Bucket List of Things I Would Like to Do

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”― Helen Keller

I seem to forget activities I would like to try when I have the time.  Hoping starting this list will help and maybe inspire you to try something new as well.

  • Real rock climbing
  • Akro yoga
  • Surfing – Lake Michigan in the late summer? Surf shop in Waukegan for rental/lesson.
  • Hike something taller than a 14er
  • Volunteer to help homeless
  • Race a GNCC event
  • Build a aquaponic’s greenhouse
  • Mountain bike in Whistler, Canada
  • Help out at a dog shelter / foster
  • Go to a Perform Better fitness seminar
  • WORS or Illinois (Palos Hills?), Copper Harbor, MI mountain bike race
  • Grow bean sprouts

Your Typical Thirties Crisis

You start to ask questions like;

  • What am I doing here?
  • What’s life all about?
  • What’s the meaning of our day to day existence?
  • What’s most important?

Some say the answers will never come. And after awhile the questions go away. Settling into the scripted american dream.

I say those questions are worthy of being explored.  Worked on daily through life experiences. Growth will get you closer to the answers and may even change the questions you ask.

If you knew you were going to die in two years.  How would you spend your time? What would you do for leisure, your family, your hobbies?

“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts, of life are not only indispensable, but positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind”. -Henry David Thoreau

Break life down to the basics.  What we are, what we do, and how we live mean more than what we own.

No Replacement

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What I have come to realize over the years is that there is no replacement for actually doing the exercise you are training for.  I can bike all winter long on a stationary bike, but when rubber hits the trail it’s just not the same.  You have to actually do the activity to get better at it.  Same goes for running.  A treadmill at the gym won’t provide the results of actually running.

Good Business – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Good Business - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Good Business - from the author of Flow

A book I found at the library recently.  Comes from the author of flow (post on my discovery of his work).

The goal of Good Business is to discuss business success with a broader commitment to social goals.  At first this reminded me of another book I read called Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks. Which is all about going from a selfish business mind to a selfless model of service.  I will re-read it again soon and post notes, because I feel it is worthy.

There seems to be a trend around this notion of selfless service in business along with building a great culture.  It could be the future of excellent businesses.

Currently two types of people hold the position to give spiritual and material needs to a community.  They are scientists and entrepreneurs.  Science helps us live a longer healthier life and business gives us a meaning beyond ourselves.

Looking at human nature you would think that greed would win.  But, there are increasing numbers of business leaders that care about contributing to the greater good.  Rather than solely focused on profits.

Patagonia is a company I keep reading about and is another case study in this book.  They built an amazing building with exposed beams, etc.  Why? They want to give the feeling that they are going to be around in another hundred years from now.  Not just prepping the company to be sold.

The owner states people need some stability in their lives.  You need to have a vision that is meaningful and offers hope to people for their own future and their families.

What does it require to be a business leader that helps build a better future for everyone involved?

“We have a philosophy of trying to have every single product we make be the best in the world.  Not among the best-but the best. Every single thing, whether it’s a pair of pants or a shirt, whatever.” – Chouinard, Patagonia owner.

To build a enterprise that will last one has to believe in the value of ones work. It a company does not strive to be the best in the world at what it does it will attract second rate employees.  A company that strives to be the best will attract first class workers who care.

Whats interesting is Chouinard began by building hardware that was destroying the mountains.  He saw that and then created new hardware that could be removed.  After transitioning into clothing he saw that industrial cotton was a  terrible process.. relatable to factory farming.  Then, said he will never use a piece of industrial cotton again and began using organically grown cotton.

His ability to pivot when he does not believe in a product is very impressive and inspirational.

The leaders of Cummins diesel engines stated he could have moved somewhere cheaper labor could be found.  But whats the point if you have to thousands of people who know and trust you?

At this point in the book that main take aways are;

  1. Believe in what you do striving to be the best.
  2. Think long term with enduring values and improving human well being, not profits.

 

Happiness

Money, security and comfort are the building blocks, but people also need there talents are fully engaged, growth, low stress, excitement, and deeply enjoyable experiences. This is a process of flow which the book will dive into deeper.

Along with flow a business needs to have a meaningful pattern, and a path of growth that leads to cognitive, emotional, and social complexity.

To thrive a business needs to foster the growth of flow and social complexity.

Money and material only make us happy up to a certain threshold.

Relationships are related to happiness.

Businesses should aim to make products and services that make people happier. Review Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Once all of our other needs are taken care of the highest level of happiness is to express oneself and using 100% of physical and mental powers we were born with to innovate and grow.

A business is successful to the extent that it taps into these forms of happiness.

  • A car sale helps ensure survival, built with green processes give safety and security, gives the owner a sense of belonging (jeep), enhances self esteem, and self actualization by allowing the person to express their taste, driving skills, and lifestyle.

Market value is dependent on the anticipated happiness it is expected to provide.

But it is not all about the product.  A business also needs happy people in a good culture.

As the middle class strives to consume status symbols of a bigger house, better car, and expensive vacations they are giving up growing as an individual,  and developing close relationships.  Most companies take advantage of this fact that people think possessions will lead to happiness.  They contribute to promote materialism as long as there is a demand for it.

The best indicator that someone is happy is they no longer desire anything else.

Because if we feel like we lack something we cannot be happy.  But, very few people have achieved a level of lacking want that are fully happy.  This is why business needs to enhance human well-being.

Two Pillars of Happiness

  1. Differentiation – Seeing that we are unique individuals, and responsible for our own survival and well being, and authentically developing this uniqueness wherever it may lead and enjoying the expression of being in action.
  2. Integration – Even though we are unique, we are all connected in a network of relationships with others, material, symbols, environment.

A person who is is fully differentiated and integrated has the best chance to be happy.

To be successful you have to enjoy doing your best, while also contributing to something meaningful to you beyond yourself.

Humans generally shift back and forth from selfish to selflessness as they age.  One year olds are dependent on their parents, then once they hit two they like to do things on their own and shift occurs.  This happens about ten different times for most people as they grow.

The highest point one may reach is the person who has developed and refined their uniqueness while being in control of their thoughts, feelings, and actions.  While at the same time enjoying human diversity, and feeling at one with the infinite cosmos.  The person is truly happy because they need nothing else.

Business that doesn’t contribute to human growth and well-being is not worth doing, no matter how much the profit.

Then comes the question, how broadly is human growth and well-being extended for a CEO?  Most CEOs would say the shareholders are the only humans they have to look after.

But, as most great leaders would agree that is false and one needs to look after;

  • shareholders
  • customers
  • employees
  • owners
  • communities
  • natural environment
  • vendors

What should be optimized is not profit, but the value the company creates and adds to human lives.  The companies goal should be to add quality of life to customers through products and services, and similar add to employees lives through individual development, job security, and dealing with their aspirations.

