April 12th, 2015 was the day I launched my first book. It was mostly a passion project born out of frustration with the college system. It gave me a way to express my ripe enthusiasm for hustle, entrepreneurship, and personal development.
Writing and launching Undecided was really fun and challenging at the same time. It was the first time I had ever published something of my own for the real world to judge. It was also the first time I built a landing page, managed an email list, hired editors and designers, planned/executed a launch, and sold a product of my own. I learned a ton. It had a great launch, selling about 1000 in the first week, but that traction didn’t last.
This year, I’m publishing a new book. I’ve been writing it for the past two months, and I just finished the first draft today. The launch date is set for June 25th, 2017.
I want this one to last longer. I already know what it takes to create and launch a book, but this time I’m diving deep. Way deep. I’m focusing heavily on the marketing strategy.
Some of my goals:
- 5000 downloads in the first month
- 150 reviews
Now, you should know something about me. I’m not a marketing expert. In fact, I don’t have much marketing experience at all. This is a big experiment for me. I’m taking what I learned from my first launch plus resources like this, this, this, this, and this, and testing it on my own book. I learn by doing, and I want to learn more about marketing, so I’m going to do marketing.
I’m also documenting the entire process as it unfolds. I’m inviting you to watch it happen with me.
Here’s how it’ll work:
I have a pre-launch list where I’ll send updates detailing what I’m testing and how it’s working. If you sign up for the list, you’ll get 1-2 emails per week. During launch week, you’ll get 3-4.
Everyone on the list will also get an opportunity to join my book launch group and help me quite a bit with the process. You’ll be part of a core group of people influencing my title, subtitle, cover, some of the content, and even the marketing I do.
If you’e ever wondered what it’s like to launch a book and you want a front-seat view of the process, this is your chance. I’m pumped to share my journey with you. Join the pre-launch list here.
P.S. This is my vision for the book:
People want successful and fulfilling careers, but they don’t know how to build them on their own. They don’t have the skills or connections or confidence to go off on their own and land a job or build a business, so they default to going to college out of insecurity (even though they know it’s not that valuable). I want this to be the definitive guide for those people. Instead of choosing college out of fear, I want to teach them to choose something better out of courage. After reading this book, they should:
- Be certain that building a career without college is possible.
- Be confident that THEY can create it for themselves regardless of biology or upbringing or innate ability.
- Have some specific tactics and strategies in their back pocket to help them on the journey.
“Do you have a card?”
We’ve all heard this dreadfully redundant line thrown around at a networking event. You have an enlightening conversation, exchange cards, and never hear from that person again.
There’s a scene from American Psycho where Patrick Bateman pulls out his new business card in an attempt to impress his colleagues. It works for a moment, until everyone else pulls out their own cards and Patrick becomes disturbed at the fact that theirs are more stylish than his. He starts sweating and shaking. The irony is that they all look pretty much the same, other than some subtle differences in tone of white and type of font.
This scene always cracks me up because it demonstrates an over-obsession with things like business cards, not for their utility or purpose, but for the status they signal. Normal people aren’t remotely as crazy as Patrick from American Psycho, but we exchange business cards with the same intent. We do it to signal that we care about knowing that person, not to use the card for its actual purpose: following up.
I recently threw away all of my business cards and started doing something completely different.
One of my biggest rules for sales is to get the other person’s contact info. Find out how to contact them again. Get in the driver’s seat of the relationship. Giving them your information is the surest way to never hear from them again. They aren’t bad people, it’s just not a priority for them to follow up with you. Meeting friends and acquaintances is no different.
If you value the relationship, or believe it could have some value in the future, get their contact info. This puts you in the drivers seat when it comes to follow up and offers you a unique opportunity to stand out and build some serious social capital.
So when someone pops the question, now I say:
“No, I don’t carry business cards, but I’ll take yours. I always follow up.”
It has been glorious ever since I started doing this. I accept that people won’t follow up. Instead, I assume all the responsibility. If I want to talk to someone again, I know exactly how to get in touch with them.
I mean it when I say I always follow up. Every time I get a business card, I send a nice email and throw the card away before I go to bed that night. That way we both have each other’s information tucked away in a clean, searchable email inbox, and neither of us have to worry about follow up or keeping track of a business card “just in case.”
