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    The ultimate playbook to the work week hustle: balancing your side hustle & your 9-5

    work week hustle - 9-5 grind

    If you’re anything like me, you appreciate what it’s like to have a side hustle while working a full-time 9-5 job. It’s hard! It’s the definition of the work week hustle…especially if what you do during your day job is something you don’t really enjoy.

    The worst part about running a side hustle during your “off” hours, is that you only get limited time to work on it – so what you do in those limited hours is crucial if you ever want to do it full-time and eventually ditch the 9-5 grind.

    Mastering your hustle and grind will help take your side hustle to the next level.

    In this article, I’m going to recommend a handful of tiaps for better managing your side hustle and increasing your productivity, that my fellow side hustler and business partner Greg have learned through personal experiences during our 18 months of running a side hustle so far. These tips will help you utilize your hours better and get the maximum amount of work completed within the time you have per day.

    First, we have to set the context.

    What is a side hustle?

    A side hustle is a business that you build while working a full time 9-5 job. It is something you do outside of “normal” business hours and that you normally are building from your home in your spare time.

    Ok, let’s get into it.

    These are 10 things to realize when building your side hustle and working your 9-5.

    work week hustle - barista grind

    1. You must master your time management skills.

    A side hustle all boils down to time. Plain and simple.

    A day can go by fast, a day can go by slow and a day can go by at a perfectly normal speed if you find the hours in the day to make the most of every minute or second that goes by. It’s easy to kill an hour, but something you will never be able to do is bring back is that hour once you’ve used it all up.

    So here’s what I suggest you do: Find hours in your day wasted on doing nothing and replace them with working on your side hustle.

    Have a 1 hour allocated lunch break? Work.

    Have a 40+ minute train commute to work? Get your laptop out and start working.

    Oh, another 40 minute train commute coming home from work? Yes, you know what to do – get to work!

    You’d be surprised at the amount of time you let go to waste which could be replaced with working on your side-hustle.

    How about you reply to that text from your friend later on and replace that minute and a half with posting a piece of content to your Instagram page.

    Got a 10 minute walk from your train station to your work office? Who can you connect with or message within that time?

    Here’s a test for you – see if you can close a deal on a sale with a potential client within that 10 minutes while you are walking to work. It may sound ridiculous but these are all ways in which you can maximize the amount of work you are getting done within the time you get given – so use it to your advantage and make every second count.

    Who knows… – you could be closing a deal every walk to/from your office!

    2. Making sacrifices is uber important if you want your side hustle to work.

    If there is one thing I learned from the get-go, it’s that you are going to have to reduce the percentage of time you spend on leisure, and increase the percentage of time you spend on your side hustle.

    The reality of the side hustle world is that a very small amount of people are willing to sacrifice a night out with their friends for working on their side grind – and that’s why very few people make it.

    When you hear influential entrepreneurs who are 10+ years into their journey and have achieved a great deal of success say ‘you’re going to have to give up box sets of house of cards, miss parties, stay in on the weekends, and make all kinds of sacrifices to get to where you want to be’ – they’re not lying!

    The way I’ve always seen it is that, if this dream of turning a side hustle into your everyday business and lifestyle means that much to you – you won’t think twice about removing Netflix or watching reruns from your routine. Sacrifices are easy to make when you enjoy what you’re working on and when you know the outcome will be worth the inconvenience of skipping this week’s episode of The Bachelor.

    Since my business partner Greg and I started out, we’ve sacrificed every single weekday evening to work as well as time on the weekends. I even got rid of my physical TV in my bedroom a few weeks ago because it had become a distraction. My bedroom is now 60% office, 40% bedroom. But it’s good! Because now, once I get home from work, have dinner, and catch up with the fam – I can go up to an environment where not only do I feel like I can work, I know I have no distractions holding me back from getting stuff done.

    Certainly what I just described is not easy to do and of course we are all at completely different positions in life. Some of us are young, living at home with parents and don’t have many things to worry about or kids to feed and spend time with. However, I have friends within my circle of influence that have dedicated time to their side hustle with all of the above and more on their plate, and they have still managed to make it work.

    You’re going to have to make sacrifices, and your partner (if you have one) is going to need to support you. So, to give you an idea of how I’m fitting in time for my side hustle while working a full-time 9-5, this is what my weeks look like:

    Monday – Friday

    6:00am: Wake up
    6:45 – 8:15: Commute to work via bus and train
    8:30 – 6pm: Work
    6pm – 7:30pm: Commute home from work via bus and train
    7:30pm – 8:15: Eat dinner with family & have a catch up
    8:30pm – 12:30am: Meet Greg and work on our side hustle

    As for the weekends, we do still make time for our girlfriends but around that – we always find the time to work on our business and make sure we at least get in 4-5 hours worth of work each day (Saturday and Sunday).

    If you are even more committed you might work all day both days of the weekend – even better! That will give you even more hours to pump out some work. However, we do recommend you at least fit in some time to chill out, exercise and wind down as you can overwork yourself which will burn you out and actually amounts to being counter-productive.

    It’s important to find the balance. Greg and I have both had endless nights over the years where the effects of very little sleep have then led onto us to being less effective in the way we think, work and innovate – so it is important to catch up on those things and refuel.

    work week hustle - hand out for goals

    3. Accept that you are going to lose friends (or just identify the real ones).

    Now let me just prepare you for the friend situation: By reducing the percentage of time spent on leisure and hanging with friends, you are going to lose friends – there is no doubt about it.

    The next question to ask yourself is to identify whether they were actually ever friends at all if they are willing to cut you out of the circle and not show you any support for what you’re working on.

    Let me give you an example: When we were 18, Greg and I went on holiday with a group of 11 friends. Out of those other 9 people, we have both kept in touch with 2 of them. Out of these 2, 1 has always been supportive of what we’re doing. That 1 person is actually my best friend and although I only catch up with him now every couple of months, he fully appreciates what we’re doing and respects that we’re having to make sacrifices to make it work. Since day 1, he has never changed his ways and has thoroughly supported us throughout the entire journey so far. That’s a real friend. You’ll notice who your real friends are when it gets to tightening your circle.

    You may have heard the quote “Vision got bigger, Circle got smaller” – well it’s true. After all, wouldn’t you rather have 2 friends who support your vision and who are going to help you get there than 11 friends that aren’t interested? Food for thought.

    Regardless, you’re going to make new friends anyway when you start networking with other entrepreneurs on the same journey as you who have similar aspirations that you can relate to. So, don’t waste time on those who aren’t interested and tighten your circle.

    4. Coming up with a calendar to-do works really well.

    Back in episode 025 of our podcast, we interviewed Daniel DiPiazza of Rich20Something.

    It was our objective to get him to break down some tips & tricks for any our listeners who are running a side hustle to implement and become more productive with their time. He brought a very smart idea to our attention which we’ve used ever since and have seen results in our work as a result of following through with it.

    The idea was to create an editorial calendar to map out your content creation for your week into a schedule, and sticking to that schedule. So for example, when writing articles like this – you need to put all of your focus into writing that piece in order to make sure it’s 100% valuable for the reader. So I’ll set aside a Thursday night purely for writing an article and nothing else! This way I am able to stick to the schedule and not get distracted by numerous other tabs or jobs to be done within the 4 hours I have to work on my business, and it would mean I’d actually get one thing completed at a time.

    Meanwhile Greg is able to work on another aspect of the business within those 4 hours to ensure we are doing as much as possible and using the whole Co-Founder aspect to our advantage. For example on a Tuesday, Greg might allocate his 4 hours to writing an article, and I’ll focus on creating content for social – so we we are always maximizing our hours and doubling up on content creation. This is a perfect way for you to make sure you aren’t wasting time deciding on what to work on first and also to make sure that you are completing each job one at a time and not leaving each thing open ended, and unfinished. Stay organized and follow the F.O.C.U.S model – it will take you a long way, I promise.

    5. Focus on the actual hustle… not the less important tasks.

    During the first few months of building our side hustle, it felt like a regular occurrence that we’d finish the evenings with saying “wow, where did that night go?! Is it me or do you feel like you got nothing done tonight?” and sometimes, it does just feel like you haven’t done enough.

    In a way, it can be a good sign because it means you are always looking for more and to go the extra mile. However, in other aspects if you do have to question whether you’ve done enough – the likelihood is that you probably haven’t done enough.

    When we sat down to overview what we had been spending most of our time on, it would be the littlest things or the least important things that held priority over others. For example – both Greg and I had spent a long time on making the website – not just the content within the website, but even the additional features which seemed cool from a user experience point of view. We’d look at other sites and think: “That’s rubbish! Let’s make ours amazing so people don’t want to leave the website!”.

    Now what I will say is that making sure your website is well presented and easily accessible for the mobile user especially – it’s good to think that way. But at the same time, we were investing so much time on making the website look awesome that we were only spending 10% of our time on actually creating content for our potential consumers – which from a digital media brand that’s main purpose is to produce content for its consumers, it wasn’t a good sign.

    work week hustle - working late at night

    6. Identify the difference between being productive and just being busy.

    Make sure that you are spending the limited hours you get for working on your side-hustle on actually hustling and on things that matter and that are going to get you more customers, consumers, sales, exposure and connections.

    These are things that will drive your business to the next level. Focus on them. That’s in fact how I differentiate the two terms “productive” and “busy”.

    By being busy you are just giving yourself more work to do and you spend the majority of your time stressing over how much work you have to get through, While not having a chance to breathe.

    Being productive, on the other hand, is being able to produce large amounts of results and complete each task and then move on to the next thing. By reaching the end of the week and realizing you’ve completed 3 articles, 5 podcast episodes, a week’s worth of social media content, a handful of meetings, a handful of new connections, and more importantly, a handful of new sales – that’s what “Hustle” is about. Hustle is not about reaching the end of the week and realizing that you’ve got 5 more articles to write, 5 more podcast episodes to record, a week’s worth of social media content to create and no sales because you’ve not had time to focus on the things that matter. It’s important to identify the difference and edge towards being productive, not

    7. Patience and playing the long game is key.

    I was told the other day, that on average – an entrepreneur works 66 hours per week.

    Us side hustlers on the other hand, get far fewer hours to work with. In fact will get roughly half of that (if you’re willing to work weekends!), because we are spending the majority of our days at work in our 9-5 day jobs throughout the week.

    What you have to remember is that you aren’t going to be able to compete with the amount of work that full-time entrepreneurs produce in a week. You’ll do the best you can do with the little time you have.

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout this journey so far, is that patience is key.

    You have to respect the fact that you’re not going to be able to grow a business overnight and not enough for you to ditch your job right away – it’s going to take a long time. So you have to be able to keep the momentum going and keep building regardless of how long it’s taking.

    Patience is a key element of an entrepreneur’s skill-set and that’s why those who win are those who played the long game and kept their patience throughout the journey. When the timing is right and you’ve been grinding it out, producing content consistently and building the foundation of your business – the rewards will start to show. You’ll soon be able to hit a point where eventually, your business is growing at scale and you are in a much better position to be able to ditch your day job and become a 100% entrepreneur.

    Until then, you just have to keep grinding consistently and keep your vision in-tact.

    8. Set yourself miniature goals.

    Something both both Greg and I have done to keep the momentum flowing day by day, is to set goals. They don’t have to be goals that are out-of-the-park extreme, I’m talking about miniature goals.

    Even the smallest of goals still equal progress. You want to progress everyday, so setting yourself goals is a key element for pushing you to keep going and realizing how much work you are producing.

    This relates back to earlier on in this article when I mentioned about those nights when we’d question if we did enough. You want to end each week with a feeling of accomplishment from making progress – so every little step is bridging the gap between where you are now, and where you want your business to be.

    For example, I might set myself a goal to get 1 article written by the end of the week. So I’ll make sure to set aside a day within my editorial calendar to work toward that goal, so I can tick it off the list on move on to the next. As another example; we may set a goal to hit a certain number of downloads on a podcast episode – then we will work together on ways in which we can assure that target will be hit.

    There is no better feeling than exceeding a goal you set for yourself as opposed to just hitting the target. It’s like those last 3 additional reps you add in to your sit ups routine at the gym that were never accounted for – but you push yourself to do them. You feel better for it afterwards and are increasing your chances of muscle growth. This is the same but in business terms. If you exceed your targets, you’re going to have quicker growth. So set miniature goals that will lead to a big goal and work on building those blocks everyday.

    9. Identify how you like to work and stick to your own pattern.

    There are endless amounts of different hacks you can use to increase your productivity and get more done with your side hustle, but it all depends on you and how you like to work. Everybody works differently – some slower, some faster and everybody has a different way of getting things done.

    I like to use a to-do list and tick things off as I go along, whereas Greg doesn’t like to look at a list that has 50 tasks to do because he goes into overwhelm mode at the amount of work we have to do and doesn’t know where to start. Instead, he’ll add notes to his whiteboard that coincide with his editorial calendar and he’ll take it step by step.

    So don’t just view how others are doing it and try and carbon copy their working pattern because it might not work for you. Identify the pattern that works for you and feels right and double down on that.

    10. Build a team or find a co-founder may be more effective for you and your side hustle.

    One of the most helpful things that has enabled us to get a lot done and better manage our side hustle has been to rely heavily on our partnership.

    As I mentioned earlier on, by having two founders working together it’s allowed us to split the workload and get more done with the time we have. The way I see it is that if you get yourself a co-founder that you work well with and that holds a complimentary skill-set to you and brings their own value to the business, you can really dominate. Greg and I get 8 hours per day to work on our side hustle. How? Because my 4 hours are spent working on something completely different to what Greg’s working on – so together, our 4 hours combined are producing double the workload as opposed to somebody that is solo-founding a business.

    Something I learned from interviewing Daniel Priestley in episode 036 of our podcast, is that the best way to grow a business from the ground up is to build a great team.

    If you have 5 people building a startup together, all bringing different skill sets to the table – those 4 hours per night suddenly become 20 hours per night if managed correctly, and can really give you some leverage to experience rapid growth. Now in most cases, having a team working on a project together is going to ensure growth at a quicker speed rate than somebody trying to do it all themselves. I

    I’m not saying that working in a team or with a co-founder is for everybody, and that you should all go and find yourself a partner, I’m just saying that it has played a huge role in my journey so far and I’ve found it a lot better having somebody to not only bounce my ideas off of, but to work on a project with and double up on the content we are producing every day, adding more blocks to the empire that we’re building.

    Moreso, being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely, so having somebody on the journey with you is going to allow you to build quicker and stay motivated because you have each other to reflect with.

    It’s been a key element for us to keep the momentum going at full speed for Stage One Startup and stay motivated every single day to build this side-hustle into a proper business.

    Running a side hustle while working a 9-5 is something more and more people are doing nowadays, and everybody is looking for the best ways to scale their respective businesses. At the request of our listeners, we actually have just released a startup lesson episode on our podcast where we break down 8 effective ways to manage your side hustle whilst working a full-time job and we break each point down. If you’ve not yet had enough, and you’d like to find out these 8 tips – You can listen here

    Got any tips of your own that could be useful? Drop me an email – I’d love to learn from you too! My email is: info@stageonestartup.com. #HappyHustling!

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    The 1 thing every millennial needs to do for their self-development (and 3 reasons to do it)

    millennial sitting - self-development


    Volunteering your time & skills to support a non-profit organization is a wonderful thing to do.

    You help the organization, you help their beneficiaries, and your community… But one thing that is discussed less often, is this.

    Volunteering for a non-profit is immensely valuable for you as a person and you benefit a ton from your time spent doing so.

    Even regardless of social responsibility, it makes sense for your career & in business to spend time each month on supporting a nonprofit board. In this article I’ll run through some reasons why that is the case, with some examples from my personal experience and where I’ve benefited.

    First off, let’s talk about board diversity. Boards definitely lack diversity. According to Bourdsource.org, 80% of board members are white, and 84% of board members are over 40. Notably, they do tend to have an even split in terms of gender though, with 48% of board members being women.

    This means that if you’re reading this as a younger person (even more so if you’re part of a minority group), then you have something to offer. You have new ways of thinking, you most likely have more social media and general digital knowhow than ‘average’ nonprofit board members, and you’re a fresh pair of eyes to challenge the way things are done.

    To clear up any concerns and misconceptions about joining a non-profit board:

    You do not have to be wealthy and influential. While this certainly helps, nonprofits (particularly smaller ones) often struggle to recruit and retain passionate & skilled individuals to support the board. If you want to help and you have relevant skills to offer, they’ll love to have you.

    You do not need to know the organization inside out. If this really were the case, it’d be impossible to recruit board members! There’s an awful lot of information you’ll pick up over time about various project, operations & stakeholders. To start with, though, just make sure you know the mission statement and can articulate what the organisation does, and how you can help.

    These are the 3 ways I’ve personally benefited from joining a nonprofit board, and how you can too.

    millennial self-development

    1. You expand your network & meet new people.

    Even though it’s not a requirement, like I mentioned above, you’ll find that many board members are business owners or people with influence in business. Plus those who aren’t, will still have a huge amount of wisdom and value to offer you when you get to know them.

    You’ll enter into a whole new circle of people which will always have benefits in networking; it just so happens that these circles are generally pretty influential / useful contacts!

    For me personally:

    My web design & marketing agency has gained numerous work contracts from either people directly involved in the charities I support or their network.

    I have also employed somebody who volunteers at a youth charity where I am a trustee. People who volunteer their spare time to support charities, I dare say are more likely to have the qualities you are looking for as an employer.

    I’ve gained publicity for other projects, such as this one I co-founded / organized, aimed at feeding & clothing the homeless around Christmas. A connection through nonprofit work got us an interview on a popular local radio channel which led to extra volunteers at the event, and more donations.

    2. You develop your skill-set.

    Whether you’re a student, a business owner, an employee, or seeking work – I guarantee you will develop your skills tremendously while helping to run a non-profit. There are new stakeholder groups to communicate with and manage (volunteers, staff, funders, beneficiaries), new legal compliance to adhere to, and much more.

    I became a charity trustee as an undergraduate student while studying at Teesside University through their Volunteers program. Here’s a few general things I learned and skills I developed:

    Meetings. That’s right, meetings. At that point in my career & life, I had very little experience of formal regular meetings. I learned how to present myself to my co-trustees, and gained the confidence to share my ideas and perspectives.

    Leadership. As above, there are new stakeholder groups to consider. Volunteer staff members, the local council, our funders – these relationships all require different approaches to communicate with and manage. That experience has been invaluable in business.

    Writing grant applications. It may not be the first thing you’d expect, but for me, the value here was an improvement in my sales skills. To persuade a funder, you have to articulate how your objectives are aligned, strategize, & plan how those objectives will be achieved if the project moves forward. Definitely some similarity there to B2B sales!

    3. You enhance your resume/CV to impress employers.

    One more statistic for you: only around 2% of nonprofit board members are under 30. If you are under 30, how’s that for a way to stand out? Incredible!

    At a time when skilled job vacancies are as competitive as ever, it’s super important to be unique. Being a nonprofit board member makes you stand out in terms of both how your values & personality align with an organization’s culture, and in terms of professional skills as mentioned above.

    Also, you’ll find other board members & connections made will make for great referees. This can be super useful for obvious reasons, particularly if you have little previous employment (or none at all!).

    You should be in it for the right reasons.

    With all that being said, I will add the caveat that you shouldn’t join a nonprofit board for reasons that are only self-interested. I recommend finding a charity that has a mission & objectives that you care about. That way, you’ll find it much easier to give 100%, and it won’t feel like a chore to attend board meetings & do any bits of work in between.

    Also, remember that just because vacancies are not advertised, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Board members are volunteers & won’t always be on top of things like recruitment due to time restraints. Reach out, ask if they are currently accepting new trustees, explain what you can bring to the board, and get started!

    Some websites that may be useful in searching for opportunities:


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    Why you need to seriously think outside the box to be a successful entrepreneur

    think outside the box

    I take weekly 5 to 10 minute phone calls to share wisdom and business advice with those who find me through social media and articles such as these. I attract and converse with those who are hungry to start their business journey or to drastically expand it. Although I give different advice based on the person’s goals and current circumstances – two pieces of advice are constant, and one is…

    You need to think and do differently.

    While growing up and all throughout college we are taught to think inside the box. There is only one right answer and if we are wrong it hurts our grade point average. In business, I’ve learned to operate outside the little black box that everyone is taught to play within. Sometimes I get laughed at, but it’s worth it as it’s also led to my best business deals with the greatest returns. Thinking outside the box is what enabled me to go from clueless college graduate to $13MM in real estate in 4 years.

    There are MORE THAN A MILLION ways to structure a deal, grow your business, sell a product, etc. Period.

    Here’s just one real life example of thinking outside the box from a recent real estate deal that I successfully closed in October 2016.

    think outside the box

    My college roommate and great friend is a realtor in the area of Wisconsin where we grew up. He had been on my case about checking out a storage unit property that had been on the market for 18 months. In the past, I have bought countless apartments and I have the dream of owning 50,000 of them one day – but I have ZERO interest in storage units – so I told him, “no”.

    I get bored on off days. And two hours into this particular off day, I gave in. I called my buddy so we could meet the seller and other broker at the property to look at it. The moment I got out of the vehicle I realized there were 110 storage units, 5 apartments, 20,000 square feet of open bulk storage space, a billboard and a 8,000 square feet of industrial warehouse space (and at the time 4,000 of warehouse space was not generating any income and 20 storage units were vacant).

    I like flexibility and options. This property has many streams of income and since there were no other interested potential buyers I knew I could aggressively negotiate, yet make it a win for everyone.

    (NOTE: I always try to negotiate directly with the seller, even if there are numerous brokers. I don’t have the highest IQ, but I have solid EQ and I can get a great feel for where they are at based on body language, etc. when I talk to them.)

    The property was listed at $1,600,000. My first offer was $800,000 (Hey, no one else was looking at the deal 😉 ). We had a total of 11 counter offers back and forth. We ended up coming to an agreement at $1,200,000.

    The following are all the things that were done outside of the box. NO COLLEGE REAL ESTATE OR BUSINESS COURSE IN THE WORLD would have taught this!

    Within 2 minutes of meeting the seller I asked if he would finance my 20% down payment that I would need for the bank so they could loan me the other 80%. (He did – we pay him back monthly).

    After a few counter offers, I started putting more of my time towards the negotiation than I wanted. So on the 6th counter-offer I included a finders-fee paid to me personally. This was agreed on by the seller.

    The seller would not finance more than a 20% down payment for us and the bank ended up telling us they would only loan us 75% of the purchase price. That means we had another 5% ($60,000) to put into the deal. Since I was sitting on cash for another big investment I had to make a few months later, we went out and raised money. A handful of people were not interested. My buddy’s Grandma invested $60,000 and received 15% equity. She now gets a preferred return every month since she was the only one to put hard cash into the deal.

    Since there were 20 storage units empty and a 4,000 square foot warehouse empty, we put into the offer that we could market beginning immediately before we closed and if the deal were to fall through the seller would benefit off all of the work we did – (not a bad deal, right?). We ended up filling a few of the storage units and signing a 3 year lease with a large concrete company to fill that 4,000 warehouse. Their lease began once we closed the deal and they have since signed another 3 year lease on 3,300 square feet of bulk storage space we have on site!

    Thinking outside the box is the fastest and strongest way you can build a business.

    It’s the best way to solve problems. At closing, my realtor buddy (who also owns some equity in the deal), and I were given a check for $14,000 to buy a $1,200,000 deal. Let me state that again – because we thought outside the box, we did not have to write a check at closing to buy the property…instead, collected $14,000!

    We have added significant value to this property and thanks to thinking outside of the box, we would not consider selling this deal for less than $2,000,000 just 6 months after purchasing it for $1,200,000.

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    What happens when you trust yourself and your direction in life

    trust yourself - girls looking

    About four months ago I wrote an article about what to do when you feel in-between life stages and life purpose. Now I’m back to let you know how following my own advice went. Spoiler: it’s gone really really well.

