifically for you.

    However I do know someone who does knows you best.

    You. 

    Define your values

    The starting point of being yourself is to sit down and define your values. Values are something you learn in grade school and if you’re like me, you probably weren’t paying complete attention, it’s ok, guidance counselors are notoriously 7 years behind the times. I get it, no harm, no foul.

    Values can be likened to the skeleton bones of your conscience, giving you a base and a structural frame to begin to answer the innocent, innocuous and in depth questions the pitcher named “Life” throws at you. Having well defined values gives you the tools to conquer life; they save you from engaging in situations that make your heart suffer. In easiest terms, values let you know exactly “where the fuck you get off” on day to day issues. They’re awesome, they’re worth your time and they save you from most heartaches. I dig them, you dig them, we dig them, ya dig?

    I’ve come up with a general list of questions that I personally use that helped me on my journey. Maybe they can help you too.

    • What do you value in work?
    • What work do you find fulfilling?
    • What do you value in friends?
    • What qualities do you look for in people?
    • What do you value in relationships?
    • What do you admire most in people?
    • What do you dislike most in people?
    • How do you respond to criticism?
    • What is your definition of success?
    • What do you consider to be a worthwhile life?
    • What do you value in yourself?
    • What do you stand for?
    • How do you like to be treated?
    • What do you tolerate?
    • What don’t you tolerate?
    • What makes you happy?
    • What makes you sad?
    • What do you believe?

    Answer honestly and live with the results as the truth has nothing to hide from.

    How to be yourself

    Notice when you are not being yourself

    Here’s a million dollar paradox for you: we all innately know we should be ourselves but we can’t define who we are….yet we know who we are…. because we are ourselves. WTF, the perfect crime, am I right?!

    As with all good internal, soul-scarring, identity-conflicts there’s a silver lining to this particular paradox: Although we have a difficult time realizing when we are being ourselves we can easily identify when we aren’t being ourselves. This is the key to success baby!

    Anytime you find yourself in a situation where you are acting in a manner that feels “Fake” (Not living you values) be sure to recognize it. It’s easy to tell when you’re not being yourself, because we’re all made with a great bullshit detector. We should probably use it. It’s only when we are able to identify situations when we aren’t being ourselves we can then begin to concisely decide to “Be ourselves” in those same situations.

    Know yourself.

    So it seems we have reached the final boss in this video game called life. I’m pleading with you: the hard work is done, you know your values and you have begun to notice moments when you are not truly being yourself. The next step is all about action.

    The best way to be yourself is to change the moments that you catch yourself not truly being yourself. You want to live authentically; authenticity is what magic is made of.

    Dare to truly be and express yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll feel happier? You’ll have more self-respect? You’ll establish more meaningful connections? You can give people vague advice confidently? You’ll overuse the italicize button? C’mon!

    All kidding aside, in the moments that you noticed you were behaving in an inauthentic manner, challenge yourself to behave authentically.

    Yes, it will feel awkward at first. Yes, it will make you feel vulnerable. Yes, you will have to deal with people’s reactions. Yes, it becomes easier with time. Yes, this is a life long project. Yes, it will all be worth it. 

    Being yourself isn’t something anyone has; it’s not a good, it’s not a product, it’s not something you can buy at the store or copy from someone’s Instagram profile. It truly means living and being your authentic self. That’s it. It’s beautifully simple as are all good things.

    Experience life one moment at a time.

    The real secret to truly expressing yourself sounds new-age, religious, eastern based, western based and you probably heard it before with deaf ears. You need to experience life one moment at a time; you need to be present. Life is happening as you are reading this sentence. Life is now, literally right-fucking-now.

    Do not try to plan how to be yourself or look up to a person for inspiration. Rather be present in the moment. When you’re in the moment there isn’t anytime to think, only time for action. I can tell you from experience that this is hard. This is really fucking hard, and yes I’m aware that you are a busy person with busy person problems. Try to live in each moment as they come. Know that this process takes time and achieving 100 percent success, 100 percent of the time is a fantasy. A good way to stay present is focusing on your breath, and setting time for meditation. More than half the world mediates for this reason, they might be on to something.

    When you’re are able to fully step into each moment life oozes chance, you will become enchanted and even repulsed by the possibility of infinite options.

    Finish

    I truly believe life was made to be simple but we have a fantastic way of overcomplicating matters. (The whole being human thing) It’s time to get back to the basics. Define what you stand for (Values), notice when you aren’t being yourself (Not living your values), be yourself in the moments when you aren’t being yourself and live in the present moment. You’ll be ok kid, I’ve got news for ya’you already are yourself. 😉 

    If you have any advice how to express yourself share it! The world is better off with knowledge.

    Photo credit: unsplash

  • ,

    How I survive my worst days (5 things to do to feel better)

    girl on her cellphone

    We all have ups and downs, but some of us swing higher and lower than most. I’m one of them and today was a real low day. I mean crying at my parents’ place all day with no fucking idea what the future holds. I mean questioning everything and not for the life of me seeing my place in my own life.

    Honestly it was a downright sh*tty day.

    Everyone has their worst days… surviving them is part of life.

    I felt I was stuck in a downward spiral and the world was contracting around me. I knew the day was going to get worse and worse, hour by hour. I felt restless, dissatisfied, sad, and impossibly anxious. I sat there stewing and trying to remain calm in the knowledge that emotions are fleeting.

    I like to think of myself as the eye of a hurricane. I feel most calm within the process of change. Really it’s complacency that leads to the downs. Maybe that what makes me dynamic instead of static. But for me, it’s the twin pillars of complacency and stagnation that are my kryptonite. And it’s kryptonite that turned this day shitty.

    I accept that today is a shitty today but that tomorrow is another day with the opportunity to be great.

    With this attitude, I have learned to survive my worst days.

    These are the 5 things I do to feel better.

    2girls

    1. Communicate with loved ones

    Bad days make me feel lonely. When this happens, I try to communicate with my support network. For me it encompasses both friends and family. I try to tell them honestly that I’m having a down day and that I could use a supportive voice. They’re not always available and sometimes they inadvertently make things worse, but more often than not, my true friends step up.  Don’t dwell on the bad, try to evoke them to strike up a uplifting conversation to help rather than discuss the negatives.

    2. Exercise

    I know I’ll do much better if I can force myself to hang up on Dominos, eat healthy, and get some exercise (as much as I don’t want to).   Chemically and mentally, exercising can really spark a different in your day and perhaps change it around completely through the cathartic release.  Try to talk to someone at the gym while working out as it can change your mood around to just have the opportunity to vent, physically and vocally.

    3. Rest

    On shitty days, I find myself attempting to be productive but I ultimately I come to the realization that I’m not doing my best work. Therefore, something that I’m still practicing and learning, is that when the day is shitty, I try to remember to remember that tomorrow is a new day. I want to redeem the down day by tackling every problem, but most can wait until tomorrow and that is okay. Don’t overburden yourself by worrying about a million things at once. Try to weed out those that can wait and take on one challenge at a time. The best thing is for me to get some sleep, if I can. Otherwise, I just try and rest. Feel good in your skin through the relaxation. Sometimes I feel drained all I want to do is scarf pizza, down a tub of ice cream, and just sloth it on the couch and marathon a TV show. Of course I know in the back of my mind that after the short-term satisfaction of downing a tub of chocolate chip ice cream isn’t the best thing for me but it’s okay to be kind to yourself and indulge every once in awhile… especially if you went to the gym first.

    4. Celebrate the wins

    I try to notice when good things do happen and try to acknowledge and celebrate them.  Moreover, I try to be in tune with my emotions to realize when my mood has lifted (if even just a little) and when things are starting to look up. When this happens, I try my best to not dwell on the past but instead I stick with the present and honor the good things that are happening to me and around me.

    5. I am enough

    I try to remind myself that I’m okay the way I am. There are aspects of myself and my life that I wish I could change, but I try to remember that who I am right now is enough and that each day is a new opportunity. I try to have patience. This is the toughest part. I believe this is not a zero sum game and the key is incremental improvement.

    I try to keep moving forward and keep my energy continually moving up and up. It’s hard but I try. Sometimes all this works, sometimes not so much.

    At the end of the day, I’m here right now and life will continue, and Little Orphan Annie was right about tomorrow.

  • ,

    Unlock your potential: 3 ways to turn any personal weakness into a strength

    personal weakness - man at arcade

    Weaknesses hold us back, but my experiences have taught me that it’s time we start using them to maximize our potential.

    Life was great until my doctor told me I had to be on bed rest for the next four weeks. I didn’t know anything about pulmonary embolisms up until it put me out of commission.

    Apparently having five blood clots blocking the arteries in my lungs would change my life forever. I didn’t expect what was to come after. Not being able to move, exercise, wash the dishes, make my own meals, and having to constantly rely on someone else for help was something I was going to have to get used to for the early part of my recovery.

    During this painful time of weakness, life became a reality check.

    Never before had I been in this position. I literally felt like my life came to a standstill, and that there was no escape. Hours felt like days, days felt like weeks, weeks felt like months, and time didn’t seem to move.

    However, this time of weakness literally became my time of strength. During these weeks and the months ahead I would progress more than I ever had before and certainly more than I had done in the previous years combined.

    I had learned the three essential keys that turned my weaknesses into strengths.

    personal weakness - girl at cafe

    Key #1: Time is what you make of it.

    During my time of bed rest I thought I would be watching a lot of Netflix, and I did. I started off by watching show after show after show, and this led to me becoming depressed. I felt physically and emotionally weak, and felt as if I was stuck.

    Because I couldn’t do anything physical, I became depressed and didn’t want to do anything else. However, I remember thinking to myself that maybe if I tried to do something productive I might feel a little better. After all, I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted.

    I then dropped Netflix and TV and started dedicating all my time to increasing my knowledge in various capacities. I started researching how to lose weight without exercising, and I ended up losing 30 pounds by applying what I learned. I ended up learning about online business strategies, and I was able to get my company featured on numerous national news outlets. I ended up taking more credits for school, and it accelerated my timeline and I was able to graduate way ahead of schedule.

    I learned that we all have something in common no matter how different we all may be, and that is that we all have time. Time will become what we make of it. If we choose to waste it with TV, Netflix, lounging, sleeping, or other things… then it will become a weakness. However, learning to make the most of the time we have is what will ultimately allow us to accomplish more and learn to utilize it into a strength.

    Key #2: Focus on what you can control (personal strength).

    It’s human nature to focus on things we can’t control. We constantly focus our attention on things that we don’t have or can’t do, and we end up wasting so much emotional and physical energy on it. This literally takes away from succeeding with the things that we have direct control over.

    An example was when I was on bed rest and I learned to focus all of my attention and energy on what I could control. At that time I was not allowed to exercise in any capacity, and for a while that really bothered me. As a matter of fact, I ended up gaining some weight quickly because I just laid around and ate what I want. All my energy, thoughts, and emotion was so fixated on what I couldn’t do, that I forgot to focus now what I could do.

    With time I realized that although I couldn’t exercise, I still had direct control over what I could eat. I was so focused on what I couldn’t do, that it literally blinded me from taking action on what I was able to do. I started to focus all my energy on what I was able to control, which was my eating, and I ended up losing a little over 30 pounds in a short period of time.

    This applies to almost anything in our lives. If we start focusing all our time, energy, attention, and focus on what we have direct control over, and stop worrying about everything else, this will unlock our potential by allowing us to finally put 100% into what is right in front of us.

    Key #3: Action is essential.

    I remember being on bed rest and having just finished reading my first self help book, I asked myself “what next?”. Everything I had learned up until that point was absolutely meaningless until I applied it.

    I made a list of goals based off on what I had learned and wanted to accomplish. I didn’t see progression until I actually started applying what I learned. I didn’t feel good until I could see the results of what I was doing.

    This was a big trial in my life, but I learned how to make the most of it and turn it into a positive experience. If it wasn’t for taking action, it would have literally been the biggest waste of time and ended up becoming a depressing abyss.

    We all learn things, we all know things, we all get inspired at times, but we rarely put things into action. Our lives and weaknesses will stay the same until we start taking action.

    Any list of weaknesses can be approached the same…

    Everyone is faced with their own weaknesses. However, we all have to decide if we want those weaknesses to overtake us, or if we want to turn them into our strengths. By utilizing the three keys of making the most out of our time, focusing on what we can control, and taking action, you will elevate your life and achieve your potential life never before.

  • ,

    Why is motivation so elusive for millennials? Here is the equation to keep it

    fleeting motivation - blurred image

    Motivation is a term that is over-used, over-hyped and often misunderstood.

    It’s something frequently brought up when mentioning certain successful people, their habits and their mentality towards success and it’s a frequent topic of conversation…I’m just not motivated right now. Sound familiar?

    Yet, for some reason this thing that is so in your face and so often discussed… is still so ELUSIVE!

    We all deal with times in our lives where we feel lousy and tired and we don’t feel like doing anything at all. Procrastination starts to take over and we begin to let the thought of action slip deeper and deeper into our subconscious mind.

    Although we tend to quickly forget, the missed opportunity still does it’s damage to our spirit.

    It lands in the subconscious mind and stays there. Our highest self knows that we truthfully did not perform up to our highest potential and it feels like a blunt sting – causing that constant, yet subtle feeling of discomfort that you know you could be doing “just a little bit better” and being “a little more focused”.

    Our inner voice is our greatest and most true critic.

    I have learned to listen to it and it has changed my life. It has shown me what a motivated mindset actually is and what aspects of it to pay attention to.

    I am on a mission to inspire my generation to become the best version of themselves, teach my peers how to feel better about themselves and create things that matter through my weekly Facebook Live TV show – Leave Normal Behind. Through the course of my interviews and networking, I have learned that staying motivated is one of the most important keys when it comes to long term success.

    For many motivation is elusive because they do not breakdown the components of how to attain it.

    There are three stages of owning a motivation mindset that I have learned and applied in my life. Here is the equation as I see it:

    1. The initial spark of motivation comes from ambition and expectancy.
    If you cannot picture an end goal, it will be hard to aspire to get there.

    2. Sustaining motivation comes from attention and effort.
    It’s difficult to stay passionate about something if you don’t pay attention to the details.

    3. The amplification of motivation is surrounding yourself with like-minded people that inspire you to be better.
    There is an osmosis exchange with every relationship in your life. Choose your inner circle wisely.

    Linking these three components consecutively is essential for maintaining motivation.

    Motivation, especially when exemplified by millennials, is something magical.

    There are some millennials like Kieran Mathew, CEO of Amplify Solutions Inc, who have hacked their motivation to do incredible work. Amplify Solutions Inc. is a student-run marketing firm that changes the way brands communicate with students. It is one of Canada’s fastest growing marketing firms and Kieran built the organization from a one man shop to a national organization with 60+ employees and 100+ influencer partnerships in 6 months.

    Kieran is a guy who knows a thing or two about what it means to become motivated and stay that way.

    For millennials, founder Kieran gives these 3 tactics to stay motivated:

    motivation - text conversation

    1. Motivation should first be fostered internally.

    Focus on self-awareness – a trait that is absolutely crucial for professional and self-development. By becoming self-aware, you are gaining a deeper understanding into your strengths and weaknesses.

    Motivation is fostered through positivity, performance and by consistently adding value.

    Through understanding your strengths and weaknesses you can direct your focus more effectively.

    2. Once you’ve gained a deeper understanding of yourself, use the experience for enhanced drive.

    Regardless of what you do in life there will be failures and setbacks.These should serve as the ultimate, external influence to enhance and maintain your motivation.