I use the follow up as an opportunity to help me remember the person. I remember their name, picture their face, and remember something specific and unique about our conversation. This increases my chances of having a better connection with them sometime in the future and almost guarantees I don’t have an embarrassing “Wait, do I know you?” moment.
Instead, I’m setting myself up for an easy layup.
Here’s an example from today:
No pressure. No stress. Just genuine connection and good organization.
I work with a lot of business owners. Most of them are trying to hire good people.
I also work with a lot of young people who are approaching these startups, trying to get hired.
I’ve noticed the thing that impresses these business owners the most is a side project. Blogs, websites, podcasts, side-projects, are all more valuable than any amount of experience or good-looking resume.
I’ve also noticed that young people struggle finding ideas worth doing. Last week I wrote an article about this idea which included a bunch of examples. I decided to take it a step further. That’s where my project comes in.
It’s called Project Every Week. The concept is straightforward:
Every week, I send you a highly actionable project idea.
These projects are designed to impress employers, teach you new skills, and serve as a body of work to demonstrate your talents and interests. The projects might be short, ongoing, complex, simple, easy, or difficult. You can follow them exactly, create variations, or do something different altogether. It’s up to you.
This is less about the project ideas themselves and more about the idea of doing projects. Project Every Week is meant to give you some inspiration to create something of your own. Plus, it’ll force me to be more creative by coming up with awesome ideas every week.
You can get on the list by entering your information below:
You can also check out the list of projects here. I’ve uploaded 3 early, and they’ll start coming weekly on Friday.
See you inside.
Resumes are boring. They’re static, and they don’t say much about who you are or what you’re capable of. You can only convey so much by listing your work experience in bullet points and size 11 font.
Most companies still require a resume for job applications. That makes sense since it’s a scalable way to sift through large numbers of applicants. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow the rules to a tee. People remember the ones who break the rules by creating something better, not the ones who predictably blend in with the majority.
If you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself, it’s not going to happen by padding your resume with bigger words and adding mentions of accolades from your high school days. That’s just more of the same.
Even the most perfect resume won’t wow a hiring manager. It will signal that you are at least above average. And that’s fine, if you want to be at least above average. But if you want to be ascendant, you’ve got to do more.
To truly stand apart from the crowd, you’ll need to get creative and do something different altogether. Stop trying to beat the game — create your own game.
If you have a lot of really good work experience, don’t worry, there will still be time to share it. The goal of applying for a job is to get an interview. Once you do that, you can talk all you want about your impressive work experience. But there’s no need to waste your very first impression on the bland stuff.
You can still submit your resume to get your name and contact information in the mix. But the best way to stand out is by doing a project.
You set the rules when you make a project. You can turn it into anything you want.
Or you can build an extensive project targeted towards a specific company like Nina did with Nina4Airbnb.
You can even create something just for fun that has nothing to do with your career or industry like Lauren did.
These projects are all different and valuable in their own way. They’re not all professional or targeted towards a particular company or dependent on some hard skill. You just have to pick something interesting and create it.
Here’s why you should build a project instead of a resume:
You’ll learn new skills.
Jan is in the interview process with a company in Philadelphia right now. Instead of passively waiting for the hiring team to decide whether or not he’s the right candidate, he decided to spend his time creating something valuable.
He’s never done video production before, but he figured sending in a video with his application would make him stand out.
So he figured it out. He searched Google and reached out to some people in his network for advice. Within a couple of days he made this video and sent it to his interviewer.
How many other applicants do you think took this extra step? Not only will he stand out above the rest of the candidates, but he has another marketable skill to add to his resume (ha!).
You’ll become permanently more marketable.
You don’t have to create an extensive project. It can even be as simple as one blog post.
Cassius, one of our participants, recently turned his detailed notes from reading The Challenger Sale into a highly-valuable blog post. He did this as a personal challenge during an interview process for a sales apprenticeship. The first company loved it and decided to offer him the position.
2 weeks later, he had three offers on the table all from sharing his post with his interviewers. It demonstrated his ability to learn quickly, and it showed that he had a passion for sales, and it made him more marketable.
You’ll have more fun.
When you do things you enjoy, chances are you’ll be better at them. It won’t feel like an assignment because nobody is forcing you to do it. It will feel like play, not work because you decided to do it on your accord. The best work is produced when you enjoy the process.
Jackie created this website because she likes poems and wanted to practice graphic design. You better believe this is more impressive than any combination of words you could fit onto an 8.5×11 sheet of paper.