    This is what happens when you trust your instincts and let them guide you in life.

    Four months ago, I was living with my parents after graduating from college. I was waitressing full time while also building my personal brand and business as a freelancer in multiple channels. I was tired, but excited. I was searching, but also discovering.

    Four months ago, I planned on saving some money and living out of my car for two months while I traveled the country and explored. I planned on moving to Los Angeles, which has been a dream of mine since I was young and spent my summers and Christmases on the west coast. I planned on living in a ratty apartment with other struggling artists and just seeing what happened. Los Angeles is full of dreamers who fill their days with marketing, finance, answering phones, or waiting tables, and spend their nights singing, acting, performing, or creating.

    At this time I had a bit of lingering self doubt but I also believed in myself to the fullest.

    But then opportunity knocks, and only you get to decide whether or not to answer. As I was living at home outside of Washington DC, I began traveling to New York on a somewhat regular basis. I started building connections and friendships that were different – different than the relationships I had in the past, these were that of empowerment, challenge, friendly competition, and care. I found myself counting down the days to my next New York trip as soon as the last had ended.

    Long story short, I live in Brooklyn now.

    Not only am I not waitressing to support myself but I am working full time on projects that ignite my soul. I planned and planned like it was my only past time. My plan changed. I planned again.

    trust yourself - moving to NYC

    And then I took a massive leap of faith, trusting my intuition the entire way, and it worked.

    In my last article I gave the following advice:

    My main piece of advice to anyone thinking about pursuing this lifestyle may sound slightly unexpected. Don’t just dive in head first.”

    I’d like to amend that. I agree. But I also dove in head first by moving to Brooklyn. Now, I’d say don’t just dive in head first. Get your ducks in a row, get a little extra padding in your savings account, and then dive in head first. An important person in my life said to me a couple of months ago, “New York isn’t a place to half-ass anything. You either keep moving forward with 110% or you drown.” It’s true. And I am still swimming.

    I also gave this advice: “…to anyone in a similar place.. keep pushing. You are working your ass off, but it will pay off.” If you’re like me and working what feels like 80+ hour weeks as you build your own life while holding onto pieces of your old lifestyle in order to pay the bills… it can only go up from here. We are progressing. We are moving forward. All that can happen from here is slowly letting go of our old lifestyles as our new ones fall into place. We can only go up from here. It is worth it.

    I’m still super freaking busy. But I’m loving it. I feel so free from self-doubt.

    However, that is not to say I don’t have days full of self defeat and discouragement, but I keep going and I’m still making it. Yes, I am on a tight budget and I have to watch my spending closely. Yes, I’m still spending most of my time working. But everything I do I’m enjoying in one sense of the word or another. I’m either working on something I’m really good at, something I really love, or something that is pointing me towards one of the former.

    I try to get a general track of my hours so I know how I am spending my time, but at the end of the day I don’t really know how to keep track. Everything I do, whether it’s sending emails or having a drink with a friend, blends together. Everything I do is productivity towards where I’m supposed to be.

    There is a time for creating, a time for hustling, a time for relaxing, a time for loving, and time for fighting, and all these things blend together when you have one main goal. This main goal should be the same for everyone: to be filling the space in the world that you are meant to be filling, no more, no less.

    I’ll add a final piece of advice that I’ve been committed to over the past year and a half or so: Get to know who you are, and stay committed to what you know you’re supposed to be doing in the world.

    When you do this, everything else falls into place.

  • ,

    The ultimate playbook to growing your influence online: how to get published in major publications

    how to get published -cole mather guide

    Editor’s note: before we jump in…

    How do you get published in major publications like Inc Magazine, Forbes, TIME, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Apple News, and more?

    If there’s one person who knows better than anyone, it’s Nicolas Cole—a 26 year old who has more writing accolades attached to his name than most professional writers twice his age. We recently did a piece covering Cole’s journey to the top of the digital writing world. He is a 3x Top Writer on Quora with close to 20M views on his content there alone, as well as one of Inc Magazine’s most popular writers with several more million views on his daily columns there. He has had work published in over 20 of the Internet’s biggest publications, everything from Forbes to Fox News, and he is a ghostwriter for C-suite executives, serial entrepreneurs, and prolific thought leaders.

    Hearing Cole explain it, he has “cracked the code” on how to build a personal brand on the Internet, and generate more PR for himself than any PR agency could for any one of their clients. In fact, there was a time during Cole’s peak on Quora where he was having one of his Quora answers republished by a major publication every single week for almost 6 months straight.

    How did he do it?

    how to get published - man at desk

    So you want to get published by major publications?

    Then chances are, you are probably:

    1) A blogger that wants to know how to write for the big publications in your industry.

    2) A business owner that wants to generate PR for your company.

    3) An industry expert and you want share your knowledge and be known as a thought leader.

    4) An author, speaker, or entrepreneur that wants to generate buzz around something up-and-coming: a book launch, a speaking tour, a new app launch, etc.

    5) A writer that wants to one day have a column in a major publication.

    Then you’ve come to the right place.

    This is what I want to teach you: there is a method to climbing the ladder and having your content published by some of the Internet’s biggest and most credible publications. I would know—I climbed my way up the ladder the hard way.

    The power of Quora to get your name out there.

    It all started back on Quora. Have you ever heard of Quora?

    If you haven’t, you need to, and here’s why:

    What I didn’t know about the Question/Answer site, Quora, is that their internal team has close relationships with many of the big publications: TIME, Inc, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Apple News, and more.

    I didn’t know this.

    For the first few months of my writing on Quora, I was just writing content I felt like I wanted to write. Some of it was good, I suppose, but a lot of it lacked any real aim. I was just writing for the sake of writing.

    This is the mistake so many content writers, business owners with a blog, entrepreneurs on social media, and more make. They create content (sometimes a lot of it), but they don’t really know who they are talking to, or why they are writing what they’re writing in the first place.

    …More on that later.

    About 4 months into my writing on Quora, I had my first answer republished by Inc Magazine. If you click that link and check out the article, you’ll see that the author of the article is “Quora” and then at the start it gives me, the author, credit for writing it.

    This is one of the things not many people know about the publication world, and Quora isn’t the only platform that you can “hack” to climb the ladder.

    Sites like Quora basically provide free press release distribution.

    You see, once I had my first piece published in Inc Magazine through Quora, I started to dive deep into how that process works and how I could get more and more content placed.

    Here’s what’s most important, and what I want to stress to you here:

    If you write something that gets published in a major publication like Inc Magazine, or Forbes, or TIME, that level of credibility puts you leagues above the competition.

    4 years ago, I was nothing more than another kid who had graduated with a degree in creative writing (not a very popular major, in case you were wondering), with no portfolio.

    Now? I have had work featured in every single major publication on the Internet.

    I have had over 20 articles go viral, accumulating anywhere between 100,000 and 1M+ views. I also recently self-published my first book, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, which debuted at #2 in two different categories on Amazon.

    These are just some of the benefits of having work featured in major publications, but the real value is in becoming a trusted and valued thought leader in your industry.

    Having this sort of credibility under your belt is the first step to building a powerful personal brand for yourself, which you can then leverage for your business or any other ventures.

    This is what people don’t understand:

    When you become a thought leader in your industry, the opportunities come to you.

    Whether you’re an aspiring writer, or a C-suite executive, the Internet today is everyone’s go-to resource. Before you go meet with someone for coffee, you Google them. After you meet with someone, you Google them. When you’re considering whether to hire someone, you Google them. When you’re looking for helpful information in your industry, you Google it. And the people who appear and you see as valuable resources are the people you inherently see as “leaders.”

    One of the best ways to become one of those leaders is to be the one creating and authoring the content. It doesn’t matter what industry, what your skill set, what you’re passionate about, as long as you’re the one creating the content that people are consuming.

    But here’s where everyone goes wrong when it comes to knowing how to get an article publication in a major publication:


    Have you ever wondered why some people’s content performs extremely well, and other people write blog post after blog post and never see any traction?

    Before we get you having work published on big blogs or major publications, let’s talk about the actual writing for a second.

    Here’s a little secret (well, actually it’s a big secret) that I am going to share with you about content writing, creating articles, and even the world of blogging:

    You should never start with a blog.

    how to get published - do more desktop

    When people want to start positioning themselves as a thought leader, sharing their voice or knowledge with the world, they assume the best place to start is their own blog on their own site.

    No. Wrong.

    That’s actually the worst place to start—because not only do you have to figure out how to build a blog worth coming to, and post content worth reading or looking at, but you also have to work really, really hard to let people you know you exist in the first place.

    Social media, or platforms like Medium or Quora where social elements are integrated, is a much better place to start. Here’s why:

    1. You will get immediate feedback.

    Starting on a social platform instead gives you the opportunity to practice out in the open. In order to become a really great content creator, you need to go through a lot of years of public practice—and truthfully, it never stops.

    You need people to comment on your content with things like, “This was the worst thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. Thanks for wasting ten minutes of my time.”

    That sort of feedback, although not necessarily the easiest to hear, is what ultimately makes you better. You have to listen to what people are saying, contemplate it, and then figure out how you can continue to improve. Otherwise, you will write by yourself, post your work on an empty blog, gain no feedback, and then have no idea if what you’re doing is wonderful and amazing or horrific and shitty.

    2. You can build an audience.

    As I mentioned, the biggest benefit to building out a social platform instead of a blog in the beginning is that you can build an audience.

    It’s a lot easier for people to follow you on Twitter or Instagram than it is for them to subscribe to your blog, or remember to check your site every couple days. Also, the audience is already there on that social platform. You can tap into millions and millions of people by using relevant hashtags or keywords, or shouting out and collaborating with other influencers in your space. Instead of trying to convince everyone to come join your own unique party, go join theirs first. This goes for any platform with users: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all the way over to Quora, Medium, LinkedIn and more.

    Once you have an audience, you can direct them to your blog.

    3. Social media is a blog in itself.

    When I first started posting on Instagram, the way I approached it was like a micro-blog. I wrote really long captions with every post. Everyone told me I was doing it wrong, and that on Instagram you were supposed to use short, quick captions. But I am a writer. I wanted to share more of me, and I did so through writing long captions.

    That approach to Instagram is what ended up allowing me to build an audience of 20,000+ followers. People looked forward to what I was writing even more so than the photos I was posting. It became a mobile blog, and no different than how I would have posted that same sort of material on a website, instead I was posting it on an app where an audience already existed.

    This can be done with any social platform. I’ve seen people do some really cool things with Snapchat stories. Twitter short stories. Long Facebook captions. Etc.

    Social media is a “blog,” but each platform has different rules and restrictions. Success on each platform then comes down to your ability to use the restrictions of the platform to your advantage and create something new and different.

    4. So when should you start a blog?

    You should only start a blog once you’ve done all of the above.

    You should spend a considerable amount of time practicing in public, getting in front of people, posting content where it can be easily found. You should begin building your audience, and figuring out what it is they are looking for and how you can provide real value you them. And you should start putting the puzzle pieces in place so that, down the line when you do launch a blog, you can use social media as the entry point and then guide people to much longer form content.

    Because the truth is, you can only drive traffic so many ways:

    1. Ads
    2. Collaborations / Shout Outs (from other blogs, social pages, etc.)
    3. SEO
    4. Social Media
    5. Word of mouth

    Especially today, social media is by far the most effective (and free—it just costs time) way to get people to know about you and know about your blog. So until you have that, in some shape or form, there’s no point to invest (time or money) in building a site nobody knows exists.

    It’s amazing how many people don’t know this. But hey, now you know.

    In order to build yourself into a thought leader and gain exposure for yourself, you have to think hard about what questions your target audience is asking.

    Now, in order to actually attract readers (and the attention of the big publications that you want republishing your content), you need to not only be writing in social environments FIRST, but understanding what your target audience is actually looking for in the first place:

    The #1 question you need to ask yourself before you write a single piece of content is this:

    “What are the pain points of my target audience?”

    how to get published - laptop on table

    Here’s what I mean by pain points:

    1) What is your target audience struggling with? What are they having trouble “figuring out?”

    2) What do they want to learn? More specifically, what questions do they have?

    3) What is holding them back from taking that next step forward? What are they afraid of?

    4) What sort of content are they already looking for? How can you deliver that content even better than the competition? How can you make it easier to understand, or more accessible, or more entertaining, or more professional?

    5) What is confusing to your audience, based on their skill level? For example: what do all beginners in your field or niche struggle with? What about people who have been in that market for a year or two? Etc.

    The more you can get clear on what people are struggling with, the more you can cater your content as solutions to those problems.

    Because think about it: why do people use Google? Why do people search for things?

    They’re searching for Questions. They are looking for Answers.

    This was really the big “ah hah” moment for me on Quora. Since Quora is a Question/Answer site, I was forced to answer people’s questions—that’s the whole point of writing there. However, I also realized that the best answers were the ones that were written a lot like articles. They were structured to provide high quality information, they were just executed specifically to answer the question that was being asked.

    600+ Quora answers and 200+ columns for Inc Magazine later, and now this is the way I approach ALL of my content.

    Every single time I sit down to write, I ask myself, “What question am I answering?” And the way I come up with that question (if I am starting with a blank slate, like when I write for Inc), is by getting clear on what my audience wants help with. What question would THEY be asking that I could answer?

    Once I have that question in mind, I write the article in a way that clearly answers that question.

    I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with getting work picked up by major publications:

    This way of writing is exactly what I believe has gotten me published so many times.

    In fact, there was a period of 6 months when I was having a different Quora answer republished by a major publication every single week. Seriously. Every week they would publish their Publication Features (Quora content that got republished elsewhere), and every week my name would appear somewhere: TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Observer, Slate Magazine, Fox News, Apple News, Entrepreneur….

    It was absurd.

    But what I started to realize was that all I was doing was writing in a way that spoke directly to a very targeted reader.

    Most people write content that doesn’t have a focus. They talk about one thing, and then they bounce around to something different, and then go on a tangent, and then try to wrap things back up in the end—and you’re not really sure what the point of the article was.

    The other unfortunate truth is that most people write content that is extremely self serving.

    That’s not what makes great content.

    What makes great content is providing value to your target reader, and in order to do that you have to know what question you’re answering.

    The writing aspect is the whole art.

    So, how do you attract the attention of the big publications and get huge social media exposure?

    Alright, before you go crawling the Internet for editors and columnists (like myself) at major publications, asking for them to write about you or to help you get published there yourself, let’s talk about how you can do all of that yourself.

    Do you know how all these big blogs and major publications survive?

    They survive off of page views. That’s how they generate revenue is by selling advertising space by the page view. (You probably already know that.)

    Ok, so in order to generate page views, what do all these sites need?

    Great content. Sharable content. Content that they can post once and is going to be viewed hundreds of thousands, even millions of times.

    As a viral writer and someone who drives a significant amount of traffic through my writing, this is something I have learned very, very well.

    Publications are constantly on the lookout for the next great piece of content they can publish.

    So, aside from having their own contributors, where do you think they go to find content?

    I’ll tell you exactly where:


    These are the top three. There are more—in fact, there are a lot more, and that’s one of the big takeaways here: there is more than one way to climb the ladder and succeed.

    However, these are the 3 that I have found drive the highest amount of results.

    All 3 of these platforms not only have their own internal syndication processes, but big publications, websites, and well-known blogs keep their eyes peeled here for amazing content.

    So what if you were regularly posting valuable content in these places?

    Chances are, you’d have happen to you exactly what happened to me: slowly your content would find its way up the chain.

    Again, why is this valuable to you?

    Well, here are just a few things I have personally experienced after people started seeing my content published by major publications:

    1) I wake up every single morning to 5-10 inbound leads of potential clients in my inbox looking for me to help them with their digital marketing strategy, their personal brand, and their content writing.

    2) I have been approached by agents with book deal offers.

    3) I have been invited to speak at a variety of events.

    4) I have appeared on major podcasts right alongside some of the biggest names in the marketing and branding industries.

    5) I have sold copies of my book in over 30 countries worldwide.

    6) I have been able to leverage my credibility to interview massively successful thought leaders, such as Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank.

    7) I have been fortunate to connect with so many industry thought leaders who have read my content and reached out to me, and built an extraordinarily powerful network as a result.

    The list goes on and on, but these are just some of the benefits of people seeing your work on the “big stage.” It’s just a different level of credibility.

    So let’s go back to what I was saying above:

    One of the best ways to get your voice out in public and shared on these major platforms is by first delivering value to the free platforms.

    What a lot of people don’t know is that Quora, Medium, and LinkedIn, all push the best content that gets published on those platforms out to their newsletter lists, meaning that your work has the opportunity to get seen by thousands upon thousands of people.

    In addition, like I mentioned a few minutes ago about Quora, these platforms have relationships with major publications because they are always looking for great content to repost. So you could write something on Medium, and if it starts to gain traction and someone from a big publication sees it, there’s a good chance it will get republished there as a result.

    It’s a ladder, and if you want to climb it, you have to start at the bottom.

    Now, a lot of people think that this is the “long road.” They would rather take a shortcut and just go straight to the top.

    Yeah… It doesn’t really work that way.

    Instead, it’s a whole lot better to build a sound foundation for yourself. Build an audience for yourself. Get your voice and your value down. Start writing things that matter on platforms like Quora, Medium, or LinkedIn, and let the market carry you to the top.

    If you do this the right way from the beginning, you’ll understand the game and be able to get things republished over and over again.

    Nobody cares about your content (now let me tell you why, and how you can fix that)

    Finally, I want to point something out that I haven’t really touched on yet:

    You cannot write articles as if they are promotional pieces for yourself. You just can’t.

    I swear to you, being a columnist for Inc Magazine, I get PR pitches in my inbox every single day. And do you know what all of them share in common?

    Hey Nicolas! I am reaching out to see if you’d be interested in writing about our CEO. He has done a few cool things in his career, and he’d love for you to write about him. Let me know!

    …I don’t care.

    In fact, nobody cares.

    That’s the truth, and I hate to be the one to say it.

    What makes an article valuable isn’t who it’s about (unless you’re, you know, a celebrity or someone like Elon Musk, I suppose).

    What makes an article valuable is what it teaches the reader. What it helps them with. How it enriches their life and provides them value.

    As much as PR companies want to think that their article draft about a CEO who just started a new company is valuable, the truth is it’s not.

    What would be more helpful to a reader would be for that CEO to share 5 mistakes he made starting his first business—and if he could do it over again, what he would do differently.

    Do you see the difference?

    People think that by focusing on the value, they won’t “sell” the reader or direct them to where they want them to go. But that’s the irony of the whole thing. If you try to “sell” the reader, they’re gone. In fact, they never cared in the first place—because they aren’t searching for your self-promotional story. They are searching for an Answer to their Question.

    But when you write content in a way that answers that question and caters to that thing they’re struggling with, now you’ve earned their trust. And in some cases, if they find your content to be extremely helpful (and see you as a valuable resource), they will reach out directly and seek out your services.

    That’s the entire goal—and I swear to you, this happens. Every single one of my clients is inbound. They read my content, they learn something new, they see me as a knowledgeable resource, and they reach out because they know that I know what I’m talking about.

    That’s what I want to teach you how to do.

    You now understand the value of writing and building credibility for yourself online.

    You also understand where you should start writing: Quora, Medium, and LinkedIn, so that you can start building an audience and catching the eyes of the major publications.

    And you also understand how the content ladder works.

    The next step is learning how to structure your writing in a way that has the ability to not only be instantly republished by these major publications, but has the potential of going viral.

    For being a PRSUIT reader and taking the time to learn from this Playbook, I want to give you 75% off my online writing course, How To Get Published In Major Publications. Use code [Prsuit] at checkout to get this deal.

    In the course, I actually walk through my process for writing viral content—pieces that have gone on to accumulate anywhere from 100,000 and 1M+ views, each—and content that has been republished by major pubs like Forbes, Fortune, TIME, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, and more.

  • ,

    Why you need to stop following your passion and do this instead

    follow your passion - clown guy

    WARNING: New research finds “Follow Your Passion” is the worst advice you’ve EVER heard (and offers a weird new alternative).

    How’s that for a clickbait headline? A bit much, yea? But it’s true.

    It’s also confusing, right?? Of course it is.

    You’ve always been told that you’re supposed to chase your passion!

    Your parents, your mentors, even your friends all tell you the same thing: “Follow Your Passion!”. And on the surface, it makes sense. If you follow your passion, you’ll be happy and successful… right?


    In fact, a PhD Computer Scientist from MIT and a psychologist have uncovered what actually leads to the happiness so many chase by following their passions (more on this in a bit).

    You see, not too long ago I too was a “follow your passion” believer.

    All my self-help books kept telling me the same story: the people who succeed are the ones who follow their passions.

    Because when you follow your passion, you’ll have the motivation and willpower to grind your way to the top!

    And I was a die-hard believer.

    But it wasn’t until my 2nd BIG failure in 6 short months that I started questioning this “Passion Hypothesis”.

    follow your passion - man smiling

    Here’s the short story:

    It was October 2015 and I was getting my feet wet with real estate investing.

    And after a few weeks of “in the trenches” experience dialing for dollars… I was hooked!

    I had found my passion: real estate.

    But soon, picking up the phone and calling on properties became a daily struggle… and eventually took its toll on me.

    So after a few months, I started looking elsewhere for a new challenge to sink my teeth in. And in May 2016, I found it.

    I was going to be a payment processing, door-to-door salesman!

    My new passion was… money! (It paid VERY well… if you could sell)

    But in just two short months of pounding the pavement, facing rejection after rejection, I burned myself out and left the job.

    And what I realized is this:

    Being passionate (or enthusiastic) about something doesn’t mean you’ll be good at that thing.

    And being good at something is where ALL the happiness (and money) is. You see, you need to get GREAT at a skill to find happiness in your work.

    But I didn’t realize this until I accidentally stumbled across Cal Newport (the MIT computer scientist…). In Cal’s bestselling book – So Good They Can’t Ignore You – he shattered the “Passion Hypothesis.”

    Here’s how he did it:

    After months of pouring through psychology and career-related research, and interviewing hundreds of happy and successful people, Cal discovered that you’re MOST HAPPY with your work and your life when you have this ONE THING…


    And he found that in order to achieve autonomy – the freedom to work how you please and to command the rates you deserve – you have to get really freakin’ good at ONE thing.

    Now, if you’re like most 20-somethings, your “one thing” is constantly changing…

    One month you’re an online marketer…

    The next month a graphic designer…

    Then a real estate investor…

    You dabble with this and that… never really becoming great at anything… but instead you become average at lots of little things.

    In short: You have NO CLUE what skill you should commit to mastering.

    But that’s OK.

    Because a very wealthy, healthy, and happy entrepreneur named Doberman Dan knows what you need to get really stinkin’ good at:

    To become unapologetically irreplaceable…Highly compensated for your work…And downright IN DEMAND…

    You need to be able to convince people to do something you want them to do. In business terms… you need to master the art of turning prospects into customers.

    In other words, you need to become a master salesman… But not the regular kind of salesman.
    Instead, the kind of salesman who sells with the written word… a copywriter.

    Think about it like this: Who’s more valuable? Someone who travels to each individual prospect, speaks with one single person at a time, then moves on to the next lead…? OR…

    Someone who writes his pitch on paper one time (or via email… sales page… video sales letter…) and simultaneously sends it to thousands of leads? We all know sales is a numbers game. And the crafty wordsmith wins everytime.

    follow your passion - shoes in street

    Okay, so let’s recap:

    1. We know “Follow Your Passion” is a recipe for disaster because “liking” something doesn’t mean you’ll be GREAT at it…

    2. And research has found being really freakin’ good at one thing leads to lots of freedom and autonomy… which is HIGHLY correlated with happiness…

    3. And we know the ONE THING we should get really freakin’ good at is copywriting!

    But there’s just one problem…

    How the hell are you supposed to become a great copywriter/great at your niche skill if you can’t even write a letter to your grandparents?