    Understand what went wrong, why and how you can improve to ensure it does not occur again.

    Once you have done so, cultivate the energy which often consumes you during a setback and use it to drive success in a more effective manner.

    3. Accept small wins and be patient.

    Success and results do not come overnight.

    Although it is important to envision long term success, setting goals and KPI’s will help you maintain focus and drive.

    It’s easy to lose motivation when you do not see the long term vision come to fruition quickly.Do not lose sight of this, but be grateful for the small wins during this process.

    Striving for those smaller, constant wins will help you to stay motivated, to remain patient and most importantly, to enjoy the process.

    I hope you can take these insights and use them to hack the equation of your own Motivation

    Even though it is ELUSIVE , I know you can use these ideas to stay focused and find the internal motivation to overcome obstacles.

    Leave normal behind, become the best version of yourself and create things that matter !

    If you’d like to connect reach out to me rob@leavenormalbehind.com

  • ,

    How to stop making excuses once and for all (and change your life)

    stop complaining cellphone alarm

    Math has never been my strong suit.

    More than that, I have never really understood how any equation like a2 + b2 = c2 is supposed to help me become a successful writer, entrepreneur, better person etc., or how learning the essentials of calculus would add bonus points to my credit score.

    Don’t get me wrong, math is definitely important, but most problems people encounter in their day-to-day lives are much more complex than something a simple formula can solve.

    In my life right now I have a few “math problems” that I’ve been trying to solve. As I try my best to solve them, there are a number of excuses that I need to eliminate as they are holding me back from execution.

    Here is how I’ve been eliminating excuses in my life when solving life’s problems.

    stop making excuses - girl smiling

    Excuse #1: I don’t have time to work on _____!

    I think about my time a lot.

    I think about how I spend it, where I can get more of it, and how to optimize it. However, the reality is, I’ve usually wasted valuable time thinking about what I would do with that valuable time, and then I end up wasting even more valuable time. It’s a vicious cycle. Can you relate?

    Maybe you’re like this: after a long day at your 9-5 job you’re too drained to work on your side hustle plan or improve certain aspects of your life. Maybe you just want to watch Netflix and get your mind off things, go to the bar and unwind, or simply sleep. Besides, you deserve it, right?

    I can certainly relate to that, but when it’s all said and done, what can you say?

    “I just didn’t have any time to work on anything.”?

    Bullsh*t!

    The truth is we allow our days to dominate us instead of us dominating our days.

    I have found one way in particular to avoid letting your day dominate you.

    I have heard this at least 1,000 times in my adult life, and I have started and stopped doing this at least 100 times in my adult life, but TO-DO LISTS are so important!

    Although, it may seem a bit needless for some people, putting things in writing helps in the pursuit of goal achievement in HUGE ways. Personally, doing so enables me to examine a task and reflect on all of the steps that will help me complete it.

    In the spirit of keeping my math analogy alive, make sure you carry over the idea of not thinking of the totality of your to-do list, but instead write down what you want to achieve and outline the intermediate steps necessary to get you there.

    In addition to the to-do list, let’s eliminate the non-essential. Our lives are full of excess; when we identify those things or even people and remove them, we become more and more in touch with what is significant and what truly deserves our time.

    Excuse #2: I’m not qualified enough!

    I am 100% not qualified for the work that I do and the things that I possess. This is a fact.

    Most of things that I do, I have no education in or previous experience with. However, what I have done to make up for this is connect with individuals who can help me get my foot in the door and then I bust that sucker down and try my best to outhustle everyone inside.

    I am sure there’s something that you want to tap into that you didn’t go to school for, have never done before, or don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you have a professional certification but want to break away from being employed and the traditional way of doing business and want to go into business for yourself and solve more problems and guarantee yourself more money.

    If that’s you, stop doubting yourself and stop looking at what you don’t have and HUSTLE instead! There are so many ways to substitute not having an education or experience, and the ways I am about to give is simple.

    If you don’t know where to start or don’t know a thing about starting a business, go read books and watch documentaries on people who have. Study the moves they have made, let them motivate you, and apply what you can to your own hustle.

    Then, incorporate NETWORKING! This means you have to move out of your comfort zone and find meetups related to your goal, start introducing yourself to people when you’re at Starbucks or reach out to individuals on social media who can impart wisdom and expertise. I know this can be awkward, but remember that a simple hello can lead to a million things (even a million dollars).

    Excuse #3: I don’t have enough money to____!

    If my bank account could talk, it wouldn’t have much to say.

    I know all too well what it’s like to have a million dollar dream but a negative million dollars in your back account. We cannot let a lack of money hold us back from making money. It is possible to start a business and improve your life with very little money if you have the right combination of skills, work ethic and marketing know-how.

    Here’s how.

    Try utilizing low – cost services. Fiverr is a great site to advertise your products and services on, and then on the flip side you can use their platform to build up your own company.

    Get an inexpensive logo design for as little as $10.

    After that, visit Vistaprint and pay $16 for a box of standard business cards and other branding materials and printed items.

    Also, you can barter to get what you need. Bartering is certainly a thrifty way to snag the products and services your new business needs. Find a person or business that has what you need and say “Hey, I need you and your service to get xyz done, and in exchange I can offer you a free trial period of xyz (enter your services or product).”

    Other options are outsourcing and crowdfunding.  Potential outside sources for you can be family and friends; don’t rule out the possibility of getting help from family and friends, even if you have to piece the money together from multiple sources. Crowdfunding is popular for a reason; with a good idea and enough work, you can attract funding for almost anything these days.

    Then, there’s bank loans, small business loans from The Small Business Administration, and government grants; with one or more of these options, you should be able to reduce your personal financial investment to almost nothing.

    But also take into consideration what YOU can do for yourself.  For example, I recently got bold enough to start a free business account with my bank and now I’m signed up with Lyft and I plan to deposit a lot of the money into my business account.

    Overall, what I am trying to say is that if you are determined enough, you can find a way to achieve what you want, even if there are financial difficulties you need to first overcome. Capital is a major hurdle to overcome, but make no mistake, it can be overcome.

    Ok, math class, now that we have broken down these calculations it’s time to come up with the sum total, and that is this: you have exactly ZERO EXCUSES left to wait until later so you can get started NOW!

    You are as ready today as you’re ever going to be, and with that understanding comes an empowering choice: you can overcome your circumstances OR you can let circumstances overcome you.

    Don’t worry about lack of time, lack of experience/ education, or lack of money. Be unstoppable as a result of being completely focused on and anchored by the one thing you do have – a brilliant idea that will change the trajectory of your life!

    Your homework is to take away this basic math: Start where you are with what you have… because what you have is plenty.

  • ,

    The 1 difference between those who get what they dream about & those who fail

    dream about purpose - man basejumping

    I like to consider myself, as many might, an entrepreneur. More than that, I am an entrepreneur of my own life, since what you became is a pure product of your own creation, determination and engagement with the world you live in, the dreams you have, and the opportunities you take or ignore.

    I have learned that your life is created by you… and you alone.

    In my case, I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, have opportunities passed to me that saw me participating in some incredible projects and experiences across different industries and in amazingly innovative fields.

    But let me tell you this: to get there I had to hustle every single minute, and in many others, I just bit the dust. Crashed and burned.

    Everyone wants their dreams to come true, but as we sadly come to sometimes realize, many can’t make it or they get caught in the middle, lost in the fight… heartbroken. So the big question is why?

    What is the difference between the ones who get what they want or dream about and the ones who fail in the process?

    In my experience after all these years, there is only one thing and this is:

    Your purpose in life, how you relate to it AND how you connect your everyday actions to that big thing that makes you go crazy, excited and locked-in.

    In my case, I have finally distilled this into “having a positive impact in the world, making a difference with people”– but I will come back to this later.

    I found this answer by answering the following question – and I’d encourage you to do the same:

    When I am the most amazing me? When I get really proud of whom I am as a human being?

    My answer: When I’m with good friends, changing the world by improving things and people experiences – and that is enough reason to become a friend to as many people as possible and to inspire them that it is possible to have a better and happier world….and get over myself.

    What do I mean with this purpose thing?

    Well this is the deal: your purpose is bigger than you, way way BIGGER.

    And that is the key of the matter.

    By activating yourself from your purpose, it takes the attention away from you, the ego part, and puts it on what is really important to have in order to fulfill that purpose –  the outcome that you need to have to serve your purpose.

    For me that means going from getting upset over not getting what I wanted (or deserved or –insert your own word here-) – a job offer in London after working so hard for my MBA, working so hard to secure grades and contacts – to understand that that pathway is dead and I desperately needed to re-calibrate and get back in action with a new plan c,d,e,z – which ended in looking back to the US and start all over again to secure my next job in a great performance consulting firm…to impact people and the world.

    Now if you go and think about today’s great entrepreneurs or leaders, the case is not different. They saw a problem and they got obsessed on solving that problem. They figured it out, because solving that problem will impact people, will make a difference for others and lastly will change the world.

    And that recognition part is a bonus – or have you ever seen good leaders/entrepreneurs who go home after their first win? (I doubt it)

    The key here is that they have removed their ego from their purpose.

    Taking your ego out of the equation has a HUGE effect:

    Doing so allows you to focus on the outcome and how to achieve it and not how are you looking to others in the process. It also allows others to get inspired by what you are working to achieve and join you in the journey – made possible because it is not about you, an individual, a name, a title a position….whatever.

    To me, a way of seeing this is a player playing the Super Bowl. The outcome is to win the Super Bowl. For that, an individual needs to train, then they need to play as part of a team, as the most amazing team (so this also creates another need, the need of a team for you to lead to create great things!!).

    And in order to be a great team you need to trust in your teammates and how they will perform, and you need to stay IN the game, all the time, meaning that you can’t be preoccupied on how pretty that last catch was or that run you did, how are people seeing you and how good you look to spectators…if you’re doing that, you’ve left the game!!! And the clock is ticking!! And the other team is playing, and your teammates are playing…

    That’s the ego part that most of people have trouble with, but successful entrepreneurs – in my opinion – don’t. They will pick up the phone and make the cold call. They will hustle and wait for the guy that might help them or give them the opportunity for their first Purchase Order (PO) no matter what last name is, your school, family, friends, or whatever. They will be ready for that pass and run like hell to the end zone completely focused on what is the next possible obstacle between them and the end zone….to score, to win the game, to made it to the playoffs and to win the Superbowl…and to do it all over again next year.

    They get things done, no matter what, because they see their outcome as the only thing to focus on in order to fulfill their purpose. And they are relentless when doing it.

    And then there’s the part on how your purpose can inspire others.

    Get them behind your intention and purpose. When people see individuals with a purpose clear and who are taking action, they see a possibility. This may actually happen, this guy can actually make it happen!! – and when people see it is indeed possible, they get inspired, they want to be part of it, they want to help and contribute.

    Now, what’s the catch? Everything sounds great, almost too good on paper, so why do people fail?

    Because you need to train yourself to focus on the outcome and not the task.

    Focusing on tasks is a trap, because they put you in task mode, shortsighted and hopeless when the tasks don’t bring the expected results.

    Focusing on the outcome gives you the flexibility to navigate and find ways to get to it. This is crucial, because you will invent and reinvent whatever it is you need in order to get there, to make it happen. And you will enroll people in your journey, you will grow in the process and in the end you will trade your ego for the reward of getting what you really want.

    Like many others, I have my little heart and feelings and sometimes they can get hurt, which is OK. But I need to keep training myself that there’s nothing personal when it comes to other peoples’ opinions and automatic reactions, because they may not have the context, and in the end…

    … if I’m the one fighting for my outcome and happiness, what do the opinions of others have anything to do with getting what I want?

    Get over it, people are trying to make their dreams come true too.

    I know exactly when I get messed up because somebody took credit for something I worked hard for, or when I did not get what I wanted as an outcome. The difference is that by being able to see it, I can act on that…and I’m not saying I’m a master at it… not at all.

    I will still do a little pity party for Rodrigo, poor me (ego), whining about it, feeling ashamed and doing what we all do, but I now have the control to say when I will stop it, regroup and start to move again.

    Because there is a lot to do if I want to make the bigger splash in the world and time is limited.

    So, being able to train myself, day after day, seeing myself grow, stretching my limits to actually see the impact I have on others – clients, family, friends and myself- in my opinion, that is enough to lose any relation I have with my ego and that makes me lighter, faster and stronger to fulfill my goal in life.

     

  • ,

    How pursuing a side hustle will help you unlock your purpose in life

    man setting up his Go Pro camera

    What are you going to be when you grow up?

    How many times have you heard that in your life?

    Wow does that question hold a lot of hopes and dreams in it. The pressure starts at a young age when you are expected to start deciding what sports to play or what electives to take and it only intensifies as you grow older.

    Many people decide that the college route is a good way to answer that question. It buys you time and you can choose a major to pursue with a somewhat determined career path to follow. While it’s a good start, it’s seldom the final answer with over 80% of college students changing their major at least once according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

    So what then is the best way to actually figure out what you want to do with your life?

    I had a chance to talk to someone who is pursuing his dreams and has some advice as to how to find your passion and what to do in life.

    Ian Micallef is a digital designer living in New York and has found success in many different ways. He has started his own design company, has worked for large entertainment companies like HBO, and has done design work for big name musical artists like John Mayer, J.Cole, Daft Punk, and many others.

    Pursuing a side hustle - Ian Micallef collage

    (ABOVE LEFT) Ian was responsible for the interactive web application’s visual design for the release of John Mayer’s 2012 Paradise Valley album. Ian was the lead designer for Little Mix, the British girl group who won The X Factor 2011 (ABOVE RIGHT)

    Ian’s best advice for helping you figure out what the heck it is you should do with your life?

    Side hustle… A lot.

    Ian has had 9 side hustles over the years. While not all have been successful, each side hustle has helped him develop the skills necessary to advance his career. More importantly, they have each helped him to grow a more robust perspective on life.

    I started doing my first side hustle in college. Everyone has a sort of side hustle these days and no matter how you frame it like this is going to be my company or whatever it may be, I think it’s so valuable to start doing that early on. In terms of just having a side hustle, learning other skills, running your own thing, pouring yourself into it, you’ll pick up a lot of other tangible skills whether you frame it as it’s going to make you a million dollars or its just something fun you do on the side.

    Ian is a successful designer who is currently building his own design firm. But before that, he tried his hand in many different side hustles that helped lead him down the windy road to where he is now. Whether it be the skills or the connections or the timing of doing a project, there is never a way to tell what will you can benefit from a side hustle without just going for it.

    While in his last year of school, Ian started a small design agency where he and some fellow designers he recruited began making designs for musicians and artists he liked.

    There was no way to know where this project would take him or how big it would get. He simply spotted an opportunity that he knew would be both fun and educational and started.

    How do you get started?

    How did he actually go about working with musicians?

    Cold calling every artist I liked on Soundcloud. I was a music buff and was really into the underground rap and hip hop scene and just started cold pitching them. I would offer to do people’s profile pictures, Facebook banners, their actual posts, their Twitter skins, their YouTube skins. I would do some of their album art for Soundcloud and Spotify. If they needed it I would do it.

    Pursuing a side hustle - Ian Micallef John Mayer

    (ABOVE) Some of Ian’s work for John Mayer

    Ian started to grow a reputation as a trusted designer and started by offering some of his services for free. Because he was not charging at first, he was able to get his foot in the door, learn a ton, and make connections.