Does all this mean that the people running these companies are martyrs to the well being of others? Not really.  Doing things this way creates a joyous way of doing business.  People who are driven by the desire to do their best, and to contribute to society, believe in what they are doing, and are happy doing it is a great task.  What else could you ask for?

Enjoyment is the foundation for memories that, in looking back enrich lives, and give one confidence for the future.

It is not possible to succeed as a leader unless one enjoys what they do.

What does it actually mean to enjoy something?

The answer is getting into a state of flow. Examples of flow for me are rock climbing, reading a good book, painting a helmet, riding my mountain bike, working out.

Flow is important in business because if a person doesn’t enjoy their job they will not be that great at it. Almost any activity can lead to flow.  Even the most mundane tasks. The person who is engaged with the world, interested, curious, and excited is never at a loss to experience flow.

8 Conditions of flow:

  1. Clear goals – Rock climbing the goal on the mind is not the top of the mountain. It is the next move without falling. True enjoyment comes from the steps one takes towards the end goal, not actually achieving it. Savor the steps along the way and don’t be so concerned with the outcome. So don’t worry about a successful performance, but more about how you feel during the performance.  If what matters in life is happiness not success, then the journey is what counts, not reaching the destination.
  2. Immediate feedback – Helps you know that what you are doing matters. And has consequences. Feedback may come from others, but its best if it can come directly from the activity itself.
  3. Balance of opportunity and capacity ( a task is challenging, but doable) – Challenge and skills should be high and equal. A difficult task is exciting.  But if too hard it will cause anxiety, and if too easy it will cause boredom. Most people find their jobs too confining, and family life too predictable.  So they seek outside stimulants. The key is to find the opportunity in any situation. There will always be a dozen things to do and enjoy.
  4. Concentration deepens – When you’re doing something that has clear goals, and immediate feedback you will become involved in it. Even if the activity is not important.. like a video game.  When intensity rises we will find ourselves deeply into it. Avoiding the monkey mind of daily distraction.  Where awareness and action merge into one.  You are a piece of the bike you are riding, not separate.  When things become effortless and you don’t exist. It really comes down to our ability to concentrate on a narrow task.  We cannot focus on many things at once.  You can’t rock climb and make phone calls and be in the zone.
  5. The present is what matters – You are focused on the task at hand and not thinking about your everyday life issues. Our mind will tend to wander without a task to work on. And when we have nothing to work on the mind will dig up negative things to focus on and make us depressed. In flow this is not possible as we are focused on what we are doing and not letting the mind wander off wherever it wants.  It is in the present.  It provides an escape.  Some people will turn to alcohol, sex, drugs, etc for this escape, but getting into flow is a much better option.  It will produce a positive outcome through challenges, effort, and building skills versus negative ones found in the former. It is an escape that pushes you forward rather than backward. Einstien said that art and science are the best means to escape from reality that humanity had created.  But I would say we have even more nowadays.
  6. Control is not a problem -In flow one has a strong sense of control over the situation, and more so over one’s own performance over the environment.  Being used by the creative forces.. possessed by the muse. What matters is doing one’s best for the sake of doing the task at hand, and knowing that the best one can do should be enough to prevail.
  7. Time is altered – Time flies by.  But sometimes the opposite happens as well. Flow will adapt to the action at hand and speed up, slow down based on how absorbed it is. We actually control the experience of time.
  8. Loss of Ego – Awareness of one’s personhood temporarily disappears. They forget their social persona, rank, name, status and everything that it entails.  One forget self consciousness.  Their feats, desires, defeats, ambitions, etc. What is important is that when one enters a state of flow and forgets oneself.  After the event and when the self reappears a person has a boost in their self esteem.

“happiness cannot be attained by wanting to be happy-it must come as the unintended consequence of working for a goal greater than oneself. The truth of this insight is borne out by our own findings.” – Viktor Frankl

You don’t have to save the world to be in flow.  If a action produces flow it is worthy doing for that cause alone.  Don’t do a task for the money or fame.  Do it because you love it.

“You are entitled to the work, but not to its rewards.”

Something that is worth doing doesn’t require an external reward. It is intrinsically rewarding just by doing the activity. Rock climbing isn’t about getting to the top of the mountain. The enjoyment is the climbing itself.

Many athletes no longer enjoy their sport because it becomes about a paycheck and contract.

The point to remember is that just because we are paid to do something doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy doing it. Surgeons are highly paid and enjoy what they do under a flow state.

Whole – Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

by T. Colin Campbell [ NOTE: Read the China Study for the nuts and bolts of his whole foods plant based diet ]

Nutrition is the doorway to human health.

What many of us are led to believe is proper nutrition is false.

The medical profession has kept this information from you on purpose.

Adopt a whole, plant based diet as discussed in the China Study book.

When reading or listening to health advice ask yourself, what financial gain do they get by telling me this?  The author has none.

Our current medical system is the 3rd leading cause of deaths in the US.  Wrong prescriptions, bad machines, surgeries gone wrong, hospital infections, etc.

  • What you eat everyday is more important than your genetics, or environment
  • Food can heal you faster than prescription drugs with less side effects
  • Food prevents disease
  • Its never too late to benefit from the healing power of a healthy diet

What is a Whole Food Plant Based Diet?

Plant based food as close to its state in nature as possible.  Eat a mix of fruits, veggies, raw nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and whole grains.

Don’t eat animal products, or processed food. Stay away from added oil, salt, and sugar.

Aim for 80% carbs, 10% fat, and 10% protein.

What can this type of diet give you? It deals with the root causes of disease:

  • Prevent 95% of cancers
  • Prevent stokes and heart attacks
  • Reverse heart disease
  • Reverse type two diabetes
  • Ideal weight for body type
  • Eliminates most migraines, acne, flu and colds, intestinal distress, chronic pain
  • Improves energy
  • Cures erectile disfunction
  • improves our world through various forms including improving water, stopping factory farming, etc.

Don’t worry about specific amounts of anything.  Just eat a variety of foods this way and your body will take care of the rest.

It is much easier to go all the way into this type of eating than 80-90%.  Its like a smoker trying to quit.. while still continuing to have 1-2 smokes a day. Your taste buds and body changes when you go all the way. Which will make it easier to succeed in the long run.

Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion on nutrition unless they are an expert in biochemistry, cardiology, epidemiology, and a dozen other ones to have the correct experience. If they have the background you then need to look at the study and see if it is true.  Was everything done honestly and correctly?  Is it the whole truth? Does it matter, or is it just marketing hype?

Whether or not you should adopt an approach requires three questions:

  1. How quickly does it work?
  2. How many issues does it solve?
  3. How much will health improve during the intervention?

