Category: Keys to Productivity

What the hell is “Character?”

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The more I travel the more conversations I have that deeply resonate with me and yet stir up so much emotion.

So there I am, having a conversation in a bar with a stranger like we had known each other for years. We were both laying on the floor some of our deep, dark challenges that stemmed from childhood events that changed us.

See I was picked on and tormented and at several point, highly depressed and suicidal. She was sexually abused.

We both had questions about what that did to our character, and how we identified ourself.

They say the most powerful beliefs come after the words “I am….”

So how do you make change?

What if you don’t want to be the things you say you are!?

What if you’re changing, do those words change too?

Well, I’m here to say, that even we were asking the wrong questions.

Yes, those words change. Just like you don’t say “I am five years old,” the words HAVE to change. But the conversations I’m having now aren’t about those words.

The conversation is about how we can look at ourselves as a person of high character who makes mistakes and veers of course now and again.

So the question is, how can I define and describe my high character more clearly?

You remember that English teacher that scolded your prankster behavior with one of those axioms that were supposed to feel like widsom?

“Character is what you do when no one is watching.”

Oh, maybe that was just my middle school experience!

Well, recently it was in conversation where someone said that character was fluid. I challenged that.

But how was I going to defend this? I don’t know that there’s an established definition of character.

While I dont think that was wrong, it was incomplete.

Character is what you do, regardless of who is looking. It shouldn’t be that one person gets another version of you than another, and exemplary character is consistent leadership in the interest of others.

It’s easy, especially in todays scarcity-and-fear-based climate to think that when someone else is leading, you can’t.

But great charater is the ability to lead, follow, and believe in something enough to be consistently present in the good and bad times of the work, no matter who’s looking or how many likes you get.

So, how would this ripple back to our original question?

Task 1: Identify and Define High Character

Make a list of what kinds things you’d like to believe in and be a part of. It can be simple or complex. Maybe it’s about the way you see life. Maybe it’s about how you see people. Maybe it’s about how you want to be. Is it a list like mine:

  • long term over short term gains takes place with small steps consistently
  • life is short, so there’s no time to waste doing things you don’t like doing
  • every person has a gift, they just might not be able to see it
  • do something that makes others better and you’ll never be left alone
  • the power of movement is greater than most other drugs
  • be around amazing people, ask bold questions
  • See the world, whatever it takes
  • Don’t set goals to achieve, but set them to create processes that will carry you far

Task 2: Convert Your List Into PIllars

Then you can convert your list into more typical character verbage. So I might take “long term over short term gains takes place with small steps consistently” and write – Consistent.

or

“Be around amazing people, ask bold questions” into “A fearless people person”

Get creative, get weird. There’s no rules to this.

But when I’m done, I like to take my Pillars and post them somewhere. Then, whether I have a bad day, great day, shitty afternoon, I can look at that and know who I want to be.

Sometimes my reflection is one of self-improvement. Sometimes I’m proud that I lived up to my standard.

Either way, without these pillars, I’m not sure who I would be striving to be.

So the question is, who are you striving to be?

Send me a message, leave me a note, or comment if you need some help thinking through this.

I read em all!

PS – you may want to also read up on what INDEPENANCE really is about if you want to get a sense of how others play into our ecosystems and character

The Mask: Change isn’t as Easy as It Sounds

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So maybe you’re starting a new job, or a new diet, or you got a new haircut.  You were supercharged about it, and knew it was the right call.

The next morning, WHAM – panic set in!

Why would you do this? What were you thinking? So stupid!!!! Damn it. Questions are firing quickly in your head like a fast-forward soundtrack of fear and loathing.

Suddenly, the emotional bravery becomes riddled with questions and fears and now that waters all murky and how will you ever undo this moment that’s permanent. SHIT!

It’s real – the things that happen after change are often harder than the change itself. It’s the self-talk and the way we internalize it all that bites us. The mask of fear is really scary.

 

So today, let’s talk about those feelings.

First things first. The feelings you’re experiencing are really normal.

You’ve gone through so much change at such a fast pace that it’s very natural for all of your systems to be at a breaking point try to keep you where you are.