    It turned out, his hard work and ambition to do something paid off. He ended up hitting the jackpot when a duo DJ group helped him get his dream job at the time.

    I got really lucky when the Jane Doze, a DJ duo who I was doing their album art, doing their social stuff for and doing it all pro bono just because I thought they were super cool … I found out they were the two publicists at Columbia Records.

    This connection essential led to Ian landing a job at Columbia Records right after he graduated from college. There he gained a ton of new skills and experience that helped lead him to bigger and better things.

    This goes to show that if you are willing to put in work and apply your ambition in whatever way you can, that will help you get noticed. It helps put you in places that you would otherwise never have been that change the course of your life for the better.

    Starting your side hustle for free is a great way to get noticed and get your foot in the door.

    There are so many lessons you can learn from a year of side hustling. Learning how to do different press and marketing you can pull out of it… You need to research and try different things so that you can learn what works and what doesn’t work.

    Among the many side hustles he’s been involved with, Ian has been the cofounder of a New York blog, an email marketing hustle, and many others. While these were not unicorn companies that delivered Ian loads and loads of money, he was able to place himself in a position for future success.

    Pursuing a side hustle - Ian Micallef

    (Above) Ian and his side hustle portfolio

    Because you can never know for sure how a side hustle is going to turn out, it may be hard to see the worth in putting so much time in.

    The reality is, success rewards those who put in the the extra effort.

    There is no such thing as a single solution and by doing and creating something of your own, you need can keep advancing yourself and give yourself the most opportunity for success.

    Keep up with what Ian is up to by following him at @IanMicallef and check out his site at ianhm.com.
    You can also email Ian at hello@ianhm.com if you’re interested in your own powerful digital brand and web presence.

  • ,

    The ultimate playbook to creating an online business that makes you money while you sleep

    creating an online business

    The new American dream is to make money while you sleep. And at the risk of sounding like a late night infomercial, I can tell you that this is entirely possible.

    However, the myth of passive income is that it’s easy. It’s not. It requires a ton of hard work up front, and it might even be years before you see truly passive income, where you check your email and find that you’ve literally made money while sleeping.

    There are lots of different ways to make money online—it’s not just through selling your old stuff on eBay—and that’s because we’ve moved through the agricultural age and the industrial age and we’re now in the information age. The information age is great because, yes, everybody can be a content consumer and, yes, everybody can become a content producer— which is exactly what you need to do to start your freelance career, and start your online business, and become a full-blown entrepreneur.

    Something else about making money through an online business: It’s not magic; it’s math. If you have only ten subscribers, ten people caring about your business, then get to know those ten people. Reply to their emails, ask them questions, take an interest in them. Because that’s exactly what everybody else won’t do (it’s not scalable, and it takes up too much time, and whatever other excuse they want to use). Doing this will separate you from your competition, and when the time comes for you to release your own product, your “true fans” will be excited to buy from you.

    Want to create an online business? Read on.

    It’s two thirty in the morning, and you’ve woken up from your sleep to feel the bedside table vibrating ever so slightly. A notification on your phone is making a white shadow dance across the wall next to your bed. You know you should go back to sleep, but on impulse, you grab your phone and flick your groggy fingers across the touch screen.

    It’s a Gmail notification bubble. Normally this could wait until later—who the hell has time to respond to emails at two thirty? Then, you read the subject line of the email:

    Subject: You just received $1,297

    You realize this is not spam; it’s real. Holy shit! You just made almost $1,300 without lifting a finger.

    What would it be like to have this happen every single night? How would it change your life to know that you have a business that pays you automatically every single day, whether or not you decide to “clock in” for work that day, no matter what country you’re in, for the rest of your life?

    How would your life change if you had the ultimate security of knowing that you had an army of salespeople working around the clock to make you money and you didn’t have to pay them a dime?

    To some people, this might sound like science fiction—or worse yet, a sleazy late-night infomercial. If you’re rolling your eyes all the way to the back of your head right now, I get it. Trust me, I do. I thought the same thing. Then I discovered the power of starting an online business. And I can tell you one thing: All this, and much more, is possible.

    Want to learn how I created the life of my dreams (and nearly unlimited income) building online products?

    Of course you do. Keep reading . . .

    I’ll admit the above description of online business is a bit “hypey.” Full disclosure: I took it straight from one of the sales emails for my premium training on building an online business, Startup from the Bottom. But despite being a bit over the top in its approach and copywriting, for the most part it’s true. Online business is where it’s at.

    Something strange is happening in the business world right now. Social media is expanding to dozens of different platforms, and brand-new online startups are growth-hacking their way to massive success. More and more people are becoming customers of new products and services. It seems like there’s something to fit every need:

    • Sick of going to the mall? You can order a pair of jeans and have them shipped to your house the same day.
    • Tired of driving yourself to the airport? You can push a button and a car will appear out of thin air to pick you up.
    • Need to learn a new skill without paying $150,000 to some university to get a degree? You can learn virtually anything from the best professors in the world from the comfort of your home.

    Businesses that were unheard of even a few years ago are making BILLIONS. Shit is getting wild, folks! Can you imagine what John D. Rockefeller would think?

    Yet despite the consumption of these new products and services, hardly anybody actually knows how to go from consumer to producer. In other words, we are happy to spend our money online, but we have no idea how to make money online.

    That ends now.

    I’m going to lay out for you exactly how I turned Rich-20Something from a simple blog with very humble beginnings to a million-dollar empire in just a few years. In the process, I’m going to expose some of the myths about passive income and help you shift your mindset from that of a mere spectator to that of a participant in the biggest global business revolution since the industrial era.

    Learning how to make money while you sleep is the new American dream. Let me show you the way.

    Freelancing versus Entrepreneurship: Is There a Difference?

    A few years ago, I was watching an interview with Seth Godin, who is one of my heroes in the business world. He was explaining the core differences between entrepreneurship and freelancing. I was getting heated just listening to him!

    Here’s how Seth explains it:

    Freelancers get paid for their work. If you’re a freelancer copywriter, you get paid when you work. Entrepreneurs use other people’s money to build a business bigger than themselves so that they can get paid when they sleep.

    When I saw this interview, I was busting my ass (and making very good money) as a freelancer, and I had always considered myself an entrepreneur because I had an entrepreneurial mindset. So understandably, I was a bit upset over the semantics.

    He doesn’t know what he’s talking about! I am TOO an entrepreneur!” I grumbled.

    Looking back on that, I have to chuckle. The reason I was upset was because of the value and meaning I attached to the word entrepreneurship. I saw entrepreneurs as free thinkers, people who created their own destiny and didn’t just take what the world handed to them. Not thinking of myself as an entrepreneur when I was working so hard to make money on my own fucked with my self-identity.

    But Seth did have a point.

    Look, there is a reason that I chose to put freelancing BEFORE online business in this book, and the answer is pretty simple:

    I think freelancing is an essential step in the entrepreneurial journey.

    You have to learn how to find clients, talk to them, and get them to pay you. You have to learn how to develop skills and ideas and test them in the marketplace. And freelancing is great, because for all intents and purposes, you can get started immediately.

    I wouldn’t be where I am today without freelancing, and if we were chilling on the porch drinking a beer together, I’d advise you to do it too. That being said, freelancing is only halfway there. It’s a necessary bridge to get you away from your day job and into independent living. On the other side of that bridge is full-fledged entrepreneurship.

    In my eyes, the main difference between freelancing (aka “self-employment”) and pure entrepreneurship comes down to time. In most cases, freelancers still exchange time for money (albeit for much more money than in a traditional job). Entrepreneurs depend on systems and employees and automation that work without their direct involvement.

    The key question is: “If I take myself out of the equation, does the business still work?

    If your business could presumably run without you— assuming you hired someone to take your place or delegate your responsibilities to a team—then you are a true entrepreneur. If you can create enough momentum in your business that you’ll still make money regardless of what you do on a day-to-day basis, then you are a true entrepreneur.

    This is the holy grail. This is where you want to end up. Unlike any other business medium, online business allows this type of setup. Some people might even call this “passive” income. But does making money while you sleep really equate to passive income?

    The Myth of “Passive” Income

    creating an online business - woman on laptop

    Will an online business really make you passive income? Yes and no. A big part of the allure of building an online business is that you can make money from anywhere in the world at any given time, and the sheer thought of being able to travel while getting paid has spawned an entire industry of Instagram accounts shouting the praises of passive income.

    Pictures of pedicured toes dangling in the surf with a laptop nearby are industry standard at this point. Yes! The freedom lifestyle!

    But what is passive income, really? I don’t think the instaquotes ever go into precise detail, but I can make some assumptions about what most people think. If “active” income means you have to work for your money, I’m guessing the general public believes that “passive” income means money will come to you without working. Most people take the whole “make money while you sleep” thing to mean that you’re not actually working for the money while you’re awake.

    Umm . . . yeah. That is false.

    To be clear, there are plenty of legitimate sources of passive income. When Bill Gates or Warren Buffett check their bank accounts, the deposits they see are most likely passive income. That’s investment money that’s building upon itself and multiplying as a result. Or when members of the British royal family check their bank accounts, the money rolling in there is passive. Their salaries are just small pieces of the interest from an enormous amount of wealth accumulated over hundreds of years. That’s super-duper passive.

    As an online business owner, unfortunately, you will not really make passive income—at least not in the beginning. You’re still going to have to work hard for your money; it’s just a different type of work. Just like anything that makes money, building an online business is a job, and you can’t expect to get promoted overnight. It takes time. It’s not for the lazy or unmotivated.

    After several years of running an online business, I’m only now beginning to see a bit of strictly passive income rolling in.

    Here’s the key to making money passively: It requires a shit ton of work on the front end.

    You’ll have to push the boulder uphill before you can let it coast down the hill. When this book flies off the shelves, I will get a royalty from the publisher for every copy sold. That money will be deposited in my bank account for years after the book is completed. I suppose that’s passive income. But it still took me over five years to find an agent, get a publishing deal, write the damn book, and promote it. A lot of work has to go in on the front end to make money somewhere down the line.

    Online business works the same way. Generally speaking, making money passively requires three things:

    • A lead-generation system that finds customers automatically
    • A system that promotes your products or services and collects payments automatically
    • Time and experience in the game, so that you know what works

    Can you take a guess on which of these three is most important? You’re going to have to devote a significant amount of time if you ever want to create an online business that truly and consistently generates money while you sleep. There’s really no way around that. It just takes time, my friend.

    I’m clarifying this not to discourage you but to encourage and prepare you for what’s to come. If your expectations are aligned with reality, you’re much more likely to stay the course. Remember this as I dive into the elements of online business: It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. One day in the future, you will wake up, check your bank account, and see a deposit for something that you did months or years earlier. It’s going to feel amazing. But it may not feel entirely passive.

    How the hell does an online business actually make money?

    I have to admit that when people ask me what I do, I’m very nonspecific. I usually say something like, “I do stuff online.” I say that because I’m lazy and generally don’t feel like explaining, “Well . . . I make online digital courses to teach people how to master certain skills.” That usually gets me the squinty-eyed look, as if they’re saying, “Sounds cute. What’s your real job?”

    If I had to have that conversation with every Uber driver, I’d probably kill myself. So I tend to keep quiet.

    For some reason, whenever you mention that you have an online business, people start to get confused. They often assume that you’re a tech nerd, that you have a Silicon Valley– backed startup, or that you’re doing porn. The media paints all of the online world with one brush. You’re either an online entrepreneur or an offline entrepreneur. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between in the public’s eyes.

    In reality, there are a TON of ways to make money online, and for the most part, you can make money in many of the same ways online as you can anywhere else. The online world is just a different medium to sell your products, ideas, and services.

    Recent studies show that the average adult spends over twenty hours online every week. That’s a part-time job—you might as well get paid for it! If we’re spending that much time in the online world as a society, we should make it our responsibility to truly understand how to make money from all that time we are investing. Starting an online business shouldn’t be a mystical process anymore. You don’t need to be a tech wizard, programmer, or celebrity to make it work for you. Here are seven different ways that online businesses make money.

    (Note: This is not an exhaustive list—simply a collection of some of the more popular methods. No need to email me with all the ideas I didn’t include. There are a lot. I just want to give you some perspective.)

    Online Business Type 1: e-Commerce

    Examples: Amazon, eBay, your own website

    In the good old days, if you wanted to open up a clothing boutique, you’d have to find a storefront space and open up a physical brick-and-mortar location. You’d have to worry about overhead like rent, employees, and inventory. You’d have to be in a prime location to ensure that you got enough foot traffic. And you’d have to physically go to the shop every single day.

    Not anymore. Nowadays, you can find or make physical products, and rather than sell them in a “real” store, you can just sell them with the click of a button. There are lots of pre-existing platforms that allow you to list your items for sale without going through the time and hassle of opening up a real storefront. This is especially useful when you’re a new company and only have one or two products to sell. Selling on another company’s platform is especially great once your products begin to get traction, because the rating system on websites like Amazon generate more exposure for your business. Most online retailers also have their own websites, where they sell their products directly to the consumer.

    One of the downsides of selling physical products is that the production and manufacturing costs tend to eat up a lot of the profit margin; plus, you’ll actually have to ship the item, another logistical hurdle and expense.

    Online Business Type 2: Affiliate Marketing

    Example: ClickBank

    Did you ever have those contests at school to see who could sell the most chocolate bars around the holidays? Every year, my school did these ridiculous fundraisers. They equipped an army of ten-year-olds with catalogs full of chocolates, wrapping paper, and “gourmet” popcorn and set us loose upon the community. The kid with the most sales at the end of the fundraiser got some sort of prize. I think it was usually a pizza party for his or her class. Honestly, I can’t remember because I was never good at these contests. There was usually a lot of pressure from teachers and administrators to sell at least a few, so I’d just hand the catalog to my mom and she’d get a few of her coworkers to buy some.

    That, in a nutshell, is affiliate marketing. Somebody else has a product. You have a list of people that you offer their product to. The more sales you make, the bigger your reward. Usually for adults, the reward is money, not a pizza party.

    This is a very attractive model for beginners who want to break into the online world, because it seems so easy. All you have to do is sell someone else’s stuff, sit back, and collect. There are even platforms like ClickBank that list thousands of products with affiliate programs. You sign up for an affiliate program, you receive a special link, and whenever somebody buys the product through your special link, you get a commission (typically 50 percent).

    You CAN make a lot of money doing affiliate promotions. That part is true. But what most experts leave out is that you’re going to need several other elements in place to successfully run a profitable affiliate campaign. You’re going to need a decent-sized email list (or enough money to send paid traffic—a whole ’nother monster); PLUS, you’ll need to have a decent working knowledge of online marketing so that people actually want to buy the damn thing. And most importantly, whatever you sell has to be a great fit for the people you’re pitching to. The entire process can become considerably complex, and it definitely wouldn’t be my first option if I were to start a brand-new online business.

    Online Business Type 3: Google AdSense, Banner Ads

    Example: Buzzfeed.com

    If you ever visit a massive site like Entrepreneur.com or Forbes.com, you’ll most likely notice prominent banner and pop-up ads all over the site. Sometimes they are rather innocuous; sometimes they are incredibly annoying. (While writing this, I checked Forbes.com, and they’re all over there. YUCK!)