A plant based diet improves the elimination of free radicals that are caused by oxidation.  Plants contain antioxidants.

High protein based diets promote free radicals and oxidation.

Good example – typical person is hitting their head with a hammer each day and complaining that nothing cures their headaches.  Well it makes sense to put down the hammer.  Same goes with nutrition.

Kale and spinach have twice as much protein per calorie than a lean cut beef.

Animal protein turns on cancer cells. Cows milk promotes cancer cells growth. 

When we take a part out of a system to study it, we blind ourselves to the whole system and how it functions as a whole.  Same goes for nutrition. An apple does a lot more inside our bodies than just the sum of its parts in pill form. There are too many variables to be able to single out a nutrient.

Food is the most important topic there is, but it is not promoted or discussed in a healthy way in mainstream media.

But if there was an issue with our food supply we would have a very serious issue.

Most people that are involved with nutrition is focus on amounts.  Amount a nutrients, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and most of all calories.

We believe the more we keep track of our inputs.  The more we can control our health which we think is our output.

That is false.  Nutrition is not a math formula.

What the body does with the food we put in it is what controls nutrition.

We cannot know how much a nutrient will be absorbed and used by the body. Because it depends on what the body needs at that time. It chooses what it wants to use, and what it discards.

So the amount you consume of something does not equal in a linear relationship what the body uses.

So high doses of some type of vitamin does not mean your body will use it.  Or you may actually screw it up and throw things off.

Food also varies in nutrients.. within even two pieces of fruit side by side.  They could vary greatly to what is inside them.

When you combine or eat different foods it also is a factor in how much of a nutrient is absorbed.

This uncertainty leads us to the fact we don’t know what our body will actually use (bio available) and what is actually in the food we are eating.

Don’t make nutrition more difficult than it needs to be.

Our bodies match that of herbivores instead of carnivores in nature.

 

 

 

 

Career Renegade – Jonathan Fields

How to make a great living doing what you love.

Jonathans goal:

  • Make a great living
  • Love what he did
  • Be around people he loved

“The simple truth is you can turn nearly any passion into a big, fat heap of money. However, it often requires mining aspects of those passions you never knew existed or bringing them to life in markets and ways that defy the mainstream.

We are here to let our lights shine as brightly as possible, to drink in the joy of friendship and family, to serve and better the greater community, and to tap into and aspire passion in everything we do. We are here to come alive. In doing so, we serve as an example to others that a life beyond muddling by is not only possible, but mandatory.”

He set out to get into the fitness industry.  Got some certifications while he was still practicing law and then quit to become a personal trainer at an elite gym.  He knew he would never be the best trainer in the world.  But, he also knew that he could build something that would provide a great living for him.

After six months he learned the business hands on with industry research. He then took what he learned there to build a private gym that targeted wealthy, educated adults who wanted to get healthy but hated big box gyms.

While it was success he sold his interest in it and moved on.

He looked for what was fun, cool, and made him feel good. Which was yoga and wellness.  He asked:

  • Can I build this passion in a way that would differentiate what I do from what everyone else does?
  • Does the world really need it?
  • Can I make a living at it?

He then dives deep into the craft, blends his experiences in his background and business, and achieves a level of success that allows him to be well paid.

What Makes You Come Alive?

What would you do for free out of a sense of passion?

You won the lottery but had to work the rest of your life.  What would you do? Write it down.

For me:

  • Creating
  • Working out
  • Studying health and wellness, business, lifestyle and writing about them
  • Ride my bikes
  • Be in nature, traveling, taking photos of waterfalls
  • Help others
  • Spend time with people I love, and dogs

Out of those there are things that obviously are not going to be able to support me in a career.  As much as I wish they would.

The one thing out of that list I could see a career in health and fitness to be meaningful and lucrative.  The goal is to do it in a way, and with people that make each day a joy. What makes that possible is flow and people.

You can achieve the state of flow through a wide range of activities.

Along with author I find myself in a state of flow when mountain biking on single track.  The past and future don’t exist.  All that is.. is the present.  And I am fully engaged.  If I lost focus thinking about the next days tasks I risk hitting a tree and seriously injuring myself.

It’s forced meditation.

Writing takes him there as well.  I again have to admit that reading and writing this puts me in a more mild state of flow.  Which may be why I gravitate towards this activity when I cannot ride my bike (its winter in the midwest right now).

Being in a state of flow is critical in being happy in work and life.

I recently just discovered the flow concept and started writing about it.  To help myself learn it better I will write more about it:

  • Working toward a clear goal with a well defined process.
  • Gets you into a state of deep concentration.
  • Total lack of self-consciousness.
  • Time stands still.
  • Continuous direct feedback through people, or the task at hand helping you adapt and accomplish your goal.
  • The task challenges you greatly, but is doable.
  • Control of the means to finish it.
  • Rewards you intrinsically and is meaningful to you.

The more of these elements that are present in what you do the more state of flow you will be in.  Look at my list and think of what puts me into a state of flow the most.

I would say working out, bike riding, and researching, writing, designing.

While some people are content to be alone.  Most thrive when we are around like minded other people. This is the great aspect of being an business owner.  You can select who you work with and create a culture around that likeness.

You can’t have a dream job and hate the people you are around.  You have to love the people and culture and job at hand.

Summary up until now:

  1. What would you do for work if you knew you could support yourself from it without worry?
  2. What activities put you into a flow state? If none.. what has the potential?
  3. What type of culture or people make you feel alive?

What item on your list calls to you the strongest that incorporates flow the most and puts you around people you love?

For me.. thats working out.  It was what I was drawn to first and if I knew I could make a living doing it what I would do for work. When I am not worried about making money and work.. I still workout daily.  I get into a state of flow when I workout, and could surround myself with people and culture that fits me around this activity.

People who follow someone else’s path is good.  Because it thins the herd of people willing to create their own path.

Redeploy Your Passion

If your passion won’t easily pay the bills it is wise to bring it to a micro-niche, or alternative market that puts more value on it.

An artist that takes her wine paintings and starts selling them in vineyards, or artist who takes her skills to making edible creations.

What fields, careers, paths, or jobs value what I do (demand would be high), but are in short supply?  That marketing your passion to this audience will allow you to be:

  • Different.  You are strongly different and create more value above the normal market expectations?
  • Hunger. Do people really want what you are offering?  Would a big enough group of people come to you?
  • Price Availability. Does the price generate demand and allow a constant flow of people willing to spend the money for your product or service? Can you offer different price points or formats to meet different market demands?

Organize your brainstorming with Bubbl.us. It is a free mind mapping tool.

To see what people are talking about and sharing use Popurls.com and Addictomatic.com

Sell Information

Are there things that could be done better, or not being done at all?