Not only does she now have a live demonstration of her graphic design skills to show to people, but she has more experience under her belt and showed she isn’t afraid to show her work to the public by creating this. Plus, she had fun doing it!
Wouldn’t you want to hire somebody who enjoys building things in their spare time?
The bottom line is this:
It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a job, going to school, or trying to become an entrepreneur. By doing a project, you will learn new skills, have more fun, create more value, and become more marketable.
Toss your resume. Get creative. Build a Project.
You might have heard the phrase, “a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.” Simple economics says when supply goes up, demand goes down, and that’s part of what has happened with college degrees. They have become commodities. They no longer set you apart.That’s not the whole story though.
If a degree and all that came with it was truly valuable, it wouldn’t matter so much that there were more of them. That would just mean that more people are better off.
So what really lead to the collapse of the college credential?
Two people did it: Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page.
Just kidding. Kind of. It really comes down to the accessibility of knowledge and communication. Mark and Larry had a lot to do with that.
First, let’s start with knowledge.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google in 1998 with one goal in mind: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They (along with many others) have done a great job towards this end. Right now, you have access to a majority of the information available through the device in your pocket. A simple Google search will locate you a book, podcast, website, blog, or resource no matter where, who, or when it came from. HUGE amounts of knowledge are unfathomably accessible to each and every one of us.
Before this was the case, people couldn’t have books instantly sent to their kindles at the click of a button. Instead, they were forced to gather together, pool their resources, and create libraries.
These libraries grew into universities which became geographical hubs of knowledge. People with a thirst for knowledge began to gravitate towards them. The experienced ones became professors, and the younger ones became the students with a mission to learn as much from the local experts as possible. This process made sense and it actually worked quite well for the time, given the resources available.
Now for the second factor: communication.
Communication has never been easier. Our smartphones and apps like Facebook and Voxer have done incredible things. You can have a video call with someone on the opposite side of the globe. You can communicate across thousands of miles via phone, email, text, and more in a matter of seconds. You can also hop on a plane and traverse the country in a matter of hours, something that used to take months.
When universities were the best way to attain knowledge, they were also the best way to connect with professionals. People couldn’t chat on the phone or travel quickly. They gathered into these geographical hubs, and because of the secluded nature of cities and countries, you had to make do with the resources around you.
So put the two together. Not only can you access all the world’s information at the click of a button, but you can communicate that information with people across the planet by the same means and at the same rate.
Why would you limit yourself to attending one college for tens of thousands of dollars when you can use the resources from all of them for free?
It’s not just easier to build the skills you need. You can also create a better signal than a degree by tapping into the world’s knowledge and interconnectedness. There are more resources available and at much cheaper costs. You can connect with the best mentors and attend the best classes in the world for free from your living room. It doesn’t make sense to limit yourself to the resources and staff of your local college.
Getting a college degree is the educational equivalent of a horse and buggy. Clunky, slow, expensive, and simply not practical. The same credential that used to be the holy grail for a job search has been sliced up and made available. You can build a better credential for less money and in less time.
This is not to say that building a career without college is easy. It’s hard work and it takes some creativity. The world’s information and resources is available to everyone–not just you. The fact that you have access to it is your new baseline. Your differentiator will be how you choose to use these resources.
Lately my posts here have been sporadic. The blog has taken a back seat with everything I’ve been up to. My work at Praxis has been challenging and engaging, plus I have some exciting new projects in the works. Here’s an update:
In January I set a goal to read 52 books in 2017. Surprisingly, I’m actually right on track. 3 months in, I’ve read 13 books. Here have been some of my favorites:
Philosophy: Who Needs It? by Ayn Rand: After reading The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and Anthem, I had to get my hands on some objectivist non-fiction. It’s surprisingly quite similar to her fiction, since her characters live and portray her philosophy very clearly. This book outlines the dire importance of developing an individual philosophy by thinking for yourself–something that is all too rare in people these days. Rand has a way of breaking everything down to first principles. It’s awesome.
Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill: This one didn’t have a bunch of new content for me, but it served as a reminder of my own ability. It presented Hill’s philosophy of achievement outlined in other books like Think and Grow Rich and Law of Success in a new way. This quote depicts the theme nicely:
“Remember that your dominating thoughts attract, through a definite law of nature, by the shortest and most convenient route, their physical counterpart. Be careful what your thoughts dwell upon.”