    Banner  ads  and  other  “native”  advertising  (meaning  any advertisements found embedded in a website) typically advertise for products and services that the intended customer will most likely be interested in. In more sophisticated campaigns, these ads can even “retarget” customers and use cookies to track what websites they visit, then sell them very specific products. If you’ve ever felt like a certain product or ad was “following” you, this is most likely what was happening. If you start a website, you can use Google ads to place advertisements in strategic places on your site. Every time the ads get clicked, you get a very small amount of money— and in some cases, even more money if the visitor ends up buying the product. This is a classic model for generating revenue from a site, and it was huge in the early 2000s, before there were billions of websites online.

    Now, it’s much harder to make this model work. In order to get enough click-throughs to make a difference, you’ll need hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of visitors. This is hard enough for big sites like Forbes.com to achieve. As a primary revenue generator, the model is not smart. There’s also a fair amount of technical know-how required for setting this up, and it’ll take a bit of time to get off the ground. So unless you have a website with one million unique visitors a month or more, don’t consider this. And even with that many visitors, oftentimes the ads significantly water down the customer experience. I’m not a huge fan.

    Online Business Type 4: Drop-Shipping

    Example: “white label” products

    Dropshipping is, in many respects, a subset of e-commerce, as it can be done via a platform like Amazon. The primary difference between drop-shipping and other models of online business is the “white label” effect.

    Here’s how it works: You find a product that you want to sell, something that’s in demand. Then, you find a generic manufacturer who can make the product, and you brand the product as your own. Essentially, the order comes in from the customer, you send that order to the manufacturer, and they put your label on it (thus, “white label”) and send it out from their factory directly to the customer, as if it’s coming directly from you.

    For instance, let’s say I wanted to make my own brand of protein powder. There’s no way I have the capital to source all my own ingredients, build a laboratory, hire staff, and manufacture the product without a significant amount of funding. Instead, I can find one of many private laboratories around the country (and the world) who are willing to ship out their protein powder as “Daniel’s XTreme Protein Burst,” complete with my own label. I pay the cost for the materials and shipping, then mark up the price for the customer and make the difference.

    I’ve experimented with this model and have had some friends who’ve done very well with it. If you’re dead set on producing a physical product, it could be a good road for you. One of the things I don’t like about this model is the inherent barrier between the company (you) and the customer. Since you’re not the one directly producing and shipping the product, you’re essentially just a front, which means quality control is often out of your hands. Again, not the worst model in the world, but not my personal favorite.

    Online Business Type 5: SaaS (Software as a Service), App Development

    Examples: Uber, Facebook, Netflix, Instagram

    Everybody wants to build the next Facebook. That’s the running joke. Most people who think of present-day entrepreneurship think of companies like Facebook, Uber, and Netflix as the standard. They’re sexy, they’re mobile, and most of them have some legendary “started in a garage” story. There are so many different services being offered at the touch of a button nowadays, it’s astounding. One of my favorites in Los Angeles is an app called DoorDash. All I have to do is open up the app, select something off the menu from one of hundreds of local restaurants, and food comes hot to my house in about forty-five minutes. No need for takeout. I’ve gained at least ten pounds since discovering this gem!

    SaaS businesses and apps are the rage in Silicon Valley because they are relatively lightweight and don’t require a lot of overhead to run. All they need is scale. Just prove the concept, get the users, and keep pouring dollars in to keep growing. The reality is that the competition in the marketplace is fierce! And the average customer (at least in my experience) doesn’t have a ton of loyalty. They are looking for the cheapest, fastest service. If the prices on Uber are too steep for me to catch a ride, I’ll go to Lyft without reservations. If Door-Dash doesn’t have what I want to eat, I’ll go to GrubHub without a second thought. This means growth has to be constant to dominate the space you’re in; it’s very hard to survive with a small, niche audience.

    There’s also the technical aspect. If you’re not a developer or if you don’t have a good developer by your side, it’s going to be challenging to create something that’s worth taking a second look at—by either a potential customer or an investor (which you’re most likely going to need).

    And most of these products and services don’t become profitable for quite some time, if ever. One of the best-known Silicon Valley sweethearts, Uber, only recently become profitable in the United States, after almost ten years of operation and after seeing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and over fifty billion dollars in venture funding. And that’s just in the United States. They’re losing over a hundred million dollars in China every year. The company itself isn’t in grave danger of failing; this is just a dramatic example of the fact that going the venture route with software can have some very unique challenges.

    If you’re 100 percent certain that this road is for you, then you already have your work cut out for you. Be my guest. But personally, it sounds like a massive pain in the ass.

    Online Business Type 6: Content Partnerships

    Examples: YouTube, podcasts, etc.

    There was a time when you had to get signed by a major record label or production studio to get your content heard; these guys were the only ones handing out the big checks. Now, the model is completely flipped on its head.

    If you do something creative, you can build an audience on a platform like YouTube and get paid to produce YouTube videos if enough people begin to watch. If you watch as much YouTube as I do, you probably hate the advertisements before

    the video (Come on, come on . . . just start already). The creators of those videos are getting paid to run those ads. There are so many different channels online, with hundreds of thousands, even millions, of viewers, which makes this type of business possible.

    Everything from fitness to beauty, to cooking, to comedy— if you can make great content that people want to watch and share, you can get paid quite well. The top YouTubers are making hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars simply from their ad partnerships with YouTube. Often-times, many other endorsement deals and opportunities come as a result of this exposure. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

    In a similar respect (though not to the same extent), you can do the same thing with podcasts. If you can create a podcast with a raving fan base and hundreds of thousands or even millions of downloads every month, advertisers will be knocking down your door to get in front of your audience. And it makes sense: You’re essentially an independent, hyper-targeted radio station.

    There aren’t that many cons to this business model, except the fact that, as with building an app, it’s hard to survive with a niche audience. Since you’re making money for the amount of views, subscribers, and listens you get, it’s going to be very hard to make a significant amount of money until you have a considerable amount of traffic—typically at least a hundred thousand subscribers/viewers. That’s a LOT of potential customers, and in my opinion, if I have the eyes and ears of a hundred thousand people, I want to be able to market and sell to them directly. With a platform like YouTube or iTunes, you can’t reach out and contact your audience directly in their inbox in order to sell to them, so you’ll have to work doubly hard to build both the content platform AND the email list.

    If you really want to make YouTube videos or run a killer podcast, that’s great. You should do it—and they are incredible tools to blow up your brand. But if you dropped me down in the desert with nothing but a laptop and told me to make money, it wouldn’t be my first move. It takes too long to build momentum, and the ROI (return on investment) doesn’t really start to increase until you’re far down the road.

    I can already tell what what you’re thinking: So basically what you’re saying is, all online business is difficult to start and hard to make money from?

    Ha! I’ve spent a few pages ripping six online business models to shreds. But that’s because I’ve saved the best for last. I honestly believe that creating digital information products is the absolute best way to get started in online business— especially for a beginner. And online business type 7 (below) explains why.

    Online Business Type 7: Digital Information Products

    Examples: Freelance Domination 2.0, Startup from the Bottom, and other Rich20Something courses

    First there was the agricultural age. You can guess how people survived and made their living in this era. Then came the industrial age. Now we’re in the information age. Unlike in years past, the most valued commodity in our era isn’t a particular import or raw material; it’s knowledge. I think the reason is fairly obvious: Information travels faster than ever nowadays.

    The smartphone in your pocket is a perfect example. Who could have envisioned that we’d have a device that would literally contain the sum of human knowledge, the weather, and the final score of last night’s Yankees game in the palm of our hand?

    We want to be able to learn more about our world quickly, unimpeded by traditional mediums. And we don’t want to have to attend a university to learn a new skill or idea. We want autonomy over our own education. A simple example is YouTube. How many times have you caught yourself using that platform as a mini trade school, searching for different how-tos in order to solve a small but pressing problem? I know that I’ve looked up everything from how to change a timing belt on my car, to how to correctly slice an avocado. This is simple knowledge that would have been transmitted directly from one person to another before, but that can now be learned in a fraction of the time by just entering a few search terms.

    Of course, it goes deeper than cars and fruits. The information industry at large has literally ballooned over the past decade into a multibillion-dollar space that everyone seems to be getting a piece of. Online universities like Udemy and Coursera teach vital skills like design, marketing, and psychology for a fraction of the price that you’d pay a university, and you can build your own course load à la carte. Specialized platforms like Treehouse, which specializes in web development, focus on teaching just one skill set deeply and taking a beginning student from amateur to professional for a nominal monthly fee. Many Ivy League universities, like Harvard and MIT, have released a portion of their curriculum online for free, completely breaking down the barrier to higher education.

    If you want to learn a skill to improve your life, the information is out there and within reach of the average consumer. All you have to do is put in the hours.

    So where does this leave us as entrepreneurs?

    The beauty about the info boom is that everybody can be not only a content consumer but also a content creator. Information products and digital courses are all about teaching somebody how to do something that they couldn’t do before. And all of us have something unique that we can teach others. If you can learn how to package that knowledge and direct people to it, you can help the world by providing people with valuable skills—and you can help yourself by making money from what you already know.

    Look, the other six online business models I listed could make you a millionaire. There’s no denying it. But there are several things that are uniquely different about digital information products that make them ideal for a first (or second, or third) business:

    • The learning curve tends to be a bit lower than with other business models, because you’re essentially working with what you already know.
    • There isn’t too much confusing tech to work with: If you can check your email, you can handle 99 percent of the software required to grow an info product business. 
    • Info products require almost zero start-up capital, and the risk is very low. You’ll have to buy a domain name and a few other things to get started, but you won’t need to go looking for investors.
    • The ROI is crazy. Since you don’t have to worry about overhead or inventory, the majority of the money you make will be pure profit.
    • You can easily automate the systems so that your products sell 24 -7 without you even being there, which opens up the possibility for the “work from the beach” thing, if you desire.
    • Scale is much easier with info products. In many cases, you acquire your customers at zero cost through free content, so your growth potential is virtually unlimited.

    The BIGGEST benefit of this business model is the ability to completely dominate in a niche market. While many other types of businesses revolve around large traffic numbers or third-party middlemen to sell for you, you can build a successful six or seven-figure info product empire with a very small list of customers who are highly targeted and really care about your work. If you knew how many basic, seemingly unpopular blogs were making a hundred thousand dollars a year or more, you’d be astonished!

    I could go on and on about the benefits of info products, and yes, it’s obvious I’m biased because I’ve had a lot of success in this market. But let’s go a little bit deeper so that you can see exactly what type of potential you could have with a very simple product.

    How Information Products Work

    There are tons of different information product businesses with slightly different models, but they all revolve around the same basic format to find new customers and make sales.

    Content■☛ Opt-In ☛ Email Marketing ☛ Sales Page ☛ Sale

    Content: You’ll start by creating something that people want to consume, typically for free. This could be written content (like a blog), audio content (like a podcast), or video content (like a YouTube channel). The idea here is to find people who are interested in what you want to talk about, and get them engaged in your conversation, so they, ultimately, decide that they want to hear from you on a regular basis. This decision is called an opt-in.

    Opt-in: Once you’ve provided some awesome content, it’s time to take the relationship to the next level by getting people to sign up for your email list. If you receive a bunch of email newsletters like I do, you’ve opted in to other people’s content before. It’s free to do so, and the idea behind this is that by giving your email address, you’ll receive even more content, ideas, and updates in an area that interests you. Oftentimes, there will be an opt-in “bribe” that is given away to increase the likelihood of your signing up for the newsletter. If you want to check out a quick example, go to Rich-20Something.com and check out the opt-in bribe on my homepage.

    Email Marketing: Once you have the potential customer’s email address, you can start marketing to them. But savvy email marketers don’t usually start with a pitch immediately. The key is giving even better free content than before— showing the reader how good your material is—and then, when the time is right, offering them a product that will interest them based on what they’ve read so far.

    Sales Page and Sale: After a certain amount of time (it varies from business to business), you’ll offer that email subscriber one of your products. Price ranges vary depending on the market and the type and quality of the product. There are super-low-end info products, like e-books, that cost ten to a hundred dollars. There are minicourses that can range anywhere from a hundred to a few hundred dollars. And there are big-ticket items that can cost in the thousands. Courses can use written material, videos, slideshows, and audio to communicate information. Typically you’ll record all the information and put it somewhere where the customer can access it at any time. We’ll cover the specifics of this process later in the chapter.

    You can also use your email list to sell private coaching on a specific topic or even sell live events. The possibilities are only bounded by your imagination.

    The Shocking Reality of Scale (aka, “How Much Money Can I Make?”)

    I think the number one thing that surprises most people about info products is how much money you can make with a relatively small email list and halfway decent marketing.

    Here’s a quick example: Let’s say you’re a bombass photographer who wants to teach beginners how to get started in the industry. You decide to create a relatively inexpensive minicourse that will teach step-by-step instructions for taking great wedding photos and booking your first job. Simple enough, right?

    You set up a blog and start writing about your photography ideas, and slowly, people start signing up for your email list. It doesn’t happen overnight, but as the months roll by and you keep writing, the subscribers trickle in. After six months, you have your first thousand subscribers.

    You make the course and price it at two hundred dollars, then promote it to your list.

    The reality of any sales situation (not just online sales) is that only a fraction of people will end up being buyers. And that’s OK. You don’t need everyone to buy; you only want people who are engaged and interested.

    Assume that of the thousand people on your list, you get a conversion rate of 5 percent, which is not unrealistic for a small, engaged list:

    5% of 1,000 = 50 sales

    50 sales at $200 = $10,000

    That’s  ten  thousand  dollars  from  a  small  email  list,  after sending out just a few emails! I don’t know about you, but that’s a LOT of money to me. It’s more than most people make in several months, and you’ve done it all automatically from your laptop. You didn’t need a lot of customers, and there’s not a ton of support needed to keep them happy.

    But let’s play with the numbers a bit.

    Perhaps you want to turn your course into premium, all-inclusive flagship training in the photography business. It will have everything from how to turn the camera on, to how to become a full-time photographer making six figures. A program of this depth is going to require a lot more time on your part, and it’s going to offer a lot more value to the customer, so you’re going to charge more.

    This course is going to be priced at two thousand dollars (with an option for payment plans to make it easier on people). Assume that since the price is much higher, the conversion rate is going to go down from a healthy 5 percent to 1 percent, which is industry standard for a course of this price. Look at what happens:

    1% of 1,000 = 10 sales

    10 sales at $2,000 = $20,000

    After tweaking your prices, even with drastically reduced conversion, you’ve still doubled your money. Twenty thousand dollars is a significant fraction of most people’s yearly income—and you’ve managed to make that by simply creating a product that people need and finding ten customers somewhere in the world that are willing to pay for that value.

    As your email list grows from one thousand to ten thousand, to a hundred thousand, so will your profits. But it’s all based on the same basic model of giving value up front for free with content, directing people to your email list, and offering them new, paid content.

    It’s not magic; it’s just math.

    Imagine that you took the same photography product and made it into a recurring product where new content was continually added and users paid fifty dollars per month to access it—similar to the Netflix model. Now, assume that your email list continues to grow and you’re able to continually get people to buy this product. Some people will drop off and more will sign up as the year progresses since it’s a monthly payment, but your average retention rate is about six months. Since the barrier to entry is considerably lower at fifty dollars per month, let’s assume that you can keep a hundred people in the membership program at any given time.

    Here’s what those numbers look like for the year:

    100 people x $50/month = $5,000 per month $5,000/month x 12 months = $60,000 per year

    Do you see what just happened there? By creating a fifty-dollar product, you’ve just made a NICE yearly salary with only one hundred people. Imagine if you got two hundred people! This is why creating information products is so powerful: It allows you to scale your knowledge and make incredible amounts of money with a small handful of customers in very small niches. This is a POWERFUL business model. (As I write this, I’m also beginning to realize why some pastors are driving Bentleys. If every member of the congregation gives twenty dollars per week . . .)