Are there supporting activities that would put you close to the action, but allow you to make a living?  Say being a fitness trainer for a bike racrer, rather than trying to be the racer..

You are looking for gaps in the market of needs not being met.   And there are information gaps.

When looking at the activity that makes your heart sing:

  • Where does your information come from?
  • Is there information that you have a hard time finding?
  • Do a lot of other people want that same information?
  • Would it be valuable to funnel and filter information? Just providing the gems and throwing out the rest.
  • Would it be valuable to gather and organize information?
  • Do you have unique insights that would be valuable?
  • Have information that would solve a problem or encourage more people to participate?
  • Do you have depth of knowledge, passion, and resources to be a constant flow of information?

People will likely pay for information that will boost their learning of a topic they are passionate about.  The more rare, unique, and in high demand information the better.

An old example of this is selfgrowth.com.

How to test and exploit that info gap you found:

  • Downloadable info products.  E-books written in word then transferred into PDF.  You can then sell it on your website if you can drive traffic to the page.  Put it on affiliate sites like click bank. Or make it available as a print book through lulu.com.
  • Audio / Video.
  • Online content.  Blogs can make money if done right.  If you offer high value info you can do direct ads, have sponsors, adsense, etc.  Pro blogger is a good resource for this. Create a premium content area like Greg Plitt does, offer consulting services, create a network with other bloggers, and market select products like Joe Rogan does.
  • Newsletters. Email autoresponders, or print

Teach

Is there an educational gap you could exploit and teach others?  Maybe partner with someone to make it happen so that you don’t need to be an expert.  Just be the organizer and producer and take a percentage.  You can then partner with others who have large lists.  The partner will often take 50% of the revenue though.

Test and refine teaching your passion locally before scaling it is a good idea. And do it for awhile so that you know it can sustain itself.

If it passes all the tests you can then clone yourself with media to teach for you 24/7.

Create the course objectives, decide what format fits the media best, and then start producing.

Final Cut pro, Lulu, Camstasia, etc. can all be tools to help you develop these materials.

The Need for Stuff

Look deeply into your passion and you may find a demand for gear, or stuff that supports the main activity.  Maybe its the way the gear is provided, doesn’t exist, can be improved, bundled, adding a service or community, etc.

When you are doing the activity what needs pop up that are unfulfilled?

Can you build and sell something?

Community

The need to interact with like minded people.

Build a community using a blog, forum, etc. and then after respectfully start to earn money from it.

Make it Easier for People

Are their gaps in the way the product or service is being delivered, offered, or sold?

Are there people or places that you gain from easier, or better access to a type of service or product?

Apple didn’t invent music. It just gave them a easier and more enjoyable way to experience it.

John opened Sonic Yoga and made a video for people to learn yoga.

More

Look at what you like to do and ask whats missing?

Start testing your idea from your own use, and people close to you.

Spend time in this stage to find out if it will work before committing full time to it.

Test audiences for how many people search for what you have a passion for and want to offer by seeing how many people search for it:

http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/

Then look at the volume, alternative searches that are related, and then if there is potential look at trends.

clusty.com will show websites that are about your search.

search.twitter.com will show you who is talking about it on twitter.

Use an alexa plug in and see how much traffic these websites are getting that are aligned with the searchers intent you are thinking about.  Hint.. they may be searching for porn, and you are thinking they are searching for a legitimate business.

Checking the alexa rank of sites that are ranking for these keywords and intent will verify this.

Keep in mind though.. just having high traffic isn’t always required.  If the business model can support itself with low search volume it still may be worth doing.

Clickbank.com products will also tell you about the market for what you are thinking.  Look at what information products are selling and how.  For how much?

Then, start looking at the competition. Look to see if there are magazines on your topic.  Also look at websites and blogs.  Are there advertisers?  What kind of ads are they running?  Where are they located and what are they appealing to?

How many comments are on the last 30 posts on the blogs?  Less than 5 each suggests a small community.

Then see what info is out there about your passions business already.  Put the “keyword” + :

  • business
  • income
  • career
  • trend

And see what you find. There may be some good reports already telling you about the industry and how people are doing in it.

Out of all these magazines and print publications are the best indicator.  If someone can afford those costs and still have advertisers lining up there is strong demand in that niche.

Checkout Craigslist if what I want to do is location based.  See what ads run multiple times and compare their offer and pricing to what I want to do.  Repeat ads tend to say there is market demand there for it.

Checkout eBay and see what is currently in high demand by going to :http://popular.ebay.com see whats been sold at http://listings.ebay.com

After these the next step would be to create a one page opt-in form and run some traffic to it and gauge demand.

Use all three PPC platforms for access to keyword tools.

You can also do a Facebook poll.

Do face to face interviews as well.  Find your target market and ask them questions:

  • Are you experiencing the same problem as me?
  • How strongly do you want a solution?
  • Would you buy what I want to offer?  How badly?
  • If no, how would you suggest I change it?
  • What would you expect to pay for something like this?

If there is strong competition in a market you will need to find a way to be different.  Or, you may want to work for them?

For some fields like law, medicine, etc.. you will beed to go through schooling to get into it.  But for most businesses it is more about demonstrating mastery, and expert positioning.

To gain knowledge in something you are new to look at podcasts, blogs, forums, books, free online courses.  Then you can also set up to paid training, conferences, events, certificates , mentoring, workshops, part time internship, etc after you have the basics.

This type of training can take your skills to the moon if you are willing to get the help from experts.  But, be sure you need it and are in the right place before investing.

Building a platform to position yourself as an expert is one of the best things you can do next.  You don’t need a degree to do this.  You publicly demonstrate mastery and add some entertainment to it.  Then spread it rapidly through technology.

Blogging can help you raise authority in a niche. Guest posting and writing articles for other popular info portals.

If you feel like you don’t have the wisdom needed yet.  Get others in the industry to give their thought and put them all together and add some of your own thoughts.  Doing this over time will have people coming to you as expert.  You are riding their coattails until you have built yourself up enough.

Online press releases can also gain you traffic and authority if it gets picked up by the right places.

Marketing

Marketing is basically letting people know about us, what problem we can solve for them, and provide them the solution as easy as possible.

Putting it All Together

Don’t be afraid to fail.  If you do think of it once and learn from it then move on.  Think about what would happen if you didn’t take action.

What would your life look like if you stay on your current career path?  Physically, mentally, and emotionally? Would you be dissatisfied, stressed, etc.?

Do you think if you are unhappy now that it will change after more years of the same?  Most likely not.

You can recover from failure.  But, you can’t recover from never trying.