Hustle by James Warren Tevelow: This guy wrote, edited, and published this book in 7 days. I love the idea of taking on a hyper-speed side project like that. It got me thinking about what I could do if I committed to it for 7 full days. Fun read.
Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse: Recommended by Isaac Morehouse, this was one of the most engaging books I’ve ever read. Philosophical but playful, it breaks down life into a series of games we play. With that frame of mind, fear of consequences slips away and everything becomes a fun challenge.
Next on my list:
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
- Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Praxis has been my primary focus lately. We were recently featured on Fox News which caused a huge influx of new applicants. Luckily, the entire Praxis team is full of complete rock stars so we handled it quite well despite the unexpected nature of it. All hands were on deck and it was cool to see every department jump in to help, outside of their typical domains. These growing pains have forced us to buckle down and improve our processes, which happened quickly.
I’ve mostly been improving the placement process and working with our education team. We’ve had some exciting new placements as a result. I get giddy every time I help another participant land an apprenticeship. That’s one more person learning to rely on their own ability instead of a credential, and one more business who gains a kick-ass employee.
I implemented some customized Placement Workshops to help participants build cool projects, refine their personal brands, pitch companies, and crush interviews.
Cassius Carvalho wrote this awesome sales article which has several of our Business Partners wanting to interview him for a sales position.
You might know about my first book, Undecided. I released this one 2 years ago and had a blast. It was the first time I wrote about something I cared about, and sharing it with the world was liberating.
Despite not having published many blog posts, I’ve actually written over 30,000 words in the last month. I have another book coming out soon.
This one I’m doing differently. My first book was a passion project–it was all about the act of writing it, proving to myself I could do it. This time, it’s about the content. I want to create something truly valuable that lasts for a long time. My goal is to put out evergreen content that I can point back to for years. I want it to become the definitive guide for college dropouts.
It will be an exploration of my philosophy of education along with tons of hyper-practical tips & processes for how get a job, start a business, and step into the top 1% of young professionals out there. It’ll essentially teach you everything you need to know about starting a career without a degree. All for less than 0.001% of the cost. Literally.
Hop on the pre-launch list for updates, early content, and free giveaways. Plus you’ll get an opportunity to watch the book launch process first-hand.
I don’t have a launch date yet, but expect it some time during the summer. Until then, I’ll be here on the blog every once in a while and feel free to reach out to me and start a conversation. I won’t bite.
I meet a lot of young college students. Most of them don’t like college that much. They’re excited by the thought of starting their careers early. They want to work hard, prove their value, and learn practical skills in the real world.
They want to be entrepreneurs, marketers, salesmen, business owners, apprentices, graphic designers, video producers, freelancers, and more.
They know that college isn’t preparing them for their goals. They know that college is actually delaying the things they actually want to do. But they continue to show up to class and prioritize their assignments over their pursuit of real-world experience, which they, themselves, deemed more important than class.
It’s a contradiction. They proclaim that real-world experience is much more important and that college doesn’t teach them practical skills, but they keep going to class.
I had to get to the bottom of this. Why are these young people contradicting themselves? If they know that college isn’t helping them achieve their goals, why are they still going? It’s like they’re coming to an honest realization about their situation, but instead of putting in the work to lead change, they turn off their brains, slip into autopilot, and do the same thing they’ve done for 12+ years.
I guess it’s the same reason we put off working out, skip going to the gym, and eat junk food even though we want to lose weight and be healthy.. We know those habits are not helping us. We know exactly which habits would help us. But for a myriad of reasons, we don’t put in the work to change anything. Changing habits is hard. I get it.
Talk is easy, but when push comes to shove, pulling the cord on your life plan that you’ve invested 12+ years into is hard.
While they may have come to a reasonable conclusion in their heads, their parents, teachers, and peers are cranking up the pressure to finish college and do what everyone else does. As you get closer to the “finish line”, the amount of time spent working towards your degree eclipses the actual value it provides for you.
Plus, every dropout knows there’s a horrifying backlash of doubt and hysteria from family and friends in the weeks following the big decision. What most people don’t see is the silent praise that comes 1-2 years after you start doing things in the real world. People notice, and you become something of an inspiration to them for taking the leap that everyone thinks about but nobody acts on.
