Episode 128- The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid

I should’ve known early on that I will be on a crazy ride workwise from the very beginning because the first real job I ever had was at a bus boy at the North Hills country club in Long Island New York. It was 1987, so I must’ve been 14 maybe 15 years old and I actually had to dress up and wear like black pants and a white shirt and the whole thing was incredibly uncomfortable and I was scared out of my mind that I was gonna do make mistakes. You know, at that moment where you have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea who you’re working with and you’re just a kid. I am not even having insurance because of child labor laws or if you get even a real job at that age. I was 14-years-old ad I was looking at a different work and it’s definitely tighter than what used to be. 

So, I get this job at North Hill country club and the first night that I’m in a work, it’s either Friday or Saturday, I can’t remember what was and the whole thing seemed intense and you would think that they would tell me what the event was that were working but for some reason they didn’t. Not that it matters to the lowly busboy. I went from playing with baseball cards and wrestling action figures to all of a sudden being in this beautiful venue and all these people dressed to the nines and just as intense serious but yet fun atmosphere. It turned out that the first night that I worked at my first real job was for the wedding of the karate kid Ralph Maggio. Maggio, I remember even from elementary schools from the Outsiders and then I think he was in the karate kid ready at that point, so he was a big star, but he still looked like a kid. So that night is kind of a blur to me because not only was I trying to learn the ropes of this job but the intensity and the pressure of that night just seemed overwhelming to me. It wasn’t until later in the evening when my nerves settled in trying to figure this job out that I even realize what was going on and that it was actually his wedding. 

So aside for a brief peek into the reception area where Maggio was dancing with his new wife, I didn’t see any of the wedding. So that night came and went as little footnote in history for me but the only two things I remember about the North Hills country club is A it was my first job and was Maggio’s wedding and B that I got fired and it would not be the first time. But that wouldn’t turn out to be something that was uncommon as I wind out getting fired in an assorted variety of jobs going forward. This was just the first. I got fired in the North Hills country club for being late to often. I got from the Record World factory and warehouse for stealing which I talked about in the past episode when I got arrested. I was fired from one job on the very first day of employment. I don’t even remember the story. I don’t remember the situation. I just remember the boss looking at me and telling me to go home and that he didn’t want me around anymore after one day But I remember the last time that I got fired and how it comes full circle with the first time I got fired. 

So, I was working in some furniture store in Port Washington, New York. It was in the shopping center called the Miracle Mile. If you are Billy Joel fan at all, he made it famous in the song It Still Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me where he talked about in the miracle mile. That’s what that was about. it was an empty job. It was a nothing job. I’m not sure why worked there aside from just needing money. So, at this point in my life, I can’t tell you how a different job that had, I’d quit, I’ve been fired from. I dropped in and out of college. This must’ve been 1992 or 1993 and ironically Ralph Maggio come back into my life a little bit because he decided to act in a movie called My Cousin Vinny. As much as I love the movie, I hated the movie because every time I see my cousins, it was the big joke. Every single time, it took years for them to get out of their system. When they got to introduce guess who? Their cousin Vinny. It was a great movie so I’d rather have that happen on a great movie that a crappy movie.

I’m working in this job and it was right before I can have my epiphany about what am I doing with my life and I want to do something I really want to do. I want to do something significant. I want to not keep being a waste of life. This is probably the epicenter of me being a waste of life. I’m at this job and I feel bad looking back, even on my bosses because I was such a pain. I was sarcastic. I was probably insubordinate. I didn’t follow directions well and I really think I look back in a job and I remember the girls that I worked with and just trying to impress them all the time and just try to be funny and try to learn how to be witty. I remember this job and I remember being fired because it was one of the most public firings that I had, not quite to the level when I got arrested but this was second in line. 

So, the situation was we were putting together these cabinets for the furniture store. There was about eight of us and I’m not sure what I need so many of us and I don’t think I was the only useless there because we’re all having a great time and being silly. But I believe there were these two girls that I was trying to get the attention of. Like the eight-year-old that does not know how to get the girls attention in a good way, they went on and bonk themselves on the head or doing something silly and that’s what I decide to do here because they realize that in this piece of furniture, it was a television entertainment center that have the cardboard backing that was nailed on slightly. So, a couple of the guys decide meticulously to try to pry it apart and get it out. But I had a much better idea. I figured why don’t we kick it out. As I think back on it, nobody thought it was the craziest idea in the world. We are a fun crew that went out to lunch together all time and it probably was the most fun job I’ve had up until that point. 

