You’ve been fed a lie. The lie is that if you study hard in school, get good grades, get into a good college, and get a degree, then your success in life is guaranteed.
This might have been true fifty years ago. But it is no longer true today.
I was earning money because I had become good at marketing and selling my copy writing services. There are boatloads of good freelancers who are broke, simply because they don’t know how to market and sell their services.
In this new reality, no one gives a damn where you went to college or what your formal credentials are, so long as you do great work.
But these days, almost all of the education that ends up actually earning you money ends up being self-education in practical intelligence and skills, acquired outside of the bounds of traditional educational institutions.
The Art of Earning a Living is the art of finding creative ways of ringing the spheres of money and meaning together and making them overlap significantly.
We’re talking about creating a path where your work is your life’s purpose is your income is your meaning is the difference you’re making on the planet. Significantly more elusive—yet infinitely more rewarding—than the much-hyped “work-life balance.”
Get on your feet financially however you can… Get a square job, a corporate job, a temp job, a boring nine-to-five. Don’t feel anything is “beneath you” so long as it pays. Wait tables if you have to. Give up your “art,” “purpose,” or “meaning” for a little while and know what it means to be financially stable.
It’s just so different—and better— figuring out how to make a difference in the world and find meaning in your life when your bills are covered and you have a secure roof over your head.
You need to free up time and space for some experiments in leadership, innovation, making a difference, and finding meaning.
Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset at your workplace. Solve problems that you weren’t “hired” to solve. Contribute in high-leverage ways you weren’t hired to contribute. Leading always feels more meaningful, impactful, and creative than following.
Being experimenting with things that might one day become both a source of meaning and a source of serious income for you outside of your current job.
You’re going to have to wrap your own passions, talents, and purpose—the things you care most about and are best—in the package of these fundamental success skills.
Would you be willing to do this for the rest of your life? […] If the answer is no… figure out what kind of pursuit you would be willing to live till the end.
They have systematically and intentionally developed a style of working that allows them to take lots of small bets—bet after bet after bet after bet—all the while making sure that they don’t get wiped out of the game if one or many of them go south. In other words, I believe that for most of the people featured in this book a trait even more important than luck was resilience.
They are ready to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, adjust course, and try something else when they fail. That is the essence of learning. Without failure, there is no learning. These people are not addicts of gambling; they are addicts of learning in the real world. And learning in the real world involves failure. Lots of it.
“People who have been successful are still as likely to get it wrong as right going forward. They just try more things.”
“The very best things you can do when starting a new business,” Josh [Kaufman] told me, “are, number one, keep your overhead as low as possible, and number two, make sure you’re getting recurring revenue as quickly as possible.”
“When creating a new offering, your primary goal should be to work through each iteration cycle as quickly as possible…; the faster you learn, the more quickly you’ll be able to improve.”
It involves intentionally exposing yourself to lots of small, survivable failures, so that you can get feedback from the real world, adjusting course as quickly as possible to avoid investing too many resources down a dead-end path.
Seth Godin writes, “The ardent or insane pursuit of a particular [risky] goal is a good idea if the steps you take along the way also prep you for other outcomes, each almost as good (or better). If… bending the market to your will and shipping on time and doing important and scary work are all things you need to develop along the way, then it doesn’t really matter so much if you don’t make the goal you set out to reach.”
If you want to be successful, and make a huge impact in your life, find exceptional people to learn from, and surround yourself with them… It’s not a back-and-forth. It’s about give-give-give as much as you can.
Eben Pagan: “If you want to succeed, find leaders who are doing amazing things in the world, and push them up. Find powerful people and help them reach their goals. If you’re of service to them, they will be of service back.”
The three areas of life the majority of people spend their time worrying about are money, relationships, and health… If you’re talking to some one whom society deems more successful than you, it’s probably the case that they are more successful in only one area.
1. What’s most exciting for you right now in your life/business?
2. What’s challenging for you in your life/business right now?
If it’s a personal context (cocktail party, dinner party, etc.), ask about their life; if it’s a business context (conference, networking event, etc.), ask about their business.
David Siteman Garland: “Ask for nothing [in return]… By doing [that], you will separate yourself from 98% of the pack.”
If you become well-rounded in these areas of marketing and sales, health and nutrition, spirituality and personal philosophy, and interesting hobbies and passions, you will almost always have something to help people with. It’s like a Swiss Army knife of service, ready in your back pocket for any occasion.