    Lucky for you, a psychologist by the name of Dr. Anders Ericsson has spent more than twenty years uncovering the answer to this question…

    Dr. Ericsson’s research finds time-and-time again that the idea of innate talent is BULLSH*T.
    And anyone can become a world-class performer with a method called “Deliberate Practice.”

    Deliberate Practice is made up of these 4 elements:

    – You must be motivated to become GREAT at your skill
    – You must practice slightly out of your comfort zone
    – You must receive feedback on your performance
    – You must repeatedly perform the tasks

    One of the reasons that in less than 30 days I’m leaving the U.S. to travel the world as a freelance copywriter (and 3 months ago I didn’t even know what copywriting was) is because ‘deliberate practice’ is so freakin’ effective.

    Meaning you ACTUALLY get better with each and every day you practice.

    But I’ve gotta warn you…

    It takes daily work.

    But if you stick with it…

    You will see results.

    If you’re tired of wandering from job to job, being paid like a lousy intern, and wishing you had more freedom and happiness in your life…I encourage you to do this:

    Find your niche skill and practice it. That is what offers fulfillment.

    If it’s copywriting – something I truly believe is the most powerful and influential skill one can posses –  then go for it. I chose this example because it has immediately and powerfully affected my life.

    If it’s public speaking, go for it.

    If it’s producing music, go for it.

    If it’s graphic design, go for it.

    If it’s data analytics, go for it.

    If it’s something else, go for it.

    Find what it is and then apply Deliberate Practice to kickstart your journey.

    PS: If you’re interested in copywriting, check out this amazing course

  • ,

    How just being yourself and authentic will lead to a life of opportunity

    just being yourself - girl with nose ring


    When you’re truly authentic, just being yourself and truly honest with the world, something magical happens over time that can never be replaced. A genuine connection is made, a love and appreciation for who you truly are is established…and trust me, that’s more valuable than any amount of likes or comments that a fake version of your self could ever produce.

    Be true, be who you are, and don’t settle for being anything other than that – you and every one you come in contact with deserves it.

    Here’s my story and how I came about this understanding.

    just being yourself - man looking at camera

    There I sat dressed in my best interview suit, my resume finely tuned, feeling elated from a stellar interview, and ready to shake hands with the hiring manager because after being laid off for four months and struggling to keep a roof above my head I had finally been offered a job-then I heard the death blow come from the lips of the hiring manager right after he congratulated me on the position.

    Now all we have to do is run a background check and you’ll be good to go, welcome to the team son!”

    Immediately my heart dropped down to my stomach because I knew that as soon as the HR department saw the two felony drug charges on my record it was lights out and back to being broke and unemployed for me. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and wouldn’t be the last, but to say I was tired of this on going wrestling match with corporate America and how the work place refuses to give felons a second chance would be an understatement. Currently 77% of felons who are released from prison get arrested again for a new crime within three years of their release.

    The reason?

    No one in the work force believes that they are worthy of being given an opportunity to truly put the past behind them.

    I take full responsibility for my actions and I understand what I did was wrong, but I had already paid my debt to society for the crimes I committed almost ten years ago so why should I continue to be punished by not being given the opportunity to make better of the rest of my life and contribute to society in a positive way?

    Apparently the hiring manager felt the same way because when he saw that somber look in my eyes and I confessed to him that I had a criminal record his facial expression soon matched mine and the deathblow slowly trickled from between his lips.

    “Young man, as bad as I want to hire you I just can’t-the higher up’s have a policy in place that I know they won’t bend for. How ever, I refuse to tell you that I’m sorry because I’m not, before you walk out of that door there’s something that you need to know…

    I quickly straightened up, prepared to defend my self thinking he was going to give me some spill about how wrong it is to commit crime and that I should be ashamed of my self for my actions, not knowing how much effort I put into changing my ways, but that didn’t happen.

    Instead he told me something that gave me hope and completely eradicated any shame I ever felt for the things I did and gave me the energy to get to where I am today.

    What he told me gave me true insight into what it means to be yourself.

    I knew from the minute I interviewed you in the first round that there was something different about you. At first I was taken aback by the massive amount of tattoos that cover your body and I was slightly apprehensive to interview a man chose to permanently ink his face and his eyelids, but as soon as you sat down and we began talking I knew there was something greatly unique about you.
    I’ve been in sales for over 20 years of my life, I can spot a fake from a mile away, but you’re different…

    “You’re honest about your flaws and you don’t try to overtly play up your strengths. You have a poise about you that says, ‘I’ve been through some things in my life that I’m not proud of. However, it hasn’t slowed me down and I refuse to let any one or anything stop me from getting what I want out of life.’

    And that’s precisely why I’m not sorry that I can’t hire you, because this job isn’t meant for you. Christopher, if you never see me again I want you to remember this…

    You are born for greatness, and everything that you’ve been through has made you who you are. Where most people would see your record and be appalled, I see it as proof of a man that’s willing to risk anything to get to where he desires to go, even his own freedom and that’s impressive. Promise to always be authentic no matter where life takes you, because that is ultimately what’s going to get you ahead, I wish you well.

    Never in my life had I met someone whom I considered massively successful tell me such things about myself and from that day forward I swore that I would never feel ashamed again for my past.

    I became committed to no longer covering up my tattoos, or being embarrassed of what I’ve done or who I am.

    I felt obligated to no longer be apprehensive of the color of my skin or the weight of my criminal record and I fell completely in love with being my authentic self and telling my truth to the world-no matter what.

    Fast forward a few years later and I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was. Regardless of what I go through or how I’m judged I’m 100% positive that I am who I am for a reason and I stand behind that in a way that draws the right people to me.

    I tell you this story because I’ve noticed an ongoing plague within society- especially in the world of social media where we are praised with likes, and retweets, and shares for being someone that we are not.

    But that’s the thing, all those like and shares are just vanity metrics and in the grand scheme of things they really don’t mean anything.

    You should never let the power of someone else’s opinion of you affect your own inner joy and confidence. Just be you and do you.

    You don’t need to take an endless amount of selfies as way to validate your worth in this world.

    The fact that you were born with the ability to think for your self and chose your own path is sufficient enough evidence to prove you are worthy to be who you are.

    Besides… you want to know what people truly like and appreciate about you… regardless of where you’re from, what weight you are, the things you’ve done in the past, or the color of your skin.


  • ,

    6 books everyone should read & how they have all changed my life and career

    books everyone should read - girl reading book

    When I think about which influences have made the biggest positive impact on my life I always point to a few books. The value you can get from a good book is phenomenal: they only cost $20 but the knowledge inside can be worth its weight in gold.

    In life, there are simply some books you should read. No question about it.

    The ways we think about work and careers are often based on outdated paradigms. If you want to stand out from your peers then you have to be willing to expose yourself to ideas that challenge conventional wisdom.

    The books I recommend here have helped me navigate an unconventional career path that has ultimately led to greater satisfaction in my life and work.

    These are the 6 books you should read to change your career and your life.

    books everyone should read - girl reading book

    1.Shifting your mindset and learn a skill.

    The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

    This book was an absolute game changer when I read it at age 20. Tim Ferriss’ message is that working the 9-5 isn’t the only way to have a life of prosperity and happiness. In fact, neither of those are guaranteed with a conventional job and he presents a framework to create an independent life for yourself with greater freedom.

    This book is excellent at shifting mindsets, especially when he demonstrates the absurdity of working solid for 40 years and then trying to enjoy your life after you retire and the boundless energy of your youth has faded. He presents the idea of “mini-retirements”, where you spend a month or so pursuing a project you’ve always wanted to do or taking that overseas trip you’ve been putting off for years.

    After reading this book I had the courage to turn down a corporate grad job after university and instead moved to the United States to learn how to code.

    2. Develop your skills quickly and effectively

    So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

    Cal Newport busts the conventional wisdom of “follow your passion” and presents an effective solution for finding work you love: develop valuable skills. When you get really good at a skill that is valuable in the marketplace (ie. becoming “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”) then you can leverage that skill to have more autonomy and responsibility, ultimately making your work more attractive.

    There are some great lessons in here about how to develop your skills much more quickly like adopting a craftsman mindset and having the dedication to do “deliberate practice”.

    In my own life I was able to embody the lessons from this book by learning how to become a web developer, a position which ultimately gave me an incredible work-life balance and location independence. I don’t love every minute of getting paid to program but it has offered me the opportunity to do attractively paid freelance work from anywhere. Now I can use those skills and the money I’ve earned to pursue more of my interests and start my own businesses.

    3. More skills… more success.

    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

    This is a semi-autobiographical book from the creator of the popular business comic Dilbert. Before he became a cartoonist Scott Adams had a long career working in corporate and along the way discovered what are the “mechanics of success”.

    The big takeaway from this book is his success formula: every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success. The reason for this is because it’s much easier to be one of the best in the world at a unique combination of skills than it is to best the absolute best in just one. Scott Adams’ own success with Dilbert was a result of combining skills: he learned how to draw, understood humor and had a background in business. He wasn’t the greatest at any of these, but he was the best at combining them all together and created a incredibly popular comic about an engineer working in a corporate environment.

    4. The best career advice you’ll receive is…

    The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel Pink

    This book is a career guide disguised as a comic book. In this story we meet Johnny Bunko, who has just started a new job and is disheartened that all his achievements in school have lead to him working in a cubicle five days a week. With the help of some magic chopsticks a pixie called Diana arrives to offer him 6 critical career lessons:

    There is no plan
    Think strengths, not weaknesses
    It’s not about you
    Persistence trumps talent
    Make excellent mistakes
    Leave an imprint

    What makes this book powerful is that it frames important career advice into an easy to follow narrative. The manga style comic makes for a really novel business book that’s especially enjoyable to read. If you want more convincing to read this book go check out its awesome trailer.

    5. There is no better time than now to be an entrepreneur.

    The End of Jobs by Taylor Pearson

    Now more than any other time in history people have the greatest amount of control deciding what to do with their lives. Taylor Pearson has put together a great thesis to demonstrate that the rise of entrepreneurs has begun and that our society is reaching the end of jobs. One of the big reasons for this are the advances in technology and globalization that lets you start a business today for only a hundred dollars that would have cost tens of thousands only 15 years ago.

    If ever you need convincing as to why you should leave your “safe” job to do something that people often perceive as being too risky then this is the book to read. There is no better time than now to be an entrepreneur.

    6. How to make an impact in the world.

    Mastery by Robert Greene

    Mastery is a valuable book to read if you’re working in a creative field or looking to make a big impact in the world. Although it is never too late to begin your pursuit towards mastery I’m glad I read this book in my mid-twenties because it definitely helps to get an early start.

    Robert Greene discusses a number of different stages each of us must pass through on the road to mastery but his advice for people at the early stage of their journey is of most value. He suggests that people pass their twenties by moving with trial and error, seeing what kind of work suits you and figuring out what you want to avoid at all costs. Having a wide-ranging apprenticeship in your twenties avoids the trap of following a rigid, singular path that might lead to a career dead end and instead offers expanding possibilities as you get older.

    These six books have completely changed how I think about careers. They have made a huge impact on my own career trajectory and I hope they do the same for you too.

    Have any other books changed the way you think about work and careers? I would love to hear about them. Email me at podcast@fabsays.com

  • ,

    How to start your own business in 1-2 weeks (no matter how old you are)

    child with backpack looking at sky

    As a young or first time entrepreneur, business owner or startup founder, you may feel at times the odds are stacked against you. You have all the responsibilities from your day job, schoolwork, etc. and it’s tough to rally enough cash to make worthwhile investments. And of course, founding a business has implications on your social life and school experience – there’s sacrifices all around.

    But like most things, the barriers we see are often a product of our imagination.

    Can you have a lot of cash, a lot of friends, do well in school AND still start a business? Maybe…maybe not. But there are actually a lot of resources readily available up that make starting your business fun, interactive, social and of course – a financial success.

    The first step to start a business is to realize that it’s more work than a full time job.

    Organizing everything from marketing to legal to equity to operations can be quite challenging, especially atop your school responsibilities. So, it’s ideal if you can find resources that provide either processes or templates for the less customized, monotonous work.

    However, if you want to avoid the distraction of school, you can do a summer intensive program. Many of them are open to the whole US and beyond – so location isn’t an end-all. I actually mentored one of these over the summer at University of Pennsylvania, and was amazed at how quickly the students create a business when equipped with the right resources. My mentees came from Brazil, Kansas and San Francisco.

    How to start: realize that there are simpler paths.

    I have come to realize that there are much simpler paths than the one I took for my tech startup, Vea Fitness.

    I realized this after reading through the curriculum of Global Startup Challenge, an innovative competition, specifically for high school entrepreneurs, and talking to the TEDx Speaker and founder, Frank Pobutkiewicz.

    The Global Startup Challenge helps high school students ideate, build, test and pitch their business all within a week. The curriculum itself has won several awards, and capitalizes on the test and learn methodology. Students don’t just build the first product that comes to mind – there’s an articulate and in depth validation process for refining and discovering product/market fit.

    Looking at this unique competitions reminded me that if you don’t use the resources at your disposal, you’re ultimately at a disadvantage. Essentially, you just end up doing everything yourself, and don’t leverage the economies of scale that come from a well-crafted curriculum.

    These are my 3 keys to starting your own business.

    1. Hang with the big dogs if you want to be taken seriously.

    Global Startup Challenge pays visits to a few top institutions, like MIT and Hubspot so students can not only immerse themselves in the act of creating a business, but also brush shoulders with hot shots in the tech world.

    I would say one of the largest takeaways for myself leaving a large company was the opportunity to work with executives. My VP was supportive and let me pitch my own marketing plans to our execs – at the top of our 56 floor headquarters. It was surreal every time. But I remember feeling privileged whenever I strolled up to the floor-to-ceiling windows to see miles and miles of city.  And, then executives 20 years older than me went quiet to give me the floor.

    I just wish I’d gotten this experience sooner.

    So, I really appreciate that GSC takes students to big houses like Hubspot, CIC and Venture Cafe to see inside the belly of the beast, to begin developing emotional intelligence. That emotional intelligence carries us a long way in the business world, and really refines our public speaking skills. Take the time to see how the ‘big dogs’ operate and make every effort to pay visits, network, etc.

    2. Get the right mentors.

    This is an often-overlooked area but mentors are truly invaluable. Mentors help you avoid rookie mistakes. As a first-time founder, there will be a lot. You may not recognize them all as mistakes, but the second time around you’ll realize you wasted time on certain activities.

    At this time, I have 2 unofficial mentors and about 3 more role models who I follow closely. It can be tough to get a busy executive to commit to being your mentor. But, if you can join a program where they’re explicitly choosing to mentor, it’s much easier and more productive.

    Find yourself a mentor or mentors that can help you refine concepts, apply learnings, and actually take ideas into action.

    3. Whatever you do – just make sure you don’t reinvent the wheel.

    Again, it’s really frustrating to design a whole product experience, only to find out you’d save 40% of the time using a mentor. Or that the legal form you paid a lawyer $450 to create has similar templates available for $50.

    So it’s important you leverage the resources at your disposal. The programs that have proven curriculums and rigorous accountability can really rocket-ship your business.

    If you’re a high school student with a fire inside, Global Startup Challenge is probably a serious consideration for you. They’re also giving away $500 to one lucky startup/founder who applies to the program. You can see their sweepstakes here.

    If you’d like to hear more about my experience starting a fitness app or running a growth hacking agency, feel free to tweet me @tcgstyle.

  • ,

    Having a bad day? Practice these 3 exercises (and improve your life in the process)

    having a bad day - woman frowning

    “Mindfulness” is a bit of a buzzword these days, but what does it really mean? Being mindful is simply creating awareness around the events and situations in your life, and taking it a half step further – to have gratitude for these situations (even those that we would typically consider to be negative). Being mindful can work wonders in your life if you’re having a bad day or are just starting to feel the pressure of life.

    We’ve all been there: worst day ever.

    No matter what you do, you just can’t seem to turn your bad day around.

    Then that day turns into the worst week ever. Worst week ever gets drawn out in to worst month ever, worst month ever turns into worst summer ever, and so on.

    The blows just keep coming, the dog cut their foot, car broke down, wallet got stolen, constantly stuck in traffic, plumbing problems, parking tickets… you just can’t seem to catch a break. I’ve been there more times than I care to count.

    These everyday mundane moments that we often mindlessly trudge through are the moments in which we are really able to fine-tune our mindset by bringing our awareness to the situation, and to our reactions.

    These moments – like all unpleasant experiences in life – are opportunities for growth and to turn things around.

    They can either destroy us, or allow us to shift our perspective in a way that will enable us to detach and learn; it’s literally as easy as taking a step back, and viewing something from a different angle. The way we react (or don’t react) has a powerful impact on all other areas of our lives. Once we are able to create a pause between trigger and reaction, we learn that life happens with us and for us, not to us or against us.

    A bad day at work can spark a negative downward spiral reaction.

    Practicing gratitude is an acquired skill. None of us are completely stoked on life at all times. We all have bad days, and we are allowed and supposed to feel down. It’s a proven fact that denying our negative emotions in favor of superficial “gratitude” robs us of the full human experience, and I’m certainly not suggesting that.

    And sometimes, the “good vibes only” crowd can just shove right off, am I right?

    However, the ability to foster non-attachment within ourselves and give ourselves permission to pause and separate from whatever it is that has triggered us, sets us free from a victim mindset and gently and lovingly pushes us towards a gratitude mindset. Which, in turn, opens us up to a growth mindset. And once we are growing, we are winning at life.

    When you find yourself struggling to see the silver lining, ask yourself how your highest self would respond to the situation, then, ask yourself how practicing gratitude in that moment would change the outcome. In the words of Bukowski, “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire,” so let’s bust out a Tony Robbins move and do some fire-walking, shall we?

    These are THREE EASY WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE and cheer yourself up!

    having a bad day - man smiling

    1. Daily gratitude journaling.

    This practice will change your life. Some people like to start their day off with a little PMA in order to set the tone for their day; others like to end their day in reflection of the events that took place. As an introvert, I like to write in the evenings. That is when my brain has decompressed from what I’ve experienced that day and allows me some time and space to process. The time of day is irrelevant. Pick a time and do your best to stick to it. Take a few minutes to jot down something that you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be deep thoughts or super long paragraphs, even a short list will do. On Monday, my entry was 4 pages long. My entry from yesterday looked like this:

    1. Vegan options.
    2. Short hair.
    3. Dogs.
    4. Colorado.

    After a couple of weeks, you will start to notice that life is filled with amazing things, things that we take for granted every single day. I’ve lived in Colorado my entire life but I never appreciated it until I spent a couple of years in other states and moved back. Now, not a day goes by that I am not in absolute awe and eternally grateful to be here. Go buy the coolest journal you can find and start writing. Your heart space will thank you.

    2, PRACTICE THE 1-3-1 RULE.

    I totally made this unofficial rule up but it works wonders for me so I’m sticking to it.

    When 1 negative event happens or we find ourselves in a situation that we have been conditioned to loathe (the dentist, bad weather, etc.) do everything in your power (and this is where the real re-conditioning and work comes in) to catch yourself in that moment! Catch that thought and be aware or mindful that you are experiencing a negative thought. Don’t question it, just allow it. This takes practice. Bringing awareness to our emotions means a complete and total stripping down of the egoic mind and standing in full acceptance of ourselves and how we are feeling.

    Once you are aware that you are feeling shitty, think of 3 positive ways to view the situation from a different perspective. This can take shape in a million different ways, but this is gratitude in action!

    It is SO important to reframe the situation. More and more opportunities present themselves every single time you practice gratitude. Once you have shifted your mindset to be grateful, think of 1 way to act moving forward that will store this experience in your long-term memory as a positive experience.

    You guys, the 1-3-1 rule is Life. Changing. When I get old and only have my memories to look back on, I want to be able to look back in full appreciation of the life that I lived and the experiences that filled it.


    This one is my favorite. People who aren’t awake or who are un-enlightened have crazy heavy energy. You can almost visibly spot the people who are mindlessly coasting through life without a second thought to literally anything. BE GRATEFUL FOR THESE PEOPLE. These people are full of lessons that will aid you in your growth. When I am faced with these people, I energetically send them love and light and affirm to myself that I am grateful for them.

    Seeing these people as teachers, rather than a bunch of assholes, allows me to open my heart to the lessons life has to teach me through them, and glean some sort of understanding and empathy toward them, without judging them or labeling them. This does not mean that I allow them to abuse me. There is a fine line between acceptance and allowance and it’s so important to know the difference. (Ex: I accept that this person is asleep. I will not allow them to abuse me.)

    Mentally smiling at these people not only gives us the upper hand, but also releases us from their energetic grip. This can be tricky for empaths like me who absorb other people’s energy. If you struggle with taking on the emotions of others, physical distance and breath work are the keys to protecting yourself from negativity.

    It takes a few weeks before something becomes a habit, but consistent, intentional practice of mindfulness and gratitude has magical, transformative powers. Once you get in the groove of viewing life as an experience that you get to co-create, as opposed to a ride that you just happen to be stuck on, it begins to look a whole lot different through rose-colored glasses. Stay grateful!

  • ,

    The 2 reasons why being socially introverted is a good thing

    socially introverted - group of friends

    I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have also always been socially introverted.

    I first discovered what entrepreneurship truly meant when I was 13.

    That summer my older brother introduced me to the world of personal development, additionally a friend of his told me to go into business because it would give me options in life. These two seemingly random experiences have since shaped my view of the world in dramatic ways.

    My experiences have taught me that benefits of being an introvert are real.

    My disposition towards being an introvert AND being an entrepreneur stretch back to when I was young.

    It goes back to my days at grammar school in Jamaica when I would collect all of my old school supplies, clean them up as much as I could, and then sell them to classmates who had forgotten theirs, or when I would pool all of my money together and buy all of the ice cream sandwiches from our school vendor and then resell them at a profit.

    My point is that from a very young age I have viewed the world in the way an entrepreneur might.

    So it should come as no surprise to hear that I’ve always wanted to be extroverted… to be the life of the party, to have all eyes on me, to walk into a room and command it immediately.

    To me, not being a social introvert seemed to be a requirement to becoming a great leader and entrepreneur (or any career for that matter).

    Maybe you’ve felt the same way? Our culture today seems to be designed for the extroverts among us and the people who seem to be winning at the highest levels are all extroverted.

    With this constant reinforcement of the idea that extroverts are inherently better than introverts it’s no surprise that young entrepreneurs, like myself, may feel that the only way to get ahead, is to be extroverted.

    But what do you do if you realize this, and you are naturally introverted?

    Unfortunately, that’s the trap I found myself in and, while there were some benefits to the path it lead me down, I’m only just realizing in the past year that my desire to become something I’m not has slowed down my progress and disproportionately affected my happiness.

    The purpose of this article is to perhaps save one of you from experiencing the same thing because the truth is that, while the world does indeed reward extroverted people, there are also major benefits to being naturally introverted.

    These are the 2 lessons I’ve learned over the last 9 years about being introverted:

    being socially introverted - girl chewing bubble gum

    1. You can’t change who you are (and that’s a good thing).

    I’ve spent an enormous amount of time, energy, and effort trying to make myself into a more extroverted person. When I entered high school I was the typical awkward, shy person that most of us are at that age but I was determined to change that. I felt that if I didn’t, I would never have a shot at the big goals I had for my life as an entrepreneur.

    To this end I put myself into situations I wasn’t always comfortable with such as auditioning for and playing lead roles in our school musicals, participating in regional impromptu speaking competitions, and even trying to act a certain away around people because I felt that it was a necessary role to play.

    There were benefits to this kind of peacocking but the net effect was always feeling awkward, out of place, and walking away more embarrassed than I would have been otherwise.