So, I decided the best idea would be to take a running start, leap in and kick the plywood or cardboard and knock it out from the front. And they all thought what a great idea to. So, they held the thing in place while I went running down the stairs across the showroom. I leapt in the air and I kicked the thing and it didn’t break. The place was empty except for us so we kind of do whatever we wanted. So, while I laid on the ground I was met with howls of laughter because of the response that I’m gonna try again. Now the anticipation is building, they cheer me on and I go a couple steps up on the staircase. I come running down and as fast as I could, I jumped in the air and with the best kick I’ve ever done, I blasted right into that plywood, I busted the back of it out. But this time there was no cheering and there was no laughter. All I heard was a booming voice and it was my boss. My boss, he was nowhere to be found until that very moment and all I heard were five words. “Hey karate kid, you’re fired!’ I gobble off the ground. I looked at my friends and I kind of smiled and smirked because I really didn’t care that I was fired because I think if I did, I would’ve done something so stupid. But those girls that I was trying to impress, they smiled and laughed and the guys I was working with smiled to, I grab my stuff and I left and I never saw any of them again. It was quite surprisingly the last time I been fired from a traditional job. 

I think back on it and I think back to really how unimportant all that was. How stupid as I was, how it’s really all just beginning and starting that age. I heard Dan Miller of 48 Days said, which is to the effect of “do whatever you want until your 40. Have fun. Try different things and when you’re 40 and you have experience then figure something out.” Now I’m paraphrasing there what he says but it something to that effect that we need to learn and figure things out as we’re growing and to not put too much pressure on a career and success in such a young age. Because I get interviewed on podcast all the time about how we figure this out and I think it was such a blessing in a lot of ways that I was such a screwup at such a young age because it allowed me to try so many different things and to fail at some different things, to get fired for a variety of different reasons and to realize kind of what not to do. But if I had to always play it so straight and be perfect and not make mistakes, I don’t think I’ll develop this intuitiveness to learn how to fight through things and to learn what mistakes to make and which ones not to make. And I really believe that getting fired so early and so often when I didn’t know what I was doing, allows me to get fired so less later on when I feel like I do know what I’m doing. I just wish that Ralph Maggio was there so he can see my crane kick when I drop that piece of wood the way that he dropped Johnny Lawrence in the karate kid. 

I will be back with you tomorrow!

Episode 127- The First Time I Knew I Had To Quit My Job

The First Time I Knew I Had To Quit My Job

The gig economy, this freelance world is real. There are podcasts, blogs, businesses being built daily around the notion of the gig economy and leaving your job to be able to do what you really want to do, control your time and control your money. Like we say, live life on your terms. But it’s amazing what the pole of a job and the pole of security can have on people because they’re so afraid to leave something that’s comfortable for something that’s uncomfortable. I want to tell you my story about the first time that I knew that I had to quit my job now. 

I talked about it in my book about when I did quit my job and the thing that push me over the edge but there was a story before that that I never told and when I realize even though I don’t have the guts to do it yet but that’s when I realized I was not going to continue doing this. I fully understand that this often comes down to your personality and what you’re comfortable with and I know my personality and what I’m comfortable with, and often they don’t line up the same with other people. If you’ve listened to this podcast long enough, you know that I kind of have to do things my way. For good or bad but that’s freedom for me. So, depending on how your personality lines up with this, mileage may vary. 

I want to tell you about the day that I knew that I had to quit and this was at the newspaper. This was when I was a newspaper photographer, a journalist and I took a lot of pride in the work I did for the paper. I was very passionate about the work and the quality that went into the photography and the stories that we told and the integrity that went into finding the stories and knowing the people that we covered. I’ll be honest, this was 2005 and we are now in 2019 and I can’t relate to the media that I see anymore. The world that you’re seeing right now in the media and all this political hype and the sensationalism and the click bait garbage that you see and they are really shallow, biased journalism, that is not what I’m talking about at all. 

To give an insight peek, when we did photo story for a small-town newspaper, we usually spent a lot of time with these people. We got to know them very well. We got to know their families. We got to know the good and the bad and we reported on this. We photograph it and it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. For us at least, there was no agenda to it aside to tell a great story and open these people to open up to the community. That being said, the journalist and the photojournalist of press, we spent a lot of time brainstorming great ideas, great stories, getting to know different people and seeing who would work and who would be a great fit. If there was a great story that wasn’t good for us individually, we will pass that along to somebody else that this might be a great story for what you might be working on. It was an incredible collaborative unit. Even though we got paid incredibly poorly there was a pride that went into that work. We went far beyond the money because nobody there works there to get rich.