    Note: I’m purposely simplifying the math here so that you can understand the opportunity at hand and the general process for creating an information product business. This isn’t some late-night infomercial where you just set it and forget it—at least not in the beginning. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get everything set up—but this will be the case for any business. Hell, it’s hard to clock into work every day and work for someone else, isn’t it? If you’re going to be working on something, doesn’t it make sense to create something with this type of flexibility and unlimited potential?

    The Secret to Standing Out in a Cluttered Online Market

    My biggest fear with starting an online business was that my work would end up obscured in some distant corner of the Internet, collecting dust and dying a slow, painful death. And I was right to be afraid. That’s not an unreasonable fear. There are a LOT of other websites out there. More than ever before. There isn’t one single niche that isn’t saturated. Health and fitness, beauty, money, relationships—every category of human need has been addressed. You’ll probably never create a piece of truly “new” content.

    And you know what? That’s OK.

    So the first question to ask is, why you? Why would people be willing to visit your site, listen to your advice, or buy your products when there are so many other businesses out there doing the same thing? The answer is community.

    I learned this early on, but only now am I realizing how true it actually is. You have to create a community around your work and a space for people to improve themselves that is about more than you selling to them. More so that with any other business model, building a business around digital products requires you to create an environment that people want to return to often. As the owner of the digital business, you have to treat it like a physical storefront and welcome people to your humble little shop, even before you have merchandise to sell.

    Remember the show Cheers? No? I don’t really remember it either; I’ve just watched the reruns on late TV. But the main lines from the theme song are something that everybody is familiar with:

    You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.

    At a core level, we crave togetherness. We need a place where we can feel understood—like somebody “gets” us. When we can find that place, not only will we frequent it, but we’ll bring our friends to it. That’s how a community is grown: person by person, one at a time, until everybody there is somebody you’d love to sit and have a beer with. In the digital world, this translates to interaction and engagement. You have to be present.

    I did this aggressively in the early days of Rich20 to build my community. I would respond to every comment on my blog, often asking a follow-up question to incite more thoughtful discussion. I would answer people by making.

    personalized video responses on YouTube and emailing them back. I would pick up the phone and call people to thank them for reading and chat about what they thought I should write about next. And this was when I barely had a readership—maybe less than five hundred email subscribers total. If you want to see examples of this, go to Rich20Something.com and scroll back to some of the earliest posts.

    I responded to every single email until the day I physically could no longer keep up with the volume. And that took a few years. This was not easy work. I was specifically, purposefully, intentionally doing work that was NOT scalable. Yes, automation is part of the sales process when it comes to Internet business, but you’ll never get the opportunity to sell to people if you don’t first make an impression and build a relationship. It’s up to you to cultivate that relationship.

    I treated everyone not just as an avatar but as a person. Because, duh, that’s what they were. It’s easy to get obsessed with numbers when your business revolves around clicks, likes, and subscribers. But behind every one of those digital actions is a real, breathing human being who came to your work for a reason. And if you acknowledge that, you’ll get the opportunity and the privilege of offering them something in exchange for money.

    That’s why they’ll pick you. Not because you have the fanciest site (I didn’t and still don’t). Not because you are the smartest person (I don’t consider myself a “guru”). And not because you’re the most persuasive marketer on the planet (although I like to think I’m fairly convincing!). Not because of any of that—but because they feel close to you. The people at the beginning of your journey are your “ride-or-dies.”

    These are your one thousand true fans, and in the digital product business, this is often enough. Watch over these people carefully, because they will be the people who stick with you as you grow. As you gain more momentum and your audience expands, you’ll begin to attract “tire kickers”: people who just want to poke around, take some freebies from you, and bounce. Not everyone will be as engaged as they were before. But that core group, those one thousand true fans, will stick around and buy, time after time.

    Now that Rich20 has grown to the point where I can’t respond to every single email, tweet, and ping, I still operate with this mentality, but from a different approach. I created a private “readers only” Facebook community, to give my readers an outlet to support each other and to give myself an opportunity to be present in everyone’s lives “at scale” so that they get a chance to know the real me. This is a key element to the success of our business, and I’ve found something very interesting as a result of starting that group. We have about 150,000 people on our email list as of this writing, and on any given day, our emails get about a 10 to 12 percent open rate. That means at least 15,000 people are reading each email.

    And guess how many people are in our Facebook group? About 15,000. There’s a very high probability that the people reading my emails largely consist of people in the Facebook community. This is why engagement is so important. In the beginning of your journey, go out of your way to meet your readers, fans, and followers, as you would new friends at school. Even when you only have ten people reading your work, learn everything you can about those ten people.

    Another strategy I used to engage readers in the past involved a CRM (customer relationship management) tool like Highrise, essentially a database to track customer information. Whenever I had a conversation with someone via email and they mentioned a personal detail, I would make a note of it in the CRM and follow up with them later. If your birthday was coming up, I’d send you a quick email wishing you a happy birthday. If you mentioned you’d just gotten a new puppy, I’d email you in a few weeks and ask how it was doing, mentioning it by name! One reader emailed me and told me she was going in for gallbladder surgery in eleven days and was a bit nervous. I emailed her the day before to wish her luck and tell her I was thinking of her.

    Who does this stuff ? Nobody, that’s who. And that’s why they’ll pick you when you eventually decide to sell something.

    Something else to remember: Just because your customers buy another product from a competitor doesn’t mean that they won’t still buy a product from you, even if the product is about similar concepts. Would you only buy one book on marketing? Would you only watch one action movie? I actually encourage people to buy products online from all different places, and it doesn’t worry me if they buy from someone else as well, because overall, I think it’s good for the info product market. The more money people spend on digital products, the more normal it feels and the more money they budget for these types of expenses. Don’t freak out. Just do you. Do your best work. Connect with your community, build a tribe, and treat them like family. That’s how you’ll get them to come back to you every single time.

    Building the Machine

    There’s a very specific reason why I decided to save the actual how-tos for last, and it reminds me of my very brief tenure as a pickup artist.

    When I was in high school, information products were just becoming a “thing.” Even the concept of an e-book was revolutionary. What . . . a book, that you read on your computer? Marvelous! Shall I print it out?

    Traditional marketers and old-school, Ogilvy-esque copywriters were still learning how to apply their knowledge from direct-mail and print advertisement to this newfangled online phenomenon. There was obviously money to be made, and of course, one of the first niches to get real traction was dating. Since the beginning of time, guys have wanted to know how to get girls. (I’m still working on it, actually. Anyway . . .)

    The big guy in the dating space at that time was named David DeAngelo, which was actually a pseudonym for the brilliant marketer Eben Pagan. His claim to fame was an e-book called Double Your Dating. When I saw there was a step-by-step guide to teach me how to get more girls, I was instantly sold. The only problem was, well, I was sixteen! I didn’t have much money of my own, not to mention a bank account or a credit card. But what I lacked in money and financial structure, I made up for tenfold with determination and overall horniness.

    At that time, you could still buy online products with a money order in the mail. So I scraped together the ninety-seven dollars—god knows how—and I rode my bike up to

    the post office to get a money order and send it to some sketchy PO box, hoping they would email me the e-book within seven to ten business days after receiving my check. That’s a ton of money for a sixteen-year-old, but I really wanted to get girls.

    As luck would have it, I finally did get the e-book, and I was hyped to start tearing through it. I was expecting to unlock a treasure trove of secret lines, body language cues, and ninja “make her wet with this one weird trick” techniques. Alas, I was sorely disappointed. Of the one hundred pages, the first eighty were devoted almost entirely to psychology and talking about things like “mindset” and “limiting beliefs”! I’m already taking AP psych, bro! I don’t need another syllabus. Just give me the damn pickup lines!

    I wanted tactics! Unfortunately, that’s where most people start, and stop, building their online business.

    I get it. You want the juicy nuggets, the how-tos and the “do this” of actually making money—and we will, for sure, 100 percent, get to that. But first you have to understand the backbone of what you’re doing. None of this makes sense, and it certainly won’t make money, unless everything else is in line first.

    So, that being said, let’s talk about the core element of any info product business first: content.

    Content: The Backbone of Your Business

    We’re in the vast blue ocean that is the Internet, and your content is the bait that brings three very important types of people to your work:

    • Fans: the readers, listeners, and watchers of your work
    • Prospects: the small percentage of those fans who may buy from you because your content is so damn good
    • Customers: the prospects who “cross over” and become paying members of your community

    It all starts with free content. Once people read, watch, or listen to your free content, they have the opportunity to become part of your little corner of the Internet, and it’s this relationship that will be the backbone of your online business. I think the “free” part is what throws most people off. It’s very easy to imagine that you should be compensated for every piece of material that you make. After all, you’re putting hard work and effort into crafting the material, right?

    Wrong. In today’s oversaturated world, everybody knows that there’s no shortage of free content. It all started with Napster in 1999. The idea that you could share music for free when you’d normally have to go to the record store was revolutionary, and ever since then, the public has had an insatiable appetite for free content. We stream music without buying albums, watch videos without buying DVDs, and read articles without buying a subscription to the paper. We expect free, and for the most part, despite the most valiant efforts of the world’s big businesses, we’ve gotten our wish.

    So how are you supposed to make money with your content or sell digital products if everyone has been conditioned to expect free work? Step 1 is to create incredible, world-class, way-above-average free content. Your content has to be so ridiculously good that it inspires the following thought in all your fans: If THIS is what I get for free, what do I get when I pay?!

    And that’s the mentality that will result in them buying from you when the time is right. Choose your medium to produce and the topic you want to discuss; there’s so much to pick from. The type of content you should create is really dependent on how you like to express yourself.

    I’ve always enjoyed the written word, so blogging made the most sense for me in the beginning.

    Note: I’m intentionally NOT going to go too deep into the tech or setup for blogging, podcasting, or YouTubing in this book, for a few reasons: First, that would be pretty overwhelming on the page, and I don’t want to distract from the scope of the material. The main idea is getting an overview of what’s going on and actually taking action with the knowledge you have at hand—not obsessing about the technology. If you’re reading this book and have the ability to navigate Facebook and email, you are savvy enough to set any of these systems up.

    Rest assured that everything you’ll need to learn to set up a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel is specifically designed for beginners. These sites were designed with nontechies in mind. I’d recommend reading through this chapter, then googling or YouTubing any of the tech tools and terms mentioned here. You’ll get a very clear understanding of how to set everything up. Conversely, if you don’t feel like spending the time fiddling around, I’ve also developed an entire program to help you learn exactly how to launch and grow an online business, called Startup from the Bottom. You can get more info at www.StartupFromTheBottom.co. Plug over.

    Blogging

    Blogging started off in the late nineties as a way to keep a public journal of sorts and since then has extended to basically mean any type of writing published online. Individuals, groups, and businesses big and small have blogs. If it’s written on a page in the form of a post, it’s a blog. And yes, there are a TON of blogs out there already; some stats report north of two hundred million in existence. The caveat here is that most of these are inactive, as the owners abandoned them within weeks or months of starting, leaving a trail of mediocre, half-finished journal entries to litter the Inter-webs forever.

    But that doesn’t have to be you. The main idea behind blogging (and all content development) isn’t to come up with material that’s never been thought of before. It’s not to “break” a story, or be ranked number one in Google. Your objectives in writing a blog are to:

    • Write something that’s uniquely yours, from a perspective that only you can provide
    • Create content that’s extremely helpful to your readers and that’s highly actionable (when possible)
    • Produce work consistently to get people to come back to your writing

    Compared to other mediums, blogging is probably the hardest place to find your “voice” in the beginning and to get into a groove, because of the simple fact that there’s nothing to distract people from your content (as there would be with a podcast or YouTube video). It’s just you, writing on a page. And in the beginning, your writing is going to suck. That’s a guarantee. But after you’re a few dozen articles in, you’ll begin to find your flow.

    Setting up your blog is pretty straightforward, and almost free. You’ll need:

    • A platform to write on. I prefer WordPress because it’s free, it has the most customizability, and it’s easy to set up quickly.
    • A hosting service to place the blog’s database on. I used Bluehost in the beginning. It’s extremely easy to set up and very reasonably priced. I think you can get a hosting account for less than $3.50 per month.
    • An email service provider so that people can subscribe to your newsletter, become engaged in your community, and, ultimately, buy from you. I’d recommend MailChimp as option number one, since it’s free. But I also like AWe-ber, which usually costs about nineteen dollars a month for beginning users.

    For a good example of how it looks when everything comes together, check out our blog at www.Rich20Something.com/blog

    Podcasting

    Some people prefer to create and express themselves with audio content, which makes sense. There’s something very intimate about speaking into a microphone and knowing that somebody out there is listening to your voice in the car, at the park, or while working out.

    I think the most interesting thing about podcasts is that while traditional radio seems to be splintering and fading away a bit due to streaming music and other technology, podcasts are more popular than ever. When you start a podcast, you’re basically starting your own radio show. You can do, say, or be anything you want, and you have the biggest platform in the world to find your audience with: the Internet!

    You can run a professional-quality show entirely from your house, and since hosting the content on iTunes is free, you won’t need to worry about supporting the broadcasts with advertisements (until you’re ready to make more money, that is).

    But there’s a hidden networking power to podcasting. The number one advantage of podcasting is the ability to bring guests on your show. Nobody really highlights this, and I’m not sure why. When you invite guests on your show, you get to “pick their brain” in a way that just isn’t possible on a regular basis. Imagine being able to connect with heroes, celebrities, and experts in your space; sit down with them for an hour; and learn everything about what got them to where they are. That’s the power of the podcast.

    As you continue to put out great content, your show will climb the rankings, and it will be easier to secure bigger and better guests. I’ve seen my friend Nathan Chan from Foundr magazine do it time and time again, interviewing megastar entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Daniel DiPiazza. It’s probably the best way to meet people who are “out of your league.”

    Check out the Rich20 Podcast and subscribe so that you don’t miss an episode at www.Rich20Something.com/the-podcast.

    YouTube

    People sometimes ask me what I would change if I could start all over again producing content, and I almost always tell them that instead of blogging, I’d probably start a YouTube channel. Yes, writing tends to be the way that I naturally express myself—thus, the reason you’re holding this book in your hands and not watching the Rich20Something documentary.

    Still, I think that YouTube has the biggest potential for growth of all the platforms out there. For one, visual media is just rich; there’s so much you can do with it. And videos tend to go viral a lot more easily. They are easy to share and fun to watch. But additionally, YouTube itself is a search engine. When you’re trying to figure something out, one of the first places you look is YouTube, to see if somebody made a video explaining it. Video is also great for more artistic content, like music, dance, and spoken word material. Just as podcasting is akin to starting your own radio station, YouTubing is akin to starting your own television station. And it’s all free.

    In Los Angeles, where I live, I constantly see billboards for popular YouTubers, which tells me that Google (which owns YouTube) is investing a lot of money into helping popular brands succeed. More and more frequently, we are seeing popular YouTubers transcend the Internet and move into more traditional media and movies, knocking down the gatekeepers that held the old guard in place.

    And guess what? It’s still free to start making this type of content. All you need is a laptop with a webcam and a free YouTube account. You can record the videos on your computer and upload them. Within minutes, you’re up and running. Of course, you’ll improve your content and upgrade your equipment as you keep going, but the point is that it’s free to start. So what are you waiting for?