    I continued this throughout college, living with the rule that if something made my heart pump in that gut-wrenching, nauseating way that we’ve all experienced I would have to do it immediately.

    I became a club promoter and spent every weekend trying to get girls to come out (because it would mean more guys would come out to), I got all dressed up for a date auction and walked the runway while girls bid on a chance to go on a date with me (knowing full well that no one would bid), and I participated in hundreds of other things that I didn’t really enjoy or care for, all because it felt like something an extroverted person might do.

    Fast-forward to today and I have quite a lot to show for my efforts:

    I met and fell in love with my partner Rachel
    I am comfortable speaking to a crowd and enjoy public speaking
    I’ve gained leadership skills and become comfortable taking the lead in group environments
    I feel confident in my ability to do something, even if it makes me anxious or nervous

    But one thing didn’t change, I didn’t become an extrovert.

    That’s just the truth of it; I can act the part, I can cross my fingers and hope, I can will myself into the role, but I can’t become a true extrovert. I’m just not wired that way.

    And that’s okay because…

    2. Being introverted is amazing.

    Growing up I decided I wanted to be extroverted because it seemed like a requirement to have the level of success that I truly wanted. Now that I’m older, I realize that this was never the case.

    Sure, success as an entrepreneur requires an ability to sell your ideas, it requires an ability to lead a team, and it requires a tremendous amount of confidence, but these are all things that introverts can do just as well.

    We work hard and take pride in our output, we connect well with others on an emotional level, we have the ability to determine what truly matters to a person, and we understand that the difference between success and failure lies in the actions we take.

    When you think of someone who is introverted and someone who is extroverted you may create a mental image of someone who is shy and closeted versus someone who is loud and in your face.

    The truth, is that these two images are of specific personality types but they have nothing to do with introversion or extroversion tendencies.

    Introverts can be loud, we can flaunt our wins, and we can command the spotlight. The difference is that our energy tends to come from within rather than from the people around us and for entrepreneurs, this is a fantastic quality due to the lonely nature of the job.

    Now, based on the world we live in, it’s easy to think that in order to win you need to be more extroverted. Our companies are structured to reward those of us who are willing to stick our necks out, the job market looks for the “alpha” when making hiring decisions, and the people we see winning most often all seem to be extroverted; but let me assure you that this isn’t the case.

    Introverts have a major advantage when it comes to entrepreneurship; we thrive in focused environments, and we are passionate about our work, we love the people around us and enjoy being with them but at the end of the day we are recharged by being alone and focused.

    This trait is ideal for the world of entrepreneurship, an environment that requires an enormous amount of output in order to create something from nothing.

    There are benefits to embracing the positive sides of being extroverted, there are good reasons to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, but at the end of the day you have to embrace who you are and make decisions accordingly, do that and your life will change for the better.

    Want more like this? Join me in the Tiny Leaps private Facebook community where we share practical advice on improving your life day by day: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1857754001117714/

  • ,

    How to change your life in 2017 by focusing on your passion project (aka join the circus)

    man with saxophone against blue wall

    A couple weeks ago, I got obsessed with this Casey Neistat video called DO WHAT YOU CAN’T (and which now has 3.7 million views…). You’ve probably seen it.

    It said what I couldn’t figure how to say at the time about, as I put it, running off to join the circus.

    It is possible to change your life forever by changing your perspective.

    See, as I’m always trying to explain to people: I’m a modern woman, running three careers at once. My tech consulting career, my #ELB mentoring universe, and my music life. My professional world is effectively just a ginormous tripod. It’s weird to a lot of people, but I’m totally cool with it.

    And sometimes–especially with the music stuff–I get messages from readers about joining the circus.

    “Obsessed with these Snaps. Music video shoot?? SO COOL!!!!!! Ugh I hate my job. I have this amazing idea and you just reminded me that I just soooo need to go and do it, haha ahhhh I’m so jealous of your lifeeeeeee.”

    You know the messages I mean. And if you’ve sent me one, do not feel silly–it’s actually really cool! The thing is, they’re really hard to answer. Because what you’re asking isn’t really straightforward. It’s kinda hidden in the nuance.

    You’re asking me how to run off, join the circus and make change in your life.

    For ease of explanation, let’s define….

    Running off to join the circus (v): bringing your normal life to an immediate halt and focusing exclusively on your fantasy passion project from tomorrow onwards

    I bring it up because I too have been considering running off to join the circus recently. I’ve considered it many, many times–and in many, many ways I’ve also kinda successfully done it.

    I know that sounds impossible (to both consider and to do) but stick with me.

    I’ve recorded dozens of songs in ‘real’ recording studios, and also produced four music videos (one of which is is going baby-viral as we speak). I’ve gone on tour, and I’ve even got my own fan page in the country of Colombia. I’ve moved to Europe, more than once.

    I am, in many ways, totally inside the circus tent.

    Here’s the thing though: Your perspective, as an audience member of the circus or as a potential future joiner of said circus, comes with some blind spots. It comes with some envy. It comes with some rose-colored glasses and some unrealistic expectations.

    I know many people inside the circus and many people outside the circus, and I could literally talk about this topic forever. The circus is a complicated, sexy, messy thing and it’s a different thing for everyone.

    So, if you’re considering joining the circus. I have three thoughts for you today on what this change will mean for you.

    1. The circus is not for the faint of heart.

    You know that “If it was easy, everyone would do it” phrase? That’s very real.

    I know this because I know a lot of ‘circus at all cost’ people.

    They are what you probably refer to as ‘working’ artists, or ‘working’ musicians, or ‘working’ actors. They are not famous. They are extremely talented. They would rather play at an extra wedding this weekend instead of getting any kind of day job.

    They aren’t making a ton of money, but they are living full-time in the circus tent. Sometimes literally living in the circus tent.

    They are not waiting for this to ‘pay off’ at some later point, though of course it might. This is just their life. This is their real life, and it is a lifestyle, and they generally enjoy it.

    But it is not for everyone.

    And even if your ‘thing’ is less artistic and more potentially profitable (say, starting a company), the joy will not be immediate. It will never be immediate.

    And a lack of immediacy is not for the faint of heart.

    2. Liking your day job makes it a whole lot easier and more sustainable to join the circus.

    I am not a ‘circus at all cost’ person. I am the second type — the ‘I do X so I can do the circus’ person.

    And my secret is that my X — my day job — is something I genuinely and completely adore doing. I don’t waste any energy throughout the day on disliking a boss, or wishing I was doing something else.

    Do you know how much energy that gives me back?

    I remember one day last year when I was working a pretty full-on, full-time contract.

    I went in early so that I could take off early in the afternoon and head into the studio to work on some backing vocals. It was a full, complete, balanced, satisfying day. I was efficient and happy with day-job work, and also excited to head out for recording–which I could afford to pay for, because of my day job.

    That is, in many ways, the whole dream.

    I cannot stress enough how much more energy you’ll have for your ‘thing’ when you’re not panicking about escaping your day job.

    3. Finally, you need to slow down and find your next step towards becoming an acrobat.

    Shift your focus. Stop thinking about the escape, and start thinking realistically about what comes next on the path to being in the circus.

    You want to be a singer? Track down your new band. You want to start a YouTube show? Set up the channel. You want to podcast? Buy the microphone. You want to be a stylist? Schedule a date to style your friend. You want to write a screenplay? Sit down and outline it for one hour tonight. You want to move to Europe? Set the date and work backwards.

    Slow down the panic enough to find one next baby step. Or don’t.

    Because there is no magic, my love, not even at the circus.


    Banging your head against the wall with the job search? Breathe, baby, I got you. Subscribe to the #ENTRYLEVELBOSS gospel for weekly career advice that will get you hired in 2017 — and into a job you actually want, at that.

    Alexa Shoen | Founder, #ENTRYLEVELBOSS


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  • ,

    The #1 characteristic of successful millennial entrepreneurs

    woman doing yoga

    I have spent the last 5 years learning to deal with what I call ‘brain fog’ and evolving myself to turn this struggle to focus into a strength for me as an entrepreneur. Throughout this journey, I have discovered that focus is what can make or break a millennial entrepreneur.

    Successful entrepreneurs all face this battle for focus. Those who learn to cope become unstoppable.

    Brain fog/lack of focus takes many different forms, has many different side effects and rarely has an obvious or easy fix. There’s no real diagnoses and it’s often used as a term to broadly define lack of focus, low energy and periodic memory loss. It is a feeling of mental sluggishness that hinders your mind from performing at even mediocre levels. It can lead to frustration, memory loss, depression, anxiety, extremely low levels of energy, and many other imbalances that have long-term effects.

    In other words, it is kryptonite to any young entrepreneur – and particularly so with young, first time millennial entrepreneurs. I found this group of young hustlers to be at particular risk for struggles with focus amidst an ever increasing volatile lifestyle which allows this brain fog to creep up on us and prevent optimal performance.

    My experience with brain fog and lack of focus taught me a lot about what it takes to build strong personal characteristics that define a successful millennial entrepreneur.

    Over the past five years, the fog was always there, but would fluctuate in severity. Most days I woke up tired, groggy, and out of it. Other days I couldn’t even get out of bed. I constantly struggled in social situations and losing my train of thought was a common occurrence. It felt as if I was stuck inside a foggy bubble and couldn’t do anything about it.

    At first I thought I was the only one on the planet with this issue. One doctor said it was ADHD, another said allergies. They recommended medications and specialty doctors, but nothing worked.

    Most of us have at least a little bit of brain fog, but don’t know it. You won’t know until you experience the clarity you were lacking.

    My frustration grew every day due to my lack of control. I remember having to give a speech in one of my business classes. I had given speeches and presentations with ease prior to my brain fog. The teacher asked me a simple question that I immediately had an answer to, as soon as I started to speak, the thought completely left my brain forever. I said to the whole class…”Damn…I lost my train of thought.

    Embarrassing to say the least!

    It affected my entire life. Everything from my mood to my relationships and my job. Something drastic needed to be done because I couldn’t live like this any longer!

    I finally got rid of my brain fog and made my focus a defining characteristic of my entrepreneurial success.

    I decided to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up since nothing else was working. I finally understood that nothing would happen overnight. I had to work at it. My brain fog was the result of years of unhealthy living and eating, so in order to lift the fog, I needed to make this a long-term effort.

    I knew diet was probably the main contributor, so I started there. I eliminated the obvious – – fast-food, junk food, sugary foods, processed foods, bread, and anything else that seemed less than super-duper healthy.

    I then began to introduce different fog-lifting foods to my diet to see how my body reacted. These brain-fueling foods started to slowly heal my body and my brain, and I began feeling the difference.

    I kicked it into high gear and focused on going to the gym at least 4 times a week. I made sleep my main priority and started reading and meditating more. I stopped watching TV, drastically lowered my alcohol consumption, and started giving my body what it NEEDED.

    One of the biggest hurdles was realizing it gets worse before it gets better. So, expect this and take it as a sign that your body is getting ready for a big change.

    This process wasn’t smooth or easy, but I kept at it. I had to slowly break the bad habits and replace them with good ones.

    I woke up one day and it felt as if I took a pill like the one Bradley Cooper took in the movie Limitless. I had finally lifted the fog! It was the best I had ever felt and I will never go back.

    I learned how to become an entrepreneur who can deal with this mental aspect of the hustle.

    Entrepreneurs must make such drastic sacrifices and often put their health on the back burner. This inevitably leads to health problems. Since you are the entrepreneur, you are your business. If you get sick, so does your business.

    My new business, Hustle Healthy, helps entrepreneurs eliminate brain fog, achieve higher cognitive abilities, increase productivity, become fit, and attain their optimum health while on their crazy entrepreneurial journey.

    Here are 4 highlevel tips to improve your health as an entrepreneur.

    1. Nutrition is EVERYTHING when it comes to focus.

    Cook at home as much as possible. This allows you to have the most control over what you are eating (and save some money). Aim for whole, fresh, unprocessed, natural foods. For efficiency, invest in a crock pot so you can throw everything in there and let it cook while you are at the gym or working on a project.

    At all costs, avoid processed foods, foods with added sugars and sodas (diet & non-diet). Just eliminating those will make a huge difference.

    Drink a ton of water! Have a water bottle with you at all times.

    Big picture: Start learning about what you are putting in your body. How we feel is mostly correlated with what we put in our bodies. So much of what we buy nowadays is a marketing tactic. Be careful out there!

    2. Exercise makes you feel GREAT and increases focus.

    Shoot for the simple goal of breaking a sweat every day. Whether it’s walking or running in the morning, playing a sport after work or working out at the gym, find something you will stick with long term.

    You need to incorporate some sort of strength training as well. Working out isn’t just for the people that want to get ripped, it is essential for a healthy body and a healthy mind. Aim for 3+ days a week.

    Make sure to stretch your whole body for at least 10 minutes every day. Yoga is a great option. If you are lifting weights consistently or sitting in a chair most of your day and not stretching, you are slowly working your way to an injury. Make stretching a habit and you will quickly see the benefits.

    Big Picture: Keep things simple. The minute you start overthinking and over-analyzing every aspect of your routine, is the minute you get confused and give up (especially as an entrepreneur). Do what you enjoy doing and stick with it. Learn to make it an enjoyable habit instead of a chore.

    3. Lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle.

    Start by solidifying your morning routine. Make sure you start the day off right to set the tone for a productive day. Mornings are great for exercise, meditation, goal-setting, affirmations and planning.

    Do little things throughout the day that add up to big things over time. If you have an office job, you probably work in a building with stairs. Once every hour or two, walk up and down the stairs for 5 minutes and walk to lunch every day.

    Find time to get away from technology and unplug from the constant stimulation and artificial light. Get outside and do something active as often as possible.

    Aim for 6-9 hours of sleep per night (everyone is different), and sleep in 1.5 our increments, e.g., 6hrs, 7.5hrs or 9 hrs.

    If you are going to take ONE thing away from this article, let it be the importance of sleep. Stop pushing it further down your list of priorities. Stop saying you will catch up on sleep tomorrow or this weekend because you won’t, once you lose that sleep, it’s gone forever.

    Your goal for this week or next: Get a good night’s rest every night and take note of the effects.

    Big Picture: Your life is essentially the sum of your habits, therefor, you can map out exactly what you want your life to look like and work backwards to figure out what habits you need. From there, it’s just about consciously doing it over and over and over (and over…and over….) until it’s no longer a conscious action. That’s how you create long-term habits and make amazing changes to your life.

    4. Health should always be FIRST.

    It’s easy to get lost in your pursuit and forget about the important aspects of life, like your health and happiness. Figure out ways to stay healthy during your journey and you will see greater results in all aspects of your life.

    Thanks for reading.

    Footnote: Throughout my years with brain fog, I learned a lot about it while trying to figure out why I felt the way I did and how to get rid of it. I am not a doctor and most of this article is based on my experience, the experiences of others, and interviews with doctors. Feel free to take it in and make it your own.

    Miles Hanson – Creator of Hustle Healthy, Health & Fitness for the Entrepreneur. Currently living in Austin, TX and learning from the best doctors, health experts and entrepreneurs around. Looking for the most effective strategies to improving our mental and physical health as entrepreneurs and allowing for the creation of world changing businesses as well as healthy, purposeful lives. Join our Mastermind Group on Facebook!


  • ,

    4 ways to make the most of life in your 20s (and restart if you have to)

    man with hands on his face

    If you’ve found yourself in a place in your 20s where the thought of scaling back on this whole “adulting” thing may sound like a good idea right now, this goes out to you.

    If you’re stressing out about your 20s and this whole “adulting” thing, you’re not alone.

    Towards the end of a stressful semester of college last year, I found myself feeling like I had lost direction in my life. I drastically changed my major at the start of the semester and worried about trying to graduate in less than two years. In addition to paying tuition out of pocket while making sub-par grades, I was sinking.

    My bank account was in a constant negative balance from countless overdrafts. PLUS, I walked away from long-term friendships to grow within my own spiritual journey. I could not understand just how and why I had gotten to this point in my life. I would dream that it would all be so different in the past. I had PLANS. I wanted great credit, excellent grades, awesome friendships and the ultimate “young adult experience”.

    I was overwhelmed with my own expectations and the reality that was going on around me. I was not where I wanted to be in the years that everyone considers as prime.

    So, this is what I did to reset my 20 something life. And you should follow along.

    life in your 20s - girl in sunglasses

    1. Notice what your distractions are.

    And what I mean by this is to jot down everything that’s throwing your life off balance internally and externally that may have gotten you in such a rut. Whether they are voluntary or involuntary distractions, list them all. Your voluntary distractions may be a series of mistakes you made or bad habits you’ve picked up that got you off track. Maybe you always spend too much money on food or never take the time out to study or workout. You must retrace your steps so that you know what NOT to do again. It’s a hard-necessary pill to swallow, but to get out of your own way, you have to confront yourself.

    But then there’s the involuntary distractions. Which could be major life changes that you weren’t expecting and didn’t plan. Like you or a family member got sick, you got laid off, your car broke down. These things absolutely suck and may leave you in a hole, but you can always crawl out.

    There was a time when my car broke down while I was living with a friend and worked at McDonalds. I became dedicated to burgers and fries because I knew it would be my only way to get my car up and running again. During these inconveniences, you should always keep a sense of gratitude. Yes I said it, GRA-TI-TUDE.

    Your circumstances are not the bad guy, they’re teachers, and always be a teachers pet to life’s lessons.

    2. Come back down to yourself.

    Do you remember what it is that you wanted during this time? And um, exactly why? Knowing what you want for your life now and for the next 5-10 years sets the track for re-alignment. It brings you back to your purpose. Some people forget why they went off to school out of town or why they always wanted to be an artist or what it meant for them to have their own place.

    This is square one. Resparking your passion is like a natural high.

    Here’s where it gets good. Begin to think about small goals and actionable steps to reach those goals that will take you towards what it is that you want in your young life. Then you can create bigger goals. And no you don’t have to begin perfectly, just start from where you are right now. You kind of have no choice.

    3. Google it, plan it, practice it.  Just do it.

    I had become horrible with money over the past 3 years (hence the various overdrafts) so I googled how to manage my finances, and viola! I had valuable information that lead me to create goals and how to achieve it.

    But take heed and watch yourself, or the you that is against you. The perfectionist.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting things to be great and of high quality, but if you find yourself damn-near having an anxiety attack because something isn’t as “right” as you need it to be, then we have a problem.

    Ignore the protectionist in you.

    It took me a while to get rid of the perfectionist part of me. I wanted everything I did to go off and succeed without a hitch. Freeing myself from this perspective actually allowed me to step into the things I wanted to do but was afraid I wouldn’t be perfect at. Practicing perfectionism can have the same setbacks as fear. It’s something that you just cannot have or be. We all have one big trial and error of a life and it’s all a part of the inevitable.

    4. Learn how to cope beyond your “perfect” plans.

    The quote that says life is part of what happens to you and the other part is how you respond it is REAL. When things change, that doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING around you shakes. Handle the issue at hand and boss up accordingly.

    Don’t allow the thought of feeling like you’re so “off” track stop you from proceeding in the right direction.

    Believe it or not, you’re secretly still on the right track.

    Yes, you’re young and senior year didn’t teach you how to be an adult. Just about Beowulf. However, you need to kill off all preconceived notions that you should waste your young adulthood and just coast by. Specifically, your twenties.

    You have 10 years for this and you don’t want to only remember drunken nights, bad relationships and graduating college. I know it’s a buzz kill to mention but, practice being an adult. Learn about your finances, your passions, and most importantly YOURSELF!

    Just find the balance. Yes, you’re young and poppin, but that won’t be enough to pay the mortgage in your 30s.

    Lastly, and most importantly, bounce back. Just like Big Sean.

  • ,

    How to write a book in 2017 (4 tips from my experience)

    how to write a book in 2017 - man writing a book

    Today I published my first book, #BreakIntoVC: How to Break Into Venture Capital and Think Like an Investor. It took me about six months to write, but today I’d like to share everything I learned over the past year and a few tips on how to buckle down, how to write a book in 2017 and what it takes to get it done in three months. 

    Believe it or not you have a book inside you. and to learn how to write a book in 2017 is easier than you think. You may not feel it just yet but you have a unique story that can impact tens of thousands of people. Most people think that when they finally reach their goal, that’s when they’ll write their first book but the opposite approach tends to be much more powerful. 

    Writing a book is all about documenting your journey.

    We live in an age where people document what they eat, where they go, what they wear, but they often forget to document the most important thing: their own personal journey. 

    Whether you’re opening up a food truck, training for a marathon or graduating college, I’m reading your book because your passion and drive is teaching me how to do what I want to do. I’m learning more about myself through your story. 

    Your first book should be about your own personal journey and there’s no better time to write it than right now. Literally. In the past 60 years, we’ve had a recession on average every 6 years. Most economists say we’re due for another one in the next 12-18 months. 

    Imagine if it’s your story that allows someone to get back on other feet and follow their dreams in tough economic times.

    Publishing a book can give others hope but it also changes you personally.

    Here I am lecturing in front of a room full of business school students at Wharton last week on how to get into venture capital and start thinking like an investor.   

    how to write a book in 2017 - Bradley Miles speaking at Warton

    In the next few weeks I’ll be lecturing at Columbia, Brown, Harvard, USC, Berkeley and a couple other schools. All of that sounded impossible to me last year, but because I sat down and documented my journey into venture capital in #BreakIntoVC, a lot of new opportunities are emerging that continue to stretch me as a person. 

    These are my 4 tips for how to start writing a book (and publish your first in the next three months).

    how to write a book in 2017 - writing process

    1. Mindmap Outline Write

    As tempting as it is to sit there and write a chapter of your first book, eventually you’ll hit a dead end and be unable to continue. If you draw a map of all your thoughts and where you see them going, you’ll be able to write a clear outline of the chapter. This will save you months of time and also give you a clear roadmap to the finish line. 12 little mind map designs will lead to 12 chapters which will lead to a 100+ page book.  

    Dedicate one day to mind-mapping the chapter, one day to outlining and three days to writing the chapter. Make sure to spend at least one day not writing to give your brain a chance to refresh and prepare for the week ahead. Don’t worry so much about editing right now. The goal is to finish your draft. Done is better than perfect.

    There’s a chapter in #BreakIntoVC on how to pitch a company to venture capitalists. I thought I knew what I was doing and ended up writing the chapter without an outline. I ended up using some of the material from this section in the following chapter and then had to rethink and restructure both chapters. 

    What took several days to untangle and rewrite could have been easily solved with a few hours of mind-mapping. In case you were wondering, here’s a typical mind map for my book. 

    2. To become a writer you need to hurry up and write!

    Writing is a discipline that should be practiced. Make sure to exercise your writing muscle five days a week. As long as you take a day to mind map and another day to outline, you’ll find yourself writing the chapter in your head throughout the day. This will greatly enhance your three writing days.

    We’re all busy with school or work and I definitely don’t expect you to carve out 6 or 7 hours a day for your book. What you can do instead is set a timer as a way to hold yourself accountable.

    Instead of watching an hour and a half movie on Netflix, take those 90 minutes to time yourself and map out your first chapter. You’ll achieve a deeper level of focus once the countdown begins and be able to think and write with more clarity.

    A lot of the six months it took me to write my book were spent carving out bits of time to outline and write in the same day. Not only did I feel rushed, but I didn’t enjoy the process as much as I should have and for that reason it was tough to develop a solid schedule.

    It wasn’t until I starting interviewing investors for the last chapter of #BreakIntoVC that I realized the importance of scheduling and outlining throughout the book writing process.

    3. Write first thing in the morning without distractions

    I know you may be a night person (I write most of my stuff in the late evening), but there’s something about the first moments of the day that make the writing process move a lot smoother. In order for this to work you should do the following:

    • Turn off your phone
    • Turn off the Internet and notifications
    • Write!