So, for the first couple of years that Elizabeth and I worked there, it was almost like a photojournalist’s paradise. This oasis in the world of big companies buying up newspapers and shrinking the size, shrinking the budget, we had an editor, the man that ran the newspaper who was a former National Geographic photographer’s name is Bruce Bauman and he’s the one the hired Elizabeth and I. And he was the reason why the photographers got so much respect within the newsroom. He fought for us constantly because he knew the power of the photograph. So, he would go to bat for us for more space and more budget and for a while even though we are broke, it was kind of a dream job. Eventually our photo editor retired and a new photo editor come in. 

Even though their former photographer, they didn’t have the same vision and passion that we did. When I say we, I mean the six photographers on staff that constantly crushed it. We were winning every award you could possibly win. Our little newspaper in Evansville was beating the Indianapolis Star. We are winning National and International awards. We are making people in the photographic world say where the heck is Evansville, Indiana and why they’re having so many great photographers. That’s how strong it was getting and that’s how pride for the work that we did came from. But all of a sudden, not overnight but very quickly we realized, our passion and drive wasn’t being held in the same regard. I found it while I was bringing photo stories to my editor and  they were being shot down. I will bring up ideas and they were being cut because of budget or they’re being replaced by society type of stories that benefit the bottom line more than they benefited the community.

I found myself getting frustrated to bring these ideas and it would now be shot down consistently. At first I was just frustrated but then I eventually started questioning what I’m doing here. That’s the problem with being an employee atleast for me was what else was I gonna do. I got this thing that used to be great but now it’s good but I’m really going now to look for another job and quit and have my wife look for another job and moved to a different place, we don’t have very much money. We were kind of stuck because I didn’t have any place to go. I didn’t have an outlet for my work and it wasn’t financially viable to make me forget it. In some ways it’s a good thing because I meet way too many people that make $120,000 a year and they don’t like what they do but they allow the money to keep them going and I think that’s worse because you waste more time that way. You make excuses for why you’re still there and you stay there longer than you really should because there’s no pressure really to leave, it’s good enough.

But for me, it wasn’t good enough that I am making $32,000 year and I have no creative input, worlds are probably gonna collide and they are gonna collide soon. And they most certainly collided for me. It happened late one afternoon when I walked into my editor’s office because a photo idea that I had, a story I want to spend some time on again was shot down and up until that moment I truly believed that my skill set and my mindset towards this was appreciated. It was the reason why they wanted me to be working there. So, you might imagine the confusion of the relatively young kid who’s wondering what his purpose is and why he’s here. When the idea was shot down again, I blurted out and I said I’m just not going to bring any more ideas to you is what I said to my editor and I really saw that as a viable threat. I saw that it’s something that he’s really going to pay attention to now. if I say that if I don’t bring my ideas to him, the newspaper might not be as good. The quality might not be as good. As one of only six people on the staff, it should hold some value. So, by saying that, I truly thought I was bringing out the wildcard of you’re gonna lose something if I don’t bring these ideas to you. And when I said to him that I wasn’t to bring more ideas to him, he sat back in his chair, he leaned back, he put his arms behind his head, he kind of smirked and he said good. I said to him “Good? You don’t want to bring more ideas?” He said that’s fine, you don’t need to bring more ideas and it was at that moment that I knew I was done. It was at that moment that I realized I cannot sacrifice my time and my energy and my passion on a person or company that didn’t appreciate it. I left there bewildered. I left there confused and I left there angry. And truth be told, I start to check out because I didn’t know what to do. So even though I didn’t say it, I knew it was over. I just didn’t know how. If you read my book, that led to the moment, couple months later, after getting my best review ever, after winning international sports photographer for the year, I still got a 3% raise and that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back that allowed me to start building a business and eventually get out a job and build this life or freedom but it always predicated on that moment before. It was set in motion from my boss telling me he didn’t want my input. 