    Behind YouTube

    As my YouTube channel, Absolute Motivation, started to grow, I realized it was bigger than me. It was about creating a place where people can go, in their darkest hour, and realize that they’re not alone.

    Nav BK

    Founder of Absolute Motivation (with 350,000-plus subscribers on YouTube as of this writing!)

    How to Produce Content That People Want to Read, Watch, or Listen To

    The first decision you’ll have to make is what you want to talk about. And this applies not just to written content, but to all content. What are you good at? What could you talk about enthusiastically for days from many different angles? It could be one thing or a collection of things, but find those core ideas.

    For instance, the core idea and focus behind Rich20Something is helping young people live better lives by upgrading their wealth, health, and happiness. I use my own experiences to write about how you can make more money, become more well-founded, and feel better about yourself.

    This could take the form of:

    • Step-by-step how-tos for starting a freelance business
    • Case studies of successful readers and students who’ve left their boring jobs to become entrepreneurs
    • Thought pieces on my philosophy behind improving your self-confidence and psychology
    • Interviews with successful people
    • “Ask the reader” pieces where I want to hear a consensus from my audience on a specific point or idea

    Then, within those broader areas, I could even find different ways to talk about the same thing. For instance, if I wanted to write about how to start a freelance business, there are several different angles I could approach this topic from:

    • A step-by-step guide to making your first thousand dollars freelancing
    • Breaking down the biggest myths about self-employment
    • Ten helpful tools for starting your freelance business
    • How to raise the rates in your freelance business
    • How to come up with a good idea for a freelance business
    • An interview with three successful Freelance Domination 2.0 students

    You can see that we’re not reinventing the wheel here; we’re simply looking at the same problem or idea from different angles. Some approaches are more appealing to people than others, so covering a topic from several different perspectives allows us to hit everyone in our potential audience.

    To create content that feeds your online business (selling digital products), you’ll need to keep two important things in mind:

    1. Above all, you must be consistent. Since content is so easy and cheap to produce, you have to demonstrate that you’re willing to show up every day, no matter what. Even before you’re getting paid to do so—which could be for a while. Create a content schedule and stick to it. Without exception, I send out blog posts three to five times per week on Rich20, and have been doing so for years. If you want this to become a business, you have to treat it like a business.
    2. You must include a call to action (CTA) back to somewhere where people can learn more about your ideas and sign up for your email list. In this business, collecting email addresses is EVERYTHING. In many cases, having a small, dedicated list of email subscribers is more valuable that a giant social media following or millions of eyeballs on a viral video. Your email list will allow you to capture the attention of your audience long-term, deliver value consistently, and create a relationship over time that will generate money for years to come.

    Email Funnels and Sales Processes

    Have you ever changed the oil in your car? It’s a pretty basic skill that surprisingly few people actually know how to do. If you have, you’ll most likely have used a funnel before. The main idea behind a funnel is to cast a wide net that you can pour the viscous liquid into without spilling it all over the engine block. The oil flows through the wide top end of the funnel and is neatly deposited into the narrow bottom end, filling your engine up so that the car runs smoothly.

    In the Internet marketing world, we also have funnels. Their purpose is to cast a wide net and find people across the web who might be interested in our material, then get those people to neatly file themselves into our email database so that we can provide them with valuable content, market to them, and eventually make some money.

    Getting People to Opt In

    Once a member of your audience has interacted with your content, it’s time to get them on your email list. This might seem challenging at first, but think about your own inbox. How many newsletters have you subscribed to?

    The average person subscribes to anywhere between twenty and thirty different free newsletters from a variety of businesses—anything from a department store doing a semi-annual sale, to the Nissan dealership giving away insane deals on the 2018 Altima, to content-based emails about things that interest them. At one point, they weren’t receiving emails from that business, and now they are. How does that happen?

    In most cases, people sign up to an email newsletter to get something for free. This is called an “opt-in,” and it’s your bread and butter if you want to build an online business— especially one that’s based on information products.

    Getting people to sign up is relatively simple:

    1. Set up a basic landing page using WordPress. A landing page is just a simple one-pager that offers something for free and has a place to input your email address in exchange for that free thing. Check out Rich20Something. com for a basic example. There are many different specialized softwares for helping marketers do this. Some of them are free; some of them are paid. As of this writing, Rich20Something uses two different software services to set these pages up: Leadpages and ClickFunnels.
    1. Create a  free  opt-in  bribe  to  give  away  when  somebody signs up. This can literally be anything that you think might interest a potential customer. It could be a free e-book or checklist. It could be a few free videos on a topic that they care about. It could even be a complete mini-course to teach them a concept. All of these have worked well for Rich20 in the past.
    1. Drive traffic  to  the  landing  page  to  start  collecting  email addresses. In the beginning, before you have a lot of traction, this will probably be your biggest hurdle. If you have a bit of money to play with, you can experiment with Facebook ads. But this is also where high-quality content really comes into play. The better content you make on your blog, podcast, or YouTube channel, the easier it will be to get people to check out your landing pages and sign up for your email list. Great content creates better SEO, gets shared much more often, and naturally boosts your social media presence. This is where a long-game mentality becomes especially important, because the process will take some time. Focus on building up great content and consistently encourage people to go to your landing page by linking back to it whenever you produce a new piece of material. Make sure to give them a strong CTA, referencing all the benefits they’ll get from the free download. In the meantime, use your existing social media to promote your work and start making connections with other influencers in your space. Over time, your following will grow, and it won’t be hard to get more people on your email list.

    Providing Value via Regular Content and Selling Your Material

    Once people opt in to your email list, they expect to hear from you. So don’t disappoint them! Now that they’ve given you permission to email them, impress the hell out of them on a regular basis with incredible free content in the form of blog posts, podcasts, and videos. In the beginning, you’ll probably ramp up a bit more slowly; sending something once a week should be fine. But as you continue to grow, there’s nothing wrong with increasing the frequency to several times per week. Generally speaking, as long as you’re providing great content, people will want to hear from you.

    The purpose of your content should be twofold: You want to provide something that genuinely improves your reader’s life, but you also want to build up enough goodwill to earn the right to sell to them. There’s nothing worse than people who have just met you and yet are already trying to hawk their goods at you. You have to start with some foreplay!

    I started Rich20Something in 2012 and sent out content for over a year before I attempted to sell anything. During that time, I was getting to know my readers and determining the best way I could help them. I was trying to understand their needs and pain points, and building trust so that when I finally decided to sell something, they knew I wasn’t some fly-by-night scamster; I was Daniel, the same guy they’d talked to and trusted for months. Even then, I didn’t really get serious about turning Rich20 into a full-time business until late 2014. My readers had plenty of time to get to know me. This is the necessary work that you’re going to have to put in if you want to be able to successfully sell a product online. Don’t rush the process.

    On the other side of the coin, remember: This is about business. You can’t be afraid to sell. Some people will spend years writing content, doing podcasts, and producing videos, but are afraid to send a sales email because people might unsubscribe. This makes no sense.

    Yes, the reality of sales is that not everybody wants to be sold to. But what’s the point of building an engaged audience if you aren’t going to monetize it somehow? You’re spending valuable time to create meaningful work for people, and you deserve to be compensated for it. If some people don’t want to buy—or even worse, they get upset and unsubscribe from your list—that’s totally fine. You’ve just identified and smoked out the noncustomers from your community. Don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed to charge for something that’s designed to help people.

    In order to sell people a product, you’re going to have to engage them with a series of messages that pique their interest and speak to them on an emotional level. You should introduce the problem (or make them aware of a problem they didn’t even know existed), then show them how your product could solve that problem quickly and painlessly.

    To illustrate how this works, let’s create a sample product. Something simple.

    A Sample Week-Long Sales Sequence for Selling a Digital Course via Email

    Let’s say we’re selling a digital course on how to play the guitar. Why did I pick that? Well, I just looked around the room and saw my guitar. But this doesn’t even have to be an information or course-based product. It could be a physical device or a service offering. The guitar course is simply an example. Use the framework and ideas here to create something unique based on what your audience wants and what you have to offer.

    ASSUMPTIONS: We’re going to assume a few things about our demographic and email list to guide our example. Do your own research for your market and email subscribers. For the purposes of this case study, let’s assume our audience is:

    • Primarily male
    • Twenty-one to thirty-five years old
    • Earning a fifty-thousand-dollar average annual income
    • Native English speakers
    • Inexperienced at playing guitar (either no experience or at a beginner level)

    Following is a day-by-day bulleted breakdown of how the email sequence might play out. (I’m not going to write the entire funnel out for you because, damn, that would take a long time and you can’t afford my copywriting services. But I’ll give you enough to paint a clear picture.)

    NOTE: As you start reading, you’ll notice that I linked the skill of guitar playing to attracting women, because of the assumptions about my hypothetical demographic. This is an arbitrary decision I made because linking things to relationships, sex, or social pain can be powerful. You definitely don’t have to take that type of positioning.

    Monday: Emotional Story

    SUBJECT: I watched from the sidelines as he impressed her . . .

    • Emotional story about your high school experience. Relatable.
    • One guy was so cool—always played guitar and girls swooned over him.
    • Looked so rugged playing in the back of his pickup truck. Held “parking lot concerts.”
    • He wasn’t smarter or better looking than you; he just had a cool, in-demand skill.
    • Pain of having no attention, not even knowing where to begin.
    • CTA: Email me back—have you ever been envious of the attention somebody got because of a unique skill they had? Do you find yourself STILL thinking about it years later?
    • PS: Tomorrow, I’ll tell you exactly what I did to snap out of my “mental haze” and actually start learning guitar—and start getting more attention.

    Tuesday: Overcoming Obstacles

    SUBJECT: The moment I held my first Fender

    • Narrator makes a decision that he’s going to learn, no matter what.
    • Goes into music store, picks up a Fender guitar.
    • How it feels in his hands. He’s inspired and a little afraid.
    • But then, realizes that he doesn’t have to master this overnight; it’s a process.
    • Crunchy tactic: Take learning a new skill one day at a time.
    • Once I had this realization, a feeling of ease.
    • Now I help my students get that same feeling, and it actually makes them see success much faster.

    Wednesday: Sales Email 1 (Soft Open)

    SUBJECT: Finally . . . it all started to “click”

    • Narrator starts playing, slowly, painfully, but progress is there.
    • Starts to learn one of his favorite songs, and actually gets it!
    • Not 100 percent confident, but brings the guitar to school, where the cool guys are.
    • Starts playing and attracts a little crowd.
    • Girl he likes says, “OMG, I love that song!”
    • He can’t stop smiling, and at that moment, it “clicks.”
    • He realizes guitar isn’t about the instrument; it’s about self-improvement and expression.
    • His confidence is up 1,000 percent, and he keeps learning and getting better.
    • Why did he wait so long?
    • Now, he wants to teach other people how to have the same amazing feelings, so he developed XYZ course.
    • CTA: I’ll be telling you more this week, but if you’re sick of waiting for this transformation, you can check out the course here.
    • LINK TO COURSE.
    • Course will only be open until XYZ. Add LINK.

    Thursday: Sales Email 2

    SUBJECT: XYZ course is now open—learn more here

    • Yesterday I told you about my turning point, blah blah blah, and now I want to tell you about the course I put together to help you get there even faster.
    • Here’s a tactic/strategy you didn’t know
    • List features of course.
    • List benefits of course.
    • What if you had this? How much better would your life be?
    • CTA: Click  here  to  join  the    LINK  T

    SALES PAGE.

    • PS: Tomorrow is the last day. LINK TO SALES PAGE

    NOTE: The difference between features and benefits: Features tell what the product does or consists of; benefits tell how it will help or change the user’s life.

    For example:

    • Feature: “Ten hours of modules in HD video, plus weekly emails to help you.”
    • Benefit: “Learn to play your favorite song two times faster than you could trying to teach yourself.”

    Friday: Sales Email 3

    SUBJECT: Is XYZ course right for you?

    • Identify all objections and prove they are wrong
    • This course is right for you if . .
    • This course is NOT right for you if . .
    • “Future-casting”: Where will you be six months, one year, five years from now if you don’t take this step?
    • Testimonials from current customers, if you have any.
    • LINK TO SALES PAGE.
    • PS: Scarcity: Course is closing Sunday—get it now! LINK TO SALES PAGE

    Saturday: Sales Email 4

    SUBJECT: XYZ course is closing tomorrow!

    • Hazards of not taking action (doom and gloom!).
    • Examples of people who were skeptical but for whom it worked!
    • Challenge yourself. You have nothing to lose.
    • This is the last time you’ll hear about this for a while.
    • Brief recap of benefits.
    • LINK TO SALES PAGE.
    • Sometimes a personal video works well with this pitch. Just open up your laptop and speak openly and honestly.

    Sunday: Sales Email 5

    SUBJECT: Last chance to get XYZ course!

    • Last-chance scarcity.
    • Emotional call to action, reminding them of what they could do with material.
    • Brief and to the point.
    • LINK TO SALES PAGE.

    I should stress that this is a simplified version of a sales funnel. Some sequences last for a few days, some for a few weeks. The duration and content of what you write will depend greatly on your level of experience, your relationship with your list, the price of your product, and many other factors, but the core elements are there.

    First, build your relationship with your subscribers. Spend time nurturing your list and building a community. Figure out what you can sell them. If you’re not sure, simply send them an email and ask them, “Hey, I’m thinking about making a product about XZY—is this something that you would be interested in?” Then use their answers to validate whether your idea is worth pursuing.

    If you want to be even more confident, you could even pre-sell the product first, before you even make it. Send your readers sales emails first, see if people actually buy, and only make the product if you can turn a profit. The biggest validation for your idea is somebody actually pulling out a credit card and purchasing it. This is a no-lose scenario for you, because you won’t have to lose time or money making something that people don’t want, and you can do this ethically by refunding people if you decide not to go through with it.

    Building Your First Information Product

    So what type of product should you build, and what should go in it? It all depends on how much time you want to put into the material and how much you would like to charge for it. Generally speaking, the more interactive the content is, the more you can charge. As you become more skilled at marketing, copywriting, and positioning, you’ll learn how to enhance your presentation to charge even more.

    Here are five types of products, what elements they might include, and the approximate price point you might charge for something at that level. We’re not going to bother naming what the actual product would be here; that’s not the point. The point is to give you an overview of the possibilities and a good idea of the potential for what products can make at each level.

    Product Type 1: T he “Tripwire” or Self-Liquidating Offer Price Point: Anywhere from $1 to $50

    The “tripwire” is fundamentally an impulse buy that a customer won’t think twice about buying. It should provide a simple solution to a basic problem. Typically, it’s one of the first offers that they see from you; sometimes it’s even offered directly after the user signs up for your email list, on the “thank you” page (thus, the term tripwire). These types of offers are great if you are running paid advertising to your landing pages, because if even a small percentage of people who opt in end up buying, it will pay for some or all of your advertising expenses. Some experts also say that these offers are great for “conditioning” users to buy more from you later down the road, since they already feel a sense of security, having bought from you once before.

    Typically this type of product is just a short e-book or a handful of basic videos explaining a topic.

    Product Type 2: Entr y Level

    Price Point: Anywhere from $100 to $300

    Entry-level products are relatively low-cost, but still highly valuable. They are designed to solve one or two very specific pain points and generally aren’t comprehensive, but they are in-depth enough to be appealing. At the higher end of this range, the profit can really start to add up. For instance, if you sold a hundred copies of a $297 product over the course of a year (about two per week), that would be an additional $30,000 in revenue. Not bad! The material for this type of content can be PDF and/or videos. And you don’t really even need to place products of this caliber inside a special membership platform.