But it’s significant and indicative of something really cool happening in your head! (you all know I’m glass half full, but this is true in more ways that optimism)

Your whole system is on the precipice of a major breakthrough and that’s why you’re feeling this. Your mind is saying “You know we’re not ready for this! Hold on now – wait a minute now! We need to do it my way!”

The feelings come from your system trying to keep you safe, and protecting you is the intention. But the system, the brain, is dead wrong.

Meanwhile, your subconscious is saying “We can let go of fear and make this change. We’re ready!”

This battle to allows all this change to unfold. The way you’re feeling, then, is really important part of the process. We’re talking about major recalibration and that that doesn’t happen easily, so this unrest that you’re experiencing is important to experience. It speaks to the growth you’re about to undergo.

 

What happens when we usually try to make change?

If you’re like me, a human being, you probably failed a few more times than you’d like to admit. I did.

I tried to start a new running routine. Failed. I tried to start a new gym routine. Failed.

What happens is you get all excited about the change, you go through it with excitement, but because you haven’t done the real work underneath the change itself,  but then your body freaks out and tries to pull you back to what you know, and you listen – you abandon the change and make some excuse up. For me, it was that I just didn’t like to run in the cold.

If we know this unrest and discomfort on the very edge of permanent change is normal, we can focus on accepting these feelings of anxiety and allow the change to take place.

 

All of this is very normal.

 

QUESTIONS AND DOUBT

Asking questions and having doubts is also normal.

When you start to question yourself for the choices or this new path that you’re on, pause for a moment. Good work. It’s good work not just because of the above, but in general I believe we should be calling the stuff in question and verifying what we know as truth. Maybe it was truth and isn’t anymore. Maybe it still is. Maybe it never was. We must ask those questions!

 

I quit my job in May of 2015. It’s been 3 and a half years since I did that, and I can’t lie to you and tell you that I didn’t feel these feelings. It was scary. It was intimidating and I did have my fears and doubts win a few battles. I’ve been there. I would question the shit out of EVERYTHING, still do.

I still question my goals, and my path. I still have doubts. It’s not that those go away. Even as I climb up higher and higher into what I believe success really means, they are still there.

But I have trust underneath that all.

I even trust DOUBT.

I trust a doubt will creep in and I trust the doubt will continue to pull me away and I trust that doubt is part of the process. But that doesn’t mean that I trust the doubt itself, I just know that part of the process is doubt.

A question I get all the time: “I don’t know where I am right now – where am I?”

And sadly, that’s where most people stop! The fear takes over, and they don’t look for answers to the question. The fact that they don’t have an immediate comfortable answer (because they’re in the midst of changing the answer) makes it really uncomfortable. But there’s good news. That’s the best time to keep going!

It’s a great place to stop and pause and say “Hey, where am I?” with a more positive tone, and to get to a point where you can ask about what matters and what you want.

I know change is hard. But we must consider that commitment to change is the only way to make it happen in a way that serves us.

Sometimes what we want changes. And if we don’t know where we are, we can’t ask where we want to go. Both of those require some time investments, but the reason asking those questions is so important is that it creates good friction.

 

GOOD FRICTION

Our mind hates good friction, but our best self loves it and our body loves it.

Though, our mind, our mind likes to stay in safety.

Safety is another fun word for comfort and consistency and as you’re going through all these changes, you’re challenging comfort and consistency and your brain is wired to say no.

This is perfectly normal. Your brain is trying to latch on to what it knows, what would keep you safe.  And what will keep you safe is only based on what it knows. Without facing this emotion – you won’t change. Simple as that.

You’ll feel things pull you back as your brain cries out, “WAIT, no! Don’t go! Come back! It’s not safe there! STOP! NO NO NO!”

And here’s the start of the friction. Your reaction and response to this brain noise is the critical element to the change you want to make.

But this is just a mask.

Normally, the response is “I’m questioning it so therefore it must be wrong.” And that’s going to take you back towards brain safety. This is about getting out of safety because safety hasn’t taken you where you wanted to go in the first place. That’s why we’re making change, right?!?

I believe it’s healthy to question changes, reasons and motivations. I believe that when you’re facing the discomfort of making change, it’s important you endure it, and hear the thoughts you have.  Your whole world isn’t rattling, your whole foundation isn’t unstable. It feels that way, because there’s friction. We want friction.