If you want to make the leap, realize you’re not the only one. It feels lonely, but you’re not actually alone. Tons of people out there feel the same way you do. They’re going through the motions in school, wanting out, but not knowing how to get out.
It’s much easier to prepare for your backup plan than it is to go all-in on your actual dreams.
A long time ago, my dad told me something that stuck with me.
It was at a time when I was first realizing what an unreasonable jackass my siblings and I had been at times in our childhood. Despite this, he did a great job raising me (if I do say so myself). I wanted to know how he did it. He said:
“You don’t need to raise children any particular way. You just need to love them. They’ll figure out the rest.”
Love doesn’t mean making their lives easier. Love doesn’t mean buying them things they want. Love doesn’t mean stepping in to make them happy when they’re sad. Love doesn’t mean solving their problems for them. Love doesn’t mean disciplining them when they do something wrong. Love doesn’t mean providing everything you can for them.
Love means respecting them as an individual. Love means letting them experience all the beauty (and the pain) that life has to offer. Love means giving them the freedom to make their own decisions. Love means always being there for support when they choose to lean on you. Love means giving them space to be themselves.
The more you provide for your child, the the less they will learn to provide for themselves.
It seems like a contradiction, but it’s the nature of reality. I get it–you want to give them as much as you can so that they’ll be safe and taken care of. This is a reasonable desire. It’s your job to take care of them. You want them to be safe. You want them to be happy. You want them to achieve everything they dream of.
But remember how you got everything you have. Remember how you achieved your dreams. You worked hard for it. You earned it without shortcuts. Nobody handed it to you. You went through all the tough times necessary, working long hours, scraping money together to pay the bills, not having easy access to the luxuries that you saw other people have. You struggled.
In your unpleasant struggles, you resolved to never let your children suffer in that way. You decided that you would provide for them in a way that your parents didn’t for you.
It was this very suffering that gave you the ability to provide for yourself and your family.
I’ll say that again:
The fact that you suffered is the very reason that you earned the ability to help your children not suffer.
By removing suffering from your children’s lives, you’re taking away the thing that shaped you into a person who is able to achieve, succeed, and provide. By removing suffering from your children’s lives, you’re leaving them unprepared to face the real world without your nursing hand. You’re creating, within them, a dependence on you. You’re instilling in them beliefs that are not congruent with actual reality.
This is not love. Love is fostering an environment where they are free to learn, fail, and grow on their own accord. This is how they will grow up to be confident, independent individuals with the ability to achieve their dreams on their own.
As a parent, your child’s safety is a huge priority (as it should be). If they want to do something that you know might lead to utter failure, financial or other, let them do it. Remember how you learned that same lesson. Don’t deprive them of the invaluable experience of learning it firsthand. Don’t coddle them into believing reality is rife with shortcuts. It’s not. Let them find out for themselves.
I suppose this may be a natural cycle of generations. If you hand your children everything, they’ll grow up unable to provide for themselves and their families, leaving their children to suffer in the way that you did due to their inability to provide. That suffering will shape them into people who learn the ability to provide, just like you did, and the story continues.
I’m not saying you should deprive your kid of everything luxurious or intentionally make their life harder than it has to be. But don’t shield them from the natural law of cause and effect. Don’t give them things without allowing them to them understand what they are, why they exist, and how they came to be. Don’t let them go through life receiving things without understanding how they got there. Don’t do things for them because you know it’s good for them. Let them decide what’s good for them through trial and error. Let them fail. Let them take risks and experience the outcomes.
As a parent, it is still your responsibility to provide for them. Provide shelter, food, love, and support. Love them. Let them create the rest for themselves. In this pursuit, they’ll fail–a lot. Watch them. Don’t give them the answers. Help them learn for themselves when they ask you for support.
I’m not a parent, but I imagine it’s difficult to watch your child struggle when you can’t provide happiness and satisfaction for them. I imagine it’s even harder to choose not to provide it when you have the ability to do so. But just like everything else in life, doing the hard thing now leads to a better situation in the long term. This applies to you, too.
My parents often stepped in and provided something for me before allowing me to stumble through getting it myself. Every time this happened, I’ve had to learn that same lesson on my own later in life. Their intervention in my life only delayed my growth.
You might know what’s best for your children. You might know exactly what they should do to achieve their dreams. You might even have the means to get them there faster. They might say they want your help. Help them by resisting. Let them be.