    Product Type 3: “Bread and Butter” Price Point: Anywhere from $300 to $500

    “Bread and butter” products are the go-to for many online marketers. The price point is a sweet spot between affordable for the customer and highly profitable for the business. At the higher end of this spectrum, the customer usually expects some type of membership platform that they can log in

    1. Products of this caliber could include audio, video, and text. The subject matter usually encompasses more material. Many info product businesses subsist off products in this category alone.

    Product Type 4: Flagship

    Price Point: Anywhere from $500 to $2,000 plus

    These products are premium. They should cover an entire topic from top to bottom and include a wealth of material, and they are almost always hosted on a membership back end where students can log in to access, download, and ask questions about the content. They’ll typically provide HD video, as well as audio and text components. In some cases, there will even be a live component that includes webinars with interaction from an instructor to supplement the material. They are more expensive, so they tend to be a major purchase for the customer. As such, customer support needs to be really good, and you’ll need to work harder to sell courses of this caliber. But when you figure out the formula for selling courses at this level, both you and the customer win.

    Product Type 5: Recurring Subscription

    Price Point: Anywhere from $20 to $100 per Month

    Recurring products or “membership” products are designed to provide continually updated content to the user every single month. The main purpose of these products is to consistently create something new that users will want to access on a regular basis. Just as with a gym membership or your Net-flix subscription, you continue to get billed while you continue to use the service.

    While the initial price point on the product seems small, the recurring revenue per user really begins to add up. For instance, at fifty dollars per month, the average user will spend three hundred dollars after just six months, but the effect will feel negligible compared to spending $50 up front. This gives the user a much lower barrier to entry, while giving the business consistent month-to-month revenue. Typically these sites also have a membership back end where the user can log in, and the content can be any mix of material.

    The Membership Back End

    At some point you’re going to have to actually make a product. It’s not as hard as you might think. Almost all info products can be made with simple, consumer-friendly software that is easily managed, like WordPress. It’s not like building an app or something else that requires more involved programming; there are many inexpensive WordPress template options out there, and you can use them to create high-quality, professional-grade digital products that look like they cost thousands to make. You’ll even be able to password-protect your content so that noncustomers cannot access the material. If you can set up your website in WordPress, you can build your first product.

    Rich20 uses a software called SamCart to accept payments. It is easy to set up and get running immediately. We use WordPress plugins called OptimizePress and ClickFunnels to build everything from tripwire to flagship products. They are inexpensive to purchase, offer great functionality, and look very professional.


    Want more? Daniel is releasing a book called: “Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want“. You can pre-order it here and learn more about what it takes to create passive businesses online.

    The above was an excerpt from chapter 8 of Daniel’s book.

  • ,

    6 reasons why listening to rap & hip hop is the best thing you can do for your self development

    live rap performance

    There’s something to be said about the cathartic power of getting in your car, rolling the windows up and blasting your favorite tune while driving down the highway. No worries about uppity neighbors or missing someone shouting your name. Just you and the music. The healing power of bass!

    More than that, the effect that certain music and genres play in your life cannot be understated. Certain music brings back memories and teleports you to a time in your past where you heard that song and you associate it with a certain experience and the friends you were with.

    That tropical house song and that late night party in Cabo.

    That Dave Matthews song and summers in Virginia.

    Maybe country music? (maybe?… eh nevermind)

    My point is that music has an amazing ability to conjure up memories and create nostalgia. It causes you to reflect and appreciate.

    Recently, I have gotten back into a certain genre of music that has had a profound effect on my self-development. It has shown me the power that music can have in propelling you forward.

    Listening to rap music can accelerate your self-development.

    Keep in mind that I am a white, 29 year old middle/upper class man so I often find it hard to relate to a lot of the themes and lyrics of the music I am listening to… BUT, the lyrics and artists I have connected with have shown me a genre of music that has power to positively affect and improve yourself and your mentality towards life and success.

    These are 6 reason to listen to rap and hip hop music.

    listening to rap - artist

    1. Catharsis.

    Much to the chagrin of many who bemoan the flashy themes of many hip hop artists, it has been shown that listening to rap music that projects rags to riches type stories/themes can have a very positive mental effect on listeners. A study conducted at Cambridge University’s Department of Pyschology suggests “that a great deal of rap music, with its rags-to-riches narrative trajectories, displays “positive visual imagery”, a psychotherapeutic technique common among sports stars, in which one envisages the place where one would like to be, so as to facilitate one’s progression to a better mental place.”

    The study goes on to show that rap is more than merely a celebration of material excess and success, but rather a cathartic release for both artists and listeners.

    I have found this study to be particularly true in my life as rap has helped me bring to the surface of my mind, certain images I have of myself that often lay dormant in my subconscious. I’m picturing the uber successful version of myself that I am working towards – a version of myself that I am taking steps towards becoming.

    Listening to artists like Kendrick Lamar or Logic who in their songs depict successful lifestyles and financial success not only plays a role in goal setting but in that moment of release and depiction – catharsis.

    As an entrepreneur, I have found humility and being under-estimated to be my greatest assets. I stay in-line with that but by listening to rap I am offered periodic catharsis where I can vision the most uber, blinged-out version of myself and, for a moment, can envision what that is and HOW GREAT I AM.

    It truly offers a moment of release and clarity. Then it’s back to the grind and being under-stated – that’s my style.

    2. Rap teaches you to know your own worth.

    Humble and rap are two words that are diametrically opposed.

    Rappers like to use their verses to tell others how great they are. That’s part of the genre and I appreciate it. It can teach listeners a thing or two about knowing your value.

    I tend to be humble in my efforts and with my success, but rap has reminded me that I am a BAMF! RIGHT?!

    It has reminded me that I have immense value to offer in many facets of my life and business and that sometimes you need to let it loose and share it with the world.

    In an entrepreneurial sense, this reminder has motivated me to align with the most capitalist statement in the world – – “if you’re good at something, never do it for free” – – and rap has reminded me that my ability/skill-set and my experience in life are things that are entirely unique to me and that is my value. That is something that no one else has and that I should be proud of and eager to share with the world when and where I feel like it.

    On 0 to 100, Drake says it best:

    Oh Lord, know yourself, know your worth…
    My actions been louder than my words…
    How you sold albums, still so down to Earth…

    Chance the Rapper also said it best on “Everybody’s Something

    Everybody’s somebody’s everything.
    I know you right.
    Nobody’s nothing.
    That’s right.

    3. Be thankful.

    A central theme of rap music is the journey and embracing the past. Most hip hop music focuses on the past and experiences therein as a means to empower the rapper himself as those experiences and ups and downs are what make him unique.

    Along the same lines, being thankful for the experiences (both good and bad) that happened in the past are what provide you with the present – that is a big theme.

    Like many millennials grinding out their 20s, I struggle with taking time to reflect, be present and thankful. Gratitude is a practice that can radically improve your life but is one that is often difficult to do consistently with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

    Listening to rap has reinvigorated me to reflect on the past experiences in my life and be thankful for them. It has encouraged me to be thankful for the haters in my life and to embrace the present.

    I’d really encourage you to not only listen to hip hop that reflects on the past and expresses gratitude towards it, but to also engage in daily/weekly gratitude journaling or mindfulness. It can do wonders for you.

    Jay-Z said it best on Thank You from The Blueprint III:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, you’re far too kind
    Hold your applause, this is your song not mines

    That is no reason to treat me like I’m somehow from outta heaven
    Heaven knows that I’ve made my mistakes, thank God, what a guy as I say my grace

    4. Be authentic.

    Rappers are unapologetically themselves and they’re not afraid to express themselves to the fullest. They have no shame towards who they are and they embrace any haters who disagree with their lifestyle.

    Rappers tend to laud the fact that they keep it real, and I love that. Whether they actually do so 24/7 or sometimes waver like we all do, rappers embrace who they are at their core and they let their lyrics speak for themselves.

    I love listening to new, up and coming rappers with unique styles. It’d be easy to approach hip hop with the same style and delivery of today’s most popular rappers – emulate their style and be successful as a result. The non-conformists are truly authentic in their delivery, style and brand and I have found it to be a positive reminder to stay true to yourself and not let others define you.

    Eazy-E said it best when he said: “I don’t think I’m all this or that, but I’m all me.”

    5. Always be learning.

    Despite rappers’ tendency to boast about their accomplishments and self-worth, they also tend to really stress the fact that they are masters of their craft and always practicing and pushing it forward.

    I’m a huge fan of the artist Logic and in his interviews he also mentions his ardent dedication to practice.

    That reminder is an important thing to call out – even today’s most successful artists practice.

    No matter what level of success you have achieved, there is always room to continue educating yourself. That is a choice you can make. It it your choice to allow yourself to plateau or to continue learning.

    Rap has encouraged me to never accept the status quo and to never be fully satisfied with my current skill level or knowledge-base on something. There is always room for improvement BUT I am also reminded that the grass is always greener. Keep learning and improving and do it for YOU:

    J. Cole said it best on “Love Yourz

    Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the the one you got
    Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock
    Always gon’ be a [chick] that’s badder out there on the tours
    But you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours

    De La Soul reflected on this in “Trying People

    Throughout my change to grow, Some of my people got left behind/
    They didn’t listen for the gun, as I leaped from off the line/

    Thirteen years deep in this marathon I’m runnin/
    Paid dues and still got bills to pay

    7. Embrace the journey.

    Rappers embrace the grind. They embrace the game. They embrace the cards they’ve been dealt.

    Listening to hip hop has reinvigorated my faith in the journey and that you must have faith that you are on the right path.

    I am a big believer in manifestation of what you ask for. If you embrace the direction of life that the universe has provided you and you continue to strive for the best version of every aspect of your life, I am confident that the universe will provide.

    Hip hop similarly reflects on this idea of hard work and manifestation. Years of grind and practice ultimately deliver you what you deserve. Along the way, you will be faced with both blessings and trials, but ultimately if you stay true to yourself and trust the process, you will arrive just where you need to be.

    Kanye said this best on “Everything I am” where he reflects on how many initially discouraged him from rapping early on.

    Pink slip on my door, cause I can’t afford to stay
    My 15 seconds up, but I got more to say
    That’s enough Mr. West, please, no more today

  • ,

    How to be happier by asking yourself these 4 questions.

    girl standing in front of building

    What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

    What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?

    Every one of us probably has a different routine to get going in the morning and to wind down at night, but regardless of your individual routine, I have personally found these 4 questions to create more positivity, more happiness, more self-awareness and ultimately, more success in my life.

    Ultimately, these questions have taught me how to live happier.

    When you wake up…

    morningbed

    1st Thought Everyday: Today is going to be a great day!

    Question #1: What am I going to do today that will positively influence the people around me?

    Question #2: What action will I take that will get me one step closer to achieving my definition of success?

    First, I start by telling myself that today is going to be a great day. Cheesy as it sounds, when the first thought of the day is a positive one, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I’ve noticed that even when I get up at 5 in the morning and am exhausted, one positive thought makes all the difference.

    Now moving on to the two questions that will help you increase success and happiness. Each question is significant in its own way. When you answer these questions, you are not tasking yourself to come up with something monumental or life-altering. You don’t need to come up with something that will change the world. In fact, it can be as small or as big as you want. The key is that you take action because once you take action, good things start to happen. I have found this to be true first-hand as one small action leads to another which leads to a bigger action which leads to continuous action which leads to your own version of success and happiness.

    To give you an idea of what some answers for the first question could possibly look like…

    Smaller actions:

    Today, I am going to make someone in the office laugh.

    Today, I am going to smile every time I see someone.

    Today, I am going to buy the person behind me in line lunch.

    Today, I am going to call my parents and tell them I love them.

    Bigger actions:

    Today, I am going to create a plan to host a charity event.

    Today, I am going to volunteer at the local hospital.

    Today, I am going to donate $20 to the charity of my choosing.

    Want to know the one true way to truly learn how to be happier? Giving back. Reciprocity.

    One of the beautiful things about doing things for others is that every time you do it, there is a sense of accomplishment. I don’t know about you, but I feel really good about myself for making someone else’s day better. What’s really awesome is that not only do you feel good, but you are going to be more positive yourself when you help others. It is a weird concept but when you help others you are actually helping yourself!

    Now for the second question and how to get one step closer to achieving your definition of success…

    Smaller actions:

    Today, I am going to eat one piece of fruit instead of my daily candy bar.

    Today, I am going to walk for 15 minutes.

    Today, I am going to do 10 pushups every commercial break during my hour TV show.

    Today, I am going to compliment my staff because I want to improve employee satisfaction.

    Today, I am going to tell my kids and significant other how much I love them!

    Bigger actions:

    Today, I am going to create a business plan for the company I want to create.

    Today, I am going to exercise for at least an hour and run 2 miles.

    Today, I am going to ask my boss for a raise.

    Today, I am going to apply for 5 jobs in a field that I want to be in.

    All of these actions are just ideas as you want to choose something that is applicable to your life, situation and your definition of success. We are all on own journey and path, so make sure to do something that will lead to achieving your definition of success and not someone else’s.

    When you go to bed…

    computeratnight

    Last thought: Today was a great day and I’m thankful for everything I have!

    Question #1: What did I do today to positively impact the lives of those around me?

    Question #2: What did I do today to get one step closer to achieving my definition of success?

    As you take a look at the final two questions, I want you to think about your day and how much better you felt knowing you did something to make someone else’s day better. At the same time, think about how just taking one action for yourself helped make today a great day.

    When you answer these questions before you go to bed, sometimes it is best to write them down. That way, you are able to track your actions and start to visualize on paper the impact you are having on yourself and others. This is a process that takes time, but it all starts with the first action and that is the mindset of wanting to increase positivity, happiness and success in your life.

    As you can tell, these four questions can begin your day on a positive note and end your day on a positive note. By taking one action each day, you will be able to live a more fulfilled and positive lifestyle. I invite you to begin asking yourself these 4 questions and begin create a journey worth living and a story worth writing!

  • ,

    How to deal with rejection in life and in business (this story changed my life)

    man with skateboard

    How do you generally deal with rejections?

    No one wants a “NO” for an answer in life or business. But “NOs” are part of everyday living.

    This happened to me recently. And it changed my life and taught me how to handle rejection.

    Long story short, I had a French tutor named Kara (not real name) who was introduced to me through a friend. I fell for her the moment I saw her. I then proceeded to forgot my primary assignment with her was to learn French and instead focused on my other “primary” assignment. I learned that she was single and open to a relationship. I had the green light.

    I got the go-ahead from my friend and I also thought (or imagined) that Kara gave me the “green light”. So I went for it.

    Did I mention that I was so CONFIDENT that I would get a positive response? I already saw our happy and long future together.

    And just like that,  I got a “NO” from her. A hard NO.

    My first “NO” from a girl. I insisted with her (respectfully of course) for almost a year and I still got a big NO.

    Fortunately, while I “lost” the privilege of becoming proficient in French language, I managed to maintain a great relationship with Kara and still do today.

    This epic NO happened in 2014 and I’ve since gotten several “NOs” from many other people – be it socially, dating or professionally. These NOs have taught me a lot and also taught me what it takes to get a YES.

    What do you do when you feel rejected? How do you handle it?

    This is a real story with great lessons on rejection and have profoundly impacted my ability to deal with rejection anytime it is thrown my way.