Friction lets us know change is happening, so as uncomfortable as it is, invite it. Let the feeling happen. Go with some curiosity into it as you make your change and ask yourself why you feel this particular way.

 

“Is this what I actually want?”

“Is this the change that’s important to me?”

Those are key questions. If so, then you’re ready, and any friction you feel is just an indicator that you’re on the right path.

There’s a really important lesson here that comes with change.

 

HAPPENINGS OF CHANGE

First, you have something that you want. You get it, you get comfortable.

Then you set your mind to change. As you do this you build a new want and start to let go of the old want.

Seemingly obvious, we build habits around what we initially wanted, and now we are starting to let them go. This is where the friction comes from. Replacing an old want will drive you bonkers. Here’s an example:

 

I thought a career was the right choice for me. Then I met entrepreneurs and talked with my dad more. I eventually was letting go of the idea of a career and thinking I could be something else, something more. But guess what crept in?!?

Yup, doubt and fear.

My brain didn’t want to let go of safety, security, and all those things that come from following the traditional path. So, it was scary, and hard, and I had lots of friction. Friction internally, externally. Everywhere I looked I was getting mixed messages, especially the mirror. I remember sitting in my window and feeling so scared that I was wrapped in a blanket like a burrito, immovable.

I had to let go of one to get to the other side of change. You will to, but I believe in you.

Your brain is making a new connection. It’s unplugging one wire and plugging in another, and that’s going to cause lots of strange things to happen in your mind, especially in transition.

 

These new connections you’re making, these new synapse links and is actually you waking up to and experiencing the change you want to make. It’s happening – hence the reason friction is all a part of it.

The good news?

You’re now in probably the most beautiful of states.

Brain: I’m not letting this happen. [puts scary mask on]

Subconscious: I want this! Let’s go, get out of my way! Take that stupid mask off, it’s silly looking!

I want you to do the work and experience the discomfort anyway – because we are going to push through it and make his change happen. On the other side of this is everything that you want, is everything that you’ve asked for, is the alignment that we’re looking for – it’s right there!!

 

I know change can be scary, but change happens with this fear and chaos all mixed into it. On the other side is the beauty that you can be and can have.

 

If you’re dealing with change and would like some insight or someone to talk to, please reach out.

 

-AV

Access Vs. Ownership

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I have questions, so many questions in this write up. Come explore an idea with me!

 

I was sitting outside in the sun on a recent morning. I watched a guy fly by me on a byrd, one of those electric scooters. They might not be in your city, but they are rampant in mine.

It’s a simple but effective business model. You create an account in an app, link a credit card, and when you find a scooter, scan a QR code and go. You get charged by the minute.

 

The young kid skidded to a stop, flung the bike like a baseball player with a  mouthful of chew spits out a black puddle of cancer-juice, and walked inside of a store. No thought for what happens, what may come later, who was around him. No self-awareness.

 

Why would he care? He got what he needed and moved on.

 

It spawned so many thoughts about our world of access and what used to be a world of ownership. I take no sides in this opposition or the latest movement, but I do know it has implications and consequences that we have yet to feel.

Here’s a list of some access based businesses that have changed the landscape of an industry forever:

 

Uber

Spotify

Nexflix

Tinder

AirBnB

ZipCar

Phone Companies with “lease” plans

Mentor Box

 

 

The common thread in these businesses is that access is valued more than ownership. My position is that without ownership, we cannot have some critical elements of growth and sustainability.

If I’m unable to admit that my business needs to change in order to grow, to own that we are not there yet, why would I give it my all to change it? Why not just find a business that hooks me with how easy it will be to make millions? (Ever heard an MLM pitch, haha)

 

Access businesses like the above, weigh heavily on your usage. That’s all they can offer, right? “Here, use our car for your next ride.” That’s the best that they can do. While this service has proven valuable, what would happen if we continued to move in the direction of an access economy.

Seemingly, what these businesses do is they mitigate the downside risk, and maximize the upside. There’s no negative consequence, aside from cost, for taking an Uber. You can get around just like you need to, and you don’t have to own a car.