Just love them. They’ll figure out the rest.
You don’t need to think for yourself.
Let’s go back to high school graduation since the same principle applies. During high school I played by all the rules, got good grades, completed my assignments on time, and attended class when I was supposed to. I remember sitting in my (boring) graduation ceremony, looking around at the kids who skipped class all the time, took the easiest minimum credits and clearly had no ambition to succeed in life.
I realized that at this point in time, I was on the same level as those kids. We were both getting the same diploma for completing the same program, despite the stark difference in mindset and effort.
Had I thought for myself during those 4 years, I would have realized what was wrong much sooner. I would have figured out that I was chasing credentials, not learning any practical or valuable skills. I would have found a better way to separate myself from the crowd, because even excelling in school made me average in the real world.
The end result matters more than the process.
End results matter. But the process is what creates the end result. In school, I learned that the only reason I studied & learned was for the end of getting a grade. The emphasis was put on the grade, not on the process of learning.
Because of this, I was incentivized to find easier ways to get that grade. I would cheat, not learning anything about the material through the process, and I could still earn the same grade. Even if I didn’t cheat, I could still do the bare minimum by memorizing what I was supposed to memorize, and repeat it back on the test to get a grade, having gained no new ability or skill or knowledge throughout the process. This doesn’t work in the real world.
Work isn’t something you should enjoy.
In school, I learned that the practicality of my career & major matters more than my enjoyment of it. Of course there are still times in my career now when I’ll be working hard and struggling through something in order to achieve what I want to achieve, but I will have chosen to take on that challenge.
The vision of my life when I was in college was one of feigned success and inner misery. I learned that getting an engineering degree would land me the best job, and it didn’t matter if I hated engineering because if I stuck through it then I could retire at 60 and be financially set for the rest of my (short) life.
Credentials matter more than the ability to create real value.
The entire focus of college is the degree at the end of it. “Gotta get that piece of paper!” Supposedly, this piece of paper is a magical ticket that will get you a high paying job. I went into unreasonable debt on this empty promise.
This means your ability to impress the right people is more important than your ability to consistently create value. You can earn a degree without learning skills that are valuable in the real world. Therefore, by going to college, you’re buying a piece of paper with special “pull” with the right people—-not for the genuine increase in your abilities.
The following is a short list of some core beliefs I hold. These are things I have not always known–in fact, most of these I’ve learned over the last couple of years. They are beliefs I hold, wholeheartedly, though I find that I must consciously remind myself of them. Living by them in every action I take is the ideal, not the reality.
It’s a constant struggle to embody these beliefs through my actions consistently. Every time I find myself acting against them, I pull myself back, and that is where the growth happens. I get closer to the ideal every time I pull myself back and remind myself why I believe these things and why I’ve decided to act in accordance with them.
1. My own judgement is more valuable than that of others.
Even if my judgement is wrong, it is more important to value my judgement first, take it into consideration, and work hard to develop it. Of course other people have valuable opinions and judgement. Often, the judgement of others actually proves to be more insightful than mine. But still, I must value my judgement first.
By giving my own judgement a fighting chance before accepting the thoughts of another person to be true, I am regarding myself as confident, competent and capable, and so I act that way.
2. Taking care of my body takes care of my mind.
When I’m feeling un-motivated or down, it’s usually because my mind is working too much and my body isn’t working enough. Giving my mind a break by exercising, even for 5 minutes, is enough to stabilize my mind.
Sometimes when I feel sluggish, it feels inevitable. I might eat fast-food because I don’t feel like expending the effort to cook, and I might sit still all day without moving around because I don’t feel like doing so. But when I force myself to make a change in my physiology, I feel better. I get energized.
The food I eat and the exercise I do cause vitality, happiness and motivation, not the other way around.
3. I am who I think I am.
Self-image creates self. The way I perceive myself in my own head ends up being the way I act and project myself in the real world. When I feel like I’m on top of the world, the people around pick up on it and me see me that way. If I feel incompetent and stupid, I will act as such.
4. Motion solves everything.
Motion, hustle, and change all drive happiness, purpose, and fulfillment. The more you defer action and plan, strategize, and think, the more you will feel stuck. A healthy amount of thinking is necessary, but only think so that you can act. Do not get stuck. Move. Go. Try. Start. That is the nature of life.