Use process visualization to see the steps you are going to take in a daily effort to gather information to go after an ultimate goal.  Once a week write out a list of daily goals (3-5).  Visualize yourself taking action on those goals each day.  Once you know where you can go and have enough information you can work on outcome visualization.

But, continue to do both types.

You may take a short term hit on income, but think about the long term of finding a career that fills you up instead of drains you.

The best option for many people is testing and building your idea on the side while you stay at your job.  Although there still may come a point will you will have to make the jump. For example kona joe coffee.  It took Joe 20 years of being a doctor and playing around with the coffee business to realize he could improve someones life in a more stress free and fun way. And finally made the jump.

It can be much smarter to look at this process as a small build rather than try and make the change overnight.  But, realize that you are capping the potential of that side business and it may need your full time devotion to really take off and be a success.

No one else can stand in your shoes and know your dreams, fears, and take actions. You are the one responsible for your dreams and no one else.

Ask yourself, “Will this career choice let me spend the greatest amount of time absorbed in activities and relationships that make me come alive, while earning the living I need to live?”.

Hellen Keller – “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

What are you waiting for?

Linchpin – Seth Godin

“The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people deeply care about.”

This book is different. It’s about a choice and it’s about your life. it challenges you to rethink how you do your job.

Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters.  Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you have achieved your potential.

You have brilliance in you, your contribution is valuable, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must. I’m hoping you’ll stand up and choose to make a difference.”

I thought Linchpin was just for someone in a cubicle looking to find ways to get up the corporate ladder faster.

Man was I wrong.

The lessons and information can be applied universally across many work situations and life itself.

To me.. another Seth Godin slam dunk.

Linchpin Notes/Nuggets of Wisdom:

  • The world has changed and companies are headed in a direction of hiring you to a faceless cog in their machine (business) for as cheap as possible.
  • School prepared you for this scam.
  • Most people are afraid to chart their own path and want to be told what to do out of fear. Fear of standing out, or up for something.  This economy is punishing the fearful and rewarding the bold artists. You need to ship your art even if it isn’t perfect or finished completely.
  • Organizations are trying to high a high percentage of easily replaceable laborers. Workers that are competent, obedient, and as cheap as possible.The danger in this is that one cog that doesn’t care about the company can destroy a companies brand.  Think Youtube videos of the kids making Domino’s pizza.
  • Making jobs (even white collar ones) obsolete by replacing them with machines and outsourcing their jobs to cheaper labor in other countries like China and India.
  • If all things (businesses are equal) the customer will pick the cheapest one. They have less time to make a choice than any other time in history.
  • Unions tried to fight back against becoming a commodity by collective action, but every union worker is the same as one another and it’s no different.
  • It’ unprofitable to establish a career around just doing what the manual says.
  • There is a choice not to become a cog, you can choose to chart your own path. You’re a unique human being with something to say/do.
  • Don’t let the lizard brain keep you average and safe. Just putting your head down, doing your work, and hoping to get picked.
  • Be fearless, but not reckless.  Feel the fear, acknowledge is and do it anyway.
  • You can actually enjoy what you do.  And in the process make a difference to your co-workers, customers, and release the genius in you.
  • “A genius is someone who looks at something that others are stuck on and gets the world unstuck.”
  • Companies can succeed by giving workers a platform to be a linchpin, faster service, more human and remarkable. Instead of cheaper, standard, good, ordinary.
  • Becoming a linchpin is connecting, innovation, creating order out of chaos, connecting people and ideas, embracing a lack of structure to find new working paths, being generous, doing more than required, caring, original, creative, passionate, rare, solving problems that other people haven’t predicted, in a league of their own, and making a difference in other peoples lives.
  • This is a skill that with daily practice of gift giving, making art, and human connections in a linchpin type manner you will become more and more indispensable.
  • Be an artist.  Give gifts.
  • Chart your own path and do not try to copy someone else’s.  That is not art.
  • Having a face to face connection to others is the best form of human connection.
  • You no longer need the factory.  The means of production today can be had with a laptop and a internet connection.
  • Linchpins world view says that exceptional insights, generosity, and productivity make markets bigger and more efficient.
  • Being an expert in your field allows you to know the status quo better and gives you insight to reinvent what everyone else assumes is true.
  • Emotional labor is the hard work you do to create art. It involves having vision and doing something about what you see. Making choices.
  • Emotional labor is rarely held as a competitive advantage. But it is available to all of us.
  • Your job can be a platform for expression, generosity, and art. Every interaction with a customer, or coworker is an opportunity to practice this art.
  • Challenge structure, expectation, and the status quo.
  • Troubleshooting is an art. A gift from the person with the trouble and the person solving it when everyone else has given up.  Putting himself on the line, and giving energy to the cause at hand.
  • ” If it wasn’t a mystery, it would be easy. If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth much.
  • Good isn’t good because its not remarkable and perfect isn’t good because you can’t get better than perfect. You want nonlinear, remarkable, game changing, artistic.
  • Optimism is the change agent artists need, because is allows them to believe they can make things better.
  • Transferring your passion to you job is a lot easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.
  • Being good with people is a form of art.
  • All you have to sell is relationships. You can never always be the lowest priced. But you can change someone, connect with them, or make a difference in their life. (How to Win Friends and Influence People, would be a good read to learn more about this)
  • Creativity – Personal, original, unexpected, and useful.
  • Unique Creativity – Focused and insightful with domain knowledge, position of trust, and generosity to contribute. Most important is delivering unique creativity and shipping.
  • If you are not the best in the world at your unique talent its not real.  You need to develop other attributes, or get a lot better at it.
  • Your job is to make something happen by making your own map since you know your subject so deeply, and leading.
  • The act of deciding is the act of succeeding.

The Hierarchy of Value

  1. Lift
  2. Hunt
  3. Grow
  4. Produce
  5. Sell
  6. Connect
  7. Create/Invent

Tons of people can do the low level work, but rare is the person creating and inventing.

Example of value creation.

Think of France and the hand made Louis Vuitton bags, the Hermes handmade saddles, wine makers, etc.  They embraced custom and hand made.  ”Made in France? came to mean something that “Made in China” doesn’t.  Mechanizing and cheapening the process would make it easy to copy.

They relied on humanity which made it hard work which was scarce. Scarcity creates value.

Worth noting is the Purple Cow argument.  In the past companies made average products, and interrupted us in hopes we would buy.  But, we have stopped buying.  The only way to grow now is to stand out by creating something that people are happy to talk about to others.  Treating people with respect and letting word of mouth grow your business.

People don’t talk about things that are the same as everything else.  They talk about things that are different. An organization that is built around creating interactions that people deeply care about.

Consumers will say they just want the cheapest price for a commodity.  Although if they had the choice Seth thinks they would choose art.  Seeking out products and experiences that deliver more value, connection, experience, and change people for the better. Which is a learned skill set that you can learn how to do.