How cool is that!

On the surface I do support it, but if we are looking at an overall trend that sweeps into other places of our life, my question is – will this get us to somewhere better or will it challenge us with numb, insensitivities?

Extend the trend out into things like relationships, dating, building a team, service to others, trauma, etc. If I can bypass the hard parts and the things that require intention and labor, why would I face and deal with them in the first place?

If we are minimizing the downside, we can avoid anything painful, negative, incongruent with our beliefs, difficult, or culturally exceptional.

 

More importantly, will our sensitivity heighten, as it already has? Will we be able to sustain differences in opinion and lifestyle if we are able to, in every other facet of our lives, avoid things we don’t like?

The impetus for this post was thinking about culture. I love culture in places I’ve visited thanks to my travel hacking system. When you can travel the world at no cost, why not right? But it came to me that we, here in the states, significantly lack culture.

You cannot own culture if you live in access.

Culture is about ownership – this is how we are, who we are, good and bad. Culture in business, mine specifically, is so important to me. And it comes with true ownership – realizing that I am the start of our culture, for good and bad.

Fun fact from livescience.com: The word “culture” derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture

But if we are conditioned to just need something and discard it when we don’t have a demand for it, how can we nuture and cultivate it? How can we grow and tend to the conversations and difficult relationships that create a symbiosis of a people?

 

Businesses rely on good people that can ride difficult and uncertain changes to success. Athletes are subjected to lots of failure and heavy workouts that require discipline in the face of difficult sacrfices. Relationships require a give-and-take in order to maintain the balance that two people need to thrive together.

 

That all requires us to own our truth – not to by pass it with something that gives us the upside without the down. Culture is a component of a country’s truth, is it not? Where we accept and own a particular set of characteristics – like generosity, acceptance, tolerance, love, openness – be it whatever the collective decides.

 

Further, and most dangerous, I deeply wonder whether we – because access is becoming normal – are avoiding anything long term. Commitment to job, to art, to financial returns, to relationships.

I will own homes (I don’t currently), but in general, will I move away from that because access is what I value. If our values move to access, I wonder what room is left to truly own who we are, what we want, and what we will accept or reject.

 

Most deeply, I wonder about happiness.

 

Will we accept simply accessing happiness because of our cultural standards, instead of learning to own it, cherish it, and build a life of meaning?

 

 

What do you think?

-AV

The Marathon and I…

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Marathon running is much like owning a business, quitting a job to start a company, or anything else that requires you to go the distance. This weekend I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and wow did it go differently than expected.

Still, I learned a lot about the character and habits and mindset in place, and how this test is just a reflection of the others that are undoubtedly coming my way.

9 months of preparation. Nearly 500 miles of running logged, probably more if you count the non-tracked runs. There I was, in the presidential suite of the Double Tree near the Pentagon (and no, I didn’t pay for it, I’m a travel hacker – duh!).

I’m drinking water like it’s my job. I’m carb-loading like it’s the last bit of food I’ll ever get.

The Marine Corps Marathon was only 9 hours away.

I wake up early, 4am, get a little food, drink some more, and get into my meditation and visualization.

Wading through people and lines and drop offs, I get to the starting line and before I know it, I’m running. It’s chilly, but the run warms me up. I’m on pace for 3 hours in the first 6 miles, no big deal. I am smiling as I go by fan after fan after fan, watching families cheer on loved ones and fan-created signage that makes you laugh – i.e. Never Trust a Fart.

At mile 11, I’m moving at a good pace, averaging just about 7 minutes. I have lots of energy, but without any warning, my mind starts screaming at me to stop. Something’s wrong, but I won’t admit it to myself, and I refuse to listen to the weak thoughts.

WHAM. It was like someone hit me in the head with a sledgehammer.

Getting to mile 12, my head is spinning and I can’t run upright consistently. I tell myself I should stop for a break, then I battle that thought down. A few more yards and I can’t run in a straight line. I bump into someone as I try to find a way to the side, but I’m so unstable I can’t move my feet right. I waive for help, and two marines jog over just in time to catch me as I nearly start to fall over, no doubt assisted by a cramping right quad.

Sitting down, my world is on fire.