5. Questions drive progress.
Questions are what the greatest thinkers of all time used to drive them. They were insatiably curious, and they had a deep hunger to find answers. Once they found answers, they instantly came up with more questions to pursue.
The people with all the answers are not the ones who drive humanity forward. The people who drive humanity forward are the ones who take questions seriously.
6. Half attempts never work.
If I’m going to do something, I better do it completely. Committing can be difficult, because when you commit to doing something fully, you give up every other possible thing you could be doing instead. But if you wait to commit, you’re not actually experiencing anything. All you’re doing is viewing all the options as possibilities that don’t actually exist. If you’re going to dive at all, dive as deep you can.
7. Don’t fake reality.
There is always an underlying truth. We lie to ourselves and lie to others sometimes without even knowing it. Pure honesty is hard, but like most difficult things, it is worth it. Wherever truth is, seek it. Don’t settle for anything less. A seemingly perfect life is much worse than a raw and imperfect one.
8. Nothing really matters.
Everything in life is a game. That girl you’re afraid to talk to, that business you’re afraid to start, that thing you’re afraid to tell your family. None of it matters in the end. Stop taking it so seriously. The worst case scenario is never as bad as you think it is. Have fun and stop worrying so much.
“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s going to die.”
~Rick & Morty
What does it mean to “find your self”?
I don’t mean find yourself. I mean find your self. Who are you, actually? What do you, alone, value?
For most of my life I lived as a surrogate for the ideas and values of other people. My actions and reactions would reflect the values of the people around me, not those from within myself. Not much genuinely came from within myself, and when something did, it didn’t feel meaningful and I didn’t trust it.
Most people live their entire lives this way. They equate meaning and happiness to external sources like a grade, a title, or something that gives them value–only in the eyes of others. A perfect example of this can be found in American University culture.
Universities are branded as revolutionary places where original ideas are valued above everything else. They are made out to be the place where people go to challenge themselves intellectually and develop their individuality.
Anybody who has been to college knows that this is far from the truth. The professors and faculty might persist in upholding this claim verbally and on paper, but in reality this is at best a secondary influence for the student. The primary influence is the approval of peers. The incentives to earn the approval of peers are much higher than the incentives to actually do well in classes.
Being noticed, liked, and admired are all things that stem primarily from the mind of somebody else. You cannot be noticed, liked, and admired if you are alone, and only with yourself. But you can be happy, honest, and fulfilled.
It is OK to value things that stem from outside of your self. In fact, it’s healthy to care about the perception of you that other people hold–to a certain degree. The danger comes when you value things externally above the values that come from within your own self. This is where I lost my self. I confused shallow values attached to external conditions for unchanging, internal values, and so my self was no different from the collective selves of everyone around me.
So how do you “find your self”?
Start by questioning everything you value. If you value the approval of others, ask your self why. If you value producing objectively good work, ask your self why. If you value reading a certain book, ask your self why. If you value wearing a certain shirt, ask your self why.
The things your self values are often things that are kept private. You don’t feel the need to share something you value deeply because it doesn’t matter if other people value it.
A few months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about an idea for a book I had. The concept for this book had been swirling around in my head for over a month, gaining clarity every day. I felt good about it, and I felt like I had explored it pretty deeply.
When I told him about it, he told me he had written about a similar idea before and wanted to share some insights that might help me out.
He went on to send me 6 articles and blog posts that he had written, all exploring the very idea I had considered my own.
The first reaction was discouragement, because the idea that I had taken ownership of seemed to have already been explored by someone else. It lost its value because it wasn’t unique to me. Questions popped up in my mind that I hadn’t thought of before.
Is it worth sharing this if someone else has already understood and shared this topic? Will my work be irrelevant since it’s already been done? Is there a point in sharing it?
These questions lead me to an important realization:
People don’t own ideas.
Any idea you’ve thought of has probably been thought of by another human at some point in time. We’re all humans. We share a lot of the same struggles, so naturally we share a lot of the same thoughts.
Ideas float around. They are available to everyone with a brain. It’s easy to think of a good idea. It doesn’t cost anything to think of a good idea. So why are some people better than others, if all the same ideas are available to everyone? What separates people?
Action. People own execution.
50 people can have the same brilliant business idea, but the one who executes it is the one who owns it. Nobody can execute an idea in the same way you can. Each human, even with the same idea, will bring the idea into reality in their own unique way.
People don’t own ideas. People own execution.