    If it’s your second day of writing and you spend 30 minutes in the morning outlining Chapter 1, you only need 7-8pm to finish up your work for the day. Again the important thing here is to be consistent. Monday is for mind mapping, Tuesday is your day to outline and Wednesday through Friday you’re writing 3-4 pages a day of your personal story.

    If you get this method into your system for two weeks, I can guarantee you’ll have a solid draft of your first book in 90 days.

    4. Have someone hold you accountable as you write your book.

    Even after all the structure you put in place, eventually there will be days where you simply aren’t in the mood to write or end up staring at an empty page and that’s ok. Like reading other people’s books, sometimes it’s easier to find inspiration in other people.

    Having someone hold you accountable week after week will keep these dark writing days at a minimum. Writing a book can be hard but it can also be enjoyable if you structure your time. I fully intend to follow this framework for my next book and if you begin your journey to become a published author this month shoot me an e-mail and let me know how I can help.

    I’m really glad I got to share some tips I learned from writing my first book.

    If you’re curious about venture capital and how thinking like an investor can improve your life, #BreakIntoVC is $.99 for this week only. Buy now before the price goes up and tell me what you think at bradley@breakintovc.com.

  • ,

    The ultimate playbook to building a side hustle: how to make money online

    man on laptop overlooking the city

    If you’re like me, you don’t want to be limited financially by the income you make from your 9-5. You want to be able to afford world travel, nights out with friends, fun purchases and not worry about how much you have in your checking or savings account right now.

    Do you want to make an additional $1,000 a month? How about $5,000? How about $10,000?

    If that’s you, you don’t need to wait for your next raise. It’s time to start a side hustle.

    It’s all possible with a side hustle.

    side hustle how to make money online - travel and laptop

    I moved to Chicago after graduation and immediately dove into my 9-5. It absorbed all of my time and my focus. It was rewarding and showed promise and a path to a long and fruitful career. BUT, like many entry level jobs in popular industries (advertising), it paid virtually nothing. I barely had enough to pay rent and had to budget everY penny. As an adventurous twenty something looking to make the most of my time in a big city, this wasn’t cutting it.

    That’s where my side hustle came in.

    After months of researching and trial and error, I found a way to satiate my desire to 1) create something that I was passionate about and 2) create residual side income.

    To get money outside of your 9-5, you need a side hustle!

    Over the past couple of years I have developed and built upon various side hustles to the point where myself and my fellow side hustler Matt are making well over 6 figures a year from our side hustle endeavors.

    I have launched and grown side hustles in several different areas – selling T-shirts, starting and growing blogs (like this one!), podcasting, dropshipping, selling consulting/coaching, e-books, online video courses, and others.

    All it took was a lot of trial and error, understanding how the internet works and learning from other side hustlers.

    Along the way I have been fortunate to meet and learn from some of the most brilliant internet minds out there – guys and girls who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month from their side hustles (of which they have since turned into full-time hustles). They have effectively leveraged the power of the internet to sell products and services online.

    side hustle how to make money online - man with camera

    I am confident that you can do the same and start hustling your ass off. I wrote this in-depth guide for you.

    I’m going to make this as simple as possible. I know first hand how easy it is to get overwhelmed these days by all the advice online, all the gurus telling you what to do and all the courses they say you need to buy. I have broken up this guide into three, clean sections (oh.. and btw, we’re not selling you anything).

    1. Before you launch

    2. Setting up.

    3. Launch/getting people to learn

    Take this guide section by section. I’d recommend reading through the entire guide in one sitting and then go back to each section and begin checking things off and creating an action list. I hope you’re AMPED to start your side hustle. Here we go.

  • ,

    Screw the 9 to 5: why I’m living in a van and creating an app for vanlifers

    screw the 9 to 5 - vanlife

    Vanlife is something of a dream for most millennials.

    There is a growing trend of people who feel trapped in their current lifestyle – whether it be due to their 9 to 5, relationships or their physical environment. You can read statistic after statistic that the millennial generation would rather spend money on desirable experiences than buying something desirable. Vanlife is a perfect example of how millennials are doing just that and saying screw the 9 to 5 and the stress it brings.

    For them, vanlife is the perfect escape.

    screw the 9 to 5 - drinking coffee in van

    It’s a way to escape working 9 to 5 and instead spending your time living, discovering and experiencing.

    From the beginning of my relationship with my partner Thibaut two and a half years ago, we constantly spoke and dreamed about the idea of having a campervan. We spent hours together on Pinterest, Instagram and the French version of Craigslist envisioning what our own van would look like one day.

    In July 2016, we joined the vanlife community when we adopted our first vanchild, a ’93 Renault Trafic named Jean-Claude Van Dinic (named after my favorite French movie star, Jean-Claude Van Damme to my boyfriend’s displeasure).

    screw the 9 to 5 - bought a van

    We hit the road across Europe on a 2 month long trip. Along the way we saw sublime natural wonders of the world like the springs of Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, the world-renowned Plitvice Lakes in Croatia and the romantic cities of Bologna, Verona and Florence just to name a few. Life on the road was more or less perfect. Sure we had a few hiccups here and there but we managed just fine.

    Many of the new people adopting the vanlife lifestyle are tired of the monotony so common to the nine to five environment.

    These are people who were once sitting in their offices staring mindlessly at their screen, craving adventure.

    Vanlifers realize that the true joys in life lie out in the real world and on the road. The nomadic lifestyle offers many advantages including living minimally, mindfully, and freely. There is a feeling of liberation after selling everything you own and downsizing your life into the back of a van. Only at this moment can you realize how much of the stuff you had in your life was useless, not truly making you any happier and often times making you even more stressful.

    There seems to be this unstoppable pressure to have best jobs, the newest clothes and the coolest home. Vanlifers release themselves of this pressure by adopting the nomadic lifestyle and getting away from it all.

    Get away from 9 to 5 jobs and get to experiencing.

    Social media is often criticized because we never see the full version of people’s lives. We only see the 1% that is perfectly posed with just the right amount of lighting and editing. The vanlife movement has seen significant growth in the past few years for that exact reason. The combination of mother nature, a hot couple and a nice home on wheels can work magic on Instagram and on our minds. It doesn’t take a lot to trigger the desire or action in someone sitting miserably in their 9 to 5 office after seeing a few images like that.

    screw the 9 to 5 - driving the van

    Of course these photos capture the most beautiful moments of living a nomadic lifestyle but there are many aspects that are highly romanticized.

    Living in a tiny van, especially when there’s more than one person, can be stressful, messy and sometimes quite lonely. Being a neat freak myself, keeping the van organized while on the road was never an issue for us as it can be for others.

    For us, we realized something quite quickly that it could get quite lonely on the road.

    Sure, there was no more 9 to 5, but there’s also a sense of loneliness.

    We would arrive at a certain location and crave cracking open a beer with some new friends to chat about life on the road. But, there was no one around. I mean sure it’s great to swipe through photos on Instagram of other people doing the same thing as we were, but we wanted real human interaction.

    Apps and means of communication that already existed were limiting and disorderly for our lifestyle. Most camping, RVing, road trip apps focused on locating and sharing amenities, campgrounds, parking spots, etc. Sure there is couchsurfing for when you’re in a major city and want to find outgoing people to meet while in town but there was nothing for when you pull into a beautiful park in the middle of the desert, a forest or by the sea. Online forums, Facebook and Instagram communities are a very time consuming method because by the time you find someone in the same country or region as you, traveling at the same time, with the same interests, your stay in that location is finished and you spent your whole time on your phone.

    This is where our idea for the Driftr App comes in.

    The Driftr App was designed to unite the vanlife community by connecting you to nearby vanlifers and outdoor adventurists in real-time. The app uses simple geolocation technology to locate other “driftrs” on a map connecting you with that person. This way, you can share your location and organize meetups quickly and efficiently so you can get off your phone and get outside.

    Vanlife is not just about stopping at the most photogenic places to snap a photo for Instagram, it was built on the idea of connecting like-minded vandwellers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts together in one community. The size of the vanlife community is much larger than we can even imagine. It also includes other forms of alternative living from tiny homes, self-sufficient living, etc. It is a global trend that has no signs of slowing down and we wanted to help out our community by making it easier to communicate from within.

    screw the 9 to 5 - cooking and the van

    Not only do we want to connect people on the road, our goal is to continue to develop ideas for the Driftr App that will focus on the community and lifestyle aspects by sharing content and eventually a marketplace. We hope that people who aren’t necessarily vanlifers themselves can also be part of the community within the app by reading the content and connecting with driftrs to learn more about their experiences.

    Security is a major issue within the community with people having their vans vandalized, stolen or broken into. The app provides an option to be on or off the grid so when you’re searching for people to meet up with you can be on the grid. In the evenings when you find a secure sleeping spot you can be off the grid so you are no longer visible on the map. We are working on providing strict login in requirements to positively confirm people’s identities and intentions with the app.

    We have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the development of the app. Being recent graduates with a limited budget ourselves we couldn’t bring our idea to life on our own. Since we are building this app for the community we thought the best alternative was to crowdfund. This way we can get the validation we need to confirm that this is the next logical step for the community. Also they can provide immediate feedback on what features they would find useful that we may not have thought of yet. We appreciate any and all support.

  • ,

    How to feel better about yourself (a simple mindset shift)

    How to feel better about yourself - mud face

    My name is Rob Fajardo and I have come to learn that there is no destination… life is all about the journey.

    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.

    Over the past 23 years I have learned that divine timing is a real thing. I have learned that there is so much inherent value in the fact that days are 24 hours long and no matter what you do, you cannot speed up the days.

    More importantly, I have learned that you are certainly not entitled to your dream… right away.

    This is in direct contrast to what I see a lot of my peers struggling with – their self esteem and sense of self worth as a result of not embracing the struggles of the journey. I have seen my peers and other like-minded, driven individuals get down on themselves because they are impatient and not seeing immediate results in their life, career, project, etc.

    My experiences have taught me a thing or two about how to deal with this low self esteem mindset.

    To know how to overcome low self esteem, you have to shift your perspective.

    The amount of days spent towards consistent effort against a goal is a nonnegotiable variable in the equation of success. End of story. You cannot skip this.

    It is this simple phenomenon that most people do not understand but that I have come to become acutely aware of over the past couple of years.

    To overcome negative self image, simply find a new perspective of your journey and realize that it is just that… a journey.

    Think of this:

    • the current number of days you’ve given consistent effort towards your passion and purpose vs. the total amount of days you have left to live with the opportunity to grow more

    When you think of life in this way you realize that thinking long term is much more beneficial and also feels a whole lot better! It makes you feel a lot better about yourself in the immediate and should amp you about the future.

    Thinking long term helps remove the pressure you are putting on yourself to accomplish NOW and rush yourself as a result.

    By taking the immediate pressure off yourself and embracing the journey, you are free to better yourself and able to free yourself from negative self imagine or frustration.

    These are 5 keys to bettering yourself (and feel better about yourself in the process if you’re feeling discouraged).

    How to feel better about yourself - frustrated kid

    #1. Stop rushing.

    Feeling rushed is a feeling that neither benefits you nor brings you closer to your goals. In fact, rushing deters your swiftness because it clouds your vision and does not allow you to think clearly or make critical decisions.

    I used to be the biggest culprit of feeling rushed.

    At 23 years old I was always very focused on all the people who were more successful than me.

    After some wise advice of some mentors I learned that feeling rushed is just an illusion and that if you put in the real authentic work, then your time will come. It’s only a matter of time.

    When you’re meant to be on the main stage, things will happen serendipitously and seemingly without effort.

    That alignment is the art of living which takes practice. You cannot take away the deep inherent value of practice.

    #2. You need to practice… and practice… and practice… and practice… and…

    If you want to become a world class expert then you need to practice at it for years.

    That’s just a fact.

    You cannot just show up and say I am entitled to this. It’s like painting seeds. There are natural cycles in growth that are out of your control and all you can do is all that can be done each day..

    If you are aware of this then you will be more content.

    As the wise Jim Rohn says, “Nothing is easy or hard .. Thinking makes it so. However, all things are simple when you know what to do. Add more of the good stuff and get rid of the bad stuff. It’s not how things are that determines our reality, it is how we THINK things are that determines the paradigm in which we live.”

    We must first be comfortable with all the things we want and the responsibility that will come with it.

    #3. Realize that you cannot attract into your life anything that you are not ready for.

    Shawn Achor, leading happiness psychologist and author of The Happiness Advantage identifies three predictors of success:

    Belief that your behavior matters
    Social support network 
    Use of stress as a challenge… not a threat

    He also found that If people view work as:

    Job – you will just do it and usually give bare minimum effort.
    Career – will do it for a long time and you typically want to be above average and will improve your skills.
    Calling – work is self-expression and you see the job as a source of life and engagement.

    #4. Determine if what you are doing now is your job, career or calling.

    Doing this will provide self-awareness of where you currently are in life and your path of self-fulfillment.

    I realized that my calling was helping others leave normal behind and become the best version of themselves by creating things that matter.

    Helping others step into their inner genius and become more of what they already are is my purpose.

    Once you find this alignment, you have a north star to give you an unwavering direction and sense of what’s needed to accomplish a goal in life.

    Remember it is simple to change if you wish to find more motivation and amplify your life.

    #5 Bettering yourself is as simple as going from a “Fixed Mindset” to “Growth Mindset”.

    Interpret challenges not as roadblocks, but as opportunities to stretch yourself.

    To move from being excuse-oriented to SOLUTION-ORIENTED, use language of growth like “I may not be able to do it now but I will learn to in time

    Finding motivation requires three essential elements:

    Autonomy – the desire to direct your life.
    Mastery – the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters.
    Purpose – the yearning to do what you do in the service of something larger than yourself.

    The combination of being autonomous, wanting to master something, and being driven by purpose is the most perfect recipe for motivation.

    Leave Normal Behind and become the best version of yourself by creating things that matter.

    Make sure to tune into LNB Tv on Facebook live from the Leave Normal Behind Facebook page Monday 8pm ET where we talk about trending topics in news, business, innovation, technology, social impact, and more to bring you authentic news that shift daily conversation.

    Get in touch email me at rob@leavenormalbehind.com

  • ,

    How to build self confidence (4 things you need to realize)

    How to build self confidence - girl eyes

    Hint: you might not deserve to be confident.

    One of my favorite quotes of all time (that coincidently changed my perspective on how to build self confidence) was delivered by Steve Jobs in an interview:

    “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that others can use.” – Steve Jobs

    Self confidence is the result of the impact you make in the world.

    The world is not permanent, I think deep down we all realize that but even with this knowledge most of us don’t spend any of our time trying to change it.

    This bothers me. Being a maker is one of the things I love most about myself.

    Giving myself the permission to take my ideas and turn them into real things has been one of the biggest drivers of building confidence in my life so far.

    Heck, even just the knowledge that I can take virtually any idea, no matter how crazy, and through some combination of Google searches and strategic partnerships can get it out into the world for others to enjoy has allowed me to view life very differently.

    But most people don’t ever have that experience. They just accept the world as it is and never try to create anything.

    If you are one of these people… then I have some bad news – you might not deserve to be confident.

    BUT I also have good news for you… you can also build confidence and you won’t have to fake it. All it takes is this one thing.

    These are the 4 key things you need to realize about building self confidence and self-esteem.

    How to build self confidence - guy with camera

    1. Confidence is like money. We all want it but most of us don’t actually have it.

    Some of us try to pretend that we do. We share posts that show us in the absolute best light possible, we talk big in front of our friends, and we rehearse lines to satisfy the other half of our conversations, but the truth is that most of us are usually just a few steps away from dropping the facade and wallowing in the many many things that we dislike about ourselves.

    Now, I’m not sure who is reading this article and as such I can’t comment on your personal experience with this so instead I’ll just pull back the curtain and share my own…

    The truth is that I’m massively lacking in the confidence department with most things.

    This lack of confidence often presents itself in the form of peacocking or lying to myself and the people around me.

    I feel a deep seated urge to share my minor successes in the hopes that it will lead to recognition. If those successes aren’t impressive then I will sub-consciously try to find ways to make them sound better, and when that recognition isn’t received I’m left feeling like a burden who everyone secretly hates being around.

    I don’t need to tell you that this isn’t a healthy way to live.

    2. You can become confident by leaning into that ‘one thing’

    But here’s something interesting that I’ve learned… I am also enormously confident when it comes to one thing.

    When I’m working towards creating something new for the world, when I learn a new skill, when I start a new project, I’m fully aware of how awesome that act is.

    I’m at my best in that moment, I stand a little taller, look the world in the face, and smile a big toothy smile.

    And, not surprisingly, the world tends to give me the recognition I so desperately crave when I am in this mode.

    Here’s the difference between those two scenarios and the main insight to be taken away:

    When I’m lacking confidence and feeling like a burden it’s usually because I expect the world to hand me my confidence. I haven’t necessarily done anything worth feeling confident about, but I still expect it to be there and the fact that it’s not makes the cycle worse.

    When I’m feeling good it’s usually because I’ve put in the work to earn my confidence. I’ve built something, I’ve changed the world around me, I’ve affected others for the better. The confidence is there because I’ve worked to earn it.

    Makes sense doesn’t it?

    How to build self confidence - feet over cliff

    3. Confidence and self-esteem, like any aspect of life, need to be earned.

    In fact, confidence without effort is usually referred to as something else – arrogance.

    But the beautiful thing about the world we live in is that there has never been an easier way to earn your confidence than there is today. We all have the tools to make things happen, we all have the resources to fill in our knowledge gaps, and we all have the ability to connect with anyone we’d like to.

    Everything that we need to earn confidence is right in front of us, all we need is the willingness to start even if we don’t always feel confident.

    For me, being a maker has been one of the most incredible aspects of my life. The confidence it has given me and the skills I’ve gained have opened doors I didn’t even know existed and so if there is one thing I can leave you with at the end of this article it’s this:

    4. Go make something. That is what develops true self confidence.

    The world is not permanent, you can change everything around you with the right combination of ingredients. The best way to start is simply to create something, no matter what it is, and share it with the people around you.

    And hey, if you do decide to create something feel free to join me in my private Facebook community to share what that thing is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1857754001117714/

  • ,

    How to get a job as a venture capitalist by thinking like an investor

    man in suit looking at phone

    When I entered college I knew I wanted to lean more about startups and really touch the process of creating a product. I always preferred the adrenaline rush of being around entrepreneurs and other passionate people who were giving up the safe haven of a corporate job in order to build the future.

    I didn’t have the words at the time, but I wanted to break into venture capital and learn how to think like an investor.

    To get a job in venture capital, I was told I needed to work on Wall Street first or go into consulting.

    With this advice in my back pocket, I tried a summer in finance but quickly found it wasn’t for me. It took about a year for me to figure out how to enter the industry but I succeeded and I’ll outline everything I’ve learned below.

    The job of a venture capitalist is to source early stage companies that will offer a great return for the firm in seven or eight years. In order to find great companies to invest in, VC firms need highly intelligent people who have a passion for technology and an eagerness to reach out to and understand young and emerging companies.

    To get a job at a venture capital firm, you have to separate yourself from the noise and prove yourself.

    If you show initiative, passion and knowledge before interviewing, it makes a VC firm’s process a lot easier since they have thousands of eager candidates to choose from.

    Since I was at school, I started a campus organization dedicated to teaching students about venture capital. The program, Columbia Venture Partners is a 10-week education curriculum that teaches students how venture capital works, how to pitch a company, how to understand technology markets and how to evaluate startups.

    This gave me an excuse to run around New York City and meet with partners at some of the most established venture capital firms in the city. After I gave them an overview of the program, a majority of the firms were open to accepting students from my organization for internships throughout the year.

    So now whenever they thought of hiring, they would think of myself and the organization. Whenever I heard of an early stage company that I considered a good fit for these firms, I could also make an introduction since I now had their attention.

    These are just two quick ways I learned how to build value for some of the most sought after individuals in the tech space in order to break into venture capital.

    Here are my 4 tips on how learning to think like a technology investor can help you break into venture capital.

    how to get a job as venture capitalist - New York City

    1. Research entrepreneurs in your area.

    If you’re building relationships with entrepreneurs in your area, you’re already on your way to understanding technology companies and learning how to think like an early stage investor.

    I researched dozens of companies in the transportation technology space (Luxe, Juno, Chariot, Gett) and reached out to their teams while preparing for VC interviews in order to get a sense of who was continuing to disrupt the industry after Uber and Lyft.

    If you haven’t yet, reach out to an entrepreneur in your area, someone who has founded a startup and has been through at least an initial round of funding or seed round. Most of the time, entrepreneurs and founders are genuinely friendly people and will hop on the phone with you for a 15-minute call or share some of their wisdom through an e-mail.

    If you have Twitter, you can generally reach out to an entrepreneur by @ replying, “hey, do you have an e-mail I can send a quick note to?” LinkedIn is also a decent way of connecting with entrepreneurs. If you’re still having trouble finding entrepreneurs in your area, search your city on AngelList, a platform that largely consists of startups and investors.

    2. Write a thoughtful e-mail to set up a conversation.

    You’d be surprised by the crazy requests and e-mails entrepreneurs receive on a daily basis. Make their life easier by providing context in the e-mail and showing that you have a strong desire to learn more about their company and industry. Create a nice striking subject line like, “Congrats on (recent achievement)” or “Advice for entering the ___ industry”.

    Here’s one of the short cold e-mails I write that generally gets a response:

    My name is _____, I go to (school) and study (subject). Congratulations on (relevant startup event), I am excited to see how this progresses.

    I feel I have a genuine interest in early stage companies and would love to get some advice on navigating the startup ecosystem in______

    I know you’re slammed, but what does your calendar look like for a quick phone chat over the next week?

    You can tweak this format to fit your needs but the important thing is to show genuine interest in their company and ask for advice. I usually acknowledge their busy schedule first through something like the above (“I know you’re slammed”).

    Interestingly, I found that if I directly ask for a busy person’s time, they would say they needed to check their calendar. However, if I ask what their calendar looks like over the next week, I was sometimes able to get a meeting on the books in a matter of minutes. Stick with this type of phrasing.

    how to get a job as venture capitalist - escalator up

    3. Know the key terms that VCs use to value companies.

    Like any other industry, venture capital has its own language and terminology. When you come in contact with VCs either as an entrepreneur or someone interviewing for a position, they’re not only looking to see if you can answer their questions, but also if you can pitch a company to the firm’s partners as if you’ve been following the industry for years.

    The best way to go about blending into the industry through an interview or pitch is to make use of key industry terms and use them in the correct context. I’ll outline three commonly used terms below.

    Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is revenue that is contractually obligated to recur in the following month. Let’s say there is a business called TreeSoft that licenses software to others on a subscription basis, otherwise known as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business. TreeSoft charges $12,000 annually per contract, so every month they have $1,000 of recurring revenue to rely on per client. If TreeSoft has 40 clients then they have $40,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

    MRR is important because VCs want companies that can consistently bring in revenue. Investors would be less interested if TreeSoft did a one-off event that brought in $10,000 in revenue or had a one-time $25,000 software purchase because it doesn’t bring as much value to the company in the long-term.

    Annualized Run Rate (ARR) is just Monthly Recurring Revenue multiplied by 12. If a company licenses software or offers any subscription product, ARR (or “run rate” for short) is the most accurate depiction of a company’s revenue for venture capitalists. Just like the above example, if a one-off event or large sale happens but is not contractually obligated to happen again, it becomes less interesting to investors.

    Churn Rate is the amount of customers lost in a given period. If a company’s annual churn rate is 8 percent, they’ve lost 8 percent of their customers in that period. The lower the churn rate, the better.

    4. Put together a company elevator pitch.

    Now we can put together a quick 60-second pitch that shows off our knowledge about TreeSoft and the industry.

    I know TreeSoft is thinking of expanding into second-tier cities like Miami and Raleigh, but I’d love to inquire to management about their current annual churn rate in San Francisco and New York.

    There’s a lot of local and brand name competition in these cities and I’m curious about the strategies they’re employing to stop the potential loss of customers and ultimately, monthly recurring revenue.