“You’ll never make it.”

“Quit now, and just go home.”

Among the list of marathon woes people experience, I don’t recall one saying “weak mindset.”

But here I was. Thinking about quitting.

After 20 minutes sitting, waiting for a medic, and then checking vitals still not feeling better, we called a medic over, but he took 10 to get there and another 5-10 to get to the aid station. By the time I got to aid, I was shaking. Cold, numb, and unsure of what I was going to do.

Some treatment, more vital checks. I’m laying under a space blanket made of ‘soft’ aluminum foil. And I can see out of the tent. I can see runners, who at this point are running a 5 hour time, a full 2 hours off my goal. But they are running!

Mentally I’m giving up. I’m angry and frustrated and sad – among other emotions – all at the same time.

 

 

Electrolytes, food, blanket. Stop shaking, and I’m sure I’ll be okay, right doc? He warns me that if I’m not showing signs of improvement, I should consider opting out.

Isn’t this message what we hear all the time? Play it safe…Make it easy on yourself, just don’t even try!

Just take it easy, go home and fall in line with everyone else. It’s easy.

This is the messaging we always get. Stay where you know it’s safe. 

(Let’s tie this back to business – THE WORLD DOESN’T PUSH YOU TO BE GREAT. ONLY YOU CAN DO THAT!!)

Thanks to whatever they gave me, a few minutes later it was like the lights turned back on. I could finally think clearly.

There was no fucking way I was not finishing this race. I had a PT massage my cramping right quad and hamstring, and hobbled my way out. Here we go.

The rest of the race was a series of fails and pains and cramping, but I got to the last hurrah and powered my way through it, despite cramping at nearly each step. Fuck it, why not finish, right?

If it isn’t overt at this point, I did not hit my 3 hour goal.

I wasn’t even close. In fact, I don’t even know my time. I don’t care.

Crossing the finish line and resting, I had two friends meet me. I started to eat some fruit, sad down, and on came the shivers. It wasn’t long before medics had to come back over and I was back in the damn tent again. Shaking, I get changed and sit with all kinds of stuff to help me get warm.

                                                                                            

 

“Beginning stages of hypothermia,” the doc says to his team. We joke about it, and I’m laughing. I don’t feel good at all, but that’sthe irony – I somewhat love this space.

Yes, look how happy I look!!!!

By this space, here’s what I mean:

Odds against, and people telling me my best shot is to not continue (welcome to entrepreneurship my friends)

Overly fatigued, injured, but proud of what I’ve done

Mindful enough to know whatever pain I’m in or whatever I’ve suffered, better is coming and the current state is only temporary

Down, physically and emotionally, but never out

A few years ago, before I spent a 2 year period truly self developing with at least 10 hours a week, I would have had a totally different response. Here’s how, despite not making my goal and being SO far from it, this is still an event I’m proud of:

This will apply to any entrepreneurs reading and anyone that’s thinking of doing something tough – like quitting your job or having that conversation you’ve been avoiding.

 

Ask for help – there’s nothing wrong with it, and typically it’s just your ego that wants to fight for power dynamic wins. Take a deep breath, get clear on what you need help with, and ask for it. Find a coach, get a mentor, whoever you can! 

Be able to receive – people will help you but you have to be open to getting help. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine that really struggled with this. People would ask him, “How can I help??” and not only did he not have an answer, but he couldn’t accept the help even once he did! Be willing to accept what people offer, and you’ll have a much better go at your goals!

Finish at all costs – no matter what. Make it happen. Don’t worry about what happens, just make the decision to figure it out no matter what comes your way. It’s an outlook and perspective that becomes critical at higher levels too. 

Don’t do it alone, have people there to support you – seriously, back to point one and two. Get people around you that will help you get there. You’ve got this.

Whether it be starting a business, quitting your job, or running a marathon, I believe in you and your ability to make it happen. Focus in on the goal, and who you need to be to accomplish it. And after that, never look back!

 

 

What’s an area of your life where you could use these four to make RAPID change and finally get where you want to be?

Share below – and let’s figure out how to get you there!

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.

 

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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

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.

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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!)

 

Adele-and-Two-Dells

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!!!

 

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