In a world that loves to race to the bottom the only way to win the race is to race to the top and stop playing by their rules.  You can’t out Amazon, Amazon.

Going to the top requires an organization to become more human, remarkable, faster, and has a personal connection with its customers. You then hire and develop linchpin workers by giving them freedom, responsibility, and respect using their own best judgement you have an indispensable company that people love. Workers will rise to unseen levels and customers will be delighted.

What a School Should Teach

“We teach people to take initiative and become remarkable artists, to question the status quo, and to interact with transparency.  And our graduates understand that consumption is not the answer to social problems.”

Schools need to teach people to produce innovative work, deep insights, and art.

Schools teach fear.  Fear to not fit in, fail tests, obey authority, show up everyday, don’t ask questions, memorization is important,  fear of not getting into college, etc. It’s not necessarily the schools fault.  Thats just how the system is setup.

Often being good at school doesn’t mean you will be good at your job.

The opportunity is changing the game.  Changing the interaction all the way down to chaining the question.

Schools need to be teaching people to:

  1. Lead ( be socially smart, open to connection, understand how to build a tribe)
  2. Solve interesting problems ( not to memorize dates, but questions like “what should I do next?”

Seek out new interesting problems at the one you are working on is solved.  And take on harder and more interesting problems as you go.

Law of Linchpins and Leverage

Capitalist need workers who will work for less than the value they create. They difference of what they are paid and what the company takes in is the profit.

The law of a linchpin leverage states: The more value you create in your job, the fewer clock minutes of labor you actually spend creating that value. Most of the time you will be doing what ordinary workers do, but you will also create brilliance in tiny bursts.

Its art, insight and bravery of creating something valuable that is rewarded.

There is no security in mediocrity.  Being only slightly better than the next person is insufficient.  It will wear you out.

Being worn out and exhausted makes it tough to do the work at the same time.  The insecurity of your job wears you out of the confidence and energy that you need to do your job.

Does Every Company Need Linchpins?

Some companies and industries really do not need linchpins.  Organizations that are monopolistic, static, safe, cost sensitive, and centralized should hire drones as cheaply as possible.

Cheap drones can be scaled, replaces, and disrespected.

This strategy is fine, but it is unlikely to lead to customer loyalty.

Also if you’re looking for a job, why would you want to work for a company like this?

If they are saying “You’e a cog, you’re replaceable, there’s someone coming in right behind you.  Hey, we don’t even have to meet you!” its time for change.  Move on and find a company that will let you become a linchpin. Don’t play the game if it is designed for you to lose. Play a different one. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to become a linchpin, or it is unlikely you will never get it.

If your boss won’t raise the bar, you should. The linchpin says “I don’t want a job that a non-linchpin could get”.

Don’t sell yourself so cheaply.  Giving away a day of your life for a few bucks.  When you are selling your time for money you cease to be an artist that you could be.

A days work is your chance to do art, to create a gift, to do something that matters.

Find a new solution to a problem that has caused others to quit. The art, genius, is to reimagine the opportunity and find a new way to lean into the problem.

As your art gets better and more important, demand for it will go up.  You can then be choosier to who you give it to.

When at the end of a day the day’s work doesn’t equal a days pay, that means that at the end of the day a bond is built. You have given a gift that has been received, and people are drawn closer to you.

There are three situations where an organization will embrace and reward someone with a depth of knowledge:

  1. The knowledge is needed very quickly and bringing in an outside source is risky, or time consuming.
  2. Knowledge is needed on a consistent basis and the cost of bringing someone from the outside in is too high.
  3. Knowledge is used in decision making and internal credibility and organizational knowledge go hand in hand with knowing the right answer.

It’s better to build a team that knows what to do.  Rather than waiting around waiting to be told what to do.

The future of an organization depends on motivated human beings selflessly contributing gifts of emotional labor.  The danger is trying to measure and improve this. It needs to happen organically.

Ruthlessly limit the number of people needed to coordinate a project, and have a linchpin run it.

 Resumes

If you are a linchpin you don’t need a resume.  It will just give the employer what they need to reject you. They just scan for keywords to fit into the cog profile.

What should you have instead?

  • Great letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects
  • A project they can see or touch/experience
  • A insightful and compelling blog

If you don’t have anything like this, what makes you remarkable?  You may just be brainwashed into compliance.

Great world class jobs don’t get filled by people sending in resumes. Projects are the new resumes.

 The Gift of Emotional Labor

The gift is to the giver, and comes back to him..” – Walt Whitman

When you give something away you benefit more than the recipient does.  It makes you rich beyond measure.  Successful people race everyday to give away their expertise and spread their ideas.

You will benefit from emotional work.  Not just your company, but yourself. There is great reward in making someone smile, connecting to a human, being creative, taking initiative, putting on a show, or being surprising.  You won’t necessarily get more money for it though.  You are after the intrinsic reward.

Art = Anything that is passionate, creative, and personal. Its a personal gift that changes the viewer.  The more it changes someone the more effective it is.

Art is original and human through the work of emotional labor. It’s a gift and you can’t do it for the money.

The most visceral art is face to face, one on one with the artist and viewer.  Its also in the interaction and what you do.

Causing someone to change their mind is an art.  What if you were great at it?

Art challenges the status quo through something new and unique. It is taking a risk and doing something through emotional labor that is difficult.

Making a connection that is not in your job description is a gift. It is being open.

Gifts allow you to make art.  Given with no reciprocity in mind is key.  You can give gifts in anything you do in life and create art.  Even though you need to push down your selfish impulses, the gift is still for you as well as the recipient.

A gift brings tribe members closer together. A gift can make you indispensable. The best kind of gifts are art.

The reason giving a gift makes you feel uncomfortable should make you want to find out why.

Generosity generates income.

The lack of money being made in a transaction brings the two parties together and creates a community or tribe.  A bond is created.  And the giver usually comes out ahead.

When art is created with the sole purpose to be sold it becomes a commodity. Think of people charging for smiles.

Giving a gift is about the joy it brings. Its not about what one gets from the gift. Although in the future you may get something back in the form of a true gift from someone else.  It will make you like giving the gift even more.

The only way to successfully live in this world is to give a genuine gift.

Passion

“Passion is a desire, insistence, and willingness to give a gift. I will not feel complete until I give a gift.“. It’s an insistence on doing important work.  Even in the face of people not accepting your gift you still need to push forward with relentless to make a difference, solve a problem, and create change that would help people.  Chose to make a difference instead of following a manual.

You may need to give up parts of your art in order for it to spread and make a difference.  While still having enough passion about it to not let go of the parts that truly matter. There is a middle ground that needs to be taken sometimes.