    I’ll be in a few cities promoting my book, #BreakIntoVC: How to Break Into Venture Capital and Think Like an Investor coming out on March 28th. If I’m in your city, reach out and let’s make sure to grab a coffee.

  • ,

    How to become an entrepreneur with purpose (w/ the Bella Twins & Sarah Pendrick)

    attractive women

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about building a brand and how to become an entrepreneur, it’s this: as an entrepreneur, entertainer, artist, musician, etc. you have to create a movement. A movement that is bigger than your brand. It represents more than your product or your service or your bottom line. It represents impact and community.

    I’ve had the chance to sit down with some tremendously impactful people over the past year and I’ve learned that it really boils down to one thing:

    When it comes to entrepreneurship, the power of serving cannot be underestimated.

    I recently had the chance to fly out to Phoenix to hang out with three amazing ladies who know a thing or two about serving and building a movement. Through their focus on building a movement to empower women, they have become amazingly successfully entrepreneurs, entertainers, influencers and community creators. Heck, Nikki and Brie’s following even has a name for themselves – The Bella Army.

    You know who Nikki and Brie Bella are. You’ve likely seen them on TV or social media. You might be familiar with them as a tag team duo on WWE, as well as TV shows Total Divas and now Total Bellas, which includes their partners WWE Stars Daniel Bryan and John Cena on the E! Network.

    how to become an entrepreneur with purpose - Total Bellas

    Nikki Bella (left) w/ John Cena and Brie Bella (right) w/ Daniel Bryan

    These ladies have tens of millions of social media followers, their own TV shows and HUGE reach. They are actively using it to spread a message of empowerment while building their personal brands.

    As entrepreneurs, Brie and Nikki have impacted hundreds of millions by staying true to the core of their movement – serving.

    I also had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah Pendrick who is the creator of The Girl Talk Network, a non-profit for women in all stages of life centered around women supporting women, empowering others, connecting, inspiring and giving back. They create life changing events and self-love programs for women and young girls nationwide.

    how to become an entrepreneur with purpose - Girl Talk Sarah Pendrick

    Sarah Pendrick (right), founder of GirlTalkNetwork

    Sarah, Nikki and Brie’s mission is to empower women of all ages while serving as a resource for young women.

    Over two hours in a studio in Phoenix with E! Entertainment’s cameras rolling, my partner Matt (HDFmagazine.com) and I got to the bottom of what it means to become entrepreneurs and influencers with purpose.

    [YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE: The Hustle Sold Separately Episode 98]

    Here are 8 ways to become a successful entrepreneur by embracing your purpose and creating a movement.

    From left to right: Sarah Pendrick Matt from HDFmagazine.com, Brie Bella, Case Kenny, Nikki Bella

    1. Start small.

    The thing I love most about being alive in the the 21st century is that it doesn’t matter how small your following is or how unknown you are… you can make an impact. With technology and social media, you literally have limitless potential to spread your message.

    Sarah and the Bella twins have used this thinking to build their brands from zero 10 years ago to hundreds of millions today.

    Whether you have 10 followers or you have 10 million or 10 thousand, you have a platform, you can just your voice, said Brie.

    I think that is such a strong mindset to have. You can curl up and do nothing because you feel your voice will not be heard, or you can leverage what network and platforms you do have and just go for it. 

    You can be influenced by other people, or you can go and influence other people. Even if you’re 10 years old. That’s the kind of community that we want, which starts with social media.

    2. You don’t have to be an expert.

    Another great thing about the time we’re living in is that you don’t have to be an expert to start. You can learn quickly and even as you’re learning, you have value to share.

    Whatever your brand is – whether you’re a musician, an artist or a technology company – it’s all about storytelling.

    Everyone has a story. No one’s had it easy. That’s what I love… is every single person has a story, and why you’re inspired when you walk in through that door is because already everyone has made a decision that they’re gonna be the stronger version of themselves.

    Nikki said:

    I think why we’ve had such success from Total Divas and got the spinoff of Total Bellas is we put some hard stuff out there in reality TV. My sister and I didn’t sign up for reality TV because we wanted to be famous. We actually could care less about fame. Brie and I, with our story, if there’s one person that can watch it, and can relate to us, to know they’re not alone, game over, we’ve won. We’ve done what we’ve wanted to do.

    3. Have patience!

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your brand, your talent, great work of art, etc.

    I had a bit of an epiphany when speaking with Sarah, Brie and Nikki that really struck a chord with me.

    It has taken them more than 10 years to get to where they are now. 10 years!

    how to become an entrepreneur with purpose - Bri Bella Nikki Bella

    When you start getting down on yourself when you’re not growing your brand fast enough or in your career or in the gym, think about that. 10 years!

    Growing a brand and starting a movement is all about patience!

    Brie said:

    It took my sister and I a decade to make history at WWE. It took us a decade to become the top girls at WWE, to where we got. 10 years.

    I truly had to learn patience, and I had to tell myself everyday, “Breathe. For you to be successful and great, it takes time.” Just like my WWE career, it took time. So I think entrepreneurs need to just, number one, have patience, and know it doesn’t happen overnight. When it does happen overnight, it’s because it took seven years, not 20. So it’s just pall about patience.

    4. Know your why.

    I’ve always been passionate about my why. It’s the reason I do what I do and it’s the reason I don’t give up and will continue to work towards my goals.

    Your why is the fuel that creates your movement and keeps it going. It’s the fire that lights up your community.

    Sarah has always known her why and it has helped her stay focused and dedicated to building her movement.

    For me, I knew my why, and I knew my passion is helping people. I’m so passionate about helping people and just being here to serve. Anytime I get super, “Oh my god, it didn’t work out the way I want. Whatever.” I just have to recheck and be like, “This isn’t about me.” I’m here to serve, I’m here to help people, I’m here to give people a voice, and that just gets me through anything. If I was doing something else that I wasn’t passionate about, I wouldn’t be sitting here today, talking about GirlTalk.

    You can’t fake your why!

    Brie said:

    You’ll hear people say, “Fake it ’til you make it.” No, I can’t.

    One thing I realized is I have to be true to myself, whether you like me or not. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get where I’m at, but I’m so happy that I can look in the mirror and be so proud of myself. I never sacrificed my morals, I never sacrificed my beliefs, and because of it, I feel like I do touch people. 

    Knowing your why grounds you. It gives you purpose and gives you patience to make the journey worthwhile.

    I’m traveling the world, I’m connecting with my fans, I’m doing what I love. I have a badass career. I’m like a grownup who gets to play like a kid, so I’m doing something right. For me, it’s just always staying true to myself, has always pushed me.

    5. Mindset is crucial.

    When building, it’s tempting to get down on yourself, compare yourself to others or get a big head about some of the successes you’ve had.

    Brie said:

    When I started at WWE, I knew my place. I was like, “There are 10 girls who are better than me in the ring. I am still learning, but I’m gonna enjoy the journey to get to the top.”

    I wasn’t as great as some of the girls when I first started, I knew I was gonna see the world. I was traveling all over the world, so I might not have had the best position, making great money, but here I am in Italy, and all of a sudden, I’m in Australia, and Japan. So I always looked at like, “Okay, I know where I’m gonna work for, but I’m gonna be grateful for the things that I’m gonna slowly get as I go to the top.”

    For me, it was just not having ego. I think so many people go into things thinking, “I deserve to be at the top now. I need this now.” Cause they think they’re great and all that, and I think that just tears you away from all the things that you should be grateful and know that are going on. 

    6. It’s going to suck.

    Here’s the other tempting thing about your journey to building your movement: you are going to naturally compare your ‘behind the scenes’ work to other people’s ‘highlight reels’. That comparison does nothing but distract you because no matter what, it’s going to suck! It just is. That’s the reality of creating something impactful.

    Nikki said:

    When you see successful people, everyone assumes that all they heard was yes, and they don’t realize that they heard a lot of no’s, but they never gave up. We’ve all heard no’s a thousand times, I’m sure you all heard no’s, but it’s, how do I change that no or that negative into a positive or a yes. There’s a lot of tears, and there’s a lot of blood, and there’s a lot of sweat, and there’s a lot of no sleeping. But almost every entrepreneur has heard a ton of no’s, but they just didn’t stop, they didn’t give up. You’re gonna have failure, and failure’s okay, but it’s how do you change that failure and succeed.

    7. Don’t be phased by ‘no’

    Failure comes in a lot of different forms but one form I guarantee will be thrown your way is hearing NO- lots of NO’s.

    Brie said:

    You have to have a lot of strength, and you do have to be prepared to just know. The answer will probably be no, but that’s the worst it can be.

    Especially when it comes to running a non-profit like Sarah does, staying grounded in your why will give you the strength to persevere past the NO’s.

    how to become an entrepreneur with purpose - Sarah Pendrick Girl Talk Network

    8. Just do it.

    Sometimes you have to just shut up, stop thinking and chase what you want. That simple.

    Brie said:

    I decided to be a WWE woman’s wrestler at the age of 22. People were like, “Wait a second, you weren’t a wrestling fan growing up?” No. I’m 22, I woke up, this is my dream, and I’m gonna do it.” It came with a lot of hate, and a lot of people telling me no, both my sister and I, and I can’t even express to the negativity we dealt with every day. There was a lot of times we did cry, and we’re like, “Are we making a mistake?”

    But I wasn’t gonna let people’s hate, negativity, tear me down, and I did. I had to look past all the obstacles, and be like, “This is my dream, and no one’s gonna take it away.” I’m gonna accomplish it, and I want men and women, young kids, even if you’re 50 to 80 years old, to know at any moment, you can wake up and have a dream and accomplish it. Don’t look at how hard it is gonna be to get there, you can get there. So that’s kind of for me, every time I hear that, I always think about when I told my family that I wanted to be a wrestler, and I was 22, my mom looked at me and goes, “No.” I was like, “Yeah.”

    Nikki had the same story.

    I felt like because I was a competitive soccer player for 11 years, my whole childhood, and all I learned was obedience and discipline, and you follow the rules and your curfew, and I did all that. I took that into my career, like, “Oh, the boss says this. Don’t do it, don’t do that.” But I realized I can only stay at a certain level, and it wasn’t until I became fearless and I took chances, and I was like, “You know what? You might get in trouble, but you’re not gonna get fired. You might get disciplined, but at least you know for next time don’t do it.” I felt like the minute I did that, I just became this whole new person, and I saw a lot more success, and a lot more, like I said, knowing my audience. A lot more people were connecting with me. Like, gosh, she’s fearless, and then Fearless Nikki was born.

    [YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE: The Hustle Sold Separately Episode 98]

  • ,

    How to overcome uncertainty and change the world

    This post is for my peers who feel like there is more to life than what our western society considers the norm. If that sentence turns you off, that’s fine. You don’t have to read anymore of what I have to say. I hope you have a fulfilled life.

    If that sentence resonates with you, you are who I want to connect with. If you have the intuition that you’re alive because you have something to contribute to the world, but you can’t figure out what or how, this article is for you. Disclaimers:

    • This is not a follow-your-passion rant; there are enough of those.
    • I don’t know the formula for discovering life’s purpose; I’m only 21.
    • This isn’t about me; this is about you.


    I believe I can help you, because I’m in the same boat. I’ve found there are certain ways to help cure the feeling of uncertainty that exists when trying to answer the question: How am I going to leave this world better than when I came into it?

    Before we delve into gaining clarity with this issue, I want to tell you a short story. This story explains why I’m passionate about intentional living. For those of you who don’t know me, this story aims to give you context. If you don’t care and only want the takeaways, you can skip to Adding substance to the soul.

    A short story…

    In January 2015, I decided I wanted to be a management consultant at a big firm. As a low 3.0 GPA marketing student from SDSU, this wouldn’t be easy. I created a plan and gave it a shot. One day, after a few months of executing my plan, I went hiking.

    Surrounded by nature and removed from the online world, I accepted two realizations I spent my life avoiding:

    1. Our lives are finite.
    2. We don’t know how long we’re going to live.

    I decided to stop wasting time, but my lust for becoming a consultant still dominated my desires. In August 2015, my perspective changed when I became more exposed to death.

    I was at a national conference in a large room with thousands of people. We were paying our respects to members who recently passed away. One by one, a mournful voice amplified throughout the room reciting the full name and age of a recently passed friend. The list of deaths from people my age, and not far off, was long. Longer than I expected. This was an emotional experience that reaffirmed my value for time.  My perspective changed.

    In December 2015, I abandoned my desires of becoming a consultant by turning down an interview at a dream firm. Since then, I’ve experimented with other avenues and constantly revisit the lingering question: How am I going to leave this world better than when I came into it?

    I don’t know what my answer is yet. The uncertainty is frustrating, and I can empathize with my peers who feel the same way. I know you’re out there, and I wrote this for you. These are the strategies that have helped me move forward in beginning to answer this question, and I hope they help you too.

    Adding substance to the soul

    You’re reading this now because you’re conscious of how significant your contribution is to the world. Unfortunately, you’re still unsure of how you’re going to help others and make this a better place.

    As well-intentioned as you are, you’re frustrated. You’re frustrated because you value progression. So far, you’ve had little luck in figuring out what to do, and you’re yearning for progression in any area. This is where it can get dangerous, if you let it.

    As the charismatic person you are, it’s easy to rely on destructive behaviors to function as your means of progression. For example, hitting the bars every weekend or wasting hours in front of the TV, etc. These behaviors add more confusion to the mix and lengthen the time it takes to identify your path.

    Depending on your personality and values, these behaviors can provoke feelings of guilt. Guilt leads to negative self-talk, and negative self-talk destroys your confidence. Low confidence welcomes more destructive behaviors, and I say this from personal experience. It’s a vicious cycle. Consider leveraging these behavior patterns to celebrate wins; not to serve as your means of progression.

    Think about shifting your focus to behavior patterns that will add substance to the soul. What I mean is behaviors that are physical or mental, challenging and consistent. The consistency principle is important because we value progression. The challenging principle is important because it justifies the importance of our behavior.

    For example, exercising every morning offers a consistent opportunity to complete something challenging. You make it through a week of going every morning, and you take pride in your efforts. Your confidence builds, and your certainty of self becomes clearer. Sounds like a much better cycle, right?

    When we’re lost in figuring out what to focus on, our self-doubt builds. By combating self-doubt and uncertainty through overcoming smaller challenges, we stay confident. When we’re confident, we think clearer. When we think clearer, we can begin to better answer the question of how we’re going to impact the world.

    What’s your way to add substance to the soul?

    Forget your 5-year plan

    Let’s stop thinking long-term. When you pencil out your infamous 5-year or 10-year plan, you put a lot of pressure on yourself. The stakes are high, and there’s no room for error. Not wanting to screw it up, you become paralyzed.

    You have the option of going left or right. Of working with your friend’s start up or the Fortune 50 company. Of traveling the world on a loan or joining the peace corps. You consider each avenue and the potential positives and negatives. You meet with mentors. You run SWOT analyses. You tell your friends, you tell your family.

    What we don’t realize is that while we’re performing this analysis, we’re wasting time. We aren’t helping ourselves, and we aren’t helping others because we’re doing nothing. It’s comfortable doing nothing because there’s no risk. We can’t fail. That one afternoon of analysis turns into a week. That week turns into a month. That month turns into a lifetime.

    Consider shifting your focus to the short-term.  When we reposition the question from a long-term to a short-term perspective, we lighten our self-imposed burden. Ask yourself how you can help others today, or what work you can do to change the world this month. If we mess up, we’ll try something new tomorrow. Maybe next week, or next month. Maybe next quarter, or next year.

    The key is this type of thinking puts us in a position to take action. You’re not going to change the world by thinking; you’re going to change the world by doing. This post is a prime example.

    Did it work?

    I’ve spent the last month in a constant state of self-doubt and paralysis. Do I go with option A or option B? Which one will help me get what I want out of life? Which one will provide the best way to impact the world? What type of impact am I even looking for?

    Sound familiar?

    I woke up this morning and decided the best way for me to help others and change the world was to get these thoughts published. But this isn’t about me; this is about you, remember?

    When you’re searching inside yourself to uncover your life’s purpose, remember these two strategies. Don’t let your uncertainty hold you back, and find other challenges to overcome. By continuously winning, we keep our confidence high. When we’re confident, we’re better equipped to take action and commit instead of wasting time.

    If you’ve read this far, chances are you can relate. I hope you’re better off now than you were before, thanks for taking the time to read this.


    If you’ve read this far, please answer these two questions. I want to provide as much value to you as I can, and your answers will help.

    1. Did you find this post helpful? If yes, anything particular stand out? If not, how can I be better next time?
    2. What are some things your struggling with relating to living with purpose?

    Send me a note with your answers! Email to: me@austinmdean.com.


    I’m extremely passionate about intentional living. If you are too and have any questions, comments or suggestions, you can email me at: me@austinmdean.com.

    If you disagree with my perspective and want to call me an ignorant millennial, you can email me at: me@austinmdean.com.

    This article also appears on austinmdean.com and is published here with the permission of the author

    Photo credit: 1, 2

  • ,

    Goal Setting: you’ve been doing it wrong (5 ways to do it right)

    woman reading and a man at a white board

    I’ve been going about goal setting all wrong and I’m willing to bet you have been as well.

    Goal setting is an intrinsic and vital ingredient for your life’s happiness. It has been shown that progress towards goals results in significantly happier lives – a process that begins with setting goals in the first place.

    You set a goal so that you can accomplish said goal and then be happy as a result, right? That’s the thinking, but hardly the reality. Goals tend to loom over us and we get frustrated when we don’t accomplish them or make giant strides towards them.

    I recently. came to a realization after years of setting goals that offered little to no satisfaction on the way to their “summit”. You know what those goals sound like… “I want to become the president of the United States“; “I want to get on the cover of Forbes“; “I want to become a millionaire

    Why are we all setting life goals that offer little satisfaction on the way to accomplishing them?

    goal setting- man balancing on chair

    I call the above goals BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS goals and they are great life goals to set! BUT, notice I said life goals and not career goals or financial goals, etc.

    I have learned that setting goals of any kind is all about setting goals that offer value in your life FIRST and then value and reward towards the specific area in which you set them.

    Whether you’re setting a big hairy audacious goal like becoming a CEO, a world-class athlete or a NASA astronaut, I firmly believe you need to set your goals in such a way that is immediately relative to your life’s intrinsic happiness.

    Setting a goal is one thing. Deriving happiness from the goal itself is another.

    … and that therein is where the problem lies. We are not setting goals in a way that allows us to reward ourselves for progress! We simply are not holding ourselves to a standard that rewards progress – no matter how small or seemingly minuscule in the long run.

    Goals should make you happy because you’re able to derive satisfaction from the journey on the way to the end goal! But that is hardly what we tend to do. We set noble and sky-high goals (which is great), but we don’t allow ourselves any success or satisfaction along the way because we are so focused on the end result… the finish line.

    I was listening to the song 99 by Russ recently and there’s a line in it that says “I’m in it for the height, not the summit.

    That line has totally changed the way I look at goals and it has taught me something vitally important:

    To be happy with your goals, you need to appreciate the process.

    I absolutely set BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS, but I have learned to appreciate each individual success within that goal journey. It has allowed me to appreciate what I have built for myself and to stay motivated along the way to the top.

    If you’re setting HUGE goals with crazy goal outcomes, keep setting them! … but structure them in a way that motivates you to keep going and offer you happiness and fulfillment along the way… otherwise, what’s the point?

    I have learned a lot about setting goals in this manner and I want to share my discoveries with you.

    Here are 5 ways to set long term goals that give you happiness on the way to accomplishing them.

    goal setting - man in street with camera

    1. Separate your career goals from other ‘happiness-focused’ goals.

    This is a big one that I struggled with for a long time.

    When you graduate from school you dedicate the entirety of your energy towards finding a career and developing yourself rapidly within the confines of that goal. I don’t blame you! It’s what is expected of you and the admittedly the best way to develop your skillset and set up your future. BUT, if you allow the confines of this context to serve as the only parameters for the goals you set, you are going to set yourself up for disappointment.

    Career goals are, in the definition itself, to be accomplished over a long period of a time (a career). Setting a career goal (such as becoming the CEO of a major fortune 500 company for example) is a great idea, but allowing that goal to overlap with your life goals (#2 below) will remove a lot of your ability to parse out happiness along the way. They should not be the same.

    When I first graduated from school and began working in advertising in Chicago, I would set a goal like this:

    I want to become a world renowned author and travel the world.

    What I have come to realize is that combining “career-type” goals like becoming a renowned author with intrinsic life goals like those of travel and happiness will set yourself up for disappointment. Rather than combining goals like that or creating if/then goals, parse them out. This will allow you to reflect on small accomplishments that offer satisfaction and growth.

    How would you measure progress towards traveling the world and total freedom? That’s pretty difficult. Measuring success against becoming a renowned author? That’s a much easier journey to track and reflect on. For example, you would gain satisfaction from appearing on a well-known author’s podcast, or getting published in The Huffington Post, etc.

    The point being, keep your career goals and your intrinsic life goals separate.

    2. Set life goals.

    Building off that… set some life goals, people!

    When asked what your goals are in life, I tend to see myself and my millennial crew immediately think about goals related to success metrics and career accomplishments. That’s all good and great, but what about goals that relate to what makes us happy, what excites us and what motivates us? Certainly that can be related to your career, but put that aside for a moment and dig deeper.

    What is it about your career goal that is appealing to you? What would becoming a fortune 500 CEO offer to you on a personal level? What would becoming a NASA astronaut offer you intrinsically? This is where we often tack on a quick addendum to goals like I will become ____ so that I can ____.

    We should be making that second part our life’s priority and I rarely see that when I ask my friends and colleagues about their goals.

    From my previous example, what would becoming a world renowned author offer me personally?

    I’ve always loved writing – something about that creative process is very rewarding and satisfying to me. But it’s more than that. Writing would give my thoughts a tangible voice that can never be deleted or muted. But, again, there’s more. That voice would be spread and read by millions who in turn could appreciate what I have to say. What do I have to say? I can’t say for sure but I know that through written word I want to share experiences and stories that offer life altering perspectives.

    Using a process like that to break down your career goal into something that means more on a personal level has been incredibly value for me in terms of setting a goal that allows me to appreciate the process.

    Goal: have my voice be heard by millions so it can inspire.

    Setting a goal like that will allow you to repeatedly look back and acknowledge the growth you’ve experienced and the journey you’ve embarked upon. It will help you enjoy the process!

    3. Be specific

    Vague goals get vague results!

    This is a short point but something I have found to be lacking in my own goal setting and that of my peers.

    Once I started being specific about what I wanted and when I want it, things really started to become more clear for me.

    Without a vision of a timeline, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of procrastination, blame and stagnation. Give yourself something to work towards and a timeline to do it on. Certainly, setting a goal like become an expert in ______ doesn’t necessarily require a timeline, but you can break down a goal like that into more manageable time-oriented parts – get my PHD by 28, etc.

    This isn’t some The Secret type stuff where if you just visualize it, it will eventually manifest based on the world’s timing.

    No. Set a timeline you want and use that to guide you.

    Just as specific as a timeline is the goal itself. It certainly requires you to really know what you want to do specifically (duh), but once you figure that out, be determined about holding yourself to that.

    What kind of author do you want to become? What exactly do you want to accomplish?

    You don’t need to have a one sentence goal. You should create multiple goals. A career goal, a life goal, a specific accomplishment-related goal, etc.

    4. Write em down

    If you haven’t written your goals down, they are nowhere but in your head.

    Hold yourself accountable by writing your goals down and posting them where you can see them as frequently as possible.

    I had an amazing CEO once who wrote a post-it note on her mirror saying that she was going to sell her technology company by xx date. She saw it every single morning for years. And ya know what? She eventually accomplished that goal.