And, as you give more, and serve more, you’ll eventually attract the right teachers in all these areas, who will help you learn more… which will allow you to give more and serve more… and on and on… This is how the law of attraction works in the real world.
Brian Tracy: “The amount of money you earn is the measure of the value that others place on your contribution… To increase the value of the money you are getting at, you must increase the value of the work that you are putting in. To earn more money, you must add more value.”
If you want to earn more money, develop your skills and talents to facilitate the creation of lots of social value. Focus on giving, and the getting will largely take care of itself.
Zig Ziglar: “You can have anything you want in life, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
The greatest gift you can give another person is the feeling of making a difference, a legacy, an importance.
Keith Ferrazzi: “The generosity is: You tell a story. Tell a story about how you drew inspiration from their teachings and their example, how it impacted your life, and all the ways you’re passing that gift on to others now… then yes, of course I want to help you.”
Keith Ferrazzi: “At least once a quarter, I would ping him, send him a simple update email, and lat him know how his advice was beneficial to me—how I applied it, how it’s been helpful, then thank him effusively, praise how much I respect him, and then follow up right after that with another question. A quarter later, I’d tell him how I applied that advice, and what happened then. It was a lovely cycle.”
If you call someone and say, ‘Hey, I love what you’re doing, I think it’s incredible. I’d love your advice on something,’ most people will sit down and give you advice and talk with you and mentor you. But most people just never do that.
Dan Kennedy: “The breakthrough realization for you is that you are in the marketing business. You are not in the dry cleaning or widget manufacturing or wedding planning or chemicals. You are in the business of marketing dry cleaning services or restaurants or widgets or wedding planning or chemicals. When you embrace this, it makes perfect sense to set your sights on marketing mastery. If you are going to make something your life’s work and chief activity and responsibility, why not do it exceptionally well?”
“What do people in this industry need? What’s bothering them, hassling them, costing them money, keeping them from getting what they want?… There are always people and niches with unfilled needs… Choose a niche, find a need, and then see what could help those people do their job better.
If you start with marketing—that is, with thinking about, anticipating, and meeting the needs of a market in an original, effective, compelling way—then that market will be glad to hear about what you’re offering.
If you have a product or service that you truly believe will benefit someone… you’re actually depriving them of these benefits if you don’t communicate effectively and discuss together with your prospect whether your offering might be a good fit for their needs… Good marketing—honest marketing, high-integrity marketing—is the art of getting your solutions out into the world, into the hands of the people who need them and will use them and derive real benefits from them.
No matter what you’re up to in life, you have to sell something, whether it’s selling an employer on why he should hire you, selling your boss on why she should promote you, selling the members of a corporate meeting on your brilliant idea, selling your employees or direct-reports on why they should put in more effort, selling a donor on why she should donate to your cause, or selling supporters on why they should join your movement to save the whatever or overthrow the what-have-you. Sales is simply persuasive face-to-face communication. It’s relevant anytime you are talking with someone and you want a specific outcome to arise from the conversation.
No single skill you could possibly learn correlates more directly with your real-world success than learning sales.
Effective sales isn’t about spewing off a slick pitch. It’s about asking a lot of questions. The right questions. And keep listening.
What are the right questions? Any question that gets the prospect deeply connected with their frustrations, fear, and desires around the problem that your product or service addresses.
If you’re talking with someone about their innermost needs and desires, the last thing you want to do is throw a bunch of manipulative pressure on them. All that’s called for is: get to the heart of the matter. Why do they really want this change in their life? What’s really beind the desire for this change?
If it turns out that what you’re offering honestly and effectively addresses that, then great—you’re a match, and it’s likely you’ll do business together. And if not, then refer them to someone who can help then with that. At no point would you over try to manipulate or pressure someone into buying something that is not a great match for their deepest desires and needs.
The essence of bootstrapping is keeping expenses low, generating income right away (even if it’s just a little bit), and continually reinvesting as much of that income as effectively as possible into expanding your future income.
Learning more about effective marketing and sales as they apply to the organizations/fields you work in is almost always the best and fastest way to earn more money in your career.
Learn while you earn in some way
What are your specific life goals and dreams? Figure out the most laser-targeted, lean, focused, efficient, cost-effective, well-researched educational investments you could make to put yourself on the path of reaching those goals and dreams.
Marian Schembari: “Every industry, from what I’ve found, has the top 20 blogs and people who are the online influencers. You need to get online and make friends with them, and read everything you can and comment on those blogs… Network where those people are and make friends with them.”