So, if you are in that moment, if you are in the job or you’re not feeling appreciated, you’re putting your heart and soul to something that doesn’t value what you do, realize there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. As Dave Ramsey says it doesn’t have to be an oncoming train. If you have that type of passion, build something for yourself because if you build it for yourself, they can’t take it away from you. Only you can. But when you build it for somebody else, they own it, they control it and if they don’t care, that’s too bad. I am just glad I followed my instincts and I got out before it was too late. So hopefully it’s an inspiration to some of you that are in that spot because I know how difficult it was for me and I know how difficult it might be for you. So, it’s a story about how I first decided that I need to leave my job and I will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 125- The 2%

The 2%

How do you handle and even think of bad reviews for your business? If you run an online business or brick-and-mortar business, online reviews have become more and more valuable and more important as time goes on. So much of us do our searching online now and granted much work that we do, like we talk about here comes from word-of-mouth, final validation often will come from reviews that we see on websites from hotels, from businesses, from restaurants. But how do you handle the ones that aren’t great?

We all know that there are bad customers. We all know that there were times that we just don’t fit between the business and the customer and I truly believe that a lot can be learned even from the bad reviews. Now we heard the old adage, the customers are always right and I don’t believe that. I think sometimes the customer is not the right customer and it’s our job as our businesses grow and mature to be able to find the right ones and repel the wrong ones because if you want to build something great that’s unique, it’s not good to be for everybody. I think so many people try so hard to please everybody that they turn off the people that really want what they do. 

So, we had a great call last week in our community and one of our master minders is Christine Hughey. She runs an incredible business called A Little Local Flavor and it is known as national best food tour. So, they do food tour in the Nashville area and the reviews are off the chart and the business is growing like mad. She did a call for us on how to get great reviews for your business and how to build a great business around reviews. It is such an interesting and important topic and we got to dive in on to the subject and really learn the ins and outs on how this works, how to do it better, how to use it to increase your business and profitability. Christine brought so much information and knowledge and experience to the call that it was such a great help. But what’s also fun about the call was when the topic got on bad reviews, how you handle it and how it affects different businesses in different ways because there are certain venues where a bad review is really harmful and can potentially harm your business and knock down the power of what you’re building. In other ways, it’s just an ego hit. 

I’ll give you my example first. I wrote a book called Freelance to Freedom about a year and a half ago and I was fortunate to get so many great reviews. It was five-star after five-star but Seth Godin said often that you haven’t made it until you have a one-star review. So, a few weeks ago my friend David Rhodes message me and said I have a one-star review on your book on Amazon. I said no, I didn’t know that. I haven’t checked the stats of the review in a while. He went on to read the review in to the effect of “I do know how this book can help me. It’s just a bunch of stories. It doesn’t help me at all.” I think David thought I might be upset by it and I was like “Yes! I finally got that one-star view. It means that I’ve made it.” So, it didn’t bother me at all. I know it’s not for everybody and I’m honestly surprised it didn’t happen sooner because my book is not for this guy or this girl. He’s obviously looking for maybe a quicker fix, a step-by-step and that’s not my book is about. I never promise that, that’s not what I set out to write. My book of stories about the struggles we went through, what we learn from it and what you can do phase by phase to take yourself from being stuck to being free, building a business and create the life you want. So, somebody can read that book and leave that review. It’s obviously not for them, at least not now. 

So, Christine was laughing when I get that reaction because I think she was surprised that I got a one-star review and I was happy about it. The conversation eventually went to what you do about the people that are obviously kind of quote unquote out there. We all deal with those. My boss when I worked at Dairy Barn years ago had a nickname for him and he would call them Pita. There was one woman that came in and she was never happy about anything. She always found something to complain about. It didn’t matter how hard you tried or what you did you go out of your way, she always complained about something. So, we would see her car pulling and we will be like, here comes Pita. I don’t curse in this podcast but Pita is Pain In The…. you fill in the A. 

We all know that if we let this stuff get to us, we can get 100 reviews in a book and one bad one and we think about the one bad one and we neglect the 99 that left great reviews which is such a terrible disservice to do your clients. Because what you’re doing is you’re focusing on the one that wasn’t right for, as opposed to the 99 that went out of their way to do something nice and to appreciate what you did. And absolutely, we should learn from those one. We should see what the valid points they have because often there is a valid point in their complaint but we do often is we obsess over it. I brought the point that I think hopefully hit home because the response was bunch of laughter but it is how we learn to deal with Pita clients. Because trust me, we’ve had our share. 