    I can’t say for certain that seeing that post-it note every morning tangibly helped her accomplish her goal, but I know for sure that that daily morning and evening reminder pushed her to continue moving forward and appreciate the journey.

    You should be doing the same! Write your goals down. Make it your phone background or write them on a post-it note. Heck, get a tattoo of them if you want. Whatever you decide, by writing it down, you are making it tangible. You are making it known to yourself and the universe that it is something you are working towards.

    Having it written down will also offer you the opportunity to frequently reflect on your progress. Hopefully you’ll be making small progress and this will allow you to appreciate the process and actually get enjoyment out of goal setting and working towards it.

    5. Don’t share them!

    There are two school of thoughts here.

    1. Tell your friends your goals. Speaking them out loud helps keep you accountable and enables you to use your close friend circle as a small and personal support group.

    2. Don’t tell anyone

    I’m in the #2 group. I rarely voice my goals to anyone other than extremely close friends or family. Why?

    Because it has been proven that by telling others your goals, you’re less likely to accomplish them.

    Repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes you significantly less likely to accomplish them. Once you set a goal there is a huge amount of work that needs to be done and effort exerted to accomplish it. Your satisfaction comes from the journey to accomplishing it as well as the final moment when you meet and surpass your goal. But when you tell people about your goal, psychologists have found that it’s something called  a “social reality” where the mind is tricked into feeling that the goal has already been accomplished. As a result of that placebo effect of satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work required.

    So, keep your mouth shut, realize that you need to put in the work and stay motivated.

    Enjoy the journey!

    Those are the 5 ways I have been setting my goals lately and while it might not be immediately apparent, taking the above approach will help you appreciate the journey towards accomplishing them.

  • ,

    We need to talk about millennials and diversity in the workplace

    woman at a computer and an escalator

    At the risk of sounding brash or controversial, I’m just going to say it:

    Traditional diversity and inclusion is dead.

    Ok hold up. It isn’t dead, but the way we’ve been talking about it is.

    We need to talk about cultural diversity in the workplace in a new way.

    I get it. I’m a young white guy that doesn’t have to do deal with a lot of the struggles many do when it comes to diversity and inclusion. But, I do think it is my job to challenge how we talk about these issues and provide thoughts that could shape our workplaces of today and into the future.

    For me, this conversation isn’t just about diversity and inclusion; it is about creating places to work that are enjoyable and inclusive, and places that we feel like we can go to and not that we feel that we have to go to.

    Let me explain.

    diversity in the workplace - man in suit walking

    Typically when we talk about diversity and inclusion, the expectation is to check off a box so we have by-the-numbers diverse organizations and can tell people we have just that. We tell the public that we value diversity and have people of varying backgrounds and ethnicities.

    Great, but does this diversity mean they are great places to work?

    Not necessarily.

    It helps ensure we have gender parity and a goal of equal workplaces – there’s no doubting that. If we hit this goal (which is admirable and has endless benefits for sure), it doesn’t necessarily mean that the workplace is more effective if we are just hiring to hit a number.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, the benefits of work place diversity are widespread and tangible.

    BUT, instead of talking about diversity in the traditional sense of ensuring that we have a certain amount of people who are a visible minority, or are male or female, maybe we should be focusing more on inclusion and a sense of belonging?

    Yes this requires a lot of proactive work to understand who the individuals are that will be a good fit and in a way that builds community, but imagine a place of work where people are not only diverse and included, but also that they feel like they belong.

    This is where we have the most work to do, but also where the most potential is. Just because we have a certain amount of people who are of a certain ethic background, or are a certain sex, doesn’t mean we have workplaces where people feel like they belong.

    The most successful companies have created a culture of inclusion.

    The interest of diversity and inclusion has seemingly piqued. While the conversation may not be as topical and interesting as it used to be, perhaps we need to change the conversation to create places of work where people are not only diverse (which we can check off in a box and hit a ‘quota’ of sorts) but also have a sense of belonging.

    Considering not just the cultures of the people that work with us and where they come from, but also the culture of the places we work means that we have the ability to truly create a community and a place of work that allows relationships and friendships to be formed.

    It means that as we do that one thing we do more than anything else in a day (work), but people don’t just sit in the same seat hour after hour with people because they check a box, but rather because they are part of wan organization they call family.

  • ,

    4 ways I improve myself as the world’s most average person

    average person

    Are you feeling like an average person? This is for you.

    Ready for some honesty you don’t see much of on the Internet? Here we go:

    I am 26 years old, have started exactly zero companies to date, and currently have a net worth of approximately not very much.

    I have 2 very close friends and a pretty close family. I have a job in which I’m paid market value (barely), and I have 230 email list subscribers to my personal site (which has a revenue stream of exactly $0).

    I am 5’9, weigh 142 lbs (my fighting weight!), have only slept with one woman in my life, and spent most of my school days feeling left out because my friends were club-hopping party animals and I didn’t want to spend time doing that.

    I am completely average from head to toe.

    And I only tell you those things to tell you this:

    I am still probably the happiest person in the universe.

    Here are a few things that got me there:

    1. I started getting up earlier

    I hate giving this advice because it’s SO been beaten to death, but it made a huge difference in my life:

    • not because I get up to run — I don’t
    • not because I get up to put down an extra green smoothie — I don’t
    • not because I get up to get ahead — I write sometimes, but read more often
    • but because waking up early gives you perspective.

    When you wake up and immediately start getting ready for the god-awful 9 to 5 rat race you’re about to hurl yourself into, it’s easy to feel defeated. Life feels outside of your control when you “have to” do all these different things.

    But nobody can stop you from getting up early. That’s all you. Perceived control leads to real control.

    2. I went all in on the few relationships I do have

    average person needs

    According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after eating and finding a place to not die, you need 50 imaginary “Feel Good Points” to be secure in yourself.

    I know what the triangle says, but “Feel Good Points” are much more tangible.

    The thing is, those points come differently for different people.

    Susie the Cheerleader is well liked, sought after by men, and goes out all the time. She’s drowning in Feel Good Points by default — everyone likes her.

    You might not be able to get your points by quantity, so get them by quality. I said I don’t have many friends, and that’s true. But the friends I do have, I would die for.

    My wife gives me a security I can’t explain. I’m not saying “go get married” is practical advice, but it’s the route I chose to go. If I died today, she could get her Feel Good Points elsewhere. If she died, you might never hear from me again. It’s scary, but that’s how I roll.

    When you feel like you don’t belong with most people, go all in with the people you like.

    3. I work every day to identify what I like

    And then do more of that and less of what I don’t like — every day.

    The change does not have to happen immediately.

    In fact, sometimes it’s better if it doesn’t. Often people who win the lottery don’t know what do do with the cash so they blow it. A better job, a girlfriend, a six pack, will all mean nothing if you don’t earn them.

    Life change is only impossible if you’re impatient. If you’re looking for a shortcut, there isn’t one.

    • Find the 10% of your job you like most — do that more and do it better.
    • Find the 10% of exercise you like most — do that more and do it better.
    • Find the 10% of things you like to read most — read that stuff more.
    • Find the 10% of healthy food you like most — eat that more and eat lame salads less.
    • Find the 10 % of people you like being around most — be around them as much as possible.

    I did exactly this in my first corporate job. I found what I liked about the role and did that as much as possible as well as I possibly could.

    Then I started doing that work for other managers

    Then I started doing that work for everyone.

    Then I got a new job, a new boss, and made double what I started with — all in 6 months, and I didn’t hate what I was doing along the way.

    Money is attracted to passion. It’s not the other way around.

    4. Realize happiness is a moving target

    Tony Robbins says:

    Fulfillment is not a science, it’s an art.

    I hate that.

    I hate that because art is messy and unpredictable. I hate that because you can’t find a “happiness formula.” Even if you start doing the things I’ve done, it’s nothing more than a starting spot.

    I know I will be bored of my job in a few months.

    I know I will be sick of a new business effort before too long.

    I know I will get tired of most of the things which bring me joy.

    Which means I will have to try.

    Every day I will get up and look for things to be grateful for. Every day I will come up with new ideas. Every day I will look for things to improve. There are no free passes.

    You may not be able to make your life radically better today.

    But you can make today radically better today.

    Stay focused. Stay balanced. Learn, and most importantly:


    Know any average people or an average person? Share this with them, they might be grateful.

    And if you’re looking for more, you’ll find it at toddbrison.com

  • ,

    What is my purpose? Rob Fajardo on how to find and live your life’s mission

    rob fajardo pointing to the sky

    How many times have you heard or been told that you just need to find your purpose?

    Or looked yourself in the mirror after a long week and asked what is my purpose?

    You’re not alone in wanting to find the answer to this question – an answer that sounds like it will be a cure-all for anything lacking in your life.

    It sure sounds like it will solve all of your problems. It will offer you financial freedom, happiness in all aspects of your life, fulfilling relationships and the ability to truly control the direction of your life.

    But finding your purpose of life is anything but easy.

    We tend to have a very idealized vision of a purpose-driven life and while I think a life built and pulled by purpose provides quite the contrast to a directionless life when it comes to fulfillment and happiness… there’s certainly more to it.

    I have been incredibly fortunate to interview 100 amazing guests on our podcast The Hustle Sold Separately, have published over 1,200 articles on PRSUIT and have interacted with countless readers, followers and thought leaders. Through these experiences I have come to wonder how it is that some people are able to find their purpose while others seriously struggle to do so.

    How is it that some people have found their purpose at young ages and some struggle to identify it throughout much of their adult life? Why such a striking dichotomy?

    When it comes to finding and living your passion, Rob Fajardo is a millennial who can tell you a thing or two about what it means to find it early and make it your life’s work.

    Rob Fajardo is the founder of Leave Normal Behind, a movement that brings together like-minded millennials who are motivated to make an impact in their world. It’s goal is to educate, inspire and helps others create things that matter while helping them to become the best versions of themselves. Rob is also an advisor at Fownders (a social impact accelerator started by Gerard Adams) and has been involved in countless startups and businesses to date.

    I turned to Rob to help me with this question of passion and purpose as he is someone who discovered it early on and has been living it ever since –  a unique attribute of our generation.

    He has truly answered the question “what is my purpose” at a young age.

    What is my purpose? Rob Fajardo with Gerard Adams

    Rob with friend, business partner, and mentor Gerard Adams

    At only 23 years old, Rob is unique in that he can confidently say he has found his passion.

    For Rob, a life of purpose is defined as overcoming obstacles towards a defined goal. In order to live a life of purpose you need to find something that pulls you… something that will enable you to overcome hard times in order to see manifest.

    His life purpose is to help others become the best version of themselves and create things that matter.

    “I found my purpose during my sophomore year at Amherst College one night in a moment of enlightenment and deep contemplation. My monologue with myself went something like this …

    Love would change the world. If everyone loved each other the world would be a better place.

    Why do people not love each other?

    Well you cannot love others until you love yourself.

    Why do people not love themselves?

    Well you cannot love yourself unless you know yourself.

    Why do people not know themselves?

    “People do not know themselves because they get distracted by the media, their friends, and family who convolute their self-perception. We allow others’ opinions to create the landscape of the world around us. Their opinions affect the magnitude of our goals, ambitions, and self confidence. People do not know themselves because they do not trust the little voice inside their head that nudges at them on the daily.”

    What is my purpose? Rob Fajardo with Ryan Blair and Grant Cardone

    Rob with Ryan Blair (left) and Grant Cardone (right)

    It was then that I thought to myself… “If I am not helping others find their inner genius to become the best version of themselves and create things that matter… then I am just as bad as the men and women who keep them weak on purpose. I realized that my actions were either helping intentionally or harming or unintentionally. Being an inactive bystander gives the same affect as someone who is damaging someone on purpose. 

    I drew a hard line between actively helping or indirectly harming.”

    I love the way that Rob tells this story because he shows exactly how he arrived at his realization. It was simple and logical and he came to it on his own.

    I think so many people struggle to find their purpose because they make it too complicated. They think there is some blueprint or  process for identifying it, whereas, in my experience and through stories like Rob’s, it is anything but predicated on a formula or process. Rather, it is a natural realization that comes through introspection.

    But more than that, finding your purpose often has a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with and the environment you find yourself in. I asked Rob what he thought.

    Why do you think people struggle to find theirs?

    “I think people struggle to find their purpose because no one has taught them how or gave them the permission to do so. In a weird way we are often looking for the permission and approval of others to take action on our life.”

    On the topic of permission to find one’s purpose, one of the common things I’ve heard from my millennial peers is that the only true way to find your passion or purpose is to leave your 9-5. The thinking, it seems, is that by unencumbering yourself with the responsibilities and structure of a job, that you’ll be more free to find what intrinsically motivate and drives you.

    What is my purpose? Rob Fajardo on Leave Normal Behind TV

    Rob on the set of Leave Normal Behind TV.

    I asked Rob if he thinks you have to leave you 9-5 to find your passion.

    “Absolutely not. One of my good friends Zac Hill who is doing some amazing things at www.thefutureproject.org taught me a really valuable lesson a year ago when I asked him the same thing.

    He said that there are many different passions that people have. For example it may be someone’s purpose and passion to be a great family member. It may be their purpose to help in their community within their 9-5. He told me, “One of my friends who is a lawyer loves basketball and he is so passionate about it. Even though his passion is basketball it does not mean he needs to be a basketball player. Instead he uses his skills as a lawyer to provide for his family and has created a men’s league in NYC for lawyers to play basketball during the week.”

    It was then that I realized that leaving normal behind is not completely entrepreneurial. It truly means to follow your heart and trust your intuition and inner genius to let it guide you toward  life that feels the most happy, satisfied, fulfilled on your terms.”

    If that’s the case, then when what role does money play in your purpose and passion?

    “Well ideally those should be one in the same. In an ideal world you want to connect your ability to make an impact with a business model that will provide you cash for doing so. This is why you see a new wave of social enterprise businesses being extremely successful because they have built in making an impact and giving back into their revenue model. An example of this is TOMs shoes and 1Face watches who respectively donate a pair of shoes every time one is bought or give a percentage of proceeds to charity.”

    The biggest lesson I learned from Rob is that finding your purpose and creating a lifestyle around it boils down to being determined to do one thing – leave normal behind.

    Deep down, we all want to become the best version of ourselves and create things that matter but that requires looking at life and opportunities through a new lens. A lens that doesn’t require you to ask permission or be relegated to the status quo because it is what is expected of you. 

    Through his purpose to empower and create value in other people’s lives, Rob is launching a Facebook Live television showed Leave Normal Behind and he believes it will offer the lens that people are looking for.

    What is my purpose? Leave Normal Behind TV

    Photo via Leave Normal Behind TV.

    To live life according to your purpose, you have to let go of normal.

    LNB TV is the newest television show to hit Facebook Live and it’s mission is to share news that spreads more love, more happiness, and more hope as Rob hopes to expand into an independent network.

    Rob plans to provide trending news on business, technology, innovation, social impact, charity, politics, and more. Through one hour weekly shows, Rob will bring on celebrities, politicians, influencers, and athletes to give them the opportunity to share their insights on today’s important topicc and ask what does leaving normal behind mean to them, how are they becoming the best version of themselves, and what are they creating that matters. 

    Tune in LIVE on the Leave Normal Behind Facebook Page Mondays at 8pm ET.

    Follow Rob on Instagram @rob_fajardo.

  • ,

    Want to work your side hustle full-time? These are the 3 things that will happen when you leave your 9-5

    woman with a Side Hustle

    I worked in corporate America for over 15 years before starting my company ezClocker. Making a decision to go all in has been one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life.

    I turned my side hustle into my full-time job.

    Since leaving my corporate 9-5, I get up every morning excited to work and start my day, BUT don’t get me wrong… not every day is magical and I’ve had my share of panic attacks, especially when I started working on ezClocker full time without pay. I would be working one day and suddenly start thinking “OMG, I don’t have a stable job! What happens if this startup thing fails? What happens if I run out of money?” and my heart would start pounding so hard I could barely breath. I would take a deep breath, calm myself down and if that didn’t work I would give myself a pep talk about how I need to believe in myself and how I still have enough money to last me to X months so stop worrying and get back to work – and like that the panic attack would stop. Fun stuff!

    We all have a romantic vision of leaving our 9-5 and working on our side hustle full-time.

    Most of us also have a less romantic, fearful vision of what that might actually look like when it finally happens.

    I remember John Lee Dumas on his daily podcast EOFire saying most people have this fear that if they don’t succeed in their venture, one day they might end up under a bridge homeless sitting next to a fire roasting a rat. It’s a funny statement but it’s true.

    We all have a variation of that picture in our heads when thinking about quitting our jobs. In reality that’s not the case because you will find a way to survive and provide for you family. Fear is a normal human instinct, but it shouldn’t prevent you from achieving your dreams.

    When you find the courage and finally make the jump to entrepreneurship there are a lot of adjustments you have to make when transitioning from employee to entrepreneur.

    Here are the 3 things that will happen when you make your side hustle a full-time business.


    #1. You’ll learn time management like never before.

    I was attending a fireside chat event one day with broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien and she was telling the audience how she had a hectic schedule when she worked at CNN. She’d wake up at 4 a.m. every day to be at the studio before 6 a.m. and wouldn’t be home until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. After spending time with her family and doing chores, she got to bed around 11 p.m. Although that schedule was crazy, she told us, it was still a schedule which she followed and didn’t have to create or think about.

    Now that she works on her own media production company, she can set her own rules, BUT she also has the responsibility to set her own priorities for the day and schedule. This, it turns out, is sometimes harder and quite overwhelming.

    When I heard O’Brien make that statement, it was like she was talking directly to me. When I used to be an employee projects already had deadlines, team meetings were scheduled on my calendar, and every day I came in and left around a certain time.

    In other words, I had a routine.

    Working on my own company full-time, I have the flexibility to arrange my day as I wish but with it comes greater responsibility. Am I focusing on the right things? Are any of the 10 tasks I finished  today moving my business forward?

    To help me with these struggles, I picked up a book titled 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse, it has some great tips that I started to implement, e.g., using my calendar to plan out goals and work on the most important tasks earlier in the day. 

    #2 You’ll feel lonely.

    Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be lonely especially if you’ve worked most of your adult life as an employee. You don’t know many other entrepreneurs and most of your friends are still employees.

    To solve this, you need to build your tribe, your support team of mentors and like-minded people who will support you through this journey and give you advice. You need to surround yourself with people who are experienced and have been on the path you inspire to take. To find these mentors/experts look for incubators or entrepreneur centers in your city.

    One free valuable resource is SCORE! The SCORE organization is a network of volunteer business mentors providing free advice. For me, I joined the Dallas Entrepreneur Center where I meet with mentors on a regular basis. 

    In addition to great mentors, you need to surround yourself with the right people. When I was an employee I noticed every time I had lunch with co-workers that we ended up complaining about work or management which at the time may have made me feel better but it didn’t help me grow. So, I started networking at events outside of work where I met some fantastic people and got feedback on ideas I had. It was like discovering a whole new world I didn’t know existed and it was all in my local community, I just had to go out and find it.

    #3. You’ll be stressed out! (but you’ll manage it).

    When I worked my corporate 9-5, I didn’t have to worry about how the marketing ads were doing or who would handle support. We had teams that handled that work. I just had to worry about my own tasks and projects assigned to me. 

    n startup-land, especially in the beginning, you play ALL roles. You wear the support hat when talking to customers, the marketing hat when trying to figure out why your ads are not working and the CEO hat when talking to investors or potential partners… all in addition to juggling your personal and family life.

    This of course can be stressful and overwhelming.

    To help with my stress when I got started, I brought my monthly expenses down to the minimum so I could estimate how long my money will last before I needed to get a side job. I then put myself on a routine of waking up every day around the same time in the morning even on weekends so my body would be in a routine. This allowed me to focus on ezClocker. Then for my business, I would plan my goals for the week and create a list of what I wanted to accomplish every day. Having goals and a plan is essential. I also took breaks during the day where I either did a workout or walked in the park and listened to a podcast to de-stress and re-energize.

    Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is a huge challenge but with the right mindset and plan you will discover strengths and capabilities that you never thought you had. A great quote from David Viscott says “If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”

  • ,

    The most difficult things you’ll learn in your 20s

    Ahhhh. The things you learn in your 20s. Your first foray into “adulting” where you begin to find your place in the world. A time when sh*t starts to get real (but not too real) and you begin to earn your stripes.

    The Real World | Your Twenties:  “the true story of what happens after you graduate, are forced to pick a job, work together and have your life scrutinized (by your parents), to find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real.”

    Right? I think the Real World reference really drives it home!

    I have been reading quite a few of those “I just turned 30, here is what you’ll learn in your 20s” – type articles.

    I love those types of retrospective pieces because it’s a great and immediate way for people to reflect on the most formative time in their lives.

    However, the types of summaries I’ve been reading lately aren’t really linking up with what I am personally experiencing.

    Your twenties are not full of rainbow and butterfly-type cliche realizations that belong on a Pinterest board.

    It seems that the deepest, most real takeways some of my peers are reflecting on are…

    Travel is the key to happiness.

    Find your passion and chase it relentlessly.

    Work on you and then find a partner

    You deserve more!

    Surround yourself with people who inspire you.

    Don’t worry about your career, find your purpose first.

    … and so on and so forth. As someone who is in the final two years of his twenties, these are pretty watered down realizations. I mean, come on! Duh!

    I don’t mean to be a downer, but these types of articles are doing a disservice to those who actually want to get the most out of their twenties – the realistic story.

    So, I decided to write a couple thoughts on the realistic truths that you will actually learn in your 20s.


    You’re not going to find your passion by “looking for it.”

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…. stop trying to find your passion. Why?

    Because you don’t know what to look for. You have no idea. And that’s OK.

    I wrestled with this realization for the past decade. I was always trying to identify and cling to “my passion.” I desperately wanted to identify it, execute on it and dedicate my life to it. As a result, I was always pushing things off, saying that things would be great once I found my passion. My life would have purpose once I found my passion. Everything would make sense once I found my passion.

    Yea, not so much.

    I have learned that this is an ass backwards way of living.

    You will waste a lot of time and happiness by clinging to this hope. Instead, realize that you simply do not know all the things you might be passionate about and that you will only find them once you realize one thing… that passion usually follows talent. Figure out what you’re good at!  If you want to do what you love and make a living from it, figure this out.

    And if you don’t think you’re good at something, figure out how you can get better. How do you do that?

    learn in your 20s

    You practice it. You chase it at all times. You surround yourself with people who are also good at them. You network, collaborate and excel. That is how you find your passion and execute on it. It is a natural process, one that is tied to ability, practice and purpose.

    (PS: you don’t have to settle for just one passion. It is passions.)

    Having talent won’t cut it. 

    Given what I just said, you might be thinking that the key to success in your twenties is to simply find something you are good at and then the world is yours.

    Talent = success, right?

    Not quite. I have learned that talent does not always equate to success. Just because you have natural talent for something doesn’t mean you won’t fall flat on your face. The formula you should be considering is:

    Talent + Experience = Success.

    The main driver of success in my experience is just that… experience. Street smarts > book smarts.

    I have seen people (myself included) struggle with this realization time and time again in their twenties and it can be quite frustrating.

    I’m a great writer! Why is no one willing to publish my book?

    I’m a great analytical thinker. Why aren’t companies willing to pay me more?

    I can sell anything! Why am I not making six figures?!

    I hate to break it to you, but none of that matters. Your talent means nothing. Your ability means nothing. Your potential means nothing.

    What does mean something is your drive to apply that and to accrue experience.

    Know this early on and put it into practice. Don’t dwell on ability. Don’t rely on your “talent.” Instead, turn to your ability to execute.

    It’s never too late… but you should hurry

    OK, so now you realize that you should be finding what you are good at instead of chasing fairy tale “passions” and that instead of relying on how good you think you are at it, that you should be proving it by “doing.” If you’re like many twenty somethings, you’re going to start to freak out once you hit your mid to late twenties and you haven’t quite found that talent.