“Wait! Are You Saying That I Have to Stop Following Instructions and Start Being an Artist? Someone Who Dreams Up New Ideas and Makes Them Real? Someone Who Finds New Ways to Interact, New Pathways to Deliver Emotion, New Ways to Connect? Someone Who Acts Like a Human? Me?

Yes”

Art has made its way into so many common items in our lives.  Think about the iPhone and how its design and function transform millions of people.  It is now in all industries and most products.

The reason to choose creating art as a path is because now it is the path to security.

For example, look at corporate layoffs.  The people who can be outsourced or easily replaced are laid off.  The safest job belongs to the artist.

Passion isn’t project specific.  Some get their sense of self from acting passionate.  Your challenge may not be finding a better job or boss, but getting in touch with what it means to be passionate.

Making things happen is what passionate people do.

When someone is a linchpin they combine art and passion.

Art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. You take personal responsibility, challenge the status quo, and change people.

Can Your Work Become Your Art?

What needs to change to allow you to create art during the time you spend at work? Creating connections, giving gifts, inventing, and finding joy? In every job there is a way to create art.

The job is not the work.  What you do with your soul and heart is the work.

Can you expand the same amount of emotional energy on the job as you do off it?

Marketing

In the past marketing was thought of as a scalable, predictable, measured way of reaching an audience.  Urging people to buy with discounts and coupons through as big of distribution as possible (read to interrupt as many people as the company could afford).  But, it is really the job of an artist.

Marketing is changing people through your work.  Seeing things as they are, and then creating pictures, stories, and interactions that change the marketplace.

Successful marketing isn’t learned by following what is laid out in a book. You won’t get great growth by following a spreadsheet that everyone else is using as well.

If it is easy to quantify, it’s worth less.

Case study – Jones Soda. The owner doesn’t care what any other companies do. He just does what he needs to do and does it in a unique way.  Putting customers pictures on the bottles, weird flavors, sayings, etc.  Jones peaked in value at 300 million.

This sort of an artist work can be done with virtually any product.  Even Tofu.

To dive more deeply into branding and marketing, Seth’s book called All Marketers Are Liars / Tell Stories is a great read. [Add link here once I complete notes on that book.]

You’re not born to do a certain kind of art. You can do all kinds of art.  Writing a blog, the way you interact with a person, a different way to use technology.. its all art.

Focus on an audience that you choose, and listen to them, and exclude others.  Make this sort of customer happy.  Forgetting about the people who don’t like what you are doing.

Just do something awesome. Its easy to get caught up in the crowd that wants to keep you like everyone else.

Think – What do I want? What do I want to see in the world?  And then create that.

The moment when someone wants someone to pay them to do something, or a boss to tell them what to do they are no longer creating art.  They are a person taking orders. Their job is to please their boss.  They lose the goal of changing their customer. When someone is in control of your outputs and movements you are a cog and apart of their system.  You’re not an artist.

Customers don’t care how hard you worked on something.  They care about themselves and if a product, service, or interaction changed them for the better.

This is why emotional labor is so much more valuable than physical labor. The emotional labor is what changes someone. People care about that.

Art is not created outside of a box with no rules. Because then you have nothing to react against. You can’t ship if you are too far outside of the box. You need to think along the edges of a box. Thats where things get done, an audience is, and the means for production is that can make an impact.

“the greets shortage in out society is an instinct to produce. To create solutions and hustle them out the door. To touch the humanity inside and connect to the humans in the marketplace.”

 Resistance and the Lizard Brain

The lizard brain only wants you to be safe and eat.  Fit in to the tribe for survival. It’s the reason your scared and not doing art right now. Why you’re not shipping.

Its the source of resistance. It wants you to shut up, sit down, and do your day job.

Your genius is where great insights, ideas, love, connection, and kindness come from.  Resistance keeps this part of us squandered.  It lives in the lizard brain.

You need to allow your genius from within to flourish.

Anguish will be in you if there is conflict between your ideas and the outside world.  The gap between the lizard brain wanting to be safe, and your genius wanting to speak out to the world.

Every time you take orders, and not create the manual yourself you are surrendering to resistance.

Resistance is really good at rationalization to keep you from doing things.  It is a constant daily battle.  Creating conflict on what needs to be done and what feels good. This is why people who know smoking is killing them continue to smoke.  The lizard brain is winning and they have no training to beat it.

The trick is to create an environment where the lizard brain sleeps.  Create new patterns and habits that controls the lizard brain.

This is likely why most people procrastinate.  They need the adrenaline, and sense of urgency of the deadline to push them to deal with the fear.  They can’t deal with the fear of completion until the fear of failure is greater.

Public speaking is the number one thing the lizard brain is scared of.  It will get you noticed and have massive eye contact. You could get criticized.

You can’t really reason with the lizard brain.  It is very difficult to change.  The best option is to invest in systems that help weaken resistance.

The voice in your head is often the lizard brain trying to teach your genius a lesson. It will often tell you that you are not good enough.  It’s afraid of being more productive so that you will actually have to ship. When you hear this in your head you have to not listen to it.  Stop doing the tasks to waste time and avoiding shipping.

Resistances main worry is that you might fail. In reality you will fail.  Probably a lot of times.  You need to embrace it as a learning experience.

You become a winner because you become good at losing.  You learn what doesn’t work each time and it brings you closer to what does work.

Don’t give up.

The people who seek out discomfort are the ones that make a difference.  Discomfort means something is changing and others are unlikely to do it.  Because they are busy hiding due to giving in to their lizard brain.

When you have a great backup plan.. you end up settling for the backup. When you say “I will try” instead of “I will” you let the lizard brain in and most likely he is going to win. The backup is a sabotage waiting to happen. You start to ask why you should take the risk when there is a comfortable backup plan.

People who succeed normally have nothing to lose, and no backup plan.

If you’re not willing to have bad ideas, you will never have good ones.  Every creative person will have a ton of bad ideas to every good one.  Keep creating bad ideas, and eventually some good ones will pop up.

You need to accept that you are a genius.  And recognize that voice in your head trying to squash it.  You are as capable as the next guy of inventing, great insights, and making a connection that makes a difference.

When you allow resistance to win and follow the rules your value goes down.  Because others are simply following the rules as well and you are easily replaceable.

“Well-paying employment requires that workers possess unique skills, abilities, and knowledge.  It also requires that the labor must be non-commoditized.  Most journalists share the same skill sets and the same approaches to stories, seek out the same sources, ask similar questions, and produce relatively similar stories.. The result is extraordinary sameness and minimal differentiation. ”

Doing more of the same things you were doing is not the answer.  You need to throw out the rule book and do things differently.  To do so requires facing resistance.

Temptation to kill the new things is because the new things might work.