Create stuff. Sell stuff. Market stuff. Lead stuff. Make sure it’s good stuff, then make sure there’s a good Google trail about it, so when potential employers or clients Google you, the brand impression they come away with are,” This person gets shit done.” Or simply, “Wow.”
Build up your presence as much as possible on new platforms, media, and communities as they arise—the ones that already exist, and the ones we can’t even imagine yet, that will no doubt burst onto the scene.
The savviest kids today already know how to build networks that work for them.
Joe Polish: “There are two decisions you need to come to in order to be free, and to be more effective. First is that you are not entitled to anything in the world, until you create value for another human being first. Second, you are 100 percent responsible for producing results. No one else. If you adopt those two views, you will go far.”
They’ve chosen to do whatever it takes to create the lives that they want, including exercising the effort and initiative to figure out what “whatever it takes” is. What they didn’t do is sit around, waiting for someone else to feed them the answer, give them the right opportunity, make things safe or easy for them, give them some “Fail-Safe, Guaranteed Plan of Actions,” or give them permission or authorization or the right credentials to get started figuring what needs to get done, and getting it done.
Entrepreneurial vs Employee Mindsets:
Focus on contribution vs Focus on entitlement
Focus on outcome vs Focus on output
Sort for what’s needed vs Sort for what’s requested
Work yourself out of a job vs Work to protect your job
Go toward big decisions, even without authority vs Turn away from even the small decisions you have the authority to make
See your circumstances as illusory and temporary vs See your circumstances as fixed and permanent
The person with the true entrepreneurial mindset is always on the lookout for ways in which the employee mindset might have grown back into her consciousness. She roots it out again and again as though it is noxious weed the moment she spots any trace of it.
Bryan Franklin: “I’m sure you’ll find places where you are very solidly in an entitlement mind-set—where you believe that just by sucking in air and them blowing it out again, you deserve to be given benefits and rewards, without any reference to the actual contribution you’ve made and its results.
“Anything you believe you can count on to be there, without regard for what you yourself are doing to ensure it’s there—that’s entitlement”
Relentlessly look at the outcome they want to produce in the world and in their lives, and relentlessly focus on how to achieve that, cutting out all extraneous crap not relevant to that outcome.
Those in the employee mindset, in turn, feel satisfied if they just work harder and harder and harder without paying much attention to whether all that effort is directly producing the specific outcomes they want.
Run always toward creating real world results for people who are willing to pay for these results, and you’ll never have to worry about money.
Russell Simmons: “Find out what people in your organization need, and give them that service. That is the way entrepreneurs think—‘I’m going to fix the problem.’ You get paid by how many problems you solve, and people with gravitate toward you.”
How do you become a leader in your workplace or your business? By making yourself obsolete in your current tole and finding a higher-leverage role to play.
Look out at the world and see malleability, elasticity, plasticity, flexibility. They see how they can bend currently accepted “reality” toward the reality they would prefer.
If you have the entrepreneurial mindset, it doesn’t matter what job you start out with, even hamburger flipper.
David Ash: “I never saw myself as a salesman, whatever I happened to be selling on the telephone or door-to-door. I always saw myself as the guy who was going to run this place one day, or run some sort of organization like it.”
David Ash: “I was always looking for opportunities for leadership, for opportunities to contribute, for ways to develop relationships with higher-ups, who could help me and whom I could help.”
Seth Godin – Linchpin
Seth Godin – Why Bother Having a Resume?
Randy Komisar – The Monk and the Riddle
Josh Kaufman – The Personal MBA
Seth Godin – One in a Million
Daniel Goleman – Social Intelligence
David Maister – The Trusted Advisor
Thomas J. Stanley – Networking with the Affluent
Keith Ferrazzi – Never Eat Alone
Keith Ferrazi – Who’s Got Your Back
Seth Godin – Purple Cow
Dan Kennedy – No B.S. Direct Marketing
Lynda Resnick – Rubies in the Orchard
Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad, Pood Dad
Seth Godin – Tribes
Neil Rackham – SPIN Selling
Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich
George Clason – The Richest Man in Babylon
Peter Drucker – Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Guy Kawasaki – The Art of the Start
Peter Montoya – The Brand Called You
Charles Sykes – 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School
Cameron Herold – Let’s Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs
Cameron Herold – Double Double
Robert Cialdini – Influence
David Siteman Garland – From Tim Ferriss to Seth Godin