    I personally am fortune to say that I identified it in my early twenties but I have several friends and acquaintances who are now beginning to feel the passing of time on their journey. They are worried that they might not ever find their talent, their passion – much less be fortunate enough to go out into the world to experience all the various degrees of it.

    My advice? Chill out and realize that you have time.

    There’s no expiration date on your talent (except for maybe sports-related skills or talents). I would add that people mature at different ages and just because you are 24, for example, and haven’t identified your talent/passion, doesn’t mean you won’t in a couple months or a year. A lot can change when your perspective on life changes – and that comes with maturity. Don’t force it or overthink it! Just continue to chase experiences and new views and I promise you that you will find it.

    At the same time, realize that while there is no intrinsic end date on your ability to identify and then develop your talent, life tends to create its own pressures on you.

    Family, career, relationships and other obligations will re-prioritize your to-do list and if you let them overwhelm you, this search will be put on the back burner.

    My advice? Be patient but be hungry.

    You’ll never be the smartest, best, most talented person

    Hunger. I just said it. That is the intangible variable that is going to set you apart in your twenties.

    I hate to break it to you, but you’re never going to be the smartest person in the world. That’s just the reality of the world. I struggled with this in college and after graduating. Throughout most of my life I was usually the most intelligent person in the room (at least from a grades standpoint). But in college and post-grad, that was hardly the case. It was an extremely humbling experience. I didn’t understand how this could be the case all of a sudden. The odds suddenly seemed to be stacked immensely against me.

    If I wasn’t smarter or more talented, how could I possibly stand up to the competition? 

    learn in your 20s - girl in crowd

    You might not be smarter or more talented, but what you can be, is the most hungry.

    I am hungry! Starving in fact. I want it bad. I want it more than you (I guarantee it).

    I have accepted the fact that I am not the smartest guy, the most analytical guy, the most creative guy, etc. But I am hungry. This hunger gives me confidence that any skill set or talent might have given me previously. I am driven by this realization and I would encourage you to quickly accept this and get hungry!

    PS: If you’re saying, but Case, I am the smartest person in the room! I hate to break it you, but you’re in the wrong room.

    You have to give a f*ck

    The call and response of my twenty something peers seems to be: learn to not give a f*ck and then you’ll be happy!

    I see this so often. Don’t care what people think of you. Don’t care what others are doing. Don’t compare yourself to others... yada yada yada.

    I have come to realize how utterly stupid this is!

    Yes, of course I believe that you shouldn’t let other’s opinions impact you, etc. That is a given.

    What I think is silly is the way that twenty somethings try to compartmentalize their efforts, goals, purpose etc. It is a self-limiting philosophy and makes you comfortable with realistic expectations about what you can accomplish in your twentys.

    You have to care about your future, your goals. If you refuse to compare your efforts or your goals with those of others who are doing it or have done it, you are limiting yourself to as far as you can see or imagine (which might not be that far).

    Instead, you should seek out and acknowledge people who are in the place you want to be. It will make you feel uncomfortable and will make you question your ability, but that is exactly what you need. You need that kick in the butt. So, instead of ignoring what is going on around you and “not giving a f*ck”, do the opposite. Soak it up. Let it influence you. Let it motivate you.

    You have to commit

    Despite what you’ve heard, your twenties is  a time for commitment.

    Yes, it is a time for experimenting, for traveling, for staying up late, partying, and being wild. But at the core, it is about embracing the fact that, unlike your teens, the actions you take in your twenties have a tangible affect on your life’s happiness.

    There are a lot more consequences to your actions in your twenties. When you were younger it was cool to skip school, show up late for work, cheat on tests, get high, etc.

    If you cling to that lifestyle (similar to the don’t give a f*ck lifestyle), you are seriously going to hold yourself back.

    Grow up!

    Don’t get me wrong. I am all for having fun and challenging norms and expectations, but if you do so without have a core focus or identity, you will wake up one day look back and realize that you should have taken advantage of opportunities that passed you by and been more serious about your ability to act.

    If you want to work a 9 to 5 and build a hustle on the side, then do it!

    Align your sense of responsibility with your talent and purpose. Let that guide you in instances when the opportunity to slack off or go overboard present themselves.

    The money is never going to be enough

    You got your first real paycheck in your twenties. You made your first sale, got your first commission, your first raise, etc. What a great feeling! If only I could make $50,000 more this year, I would be set! Everything would be great!

    Since graduating college, I have jumped around from job  to job, been promoted 6 times, have my own revenue-generating businesses, and I can confidently say that… you will always want more.

    When I first started working out of college, I barely made above the poverty line. I thought if I could just make $75,000 that my life would be amazing. $75,000 could provide for my every need and want.

    Then I started making $75,000 and guess what happened? My needs and wants simply went up. I needed more. Wanted more.

    If I only made six figures this year… Yep, same case here.

    I’m not sure I have a great answer for this one as it is something that I still struggle with, but if there is a takeaway, it’s that you should realize this, try to curb it with self-control, and start saving your money. At the least, just realize that money will certainly make you happy in some areas of your life, but that the others will simple be elevated based on this new level of financial intake.

    You’re gonna get knocked down… and it’s gonna suck.

    I used to play fight and wrestle with my brother for hours a day when I was young. We would beat the crap out of each other, come home covered in mud and bruises and out of breath. But the next day, everything was OK. Our bodies were healing and we were at peace with each other once again.

    About 4 weeks ago, my buddy and I decided to have an impromptu wrestling session in his living room (long story, don’t ask). Today, my shoulder still hurts and I am still embarrassed about how quickly I got fatigued from our little tussle.

    It’s a metaphor! (get it?!).

    The lesson? Things are different in your twenties. You’re older and things have more consequences.

    It’s not longer as easy as it used to be to bounce back from failures, stumbles and the like. If you get fired from a job, it’s not the same thing as losing your paper route. If you get in a fist fight, it’s going to impact how people view you, your maturity, etc.

    I’m not saying that you should tip-toe through your twenties, I am just saying that you should have the right mindset. This is a mindset of always looking forward and committing. You have to convince yourself to keep at things when you feel like giving up.

    Being an adult simply means getting punched in the face repeatedly keeping at it. Your twenties are when you start to learn this.

  • ,

    How this millennial became one of the internet’s most popular writers (w/ over 20M views)

    cole mather collage

    The growth recipe: Millennial author Nicolas Cole on how he has grown a massive presence online before turning 30.

    If there’s one common denominator amongst history’s most successful leaders it’s this: they all have the ability to rally the troops – to assemble a following. As the adage goes, “if you lead, they will follow”. Today, there are countless examples of those who once served a very small audience, and eventually millions around the world come to be following them – Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Gary Vee, Gerard Adams, and Brian D. Evans… and now millennials like Nicolas Cole.

    This type of following and influence doesn’t come by chance. There’s a recipe, and I think Nicolas Cole has cracked it.

    The recipe is part connecting with passionate consumers on an emotional level and part connecting the communities you’ve created.

    Nicolas Cole has captured the hearts and minds of over 20 million readers online.

    Nicholas Cole - writing

    “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

    The young (26 years old) but accomplished author, thought leader and speaker (and Chicago native) was recently named by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Marketing Influencers you need to watch in 2017. His work has reached over 20,000,000 people online and has inspired countless. You can find his thought leadership in publications like TIME, Huffington Post, Fortune, Inc and many more of the Internet’s largest and most influential publications.

    I sat down with Nicolas Cole to ask him specifically how he has been able to reach over 20,000,000 people with his work. He shared some incredibly valuable insights with me on how you can get your voice heard, start building an audience and become a thought leader yourself.

    These are Nicolas Cole’s 4 keys to building an audience online through writing and thought leadership.

    Nicholas Cole - modeling

    1. Contribute to publications you read.

    Establishing yourself as a credible voice starts with writing on websites like Medium, Quora, LinkedIn, etc. These are the platforms Cole highlighted specifically, since they already have users on their platforms and your work is likely to be seen by the right kind of people.

    The process is simple: write an article about a topic you’re passionate about or have considerable experience with. Once you’ve begun to build some sort of readership around your content on a social platform, you can then begin offering it to various blogs and publications as a free contribution (via one of their writers/editors). If you author a well-written article about a relevant topic, they’ll often accept it. Afterall, that’s how publications survive.

    You can increase the likelihood of acceptance by looking up the publication’s author profiles (always listed on their sites with contact info), then finding common connections on LinkedIn. From there, ask your friend for an email intro. Most of the time, if the editor likes the article, they’ll ask you to become a contributor.

    Cole notes, “It’s about proving your value and then laddering it up to bigger and bigger platforms. My earliest content was on Quora, which eventually got republished by TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, etc., until eventually I became a columnist for Inc Magazine. It’s a ladder, and climbing your way up is just about writing things that provide value to readers.

    2. Choose a 1-2 social channels and dominate them.

    Don’t spread yourself too thin. Just because Pinterest has millions of users, that doesn’t make it a necessity. Don’t waste your time on Snapchat if you don’t like selfies. Further, it’s a huge pain to manage several social accounts, especially ones you’re not passionate about.

    But, do choose a few channels that you know how to use well, and double down on them. Cole recommends starting with one, and then once you’ve built a loyal audience there, begin building a second and third.

    Which platform(s) you choose, however, depends primarily on who your audience is and what social applications they use most frequently. For example: Twitter is very popular in the business world. It’s great for sharing articles, and, it’s easy to get influencers to share your tweets. The commitment needed to retweet something is a bit lower than Facebook or Instagram.

    Instagram is great for those interested in building a visual brand, and engagement is currently soaring. And tools like SociallyRich make it very affordable to grow rapidly.

    Whichever channels you choose, put thorough focus on ultra-high quality content and consistency. From there, find friends who can help magnify your message.

    Nicholas Cole - suit jacket

    3. Collaborate with top influencers.

    It goes without saying, but networking really is critical – and there’s a science to it.

    You should always be seeking out thought leaders who can add value to the content you’re creating – and ultimately build relationships with them over the long term.

    From a marketing perspective, Influencers are the key to virality. They grow your reach exponentially through the network effect, while captivating followers with credibility, influence and trust.

    The science lies in their reach and engagement. Numbers don’t lie. If they’re reaching 100k and thousands of people are interacting with their posts, they hold the keys to your virality.

    Don’t think that because they’re influential and powerful that they’re untouchable. Influencers are human just like you and I.

    As Cole explains, “Just reach out. If you’re genuinely looking for good connections and friends, most influencers are willing to find ways to collaborate. Especially in the world of entrepreneurship, there is this unspoken code of reciprocation. I have always found people to be extremely helpful, as long as that respect is mutual.”

    Bear in mind… it’s critical that you do your homework and know the background of the person you’re reaching out to before you connect. This will provide you a few points of commonality to jump off from.

    4. Proceed with confidence.

    If you take one thing away from Cole’s story, it’s confidence. Confidence in your own experience and voice. Confidence that you can get published by the big boys. And pride in the content you release on your social channels.

    I approached my first posts on Quora with the same conviction I still write with today. You really have to believe you have something valuable to share. If it’s not coming from the heart, people will know. It’s less about writing or sharing something you think people will want to hear, and a lot more about asking yourself what you genuinely believe would help someone else. All my best writing online contains something vulnerable in it. That’s the biggest thing I try to teach people. If you want to build an audience, if you want to build yourself into a name or a brand that people recognize and follow, then you have to be willing to let people see the real you,” said Cole.

    He went on to explain that stumbling in the beginning is part of the journey. Getting started writing is the first step. And butchering a few articles is nothing to guilt-trip yourself about. We’ve all done it. Write passionately and consistently, and over time the puzzle pieces will fall into place.

    For those who are new to thought leadership and influencer marketing, Cole just released a course that can help you. It’s focus in on finding your author voice and establishing confidence as a thought leader and influencer.

    Everyone has a story. The art is in learning how to tell it and share it.

    If you’re looking to take your influencer game to the next level, I would highly suggest checking out Nicolas Cole’s writing course. Not many 26 year olds can say they’ve been published in every major publication on the Internet and accumulated over 20,000,000 views on their work. He’s clearly mastered his craft, and now he wants to teach others how they can do the same.

  • ,

    Want to land your dream job? Follow these 6 tips to crush your next interview

    woman with an umbrella flying

    In the past few years, every major media outlet, from Forbes, to CNN, to Time and everyone in between has published articles about the narcissistic, lazy, selfish tendencies of the entire millennial generation.

    Surely I’m not the only one who knows that’s not true, right?

    Glass houses…

    I spent my 20s and 30s struggling to advance my career as far or as fast as I wished.  Year after year, I hit my sales quota.  I was always in the top 10%. 

    But I never managed to crush my job interviews.

    Despite my sales success, I struggled to land higher paying management roles. The post-interview feedback was always the same: “we decided to to go with a candidate with management experience.”


    I was so frustrated! I bounced between companies thinking that it was “their fault”. 

    Nope – the same thing happened at different companies.

    Then, I discovered the secret that jumpstarted my career advancement (more on that in another article). As I ascended into healthcare senior sales leadership roles – the millennial generation was launching their careers. 

    I’ve spent several years recruiting, interviewing and hiring millennials. During that time, I’ve noticed some trends. Some negative. Many positive.

    I’ve learned a lot about the interview process and what motivates millennials.

    The research on this will back me up. Studies show that millennials work hard – but they aren’t willing to settle for a dissatisfying job. While it might appear that 20- and 30- somethings aren’t willing to play by the rules at work and expect handouts, that’s not exactly what’s going on. It’s more likely that younger members of the workforce would rather make a little less money somewhere else if it means more happiness and less stress.

    Don’t mistake work-life balance and a sense of purpose for entitlement and laziness.

    A Pew Research study found that generosity and giving back is a top priority for nearly 70% of millennials. Late last year, Entrepreneur reported that although millennials are believed to donate less time and money than previous generations, people ages 18 to 34 are the driving force behind the $241 billion crowdsourcing industry. Millennials actually make up 33 percent of donations on cause-based crowdfunding websites such as YouCaring.

    As for laziness, many employers of millennials would beg to differ. In a 2014 survey of 1,000 millennials and 200 hiring managers, nearly 30 percent of millennials reported that they were already working in management positions. In late 2015, the New York Times reported that one-third of Goldman Sachs’s managing director promotions went to employees born after 1980.

    Basically, millennials in the workforce are crushing it.

    If you count yourself a Millennial, there’s a good chance you’re hardworking, generous, and you have a strong moral code. But there’s still some work to be done when it comes to fitting in around an office and making a potential boss want to hire you.

    In a survey of hiring managers, the recruiting firm Adecco found some gaffes commonly made in job interviews by people born between 1981 and 2000.

    If you’re hoping to nail your next job interview, here are 6 things you need to do:

    woman drinking coffee - crush your next interview

    1. Dress to impress.

    A survey of hiring managers revealed that dressing inappropriately is the top mistake Millennials make during interviews. You should always err on the side of overdressing rather than coming in too casually. This means no sneakers, no jeans, and cover your tattoos.  Skip the flashy jewelry especially if it’s dangling off of a body part. You might be able to switch your hair color to something drastic once you prove yourself at work–but skip it during the interview phase.

    2. Clean up your social media account.

    According to Forbes, nearly 70% of hiring managers said millennials make the mistake of posting compromising content on public social media accounts. Hiding your accounts is a good idea–but it might not save you. You never know who’s following along and everything on the Internet lives forever. Even top politicians fall prey to that mistake. Avoid using profanity, always check your spelling and grammar, and remove any photos of yourself that are too revealing or show you engaging in not-so-innocent hobbies.

    3. Do your research!

    You should never show up at an interview without knowledge of the company you’re trying to work for. A Forbes article revealed that young workers are considered creative (74%) and strong networkers (73%), but they are not thought of as organized (8%) or detail-oriented (17%). Fight that stereotype by getting your facts straight before you sit in front of your future boss’s desk. Here are a few things to do:

    • Research the company you work for and learn about their top clients or recent sales.
    • Research the industry they are in so you have a general understanding of what you’ll be doing.
    • Review the job requirements and responsibilities and be able to prove you can handle every task.
    • Update your resume to reflect the company, industry and job requirements so you have lots of talking points to go over during the interview.

    4. Watch your mouth.

    I get it: You want to make sure your next job is a good fit. But there are certain questions you should never ask in a first interview. Here’s a list of things to avoid saying:

    • “What do you guys do here?”
    • “How much does this job pay? Do you provide health insurance? How much vacation time will you offer me?”
    • “I hated my last job because…” (Hint: It doesn’t matter why you hated your last job. It’ll leave a bad taste in the hiring manager’s mouth if you start bad-mouthing people).
    • “I don’t have any questions.” Don’t forget to prepare a list of great questions before the interview. This makes you look prepared, interested, and informed about the position.
    • “Honestly, my greatest weakness is that I work too hard.”
    • Any sentence that includes using “like” as a placeholder or “literally” in the wrong context.
    • “I want to own my own business one day, so this will be a nice place to start for a little while.”
    • “Can I work remotely instead of coming in every week?”

    5. Don’t brag.

    Too often, young people come across as overconfident in interviews. Nobody likes a bragger! Obviously you have a lot to offer, but remember that you’ll be working under a manager if you land the job. Make sure they know that you are willing to learn, humble enough to listen and dedicated enough to put in whatever it takes to get the job done.

    6. Follow-up. 

    This is an area that most people, not just millennials, miss. Immediately following an interview (the moment you walk out the door) – send thank you emails to everyone you met. Why so soon? Many companies convene at the end of a day of interviews to discuss the candidates. If interviewers are torn between candidates – a well-timed email can sway the decision your way.   

    If you stick with these tips and come in to your interview with a sense of confidence and professionalism, there’s a good chance you’ll get a call back.

    If you’re interested in learning more about breaking into the lucrative and rewarding world of Healthcare Sales, connect with me here: www.justjohncrowley.com

  • ,

    Can money buy happiness? 7 things to realize about what makes you happy.

    girl smiling next to a cliff

    Does money equal happiness? In my experience… no.

    What I have learned, through my own experience of being broke most of my life, is that money does NOT make a person happy. I’ve been poor, homeless, living paycheck to paycheck  – and have also led a good quality life with a very good living. However, money did not make me more or less happy. I actually was happier at times with no money, hiking in the woods, alone, meditating, and being mindful and expressing gratitude for simply living –  for that which nature is and the people in my life, than I was living in a nice, $3,800 a month loft in Brooklyn.

    Money does not make make you happy.

    Money does not buy happiness.

    We have been programmed to go after money and acquire materialistic things to be successful and happy. If money is part of your motivation to get things that may require one of the four items mentioned earlier (food, clothes, shelter, etc.), money is based on survival. This means after you have acquired x, y and z, then, you can be happy. This to me are more like basic things to live, and this causes me to feel neutral – content. These are things everyone should have access to.

    If money is your only motivation, it is based on survival of the fittest. Here, money is based on the economic, financial and social “food-chain”. This means if you acquire money, only then, will you be happy.

    Either way, you need to “acquire something” to be happy.

    What it comes down to is: when it comes to being happy… don’t chase money.

    I’ve learned that chasing money is not who I want to be. Today, the majority of us will likely contemplate that most things can’t be done without money. But I am here to tell you – your biggest dreams can come true and can be done without money.

    The only priority should be your happiness, and that comes first. Happiness is now. Be mindful of what you are doing to make money and if it does not make you happy you can change your situation, accept it and live in peace, or remove it completely from your life.

    These are 7 important things you need to realize about money and happiness.

    Can money buy happiness - woman on street

    1. True happiness is found in yourself.

    There is no person on Earth who can truly make you happy but yourself. You have to choose to be happy every single day. Happiness should, in fact, be a mantra of constant affirmation. However you choose to go about your life will bring you more happiness than a paycheck. This is something to be read and felt. Happiness may start off as a required habit for some people and may take work to get there, but eventually, the habit of inner happiness will become a natural state of being.

    2. You define what success means to you.

    The creators of money, generations upon generations behind us, have defined what success, control, and power is to them. Success does not equate to money and this does not mean you need to follow in their footsteps. Be your true self first – and however you want success to play out, it will. Success will come to you based on your character, principles, intentions and will-power.

    This boils down to:

    1. What do you want to become?

    2. Who have you become already?

    3. Are you happy right now with yourself?

    If you aren’t happy with yourself right now, that needs to change… right now.

    If you want to attain abundance, you have to manifest abundance internally. Success is not something you pursue. What you pursue in life you will not need to chase after – it will come to you. The amount of success you seek is already attracted to the person you are right now. Your goals, ambitions, energy and beliefs. Success will be attracted to the person you are to become at that time, as well.

    You have acquired some success in your life

    True success is written like a code in the inner-workings of your heart, mind, and soul. The more “true” you are with your intentions, who you want to be and what you define success as, as well as your actions that carry out these aforementioned visions, the more real and wholesome those intentions will come back to you in a crystal clear beam and give you exactly what you need at that time. Your reality is a collection of ideas, beliefs, and perceptions. Your reality is a projection of your inner-workings, your inner-self.

    When you have that projection fine tuned – your inner-self becomes the projected reality. Your perception, beliefs and ideals, your mind and how it works, the deepest parts of you – healed or not – are your current reality. How you choose to deal with things are your reality. What you say is your reality. How you choose to react to anything – is your reality.

    3. A shift in awareness can change your perception.

    What are your current surroundings? How can you best make of your current situation? What can you do right now differently?

    Use creative measures and take risks by allowing yourself to get out of your comfort zone. This by far is the best piece of wisdom that will change your life completely. There has never been a time where I have not experienced growth unless I was performing actions out of my comfort zone.

    4. Be happy now.

    No matter what your current situation is – no matter if you are homeless, living paycheck to paycheck, or in a frustrating relationship or situation – you can choose to be happy and either accept the things as they are or change them. Happiness is not living with blinders on waiting to get from here (A) to there (B) – waiting for that moment in the future that doesn’t exist yet (C). It is about being happy during the journey from A to B, and when C happens, it’s happiness, too.

    5. Sometimes it takes years to totally understand what purpose is

    And sometimes it’s in a moment. And life all along keeps you aware that. There are sometimes many failures before someone understands their purpose. Oprah was fired at age 24 from her first anchor position and was told she wasn’t “fit for television”. Some actors, such as Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman, did not land a major role until their 40s or even 50s. Madonna lost her job at Dunkin’ Donuts and was a waitress until she fueled her passion for music in the late 1970s. Funny enough, my purpose in life has always been connecting with people on a higher level – purpose. I want to inform and help. It started off on a person by person basis, groups, and now, I choose to write to spread the word of positivity and knowledge, however that may be circulated or taken. How many times have you read an article that has changed your life? Exactly.

    6. Why am I not successful?

    Happiness plays a fundamental and healthy role in motivation and keeping a determined mindset. Ask yourself this: are you happy? Some people have pursued their dreams – or what they thought were their dreams – and no movement has occurred in their life because there was something much bigger than they could imagine in store. Perhaps little movement has occurred because the thing you want so bad –  the thing you are striving for and frustrated over is because you are unaware of forcing certain things to happen or doing things are are not part of your real, authentic life journey.

    Before she became famous, Lady GAGA would sing on the streets belting out her voice because she said it made her feel so good. She didn’t care who was listening, or if she was bothering anyone. She was in her natural state of oneness since she herself was a “force”, and not forcing anything. Stephen Spielberg believed in his work, and originally sent in his manuscript of “Carrie” to over 30 publishers before he threw it out and it was immediately retrieved by his wife who asked him to re-submit it. By submitting it one last time, he took shaped his career and purpose in life.

    7. Be Present

    When your awareness has shifted into the total present-moment, suffering becomes isolated and dissociates from you. Being present is accepting what is at every moment and not trying to “force” or “control” life. Actions become more concentrated and profound. You make better decisions all around because you act in accordance with your highest and most authentic self.