And years and years ago, I heard the stat that 2% of the population is insane. There’s 2% that are never going to get it. There’s 2% that will always complain. There’s 2%, that no matter how hard you try, it will never be good enough. So, we enacted the 2% rule when it comes to this and it’s completely eased all issues, at least in my mind when it comes to this situation. If 2% of the populations are insane then it goes to show that probably 2% of our clients might be insane. So, if you can understand that ,it might put to ease some of the stress that comes with it and it gives you parameters to go by when thinking about this kind of stuff. So instead of obsessing about those one or two bad reviews that you get out of 100 or 200, just understand that that comes with this territory. 

Now as the caveat to that, if you are getting more than that, if you’re getting more than 2% bad reviews, if you’re getting complaints that are beyond just the abnormal that aren’t just an anomaly, that’s the time to look at what you’re doing. That’s the time to look at the service that you’re providing and to really start wondering what you could be doing better, how you can improve and how you can change things to serve your clients better. I think when you understand and accept that there’s always going to be the handful out there that are just going to complain and that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just gets so much easier to deal with and it allows you to say to yourself to focus on the ones that get it and double down on those people and make sure that they are over satisfied and keep wanting to come back for more. 

And speaking of going above and beyond for their customers, if you are traveling to Nashville, one of my favorite cities, go to alittlelocalflavor.com and book a food tour from Christine and make sure you get the famous hot chicken and go experience what so many people are raving about. I can’t wait to take our group down to Nashville to do a one-day mastermind there, maybe even retreat so we could all go on the food tour together. So, check that out. Don’t let the Pitas of the world get you down and I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 124- The 24 Hour Rule

The 24-Hour Rule

One of the millions of things that I love about life is the chance that we have for constant improvement. I can say with certainty that the times and the times now that I believe I have all the answers that I know, what I need to know are the times I never grow. I did not mean to rhyme there but I’m convinced that this point that I’m going to be constantly improving and looking for ways to improve in one way or the other until I die and I know that freak some people out because some people wants to be perfect. They want to have it right, they don’t want to question themselves and they don’t want to be questioned. The way I live life and think of life is that it’s really dangerous. So, I can tell you without a doubt that the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in my life, especially my professional career, come to think of my personal life as well, has been my hot headedness in responding too quickly to things that are emotional to me. I’ve lost or damaged good or decent friendships because of my need to be right in the moment and as quickly as possible. 

I can tell you that this is the painful area for self-examination because it will be very easy to say that this is just how I’m wired. This is who I am and I can’t do anything about it and I won’t do a thing about it, take me or leave me. Trust me, I might not have said it out loud like that in my life but I’ve certainly thought that. But as I look back and I grow I learned to take a deep breath and I learn to go to my very smart, calm wife who see me through all the situations. She knows when I fly off the handle. She knows when I  overreact to things. She’s seen the damage that can come from this. And yes, I can justify that this person had a say in it and they could’ve done something different. But that truly doesn’t do anything except justify my own stagnation. I get to be in a corner losing a friendship or damaging a friendship or damaging a business opportunity or even something as simple as taking something that’s good, making it not so good, or taking something that’s great and making it okay. That all happened because of my need to be right in the moment. 

The thing about being right in the moment with something like hot headedness or ego or pride is that it truly does feel good in the moment. You feel like your point is being made and you proved something. You let this person know what they did wrong. But what I learned after enough painful experiences, each time getting a little less intense was that I won in the short term in my mind and I lost in the long term. So, I got to be right, I got to get my feelings out but I truly think by doing that I eroded trust, even a little at a time. So, Elizabeth has become a big barometer for me on this. I started to grow and instead of responding like what I immediately do, and there are often times that it gets close where I tell this, that I know this isn’t the right thing but I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to send this message or this email. I finally matured enough that I would go to her and I would say “Am I my crazy for feeling the way that I’m feeling?” And she would honestly say to me “I think you’re overreacting to this” or “I think they didn’t mean the way that it came across” or “ I think you need to just take a deep breath and wait on this.” or it’s what happens on occasion and it is rarer than usual is “I think you’re justified and you should say something.” 

Whenever she’s told me that, that’s the time that I would respond but I know I had to temper my emotions on it so it didn’t inflame the situation. So, her guidance on this has been immeasurable. If you know me close enough, you know this is one of my Achilles heels. We all have Achilles’ heel. Nobody is close to perfect and we all have the buttons that could be pushed. Now it could be that you’re way to calm and passive and occasional you do need to ruffle some feathers to make somebody take a little more seriously because they take you for granted. For me it is the exact opposite. If you do the DISC profile, if you’ve ever heard of it, last time I tested which was a while ago, I am a high D and a high I. If you are a high D or a high I, not to oversimplify, but a high D can be assertive, dominant, and they feel comfortable being in charge and a high I is kind of entertainer. But what I learned in this was very uncomfortable to learn is if you’re a high D, you learn not just what you do well but you learn what you do poorly. What I learned from doing this at a high D’s greatest fear is being taken advantage of. 

Now when I read that and I study that, there was almost some relief but there was a lot of pain in reading that because that’s always been my biggest fear and it’s always been the thing that I’ve reacted strongly to in the moment. When I felt that I’m being taken advantage of, that is when I responded the worst. Wow, was that eye-opening for me to learn about myself. But when I learned that, I realized “Oh okay this is me in my own personal craziness going on” and it really made me understand this person is not really trying to take advantage of me. Most of the time they weren’t. But to me, being my biggest fear, I perceived it that way. So, what I needed more than anything was just some patience and some time and that was a challenge for me. So, Elizabeth guided me in this a ton on how to get better at this. But another person helps me with this tremendously as well. It was a simple conversation that we had. Her name is Tricia Preuss and she’s been a wonderful part of our mastermind for a little while now. 

She told me how she goes about the situations and I’m not sure she’s dealt with what I’ve dealt with mentally with this but she said I got a 24-hour rule. I always want to be a student the best that I can so I obviously asked about what the 24-hour rule was. She said I have a rule that I don’t respond, especially online to anything emotional for 24 hours. Now I heard variations of this before but the way she said it was so clear that it really hit home for me. I got off the phone and I thought about that for a good hour about what she said. It really made me feel it was a breakthrough but uncomfortable at the same time. Because when you face your fears and you face your own demons, what you do wrong, it’s not easy to do. It’s so much easier to sweep under the rug and justify. By paying attention to what Tricia said, the 24-hour rule, I thought how many things would I have done better at? How many comments have I made in the moment, in the heat of the moment when I had to be right? when I had to get that point across? How much better would things have been and you never know how much better things would have been because I didn’t respond that way. Instead of somebody throwing up their arms with me and giving up, maybe it was a resolution that would’ve happened that would led to something great in the future. 

My past is littered with a lot of these situations. I got a lot of message about the podcast.  People would say I love how open and honest this is. I do this because I’m not here to be perfect. I’m not here to portray myself to you that I’m perfect or anywhere close to it. I’m here to open up my world, my mistakes and my lessons from it’s and maybe you can learn from it as well. They say that failure is the best teacher but in reality, other people’s failure could be the best teacher because you can learn from it without the same pain. I’m not sure if I done it to a 100% effectiveness since that conversation with Tricia but it’s been pretty close. I kind of wish I would’ve journaled the process and written down all the times I want to respond to something way quicker than I did. And how often I use that 24-hour rule to just bite my lip and wait. The truth is my emotional response may have led to a really short-term decision and there might’ve been one time out of maybe 50 in that time period that I responded 24 hours later because it was warranted, I was calm and I thought it out. 

Some of you listening to this may say that I am insane, this is so easy to do, it so easy. It’s not easy for me. At least it hasn’t been a while. Having people like my wife in my life, people like Tricia, the people that can teach you in a non-condescending way is valuable beyond belief. So, if you don’t have people in your life that do that for you, seek them out and find them because it’s worth tons. If you’re like me and you feel the way I have been talking about this episode, get the 24 hour rule a shot because it proved to me over and over again that that’s the right way to go and I was grateful for those in my life that show me my blind spots, which are many. So, thank you all. 

I will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 123- Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal

Some of you know that I been working on an ongoing book to photograph games in every stadium and arena in the United States. This is something that I have been working on since I first shot Lambeau Field in Green Bay. I think it was in 1995 which I have a pretty cool episode about coming up. So being I am not even really a professional photographer anymore, we’ve moved on from that about a year and half ago, I still want to keep shooting these games, these different stadiums and arenas. But for full disclosure, I’ve shot these less and less for the last year and 1/2 on these than ever before because I got so much other stuff going on business and family wise. It hasn’t been a top priority but it’s gonna come back. The book’s title is going to be called One Shot, I want to give you the inspiration behind the title, where it came from and why it was valuable for me and it can be valuable for you. 

A friend of mine who I have not been in great touch with the last couple years is a pivotal part in my career growing as a photographer in the 90s. He’s a guy named Ed Betz. Now Ed and I met as friends and as competitors at the same time. See in 1996 or 1997,  I was a struggling freelancer trying to get assignments from Newsday, New York, and I’ve interned there for about six months. I got hired as a freelancer but it was kind of a cutthroat dog-eat-dog world. You need to be available when they called and there was nothing guaranteed. The money wasn’t great but I was doing what I love to do and I would always be available when they needed me. Not long after I started, this guy Ed came in. Ed was very positive. He had a great personality and he is also a businessman. He ran a couple different businesses but he loved shooting sports. So, he had better gear than I did and he always made himself available when assignment came along. He became a competition but he actually became a better friend. 

It’s kind of a weird combination when you’re competing with some before work and you’re trying to live and survive but at the same time it is one of your closest friends. So, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been on an assignment or eating lunch together. I get a call and I get a job or he get a call and he get the job, there are always things were both competing for. Ed taught me so much about consistency, about being reliable, about having the right attitude, about how to think like this like a business and not just some artist taking pictures. I owe so much about early development in this career to what Ed taught me from his own business experiences and his life experience. Overtime, Ed opened me up to so many different experiences of the photography world that I never would’ve gotten if I look at him like a competitor and not as being my friend. 

I told the story in my book about the patient and persistent story on how I got to the Associated Press in New York City and the challenge only came about because Ed got into the AP a couple months earlier and he started putting my name in to Jonathan Elmer and to the other guys in the AP’s and said “you should look at this guy as well.” That’s the only reason why the door was even open to begin with. 

So, l lived at the Nassau County and Ed lived on Suffolk County on Long Island and I would always go out there and hang out with him. We would shoot assignments on our own, we would get lunch and talked business and photography, mostly photography because I knew nothing about business. But I remember clearly a conversation that we had. My memory is foggy so I have a feeling that he owned the restaurant or he was part owners of the restaurant. We just love this restaurant very much but it was an Italian place that we always went to it and he always picked up the tab. This is probably 1997 or it might have been 1998, I was considering if I was going back to school for journalism because I learned that Newsday was never going to hire me as a full-time photographer since I never finish my degree. I thought it was the silliest argument because I was a good enough shooter, I’m hard-working enough, why do I need a degree? 

Chuck Bennett, who was my sports editor told me that I got to leave New York and do it somewhere else for them to take you seriously here. He highly recommends me to be going away getting my degree in communications and then think about coming back. Chuck recommended that I go to Ohio University in Athens because that’s the program was best suited for what I wanted to do but I was hedging a lot on leaving and going back to college. I remember being in this restaurant and we’re having lunch. I love Ed because he was opinionated, he didn’t hold back and he said exactly what he was thinking and I appreciated that. It was a time where I was really just kind of hedging my bets, taking my time, overthinking things and confusing things but what I really was doing was procrastinating because I was scared. He said, something that changed the way that I thought and I truly believe that from that moment on, my moments of hesitation on big things that I wanted to do had gone away. I can’t save every moment since then but the percentages on the chances that I wanted to take with things that I really want to do have gone up exponentially since this conversation. He looked at me and he said “you know life is not a dress rehearsal. People pretend like life is a dress rehearsal. I am just going through this life and take my time, I am not really gonna do what I want to do, other people tell me to do and maybe at some other time I’ll do what I want to do.” He looked at me and clear as day I can still remember sitting there and he goes “You’ve only got one shot. Are you gonna do what you want to do or not?” and I decided that afternoon, I was going to the drive to Athens, Ohio the following week, check out the campus and meet professors. I did just that and I loved it. It was a two-year experience which is one of the greatest in my life. I met Elizabeth, my wife there. I won The William Hearst National Championship as a top college photographer while I was there and it was a catapult to an incredible career. 