Living without a map is scary.  The fear makes us follow someone else’s map, because if it was wrong it wasn’t our map.

Effort and planning are two tools to beat resistance before it beats you.

There are many books and classes that can help you reach your goals.  Although the failure rate of people that use them is very high.  Why? Resistance is stronger.

When resistance tells you not to do something, listen, read, attend, etc.  GO! Just do it.  Any route you take that doesn’t lead to success is the result of resistance.

Say what the lizard brain is doing out loud and it may help quiet it.

Whatever way the resistance is coming from is the way to go.  Head straight into it.  The closer you get to a break through the tougher resistance will fight you.  Do what your lizard brain is afraid of.  The thing you need to do is what the resistance wants to stop you from.

The goal is to quit the tasks you are doing because you are hiding.  Due to the lizard brain. Quit and push through what the lizard brain fears.

If art that you are going to create isn’t worth the effort you need to dream bigger.

People with great ideas are no good if you give in to resistance and don’t continue to fight it.  If you embrace the challenge you will have results and make a difference.

Refuse to do any sort of busywork like check email, and twitter. Don’t distract yourself with anything but your work.

It’s that race to completion after an idea is born that makes all the difference.

Get used to the feeling of resistance and don’t let it control you.  Don’t try and immediately get rid of it by eating that food, etc.  Just let it sit there and reality will show you that it wasn’t needed.  And you will stop worrying about things that cause anxiety.

Don’t scratch the itch. Don’t run from it or bargain with it.  Stay put. If the challenge is important enough you must overcome resistance.  Don’t keep going back for forth fleeing.  You must stay and sit with it. When the lizard knows you won’t back down it will back down.  You will then get control back.

Unchecked anxiety is the biggest barrier to your goals and yourself.

To launch a project successfully you want to sketch out the entire thing ahead of time.  Do all your changing ahead of time with a written deadline.  Then, you get the approvals you need and feedback. Start working and finish it.

Setup a system where you are playing the game you want to play.

Example – Grateful Dead didn’t want a gold record, their music on the radio, etc.  Their system was resistance proof because it allowed them to avoid having a judge and jury for their work.  They only played with people they liked, and enjoyed.  This didn’t alert the lizard brain.  This art can then be leveraged into more art.

Build a habit of writing things down, prioritizing the ideas, building them, and shipping it. Start now, today, and ship.

 Map Making

We must forge our own path and make our own map in this economy.

The first step is seeing the world as it is.  Keeping in mind our own world view and approaching reality with as little bias as possible.  You need to accept that people are difficult to change, and embrace their uniqueness that they bring to the table.  If you can do that you will go through the world with more bliss and effectiveness. While making better decisions.

It’s good to know that there are certain things that you are just not going to change. It maybe can’t be changed and may hurt your own goals in the process.

Accept the world as it is, and don’t be attached to any outcome, or how you want it to be.

Scarcity creates value. It is scarce to accept things the way they are, and then take action and work to change it for the better.

Successful people can take the past and future and put them together into something manageable.

The truth is that there can be no map.  If there was it wouldn’t be art.

Making the Choice

Sometime you don’t need to find a new job to get a new one.  Just stand up and start looking for more opportunities to lead, put yourself on the line, push through the dip and make things happen.

You have a choice to fit in, or stand out. You can’t do both.

If you give your boss the gift of art, initiative, insight, or connection they will be less likely to shop around and replace the commodity (you).

If your organization can’t live without a map, and you can’t change it, should you leave?

Find a boss that can’t live without a linchpin.  Who values your contribution, and will reward you with freedom and respect. Do the work and make a difference.

Every day is a new chance to choose.

You can choose to respect everyone, have dignity, and give the gift of art. Open yourself up to feedback on your art to help it spread. Focus on the constructive criticism.

If it doesn’t work and you are not changing anyone keep giving gifts.  Make more art and keep learning from it.  The only other option is becoming a cog again.

If you work for a company that insists that you be mediocre and conform, why stay there?  What are you building? It won’t be any challenge, or joy there.  Your skills are not increasing.  Your market value will actually be decreasing.

If you try to monetize your art and that thing you love to do most likely you will corrupt it.  Its important to do your art with no regard to money.

Doing what you love is important as ever.  If making a living at it needed.  The niche you choose should already have money flowing around and if you are successful will have money flowing to you. Loving what you do is almost equal to doing what you love.

The goal is to find a job, career, or business you can fall in love with.

If you choose wisely you can end up loving what you do to make money. If needed take a day job that allows you to do your art for free.  If you find your art is not paying the bills.  Just keep doing it, and you may find money starting to come in after that shift.

“What you’re doing might not be working, and you might not be able to do what you’re doing and get paid for it.  But I am certain that if you give enough, to the right people in the right way, your gifts will be treasured and your journey will be rewarded. Even if that’s not why you’re doing it.”

You can choose to change everything if you want to. You’re a genius and the world needs your contribution. Anyone that can overcome the voice in their head and has the insight to make the right map can become a successful linchpin.

Art will feed us, enrich, and gives us the security that we have lost.

Flaw in 80/20 Business

While reading Seth Godin’s book Linchpin.  He makes the case that Richard Branson only does about 5 minutes of highly valuable work a day.  The rest is spent doing work that just about anyone can do.

I found this to fly in the face of recent 80/20 teachers saying to keep whittling work down to where you are spending your whole day doing only highly valuable work. Outsource the low levels tasks.

While in theory this makes sense.

But, in reality I am coming to believe its not possible to do that highly valuable work constantly all day, everyday.  Time spend on regular tasks helps the mind and allows you not to rely so much on other people to get work done.

Meaningful Work

This article will be a living document that I will change/update as my philosophy develops more fully.

Meaningful work isn’t:

  • Depersonalized / faceless
  • Repetitive
  • Easily scaled
  • Minimal skills and effort
  • Someone else tells you exactly what to do through planning, controlling, and measuring
  • Outsourcing
  • Automated
  • Favors fast and cheap
  • Interchangeable work force
  • Lack of joy
  • Selling your time for money

Meaningful work is:

  • Having a close human connection (face to face) to the customer
  • Getting into a flow stay and achieving mindfulness when executing the work
  • A feeling of contributing to the greater good of a community
  • Can be found abundantly in building and fixing things
  • In service to an activity you feel is apart of a life well lived (these people have it figured out)
  • Striving for excellence
  • Working with great people and group culture
  • Ability to create – self directed
  • Remarkable
  • People deeply care about
  • Rare and valuable
  • Demands high skill level and experience
  • Transformation / development
  • Innovation/game changing
  • Art – Passionate, original, creative, and personal that challenges the status quo and changes the recipient
  • Joyful
  • Over-delivering