    Rejections are part of life and business. And no person is rejection-proof. I have learned to be ready to be receive several “NOs” before I get my one YES. But I have also learned that sometimes you only need that one YES… it can make all the difference.

    All these NOs have taught me that you need to learn how to handle rejection with grace. Yes, I just said grace.

    Here are 4 tips on how to cope with rejection to come back stronger and more resilient in all aspects of your life.

    how to deal with rejection - woman looking forward

    #1. Accept that you are human.

    You’re not perfect because you’re 100% human… and that is to be expected.

    It’s your imperfections that make you unique. Humans make mistakes and you’re are supposed to learn from your mistakes…. that’s why you make them.

    Learning from your mistakes make you a better, wiser and more resilient person. The more mistakes you make, the more knowledge you gather.

    When you understand this, you begin to welcome rejections because you know they are benefiting you in the long run.

    #2. Focus on the positives.

    Even though she rejected me, Kara wanted to get to know me and become “just friends” because she wasn’t ready for a relationship with anyone. I discovered this because I stuck around long enough to get to know her as a person. I saw her initial rejection as an opportunity to learn and discover what attracted me to her in the first place. I  learned a lot about her (and myself) in the process of sticking around and not taking the rejection hard.

    I was focused on my goal despite the fact that I was temporarily distracted and I won a great friend in the process. I didn’t fret or focus on the negatives or “what ifs”. I kept my head high and moved on.

    This can also be applied to your life. Instead of beating yourself up because you were rejected in some form, take time to understand why you were rejected and reverse engineer that to improve yourself.

    #3. Use rejection to better yourself.

    I have always believed in the saying that “behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining” and recently I have found this to be very true. By taking that first step to approach Kara, I boosted my self-confidence and I was able to overcome my fear of doing something that once seemed unimaginable to me.

    My friendship with her has taught me a lot about life and what if feels like to overcome the fear of rejection. Anytime I want or desire something (or someone), I go for it without a second thought. Countless rejection has taught me to just act within the first 30 seconds. What’s the worst that can happen?

    The worst that can happen is that I get a NO and then I’ll move on to the next thing. And the best thing that can happen is that it can always get better.

    So, whenever I see a dark cloud in life or business, I focus on the silver lining and how it can improve aspects of myself personally. This alone has really helped me greatly in the handling of my fear of rejection.

    #4. Never give up.

    For every closed door you encounter, there are a thousand and one other doors that can be opened.

    It’s a cliche, I know, but my experience has taught me that it is infinity true.

    After I met Kara, I met other women who are equally great because I didn’t give up. I didn’t succumb to my lingering fear or rejection. I was determined and resolute. I made several friends in the process and learned a great deal about myself.

 At one point, I was tempted to curl up and let Kara’s rejection affect my confidence and ability to act, but I’m grateful I did what I did.

    Now when I look back at the events that happened that year – and the chain of events that followed – I can say that I am still learning.

    My decision to see rejection as a way of improving myself has helped greatly in my relationship with others and in my business. I really hope that this story will change your life as it did to mine.

  • ,

    The art of making money: what to do with your next paycheck.

    The art of making money - holding money

    Have you had a business idea in your head for a long time but haven’t acted on it yet?

    Have you started an idea (be it a blog, a business, a service, etc.) but can’t seem to make it take off?

    Are you a wantrepreneur who wants to become a profit-generating entrepreneur?

    This is for you.

    Over the years, I’ve launched, scaled and failed with a variety of online businesses. Some took off and are thriving to this day, and others didn’t exactly work out. I have learned firsthand and from my mentors what the art of making money is all about.

    My experience with bringing ideas to life and turning them into profitable business has taught me one valuable lesson:

    You have to spend money to make money.

    Now before I get into tactics to help you make your money work for you, I think it’s important to caveat that spending more money DOES NOT mean you’re going to make more money. It certainly does not.

    In fact, I’ve seen some real bozos use the “you have to spend money to make money” line of thinking to help them rationalize some silly, non-essential business expenses. You should have patience when it comes to spending money and should not rush to spend (more on that later)

    With that being said, spending money does indeed help you make money – or at minimum, it puts you in a position to do so.

    For those of you who are entrepreneurs, you know what I mean. For those of you who are considering starting a business or launching a creative endeavor I want to encourage you to do the following with your next paycheck: spend it.

    Yes, I said it.

    Instead of investing that one paycheck into your 401K, putting it into that mutual fund, saving it for that trip or sliding it under the mattress, I want you to spend it.

    I want you to spend it on something specific and something strategic. I want you to spend it on something that will not only help bring that idea of yours to life, but also scale it to make you some serious money.

    Now, before you do that, I want you to keep reading.

    Here are the 4 things you need to realize about how to turn money into more money.

    The art of making money - wad of money

    1. Breaking even can be extremely profitable.

    Whenever I start and begin scaling a new business, my first goal is to get to a point to where I am spending as much money as possible. Usually that goal is within the context of marketing or advertising, but I suppose it could extend to other aspects of a business.

    Here’s what I mean.

    When launching my first side hustle, for example, I was focused on selling an online course product. A large aspect of my marketing strategy was to establish an email relationship with potential customers. To do that, I needed to catch the eyes of folks who might be interested in my product and would be willing to provide me with their email address in exchange for something for free and then an opportunity to sell them something.

    To catch their eye (I had a following of zero), I needed to SPEND MONEY! I started with some simple ads running on Facebook, Instagram, etc. and soon realized something very important:

    The more I spent, the more I made. (duh!) But there’s more to it.

    While my efforts were not profitable (my ads were costing me more than I was grossing with sales), over the course of 30 days I came to see that the more I spent – the more I made over time and the more brand awareness I created that ultimately grossed me sales. Key word here is: over time.

    Here’s how it looked.

    $200 in ads per day.

    $150-$200 in sales per day.

    100 new emails per day.

    The value of that ad spend wasn’t the sales but rather the emails! Those 100 emails turned into 20-30 sales a couple of weeks later. Flash-forward a couple of months and this is how things netted out:

    $25K in ad spend.

    $70K in sales.

    That’s a 3x return on ad spend (decent) and as you can see with the daily revenue being breakeven or under, the value of that ad spend came from the emails I was able to acquire and then eventually convert to sales down the line.

    The lesson here is that sometimes the money you spend doesn’t net immediate return, but if you are strategic with what you are collecting/garnering, then it absolutely can be extremely profitable down the line (as long as you are strategic and have connected these dots). I proved this 100% with my efforts and have since ramped up this strategy even more… the more I spend the more I make.

    2. Patience = old school money making

    While I am all for spending money to make money STRATEGICALLY… don’t spend just yet!

    I didn’t ramp up my spend until I knew exactly what I wanted to garner and how I was going to eventually convert these new assets.

    The key with the “spend money to make money” line of thinking is to look beyond where the puck is now to where it will be.

    If you can connect the dots and be forward thinking, spending money will bring more money.

    For example, I have recently spent more and more money on the PRSUIT Facebook page to boost our content to get it exposure to more people. This has resulted in over 30,000 new followers in less than 2 months and over 400,000 new visitors to PRSUIT.com. While this has not resulted in immediate 1:1 revenue, it has enabled me to close a deal with Staples, connect with Jake Paul, make an appearance on E! Entertainment, get accepted into several premium ad networks (from which we are now making positive revenue), and have several other large 5-6 figure deals on the table. Spend money to make money.

    3. Don’t spend needlessly.

    I have been successful with my “spend money to make money” strategy by being patient with it.

    The majority of the thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses that fail each year are those that spend money needlessly and do so time and time again.

    Be strategic with WHERE you decide to spend money and realize that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make money!

    If you are selling a physical product, you don’t necessarily need to spend more on manufacturing. Spend more on marketing or faster fulfillment.

    If you are an artist, don’t spend more on a fancy exhibition space or pop up shop. Spend, instead on influencer marketing.

    If you are a musician, don’t spend money on producing swag to hope that gets the word out. Instead, spend on ads targeting journalists, influencers, etc.

    I am not an expert on all things marketing by any means, but I have learned that before you start spending money, you need to know where to spend it for most effect. Once you figure that out, I am confident that it will start provide ROI.

    4. Use it intangibly.

    Outside of spending money to make money by dumping it into awareness creating tactics like marketing, etc., the biggest lesson I’ve learned when it comes to the art of making money, it’s this: hiring the right people can make all the difference.

    The right people can make you millions. The right people can also cost you millions.

    The right people can take your business from the garage to the top floor.

    Hiring the right employees is everything.

    When you are a young entrepreneur just starting out, there is an inherent knowledge and experience gap you will need to overcome. Hiring the right person can do just that.

    I have hired amazing people and I have hired horrible ones. Hire someone who has experience and is willing to put in the hours. This frees you up to do more for other aspects of your business, and I promise you that will it feels horrible to part with money each month, but it will come back in folds if you hire the right person.

    What to do with your next paycheck.

    When you get your next paycheck, take it (or a portion of it) and set it aside with the above in mind. Sit down and map out a strategy of how to spend that money and how that will help take your idea to the next level.

    The other aspect of spending money to make money is that as you spend, you also become dedicated to your creation. When you spend, you commit yourself and the process of going “all in” begins. It means you are serious about making your passion project/business a reality. It means you are stepping off of the sidelines and into the game. Spend, but spend patiently and strategically.

  • ,

    Confessions of someone who decided to go for it

    man with sunglasses and hat

    There was a time in my life when I was selfish. Apathetic. I played video games 16 hours a day. I dropped out of high school, twice, and I didn’t give a sh*t about what anybody thought.

    At the same time, I was depressed, I was lonely, and I had no friends. Big surprise!

    I contemplated suicide. Nobody else seemed to care about me, so why should I care about me? Life sucked anyway. There was no point.

    Eventually I got tired of torturing myself with the idea, and began to seriously consider it. Was I thinking of suicide as a f*cked up form of entertainment, or was I going to follow through with it? Was I the ultimate coward?

    Sitting in my living room having this honest conversation with myself, I considered what the alternative was—living. Did I want to live? I was in pain, a lot of it, but if it was possible for me to overcome this challenge, and ultimately become successful in life, would I choose that instead? I knew that answer was yes.

    If I wasn’t going to end my life, then I had to do the complete opposite—live it to the fullest.

    I had to go for it, and not hold back.

    I had to dedicate my life to pursuing my dreams, and see just how far I could go—how much of my potential I could realize. There was no purpose greater than my personal development. This was the beginning of my inspired life.

    go for it - man on cliff thinking

    I didn’t really know where to start. I had no friends or mentors, so I just started with the different areas of my life that I wasn’t happy with.

    At first, that was my social life, so I started going out to nightclubs every single night. I didn’t drink alcohol, and I kept a notebook to write down the lessons I was learning. Eventually I started sharing these lessons on a blog.

    At work I hated having to ask for permission to take the weekend off. I wanted to be spontaneous, and have the freedom and flexibility to do whatever I wanted. So I quit, and started my own business. When I quit I didn’t have an idea, or any business experience—I hadn’t even graduated high school, remember? But I knew there was no way I was ever going to work for someone else. It took me three months to come up with an idea that helped me pay rent, but I survived, and haven’t looked back since.

    Now that last paragraph makes me cringe a bit, because it’s starting to sound like the typical “success story.” I was in this position, I made this decision, and now I’m successful. But there are a lot of stories you don’t know. Like the time I ate ramen noodles for months because I couldn’t afford anything better. Or the month I sold my Nintendo Wii to pay rent. Or the year I couch-surfed, also known as living on friends couches for free, across the U.S. to meet new people. Or the hundreds of times I’ve received an email from a service telling me my monthly payment was declined and I needed to swap it to a different credit card. Or the time I had to send an email pouring my heart out to my friends to ask for their support in making one of my dreams come true.

    Being vulnerable is not always fun, in fact most of the time, it’s torture, but there was no other way. That last one happened this week.

    It’s been nine years since I began dedicating my life to pursing my dreams, and what’s crazy is… it’s worked! I’ve succeeded! Today I run the largest support community for video game addiction. It’s called Game Quitters and we have members in 67 countries. That last part blows my mind. I speak at high schools, and on college campuses. I’ve spoken on TEDx stages, been interviewed by VICE, FOX, CW, and many others. I’ve traveled to 22 countries. I go surfing daily in the afternoon. I even retired from the cold Canadian winter, and moved to California, also known as paradise.

    go for it - Cam Adair

    All of that is amazing, and I’m proud of it, but the real change has happened internally. I’m happy. Confident. Fulfilled. I wake up every day with purpose. Regardless of the adversity I face at times, I know I can overcome the impossible. To be at the point I am right now is the impossible. I can succeed. More than that, I hear from people on a daily basis who’s lives I’ve been able to impact. I hear from PHD students who are finally graduating, teenagers who no longer feel alone, and fathers who now have a relationship with their daughter. None of this would have been possible if I didn’t start with myself first.

    So now I want to give back. I want my life to be one of service. I want to pay it forward. I want to go above and beyond. And recently I launched an initiative to build a clean water well in Tanzania, Africa. In the future I want to help fundraise for after-school programs, the crisis hotline, suicide prevention, and so much more. But I can’t do it alone and need your support. Because together we can make an impact that extends far greater than ourselves. Together we can create real and lasting change. Together we can leave a legacy. We can leave a positive dent in the universe.

    So that’s a lot about me. But what I’ve learned throughout this crazy journey of mine is that so many of us have similar stories. We struggle with anxiety. Depression. Not feeling good enough. The life that has been planned for us, we reject. We don’t always know how to take that next step, but we know we need to take it. We get caught up in telling other people about our dreams, instead of just living them, and letting that speak for itself. I share my story today not because I need your validation. If one thing hasn’t changed since I was little, it’s my level of not giving a f*ck about what someone else thinks of what I do.

    I share my story to be an example. To be an example of what’s possible when you make the decision to go for it. When you decide to go all-in, and refuse to settle for anything else.

    If I could leave you with anything, it would be this:

    1. Commit your life to pursuing your dreams.

    As Casey Neistat shared in this YouTube video, “if you commit your entire life to a dream, you will find it, because if you commit your everything, your entire being, there’s only one of two possible outcomes. Number one: You’ll find it, you will succeed. Or number two: you’ll die trying, and it won’t make a difference either way.”

    2. Take it one day at a time.

    Your life consists of every single day, 24 hours at a time. Make the most of every day, and you’ll make the most of your life. What you do today becomes tomorrow, so focus on today. It’s all you’ve got.

    3. Launch a project.

    Projects give you structure, and structure gives you purpose. Purpose is your reason to wake up in the morning. Without a purpose it’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety, the fear, and the self-doubt. Launch a project and commit your everything to seeing it through. It doesn’t have to be your forever, but you need something. Remember that the purpose of a project has a lot less to do with the project itself, and more about who you have to become in order for it to succeed.

    You are going to wake up tomorrow anyways. You might as well just go for it.

    But don’t wait until tomorrow to start. Start now. In this moment. Because this moment is the same moment you’re going to have tomorrow where you ask yourself: Am I really going to go for it?

    I believe in you. You’ve got this.

    – Cam

    P.S. If you’d like to join me in building a clean water well for a village in Tanzania this October, click here to learn more. We are 80% funded and I need your support to cross the finish line. Every amount counts. Our deadline is September 9th. If you are unable to donate, please share it on social media.

    P.P.S. I always respond to all emails and comments. It’s something I’m passionate about. If you’d like to connect with me, leave a comment below, hit me up on FacebookYouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat.