Author: aaronvelky

3 Mistakes I Could Have Avoided In April 2018

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Clearly, I wasn’t thinking….

I feel like I say this a lot lately. I own it – not easily – but I do. So, while it’s been a LONG time since I wrote, let me share 3 mistakes I made this month, that I don’t normally share.

The objective here is only to help you prevent yourself from making them.

And away we go >>>>>>

1. I didn’t share where I was struggling.

This past weekend, I was talking to my accountability team from a course I joined called M1. It’s run by a guy that used to work with Tony Robbins.

It’s been a great investment, and really helped me grow as an individiual and entrepreneur.

So for WEEKS, I’ve been not drinking enough water. I’m active, and I work really hard. So I can’t afford this mistake. But I just kept on going.

I said, I’ll fix it when….

I’ll address it when….

Or I made excuses.

Then I realized I needed some help. Not like, clinical help. Just some support. Some backup.

I told the crew, and now 4 of us are on a thirst challenge. 20 oz when you wake up, and 10 oz each hour.

Challenge – I’m in. They knew how to motivate me, help me, and they got behind me right away.

Why didn’t I do this earlier.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re struggling with something, tell people. Ask for help. This is always my achilles. I’m working on it. 

2. I didn’t admit that  I was scared

I have big aspirations. I’m sure you do too.

IN order to be the person I envision, I need to share the journey. To give more to the community, to talk to more people and find ways to help them. To speak to others on topics like this one.

So I have to be unafraid to get out in front of them.

I have to speak. I have to engage. I have to try.

If I’m really going to be what I say I am, it’s time that I get brave.

Now, I’m not perfect but I’m certainly not a coward – I know that much about myself. I felt that I was unable to give to people, or provide value, because I wasn’t “there” yet. That’s just a bullshit excuse – as I have a lot to give and as I grow, my responsibilty is to pass what I learn back down.

But, until I really fessed up with my fear, I was paralyzed.

Whatever you’re afraid of, it’s okay to be scared. It’s not okay to let that paralyze you.

I bought a go pro, and you’ll see a lot more writing and content from me. That’s something I’m committed to. Who else can this message itself help? You, a friend? Share it on!

Bottom Line: Fess up if you’re afraid. It’s the first step. [Here’s a great book to help you here too]

3. My habit wasn’t serving my future

I grew up a comic book kid. Big time nerd here.

A few months ago I downloaded a game called Contest of Champions.

Aside from the countless dollars I’ve wasted on the randomized (supposedly) gems and shit that gives me more heroes to play with, I spent hours.  Even if it was only a minute a day, that’s a lot of time in a month. That’s enough time to write to you and help you along your way.

Instead, I opened the app. And I got rewarded. If you login daily, you get stuff free.

They had me hooked.

It wasn’t until just yesterday that I realized that the future version of me doesn’t do this. And so I had to let it go. I even hesitated, and argued with myself as I uninstalled it.

Stupid Past-Aaron. Shut up. You’re headed up, stop looking down.

Now, I can use that extra 10 minutes a day to help you, be productive, or at worst/best – completely disconect.

Bottom Line: If your future is being held back by a current habit, do what you gotta do to SNAP out of it and get real with yourself. 

 

Learn from my mistakes, so you don’t make them! Here comes May!

-AV

Your End-Game Is Making You Miserable

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Have you ever said:

 

I’ll be happy when I get to X. Or…

I’ll be happy when I have Y.  Maybe the best one…

I’ll be happy when I win the _______.


For me, it didn’t matter what it was, it always ended with “…then I’ll be happy.”

I used to have these unhealthy approaches to happiness. It made sense at the time,  but after hitting the goals that I set, I ended up having to start over each win. I was voided by hitting the goal – the opposite of happy or fulfilled; I was now empty and desperately clawing for new direction.

 

“Fill it with another goal,” I’d say. Or, another beer, coffee, or material purchase.

But happiness isn’t a place. Not even this awesome place:

 

I must say, this does look amazing, doesn’t it?!?

 

My approach to being happy was improper, and it’s likely that you’ve said something like this when imagining your happier place. I set out to be happy, so naturally, I felt that happiness was a place that I could climb to with enough money, cars, friends, travel, airline miles, or awards.

But these will inevitably fail to make me happy always and forever – because as soon I get there, I’d be sitting there with only a need to find another thing to chase to satisfy me. The pleasure would be gone, and nothing would take its’ place. 

My end-game, set on a fixed point, could never make me happy.

 

Setting Goals Is Good. But Goals Are Just Mile Markers

 

Ironically, we have these same habits in setting business goals, personal achievement objectives, sports mentalities, physical insecurities and relationships.

It’s not that setting goals is wrong; it’s that our method of measurement should include goals that come as a result of continued betterment, rather than one that uses goals as the means of achievement.

 

An example:

If I aspire to be a successful professional artist, I might imagine that I’ll be successful when I sell my painting to a big-time gallery. I’ll be happy when I get there. I can stop. And likely, I will. 

The truly successful artist may set a goal of selling a painting to a big-time gallery. But, his or her artistry would be founded on continuing to hone and perfect the craft, and that particular sale coming as a result of the continuity. That artist would then, after the sale of the art to the gallery, go on to produce higher value works, see a better lifestyle and level of success.

 

I’ve got a friend that hit his first million in net worth. He’s been miserable, and had to go about changing his life around because it wasn’t fulfulling him. He’s got no achievement in his life, only goals that he’s checked off his list. More money – check. More career accolades – check.

More happiness, fulfillment, and love – well that will come when I get to 2 Million. Won’t it? 

Maybe, and there’s some research that says more money can mean less stress. Some argue the opposite. 

Wealth is a byproduct of me offering better value to customers, or selling at a higher price point, or addressing a larger audience. But you’ll have to learn more, break habits, and change a lot to get your wealth. It’s not just a one stop goal. Even the word wealth is very subjective. That’s really not my point though.

My point is – finding the process that allows me to keep growing is more important than setting a fixed point that I look towards for measurement of my success.

 

Failing to hit a Goal is Only Allowed in an Alternative End-Game Process

 

The major flaw in this logical pathway is not inherently obvious until you start to look at the conditions in which life is forced to exist. Life, and the microcosms: business, sports, and happiness, are a continuum of experiences, both good and bad. I can’t say that failing to hit a goal is something I’ve never experienced – actually many failures have brought tears. 

My end-game never changes, and so, a painful failure is just another stone in the pathway I’m building. It works something like this:

 

Where does it start? Where does it end? It doesn’t. It just is something you keep doing.

When trying to find happiness, my failure is a distinct element in the path, but it is not a distinct element in the journey. In fact, some argue, like Mark Manson, that you should stop trying to be happy. In doing so, you allow yourself the room to actually let the journey create happiness.

Most importantly, placing an exorbitant amount of weight on a particular goal is a recipe for the mental process I like to call “Becoming the Failure.”

When determining whether or not I am successful, I can look at an event that did not go in my favor and approach it as a learning lesson. Remember, my focus is on continued betterment, so any setback is an opportunity to continually improve.


However, if my goal is all that exists to me, and I fail to achieve it, I am now a failure – someone that didn’t hit his or her goal, unable to reflect upon it appropriately and still stuck underneath of it as a means to joy, completion, or success. Rather than looking at the failure from a distance, I’ve now become the failure, attributing the failure to me (my person, brain, talent, capability or other fixed component of myself), rather than to the process.

 

The best athletes go back to work after a bad loss, continually invested in the process of getting better. They don’t quit and sulk and attribute the loss to their personality or their work – they continue to work to get better where they know payoffs are secure.

These 5 ways will help you leverage the right parts of the process. And some others agree that being able to fail is a critical element in happiness, or success.

 

Because to them, the product (the object and thing that they are working towards) isn’t a fixed place in time. It’s, instead, a wheel, something constantly moving, constantly changing. It’s a process.  And the successful believe in the process.

 

 

What part of your end-game can you re-configure, so that you’re setting yourself up for a better, happier, journey? Comment below!

-AV

How Great Ideas REALLY manifest…..

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I want to tell you a story about the things that businesses don’t tell you:

It’s not Genius that creates ideas.

So my blog, these articles, they are all about finding other ways to make money. Enjoyable ways. Liberating ways.

As an example, Really exciting news: This week, my business Ortus Academy, launches it’s third product.

We take kids through our game, NumisMatters, then through 10 lessons about money, including things like Earning, Saving, Value, Investments, Stocks, and Money Attitude.

It’s a ton of fun honestly, and it’s one way that I’ll make money this year. One of many, but they are all the same in the way they start……

I’m going to walk you through my process.

 

money-club-logo

 

Behind the scenes of any big launch, or idea, or product are four key things, we’re going to talk about them.

First let me tell you how Money Club happened.

I got a call from a school, who liked what we had. I sat with the director, and we went over things that we already did, and what he wanted.

I said ten words, “Thanks for having me out. How can we help you?”

I didn’t say anything else for 20 minutes. I took notes. I thanked him. I left.

He essentially told me all of his needs, wants and fears, and then I had enough to go off.

Back at HQ, (fancy letters meaning our local coffee shop) we discussed whether it was feasible to make him happy. We called two other schools, got some feedback on the idea. Called teacher friends. Called parents, I still call my mom about these things, shut up.

And then we went balls-to-the-wall crazy into creating it.

So here’s my process.

This is how Convert Your Skills, a 1-on-1 course I offer that teaches individuals how to upstart income streams with a zero starting point, started.

This is how Ortus Academy started.

This is how I arrived at Pipeline Soccer Club to coach.

It’s all the same:

1. Be open
If you aren’t open to new things, how could you possibly build a business. A friend of mine is the most closed-minded person I know. He and I balance well, but he can’t run a business because everything is impossible. When you talk like that…it is impossible.

At one point, flight was impossible. So was going to Mars.

2. Listen
When someone talks, ACTUALLY listen. I know this is brave advice. It’s also the best way to get laid. Don’t blabber on, ask more questions and then shut up. Shocking how easily you can find hidden gems in business opportunities if you’re paying attention.

Heard everyone you know say that it’s time for someone to invent a better way to hold your keys, because they are annoyed by the jingling and searching…..well, maybe you have a business

3. Listen more
Think you’ve done enough listening…..do it more. Ask better questions. Ask more questions. Do research. Research and reading count as listening.

4. Try it like you mean it
We live in a world where it’s cool not to give a f*(*k. It’s embarrassing. So when you hear the things people want, and you do your research, and STILL it seems doable, that’s when you ditch all the inner “No, I can’t” and “I’m not sure” and get to work.

There’s a really awesome Branson Meme that’s fitting here. If you know him, great. If not, you should.

 

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Maybe you have a different process? I’m curious what yours is! If not, steal mine!!!

AV

PSC Fitness at Home

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Hey Pipeline!

 

I’m super bummed about this weather. Today’s been hot, sunny, windy, rainy, and then everywhere in between. If you’re stuck at home, and still want to get fit, here’s three exercises you can do right now, without any equipment at all!

Get started right away!

 

Swimmer’s Planks 

Hold your body flat in a plank on your hands, with your arms extended. Spread your feet shoulder width apart. This is a normal, full extension plank. In one motion, take your straightened right arm and move it backwards towards your legs  and then rotate it in a full circle back to the starting position. Next take the other arm and rotate around. Repeat back and forth for 1 minute sets, or for as long as you can.

 

 

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The trick? Keep your shoulders and back still. Don’t rotate the hips and stay as flat as you can!

 

Step Ups

Find a flat surface that’s about as tall as your knees. Place one foot on the upper surface, so that your knee is bent. Press off of your foot and press your opposite knee to the sky. Lower the foot back to the floor and land on the toe. Repeat for 20 reps on each side. Do not alternate beforehand. If 20 isn’t enough, go for more, or put some weights in your arms!

 

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Front Lunges

Simple and effective, the front lunge is a step forward and bend. Look to get your legs at 90 degrees each (square). Make sure you step far enough that your front knee (stepping leg) does not go past your toes. If it does, step further! As you step, lower the back knee almost to the floor, but don’t let it touch. Press off and return to the starting position!

 

Alternate each leg, and get a minimum of 20 per leg before you rest!!

 

 

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Enjoy!

Can you do what I do?? The answer isn’t yes….it’s Run!

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When I was in high school, I had this coach named Ken Griffith.

He was 50+. 6’2”. Fat. He drove a golf cart from the school down to the field.

He was a football coach. Not our kind of football. Not Soccer

 

I liked him. He made me work. He got the game. Sort of.

He used to yell at us, hill after hill. We’d have killed to see him do just one. JUST ONE.

I never wanted to be like him. Yelling. Standing.

 

Attached is the result of my latest run. I am willing to bet, you couldn’t keep up.

Screenshot_2016-07-29-15-54-01

 

That’s not because you aren’t capable, but because you don’t know why you can’t.

 

Do you want to be a professional? Are you willing to train to get there?

 

The problem with that thinking is that you’ve determined an end point. What happens when you get there?

I want you to forget about the destination, and fall in love with the journey, the work, the sweat.

My playing career is different than I imagined now, but I keep trying to get better; coaching, playing, running. It’s a lifestyle.

 

If you fall in love with getting better, all the other components will fall into place, and you’ll reach heights you never thought possible.

Most importantly, you can trash talk everyone when at 28.

But that’s not why I do it.

Fitness, skill work, and play isn’t about whether you can or can’t. If you love investing in it, taking the good with the bad, how can you be anything but great???

 

So I challenge you.

Can you beat me? The answer isn’t yes….it’s why would you want to?

I run because I love seeing how I compare to yesterday. I don’t run to beat someone else.

 

I run to beat me.
You’d be surprised how fast you run after a few weeks of being better than yesterday.

 

Tip’s for your run (*or any other pursuit):

 

  • Run often. No one gets to be the best running “occasionally”
  • If you need a break. Take one. It’s hot out, but don’t stop moving. Just walk for a bit.
  • Prepare the day before, not right before. Hydrate, stretch, etc.
  • Running is mental. If you think you’re tired, you are.
  • Music helps take your mind off the other sounds that come with running.
  • Time it. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring. Those words came from a mentor and he’s 100% right.
  • Love the burn. I’m still sore from it, 2 days later. I love it.
  • Download an app to track your stats. I use Strava, or MapMyFitness.

 

 

This applies to anything. ANYTHING.

 

How does this apply to your dream, your job, or your creative pursuit?!?

Conventional Cliche’s – Challenged and DeBunked

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Now and again you hear conventional things like:

 

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

“The customer’s always right.”

“Never say never.”

“The early bird gets the worm”

 

UGH. STOP! KILL ME!

 

But what do they mean, and in this day-and-age, do they even matter anymore? Join me as I explore 5 of my biggest cliche’s and whether they are true or false today!

 

 

  1. Always Treat Your Customer Well

I’m often appalled at how I hear some freelancers talk to their clients. “Their paying you,” I always think to myself. Nonetheless, those same people seem shocked when the relationship changes, clients find other solutions, or when the client isn’t timely with responses.

The truth of the matter, at a basic, human level, is that people want to feel valued. That doesn’t always stem from your working relationship, it can extend past that.

During full-time employment, and watching contractors come and go, I saw several relationships that were based on the way the contractor treated the customer – not on their work. I heard things like, “He always calls on my birthday,” or “they do a great job of getting here quick.” It’s different for every relationship, but the small things go a long way.

I prefer to sit and talk shop with my clients. I want to know how they think, what their family is like, what they value. It not only is a great way to learn them, but it’s a valuable leveraging tool. Do not take that information with the intent to leverage client. But, invest in how they think and learn to translate; when you can speak their language you connect more deeply.

Finally, your interest has to be genuine. I got a bottle of vodka every time a certain painter nailed a job, but I knew it wasn’t a gesture of thanks, it was a gesture of bribery so we’d keep him around. At the end of the day, vodka or not, he didn’t care enough about our needs for us to do so – he badgered us for days for a check, where at a big company it had to run its course from corporate, and we’d been down the same road more than once with him. Eventually, he lost a $64,000 contract.

BOTTOM LINE: TRUE

When it comes clients – learn about THEM – the people, not just the business. Ask questions, show interest, and develop a real give-and-yake relationship. It’s harder, takes more time, but when you treat your customer well, they’ll come back for more and recommend you. This is why I can charge $70/hr for personal training lessons, and be full to the brim with clients. Others struggle to get clients at $30/hr. I know what they want, need, and it’s only then that I can figure out how to deliver that.

 

  1. Own More, Be More

There was a time where if you didn’t own something, you weren’t going to be able to use the function it provided – think hammers and nails. Compounding from lack of rental services, the economic depressions witnessed by first generation Americans and immigrants placed value on ownership, the simplest way for an individual to showcase wealth. More was better. Holding on to items was smarter than having to buy them again. You didn’t throw things out. You fixed them.

In many ways, this was a brilliant approach – one I try to embrace. If I own it, I will care for it. But how long does that go on before you go broke?

Moving forward in time, baby boomers carried on the tradition of ownership as a lifestyle. Soon after, we have tv shows highlighting social phenomenon known as hoarding. It begs the question, what is the purpose of ownership if the utility is less than the cost of ownership?

Financially savvy individuals look at the overall cost of ownership a little more closely. Renting a powersaw for an outdoor project, for example, costs $15 (location based). Compare that to ownership of the same tool, $97, plus replacement blades, plus storage, and you can see the value of renting. Unless you are power sawing for a profession, why not rent, knock out all your work quickly, and return, for ¼ of the cost?

In 2011, we started to see a shift to rentals, including “access” services like NetFlix. In 2016, subscriptions are prevalent to the point of frustration, forcing us to choose whether to pay a larger lump sum for ownership, or smaller monthly payments. Now services like Quickbooks, Prezi, and Spotify are providing access to their material. Minimalists like myself go for as little ownership as possible. I like my workspace, my house, my computer, my software, and even my storage to be as useful as possible, and as lean as can be.

Bottom Line: FALSE

Effectiveness and efficiency aren’t determined by whether you own something anymore. It’s up to you to look at the overall cost of ownership (purchase price + upkeep costs + return on investment), and make a good decision. The facts usually support that moderate uses are better of with a pay-as-you-go service. Do your homework.

 

  1. The Customer’s Always Right

It’s summer, and I’m sitting outside helping students at Towson move into their apartments. The property had gone through a miraculous transformation – in two weeks we’d manage to paint, clean and fix nearly 200 apartments….with a 7 person staff and contracted painters and cleaners. No small feat.

A mom issues a complaint to my assistant. Given an answer she didn’t like, she wandered to my table, where myself and two other co-workers sat under a pop-up-tent, and asked, awkwardly flirting with me, asking “If I worked out?” and commenting on my figure. Hand on the hip, chest out, she was angling, and I knew it. What she really wanted to know was why she couldn’t have a spare key. The argument was that, as the person paying for the apartment, that she should have a key. Her primary concern was her daughter’s safety.

Fact was, as a young adult, 22 at the time, I was really uncomfortable with her request, though she disguised it under care for her child. Aside from that, it was a major security issue. Her daughter had roommates. The more keys you give out, the less security you have. It makes costs high when you change locks, requires an overdose of communication, and most importantly, it undermines the student.

The fact was, she wasn’t in the right, but you can’t go around saying “You’re WRONG!” to everyone that you disagree with.

We found a middle ground. I had to center the argument about her daughter, and how trying to limit her independence (much like any young, independence college student experiences) would only force a much harsher backlash. When I made my point constrictively, she was agreeable.

Long story short, it wasn’t about making her right or wrong that won her over. What worked was guiding her through what the reasoning was for the policy, and making it connectable to her specific needs and concerns. There was no overarching bad guy, just real people talking about real issues.

Bottom Line: FALSE

While there is merit in a customer sharing their opinion, it doesn’t mean that they’re always right. I do not advocate for anyone suggesting that a customer is wrong, but there is worthiness in making sure your customer understands the reasoning behind your policy, stance or communication. Using words like “wrong,” “never,” or “always” are surefire ways to distance yourself from any customer disagreement, whether they are a major company in a large contract or a sole proprietor doing small works. If you can’t avoid disagreement, be mindful of how you disagree with a client, but don’t be afraid to.

 

  1. It’s Who You Know, Not What You Know

Life is all about relationships. But, it’s not what you know, and it’s not who you know.

It’s how you know them.

Today our job environment is much more nepotistic than is visible. We’ve been told that hard work, dedication, and a little luck will cause those senior VP’s to notice you and take heed to your superior ethic, offering you the chance of a lifetime! They’ll give you your big break! It’s coming, just hold on!!

Why is it that certain individuals seem to get more attention, more opportunities, and more praise than others? Is it a character component, or just pure luck?

It’s not just luck, looks, or ‘work ethic,’ it’s skill.  The skill is in production. People pay for a product, which takes production. Those that can produce stand out.

I’m not talking about the “go to work and do your job” production, I’m talking about the “get out of your range and solve major problems” production. See ahead, develop vision, and identify areas of need. Then produce solutions.

I provide two services (products):

  1. I will share my previously successful solutions in the ________ fields, or I will apply my knowledge and experience to a new field to solve your problem.
  2. I will find the appropriate person that can solve your problem within your constraints (budget, time, etc.)

This approach generates worth. Hand problems to me, I demonstrate my value, and the problem will be solved efficiently and effectively. The relationship is strengthened, and my reputation and “How” I’m known, is reinforced.

When clients make referrals, or describe you and what it is you “do,” they are describing how they know you. That how is the pathway to extracting value. If you are known for being late, lazy, and unproductive, knowing the right person is not going to help your cause (a powerful foe can cripple you). If you are known for being energetic, creative, and adept at solving critical issues, knowing the right people is everything you want it to be.

When you go to make an ask (“Hey, can you help me connect to______”), or declare interest in an opportunity, your relationship is going to be the foundation for your pitch. There will be a responsibility for you to sell yourself, of course, but if you can nail the how (relationship-wise) prior to your pitch, you’ll set yourself up for serious consideration, no matter what the big break is.

 

Bottom Line: FALSE

What you know is irrelevant to whether you are productive. Information is abundant; production is not. Prove yourself to be a productive asset, capable of handling tough challenges and those that need production will flock to you. As a top performer, your productive output is your value, and you’ll know that you hold your worth when you are referred to often.

As you build relationships, what you produce and how you go about the process is the fulcrum for you to leverage relationships for opportunities. Continue to develop a reputation for production, and your product will speak for the relationships you are looking to form. Without production, people have no reason to assign you bigger challenges (which in turn means bigger payments), or help you reach your goals, or refer you to others.

 

  1. You’ll Never Be Successful if You Quit Your Job

Before you judge me for saying this from the other side of the job fence, this was my stance before leaving my job, and is now reinforced after the fact.

Fact: Your job is a role. Your role requires you to complete certain tasks, achieve concrete results, make specific decisions, and develop realistic plans.

Fiction: Your job needs you to be the best version of you.

Some companies and some leaders, are going to want you to be exceptional. The vast majority however, want you to fill your role, stay within your boundaries, and complete the objectives to which you were assigned.

“That’s not true, they love me!”

Ok, go in each day for a week and sit down and play Pacman on your computer or phone. See how much they love you then. They pay you for a reason, not because they like your character. Fill the role, you’re good. Stop filling the role, and you’ll lose your value.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in 8 months, since leaving my job, it’s that I couldn’t have possibly grown this much under that particular wing. It’s just not possible. They didn’t want me inventing new processes that were smarter and more efficient. They didn’t want me taking new ideas, building a network of support, and creating something from nothing.  They didn’t need that, they just wanted me to manage the project I was in charge of. No extras needed. Not pay for explore, conquer and return. I got pay because I was supposed to play nice.

To be the best version of you, the restraints and limitations must be completely removed. Yes, you will fall. Yes, you will mess up. Yes, you will get your feelings hurt. But yes, you will rise, and yes, you will find out how powerful you can be and how much vision you possess.

Without those experiences, continuing down the safe path means two things:

  1. You are not forced to grow
  2. You are growing at someone else’s desired pace

Neither are good options. It is possible to stay where you are and grow, that’s not my point. My point is that just because you don’t have a job, doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.

Freelancer, entrepreneur, visionary, lone-wolf….whatever you want to call this role, this journey, is fine. But for me, I grow at my speed. No one gets to tell me when I’m going too fast or too slow, and experience is my teacher. That’s worth every penny.

Bottom Line: FALSE

It is possible to become a better you at your job, but it’s my experience that I could never have become this version of me while I was living under someone else’s rules, someone else’s timeclock, and someone else’s vision for my role. By challenging yourself outside of work, you can grow at your pace. While the difficulties are immense, the rewards are doubly so, and that’s a great trade-off for any warriors that are ready to challenge their past to better their future.

 

Conventional ideas certainly have their place, but not without challenging them. What conventional words of wisdom have you heard lately? Do they stand the test of time?

 

-AV

Pay versus Purpose: 5 Lessons @ 5 Months

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It’s been some time since I wrote lengthy posts on this page….Hello, from the other side….(Sorry, that damn Adele song is on so much I had to do it!)

 

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Things are different now, but for the right reasons. Today I’ll share a monumental change that’s happened, how it happened, and how it liberated me.

I sit at 2:42 in a Starbucks. My office is everywhere, and nowhere. I am currently handling ‘upkeep’ – email responses, small tedious tasks, and setting up meetings – for the upcoming weeks. I’m prepping for the launch of Ortus Academy’s Financial Literacy program. I’m researching community developers for a client, and designing a flyer for another. Compared to a year ago, I am less burdened (as in I feel less stress) while also managing to work nearly 2-4 times as productively.

On this side of the proverbial fence, there are three main things that a person can do in a day:

  1. Work towards a payment
  2. Work towards a mission or purpose
  3. Not work

At first glance it appears that number three is not a viable option in a lifestyle that is dependent on finding your own income sources, however, I’ve found that it’s actually an important aspect of this change. Because work and play are now so blurred, I have to work hard to define boundaries, create off-times, and disconnect, otherwise, I can’t recharge. More on that later.

Working towards a payment and working towards a purpose are clearly different in intent, and that brings me to my point today:

If you are focused on your payment, it becomes harder to be focused on your purpose.

Building a non-profit has been a tough challenge. It’s a lot to set up, expensive as well, and it takes time to do something great. Nonetheless, we’ve made progress. I, as the visionary, have gone through my ups and downs that most do – you lose sight of the bigger picture, and become intent on the short term snapshot as a reflection of your progress. When clear on where we wanted to go, in a big context, the smaller components have become easier to identify, goals have been easier to set, and progress is quicker to see.

Some days I eat my ego alive. Other days I thrive, confident to cockiness borders. Some days I’m virulent, other days I’m passive.

I’ve had the fortune to be able to make money in a lot of different ways.  Since leaving a full time job, I of course have to hustle to make ends meet. I trimmed my expenses by about 23%, knocking down smaller expenses and living within my means. I slimmed to only what I need to have and I cut out some fruitless spending in favor of a different method of getting my “shop” on. I took on some odd jobs, but by keeping my rates high, and using some arbitrage, was able to net well and maintain a low work rate. But making ends meet was never the goal. Naturally, I sacrificed the floor to take away the ceiling with the hope that I would earn more than I was before, but I also wanted to do things I loved – anything from writing, to reading, to getting healthier, to more youth involvement, more family time and deeper relationships. Money can’t do those for me, but smart work and smart time investments can.

 

 

Lesson 1: Barter, Barter, Barter

 

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There’s real value in being able to trade. It’s an old school method, dating back to before money was even around. In the BC era, artisans and craftsmen bartered to survive, trading for what they could not create, build or grow themselves. Bartering has a poor stigma to it, as though it’s not approved, but elite freelancers and smart businessmen know a good deal doesn’t mean a pretty one.

I offer my services in exchange for someone else’s, and compare them and the value of them so that it’s mutually beneficial. Remember, there are limits that everyone has. Some people need cash in their business, so I’m not often put off if I receive a no. However, if it does work, I’m sure to have constant check ins to make sure both parties are happy.

Pros:

  • No cash exchange means no taxes paid
  • Services that you normally wouldn’t have access to become available
  • Can still leverage the relationship for testimonials, references
  • You’ve still earned a client

Cons:

  • While you’re not working for free, you’re still using your time
  • It’s easy to take advantage or be taken advantage of; consistent check ins are key
  • Your impulses may pull you to exchange for things you don’t really need

 

Lesson 2: Mentors and Persons of Interest – Give First, Ask Later

 

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Since I no longer have a job structure to do it for me, I’ve become a professional networker. Sometimes I need some support in overcoming a wall, a good reference to an auto vinyl company, or a sounding board to make sure I’m on the right path. For example, you’d be surprised how quickly a reference can change your hunt for a qualified company, service, or person. I spend a lot of time building a network of trustworthy, reliable, high-integrity people. When I get stuck with decisions or choices, I lean on them for advice, but it didn’t start that way.

More importantly, these are the smartest, most prevalent names I can find, and their expertise far outweighs mine.  I like to be the weakest, dumbest, most inexperienced guy in the room.

To join their team, (and later, for them to join mine) I’ve employed a lot of different strategies, reaching people in and out of network for a multitude of reasons. Have a Person of Interest (POI) that would be a good mentor, a reliable source of advice, a great hub for meeting others, or is a personal hero? Here’s a few ways you can reach them with credibility and get them in your corner:

Before any contact, reflect on your POI’s WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). What can you offer to them? Second, can you clearly state what it is you’re looking for? Help, money, or a chat, isn’t specific enough for someone who gets consistent requests for donations of time or expertise.

Winning Strategies:

  • Solve a problem you know they face (you’d be surprised what you can come up with from online sources). Whenever you reach out to a new party, have an angle; give, offer, or supply something to them before you ask for something in return.
  • Connect them to someone that can solve their problem. You don’t have to be the guy they need, but if you can be the link between the two, you’ve become a strong utility, worthy of attention.
  • Find referrals from Friends, Family, or Close Colleagues of your POI
  • Approach the POI from two angles. If you know his confidant, and his personal trainer, and you can get a referral from both, you’re going to be more likely to make contact.
  • Have nothing to offer? That’s ok, but don’t hide that, in fact, share what you’re interested in and that you’re unsure of how you could make the relationship two-way.

Losing Strategies

  • Sending a long email shows that you aren’t respectful of their time. Keep it concise, and if it’s not concise, take the time to make it that way. Reminds me of the quote “I’m sorry this letter was so long. I didn’t have time to write a short one.”
  • Never, EVER, EVER lie about your connection to them, your interest, what you found in researching them, or how you can help them. It seems like a no-brainer, and I haven’t done it, but I’ve seen relationships crumble and reputations broken this way.
  • “People don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.” Process that before you move forward with an elaborate attempt to lure a high-quality person into your network.
  • Keep your communication relevant. If you’re off on a tangent, and you emailed me, I’d stop as soon as I lost you. Other successful people think that way as well. Time is limited.

 

Lesson 3: Be Bored, and Leverage Itimgres2

 

For the OCD, always going Dynamos like myself, the hardest thing to do is stop. Sometimes, I work so frivolity that I forget to eat, so I have to constantly work on this, personally.

This advice comes from my good friend, Jae Jin, a musician that was dear enough to impart some of his mantras with me. When you work for yourself, on yourself, or in your own business, you go, and when you aren’t going, you’re generally sleeping. It’s sink or swim.

Reflection, and problem solving, don’t come from mysterious places – the brain processes and breaks down solutions. They always tell you to take a 15 minute break at work, but how often does that happen? Now that I work whenever and wherever, I have to tell myself to walk away from problems.

But why boredom? That’s the polar opposite, isn’t it?

In order to fully launch into your pursuit, namely your purpose, your downtime is vital. Watch a TV show, get out in the sun, go for a walk, and sit in public with your phone off and in your pocket. When you start up again, go full throttle into what you’re doing and don’t stop til you’re dead tired, and repeat the process. The break in between has been the genesis of many a bright idea.

Suggestions for Boredom Breaks:

  • Turn your phone off and use your watch (whoa, I know) to track time. If you have an hour, give yourself an uninterrupted hour.
  • Watch a TV show, and let your mind wander into whatever it is that’s happening. Forget about the meetings, problems, employees, offers, and whatever else is up there. Let the clouds roll by for a while.
  • Do something creative (paint, draw, doodle, etc.) or exercise – both are known vices for entrepreneurs and freelancers
  • A sharp body is a fitting home for a sharp mind.
  • Read: Read for fun, read for research, read for reference. PRO TIP: Be careful on internet reading. It’s easy to get distracted and lost.

 

Lesson 4: Categorize Your Endeavors

 

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It’s okay that you have to make ends meet, there’s truth in that. But, if you’ve ever been caught up taking on more than you’re used to, working longer than you thought you would, you can probably relate to feeling like you’re “in too deep” with a project you weren’t pumped about. If you’re onto your purpose, but a project is about your means, label it as such.

I’m not suggesting you prioritize one over the other, because your quality of work is important as a professional, but knowing you are doing something to keep yourself afloat, rather than to reach towards your purpose, is imperative. When things get stressful with your means, you can give yourself a reminder based on what’s most important, and what you’re main focus is. When I feel overwhelmed, I remember the impact I’m trying to make, rather than the money that I need to make it happen. That calms me.

Whatever method you use to keep yourself on track (calendar, white board, lists, chalk on a sidewalk, whatever), make another one, and separate it into two parts, labeled “Means,” and “Purpose.” The projects that you have get identified this way.

 

Lesson 5: Have Some Fun

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I currently have 7 projects on my desk. Some overlap more than others, but they are all more deeply connected to WHO I am now than my projects were with a full time job. Someone assigned me that when I was their employee. Now, it’s my rules.

To be able to pick my projects is a blessing. I really do admonish and appreciate all that I have, and do so every day. Now, when I don’t think I’ll enjoy doing something, I can say no, or amicably walk away.

If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t put in 100%. I have so much going on, that when I put into a project, I HAVE to give 100%. Imagine training for an iron man (running, swimming, biking) and not training hard for any of them. When I’m on the grind, I’m going as fast and hard as I can.

Some tips to make sure you have fun:

  • I like to think of Aaron at age 30, 35 and 40; knowing I’ll get through it, what will he think about these projects looking back. Sometimes that helps me relax a bit and know that I’ll be ok.
  • I enjoy comedy. I put on comedies in the background when I’m creating art, creating material, or building programmatic materials. It makes me laugh and is good background noise.
  • Call a friend during a break. Ask them how they’re doing. When they ask you about you (since everyone answers in three words “things are good,”) really dive in and ask them for more info. See how they are REALLY doing.

 

 

For all those freelancers out there, I hope this is helpful. If you’re thinking about how much you dislike your job, because it misaligns to what you think your purpose is, then let this article be the kickstart to practice the above. Do it while you’re in your job, and you have little risk. After work, see if you can apply what I’ve learned. I bet it helps!

 

-AV

You Work & People Assume: Games of Business

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It’s the natural course of things I suppose, but people are always assuming something very different from what actually happens in my life. I’m going to assume you’re in the same position, and if not, then perhaps you could benefit from this excerpt today.

A few weeks ago I wrote for about an hour to pitch a course to teach. The next day I refined it, and submitted it to a local startup incubator.

I met with the community manager, who liked what I had to offer, and we created a timeline for the full proposal – which meant I needed to create the course.

I spent four hours designing each class (12 hours total), 3 hours reviewing, 6 hours with a consultant, and then submitted it before I got a resounding, “Yes, let’s do this!”

So THEN I posted on facebook, twitter, and blasted to friends. After almost 24 hours, it was out for the world to see. I emailed my network, and then some interesting responses came in from peers.

“How come you get to teach a course there?”

“What makes you qualified to teach??”

….and my personal favorite….and I quote….

“Fuck you Aaron. How come YOU always get these chances??”

See, there’s a game being played, and those that can’t play, don’t win.

On the outside, i “got” the chance to teach, as though Betamore called me, asked me to teach, threw me $10,000 and I agreed. Not true. It’s not because some angel sprinkled dust on me, it’s because I went after it, and worked for it.

In fact, there are so many of  us, “old me” included, that don’t even PLAY the game because we don’t know what it actually looks like.

That’s what Side-Streaming is – it’s playing the game, and playing it better than others. Where you get the big gigs, the higher rates, and the better clients. It’s not luck, like the outside world sees, it’s tactical, smart, and strategic.

I bet you’ve got something that already looks like this scenario, where from the outside, you made it look easy, or gifted, but really, you worked your ass off for it. I’d love to know.
What’s something that you’ve done recently that on the outside mitght look easy, but truthfully you worked really hard for? I’d love to know your story!!!

 

Share below!

 

The End & Start of a Chapter

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In life, we are given the opportunity to make decisions. Some run from them, some run towards them.

Take a moment of reflection, and you may find running towards your goals is a steadily increasing challenge. It’s lonely, it’s difficult, it’s tiring, and it’s full of things like heartbreak, pains, and fears. It’s meant to be. To whom much is given, much is tested, and those that see the journey itself for what it is will be the ones that come to enjoy the fruits of their pursuits.

Since the start of this now closing chapter, I’ve seen the most volatile version of myself ever. A bad car accident, a broken wrist, and a gritty, never-give-up attitude clashed with an opportunity to test my business savvy. The result was a painful but worthwhile experience that taught me to feel fear, and drive through it.

I’ve never cried so much. I lost family, friends, and made enemies along this path. I spent hours after and before work, building; I slept rarely. I asked for help, I asked for opportunities, and I shed my pride – feeling loss after loss. I set my mind to a target, and let nothing stop me. No person, no thing; not even me. We are often our most vicious and relentless wall.

At the end of it all, there was two constants. Courage and Purpose. As I walk from this chapter, I take on new projects – writing a book, building a non-profit, coaching youth, and teaching people to earn from things they enjoy doing. They could all fail, they could all ruin me. But I walk with courage and purpose. Bettering others has been something I’ve been afraid to do, because it requires such a disciplined and refined method to find your way.

The path will be tougher than what I have already been through. With the help of my family and friends, the path will make me better, it will make me stronger, but it will not be easy. There are people in my life that remind me of my purpose and my courage, and when down, they will remind me I am never out.

I hope you will take the time to reflect, like I have. A wasted life lives inward, and runs from its’ goals. A purposeful life carves through resistance and runs towards the sunset. Life is short, and when it is all said and done, I’d rather endure a lifetime of struggle for those around me, than soak up a moment of glory for myself.

Onward, upward, and outward.

AV

Quitting the Job: Takeaways and Outside Resources

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So, I’ve decided in two months, I’m going to leave my job. I am taking away a lot from it.

AHHHHH FREAK OUT!!!!!

It’s time for me to take my side-stream main stream. This has come from a lot of work, strategy, planning, faith and support, but I wanted to share a little more of the gritty side of things.

The path to this decision has illuminated a lot, some about others, more about myself and what I’m capable of, what I’m fearful of, and what I could stand to improve.

Here’s some things that I’ve noticed by building my own business, working hard in someone else’s and being successful enough to choose in ways that you can apply to your own life, Side-Stream, or business:

Mental Shifts

Preparing to leave my job has illuminated some of the biggest changes in my operational objectives, my approaches, and my attitude. As I did more and more side work, the usual approach at work became an obstacle, rather than a learning process for success.

At my company, we value things like “it’s just the way we do things here” and “just follow instructions.” At first, it seemed like a recipe for success – just do it this way and you’ll never fail.

I guess you can say I understand it better, and now, I see that as a failure to comply with change, and as things have changed around us, we’re behind the 8-ball trying to play catch up.

Company Routine and Culture

In Corporate America, some major philosophies ring true to the company culture. When you have no idea what else is out there, it’s very easy to seem normal. I have to complete tasks that have no bearing on anything. They don’t increase sales. The reports indicate nothing relevant and go no where special. Responses dragged a conversation on and on for politeness rather than getting down to direct solutions.

I ended up stuck, just working for work’s sake and getting comfortable with it.

Remember in Captain America, when all the soldiers were challenged to get the flag for the sergeant? They are trying to climb the flagpole, and Rogers lets them fight, scramble and fall before pulling the pin and lowering the pole to the floor. That’s how I want to approach work.

It’s not a bad thing in a big company that relies on checks and balances; but it’s a terrible thing for an in-the-making-entrepreneur.

With 3 businesses open,  I had to learn to use my time better, be effective AND efficient, and make things happen over going through the motions. I became methodical. I researched, I calculated.

 

Results

When I have a problem, I aim to solve it in one go – and that’s been new for me. Long gone are the days of emailing back and forth to maintain political correctness. I realized I was spending my time reading, writing, and ‘rithmaticking my way away from getting results.

You know that friend of yours that’s like “I want to find a girlfriend, but it just never works out…” and keeps trying the same thing. Nothing in the approach changes, and when he gets the same results, it’s a mystery somehow?

Yeah, well that friend is also most of us in the corporate world. At work, it’s ok that I spend my time doing things the same way over and over, even if it’s slow and ineffective. Have a better idea? Oh, just get it approved. Approved, my least favorite word – an erosion of empowerment.

In my own businesses, that doesn’t fly. I don’t have time for that. I have to get results fast. I’ve failed time and time again, but I keep stretching for the big wins, and let the small wins and losses go. If my work can be completed in 4 hours, why am I sitting at my desk for 8? If I can take data, rearrange it so I can audit it faster, why should I worry about the format? I don’t want to work all day for no yield, but I’ll work all day for the right yield. Only way to do that – let results be your measurement, not time investment.

 

Risk

Risk averse or not, we all take risks. We get our heart-broken, we leap, we fall, we shoot, we lose. It’s a part of life. In a system that’s already set up for you, one that lacks empowerment, we’re conditioned to be mundane. Follow the rules, they say. Follow the guide, they say.

Well, nothing is constant, and if you’re not growing, you’re declining. So many of my friends say, Aaron, you’re quitting?? Why? Look at what you get, look at what you have, look at where you’ll go if you stay! That’s an oxymoron friends. You can’t stay AND go.I chose to go.

Weigh your options, look at the good and the bad, evaluate the worst case scenario and dive into your worst fears. The more you think and talk about it, the more you might realize what you’re most afraid of isn’t really that bad. Wanna know one place we never EVER weigh risks until impact is unstoppable? Health factors like obesity!

I am most afraid of having to move to my parents house. After it’s all said and done, that’s not really the worst thing that could happen to me. Embarrassing, painful, and degrading, but I’d do it if I had to, and I’ll work 3x as hard to prevent that.

 

Security

A floor to launch from has been the birthplace of what I’m doing now, and I can’t say that my new opportunity hasn’t been afforded by my current job, what it allows me, and the people that pushed me. Security is alluring when we’ve been told there aren’t enough jobs to go around. We want to feel safe, comfortable. Lose the ceiling, lose the floor – it’s only with the risk of both that I can find the stars.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not cashing out my 401k, trading in my salary, and giving up health insurance for a gamble. I’ve calculated, built upside revenue, saved up a healthy years’ worth of expenses, and prepared like this was the olympics – but it’s still a risk. Calculated risk is different than gambling, and I’ll support the former, not the latter.

Play blackjack, and never take any more cards than you’re dealt- you might win a hand, but you’ll bleed your money away very quickly. My thought on risk – by risking nothing, you risk everything.

 

Patience

Most of my friends on social media will see this post title, or my pictures, and assume that this has all happened overnight, that it was a reaction, and that it was a lucky draw. The fact is, I sat down and wrote down my goals over 2 years ago. I penned them, my friends signed the page too as witnesses.

To say that it has come quickly is true – but that’s only looking backwards. In reality, it’s been a really hard climb to get to this point, and I’ve had to endure a lot to prepare for this. Like any athlete, competition is more than physical endurance, it’s setting up a system for mental preparation, development, and sustainability. Endurance and stamina are part of success – if you quit, you’ll never get there.

Leaders (aka small business owners and entrepreneurs) need patience. The toughest part of being patient is staying focused on the goal, and recognizing that the medium, path or methods may change along the way, but as long as you’ve set a goal and continue to work it, you’ll get there.

 

Learning and Failure

I don’t use a recipe when I cook. 92 times out of 100, what I cook is going to be awesome. Well blended, tasteful, bold, and even healthy. 8 times, it’s going to be awful – just not a good balance of tastes and ingredients.

Water always flows the path of least resistance. So do humans. At age 14, the girls that I coach are terrified to be creative, to think outside the box. It’s a real challenge for me to develop curriculums (yes, I develop those for sports) that force them out of their comfort zone. They won’t do it on their own, neither will you, neither will I – so I had to create system to force myself out it often and without thinking.

I’ve learned so much this year, mostly from my failure. There’s a lot of learning that goes into an experience outside of our comfort zone. There are six things we learn as a child that help determine our view of the world, and the risky play they engage in build valuable neurological connections. During your childhood, did you get introduced to these? Do you still fear them now?

 

Brilliance and Specialization are Bullshit

Do you guys remember that kid in middle school that got super good grades, the perfect SAT score, then went on to college on a full ride? I’ll never forget him. Those people may find success, but they certainly haven’t been equipped to fail the same way, and even more, they aren’t built for the kind of ride that most of us go through.

Talent is important, but I don’t think that’s a component of success. In fact, studies show being called “talented” is dangerous – it implies you won’t have to work, and you will just find success.

There’s money in being able to sit down and find correlations, common denominators, and linkable lessons. My approach is very “Jack of All Trades.”

You don’t need to be the best, just better than the client or better than average. Either gets me paid. Ironically, being a “generalist” means I’m more uncommon than an expert – every field has an expert. How many people can connect multiple roles, schools of thought, and backgrounds and blend them to a single thread? Not many.

Steve Jobs, though some may argue he was an expert, he was a generalist that could predict, captivate, engineer and engage on many platforms simultaneously.

By being able to communicate effectively, which takes understanding, promotes opportunities.

 

Hard Work

I know my work ethic has created this opportunity. It’s not without sacrifice that this opportunity yields itself to me. I gave up friendships, chances at relationships, family time, vacations, summers, fun, weekends and even money to make this dream happen. I can recall strings of 16-18 hour days, 7 days a week, to get things moving. I have no days off. I work around the clock sometimes. I am exhausted a lot. I have big dreams, but without the hard work you put in, that sweat equity is zero and your investment is rendered illiquid.

It seems too easy, from the outside. You don’t see the small things, and I don’t need people to: the results will do just that. There’s bragging about what your work ethic brings, but there’s also sharing. I like to think I’m doing the latter, illustrating the success that can come from hard work. Richard St. John paints the picture of other successful people and what pieces they had to their journey.

 

Money and Materialism

Money matters. But, interestingly enough it’s not what motivates people, says science.

So why would I walk away from money, from an awesome apartment, and from a stable, secure and easy salary?

Usher, 2004, Simple Things – They say money can’t buy you love; It’s the simple things in life we forget.

I won’t let my job be my prison. As soon as I realized I was working for things and shit I don’t need, I realized I work really hard for a whole lot of obligation – and worst of all, the working harder didn’t net me any benefits over working at an average level.

If I make enough to cover my costs, my life needs, and I’m happy – the money will come with the big wins I pursue. I like the control factor in that, but I also like the uncertainty in it all. There’s a better way to work, and I promise it doesn’t involve desking it all day and running reports through the roof, just so I can buy something I don’t need.

 

Housing

I live in an apartment out of a magazine. Even better, employment provides it.

It’s a bachelor’s dream – fancy pad, electronic entry, floor to ceiling windows, sunsets and sunrise, the view of the city. I am going to miss it. I really am. A man at age 27 doesn’t often have such a place, but it’s time that I focus on what I’m doing, and life isn’t about what you’re willing to get, it’s about what you’re willing to sacrifice for what you want.

I want to live like this again, and I will. But first, I have to let it go – flying from the 15th story in Baltimore, I may swing down before I swing up, but promise I’ll be back for this lifestyle soon.

Fear: “I can’t downsize, what about my favorite ______. I’ll have to give it up “

Yeah, that’s me a year ago – going from a 1200 sq ft wonder apartment to anything less was a pride fight. Now I realize, it’s not about the things, it’s about the dreams, the goals, and changing people around me for the better. The house is just a resting place.

 

Creating a Business from Your Skills

There’s something fun about doing things that you want to do versus what you have to. But when you create your business, those lines cross. Work and play become mixed, and although it’s often good to do what you love, it does present a challenge.

When is work off, and when is play on?When is it about money that you need to survive, and when is it about doing some good in the world?

The benefit for me isn’t in success, it’s in failure. Jim Carrey said it best (at 11:20) in a speech at the 2014 MUM Graduation.  If I can fail at what I don’t love, why not try at something I do? It goes back to failure, but I also think it’s important to recognize that successful entrepreneurs build a service to others by recognizing pain points, demands and needs. That means you have to listen, to learn and to grow with things you’re good at. Taking talents and making money from them is something you can learn to do.

I started doing graphics and coaching at a measly $20 an hour. Now I can live off of those two operations. Do I get $700 per month in extra spending and $500 in saving? No. But since my rate is up, I can work less and make enough to live, giving me plenty of time to create other side-streams from my skills.

 

Mentors

If you don’t have mentors, you’re doing something wrong. Imagine you have a key to a door, and behind the door is a ton of information, know-how, advice, and input – all it takes is you walking to the door. Make the phone call, send the email – there’s no one that you can’t reach, and those with genuine interest in a subject can always find those that have knowledge willing to share it.

Mentors do a few big things for me. Most notably, they help reassure a good decision. There’s countless bad decisions that I need to make, that’s where I learn, but when I have a good one, they are quick to say – “Dude, I love it. Go try it.”

Secondly, it’s valuable to get around success; to smell it, meet its friends, and partake it its understanding. Success begets success.  Best of all, when they say that they’ve seen similar challenges and turned out OK, it gives me just the push I need to climb over the hurdle.

I notice their demeanor, their way of speaking, what they wear, what they care about, and how they address problems. It’s a lot different from how a 27 year old would, and that’s been key to my development.

Key: Never lie, take without giving, or fail to honor what they offer you. Thank you is often enough, depending on your closeness, but keep in mind how valuable it is and look to reciprocate as much as you can (not always monetarily).

 

Fitness

Some would associate this as a luxury, but to me working hard physically is a requirement of my success. In order for me to get a better sense of self, a better understanding of pushing through limits, and a good sense of the impact of what I tell myself, I run, I lift, and I play soccer or other sports. I’m good at all of them, but it’s not from talent, it’s from putting in hours.

That’s the same concept with business. Put in the hours. Work hard, get past what you think you can do and kill your limit. It’s partly about being healthy too- if I’m not healthy, I can’t give my best, and if I can’t give my best, I might as well rest completely.