I’m not sure that I would’ve done it if I didn’t talk to Ed that afternoon. Just a point about Ed’s intuition. Ed had seen me through a lot ,through my 20s, my roaring 20s were pretty crazy and he’d see me date a whole bunch of people, in a bunch of different relationships. Ed was married with kids. He had a lot more experience and he would caution me through a lot of my decisions. When I got the school and I still talk to Ed on the phone a bunch, I told him about when I’ve met Elizabeth. I didn’t mean to do it but he noticed that my phone call to him started going down un terms of frequency because she and I were pretty much inseparable from the day that we met. It was early in the relationship, he called me up and he said “you know something I’ve never met this girl but you’re gonna marry her.” I was like “what?” I did not even think about marriage, not even thought in terms of a serious relationship yet but he sensed something and he could tell something. That conversation was in February or March 1999, and 20 years later, here we are married, three kids in the wonderful incredible life that we have. His advice to me was so crucial in many ways but that one conversation at that Italian restaurant that I cannot remember the name, was essential the for life that I have. Not just the One Shot because from that conversation came the title of the book that I am gonna build which will be called One Shot because it’s gonna be one photograph, my best one from each of the stadiums with the message of the same thing, which is you have one shot to live the life you want. But at the same time, life is not a dress rehearsal. For all we know, we got one shot at this and don’t waste it by treating it like a dress rehearsal. 

Thank you, Ed Betz, for everything you brought my life and I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 122- What Do You Get When You Ask For Money?

What Do You Get When You Ask For Money?

There are certain lines that people say to you that just stick with you over and over again. At least they do for me. I say to my group so often but the reason why so many businesses fail financially and relationship wise is desperation and desperation usually comes when somebody needs something now. You rarely hear somebody desperate for something that could happen in two years. When you start paying attention, then you start noticing signs of desperation. You start noticing in the people’s language. You start noticing in the way that they relate to people, the way they even start conversations. 

I think I got used to this from a very young age. I used to go to New York City a lot when I grew up in New York and you have to be able to handle it when you’re a kid and you’re in the city and panhandlers come up to you for money. So I always felt it was an uncomfortable position because a panhandler would come up to me and they were really good. They figured out the right spots to be at. They figure out the right people to ask. They would come up to me and ask me for money and you give it to them but then, how many of them can you give it to? How much money do you possibly have to give out? Are you even helping them by doing it? Are they going to buy drugs or alcohol or whatever?

And finally one day I started noticing the way people came up to me when I was in the city and I change that around. When they came up to me, I started walking up to them and they would always ask me if I have a dollar. So as soon as I saw someone’s walking up to me which I thought we were asking for money. I walked up to them and I said “hey do you have a dollar?” and it stop them in their tracks. A few times they said “Well, I was gonna ask you if you got a dollar.” And i would say “Yeah. I just need a dollar. Do you have a dollar?” and they would be like “no I don’t” and then we will go on our merry way. It actually became fun to do after a while. 

But as time went on and I went to the business world, I started noticing so many people that just came across desperate whether they were or not, it’s how they came across. I could tell because he will reach out to me out of nowhere and asked me to donate to their charity or they would ask me to buy their book. They would asked me to share with the audience. It wasn’t built on relationships and relationship equity is built on desperation. But at the same time, I noticed that the people that asked for advice, the people that played the long game, they generally have people interested in what they were doing because they gave input to those people. They let them have a say in what was going on. They weren’t just asking for a sell. And I always noticed even as we started our business, we get really curious about the people around us that we would ask questions. I would ask for advice “what do you think about this? Does this page look good this way? What do you think about this package price or this option?” Often when we would do that, people would say “you know if you do that I will buy that.” I was like “really? Are you serious?” and they would say “yeah. I was actually looking for something like that, I’m glad you brought this to me.” This really happened over and over again, 

But I never had a good way of explaining this but I tried often letting people know that this is a better way of going about it. And then in our mastermind, Michelle Williams said something that stuck with me. Now Michelle runs Real Women’s Mastermind, she’s doing what she calls “The Do it Freaks You Out”. She is doing public speaking now, just getting people to do the things that freak them out and overcoming their fear. And we were talking on one of our mastermind calls and somebody is talking about asking for the sale upfront. And again, it was based in kind of a desperation mode and we’re both pushing up against it and she said “when you ask for money, you get advice. When you asked for advice, you get money” and I said I love that, I am doing a podcast episode about that because it’s so spot on. 

Think about when you go up and you asked somebody “hey would you buy this from me?” Or somebody try to sell you on something that they don’t even want. Whether you do it or not, at least me, I want to give them advice. I want to give them advice on a different way of going about it. I want to give them advice on maybe think about this or try this differently. I’m not buying what you’re selling but I really want to give you advice as opposed to money. But when you ask for advice, you might not get money initially from the person but you’re going to get advice that leads to the money and I can give you the example about how my very first mastermind started was exactly along the lines of Michelle’s talking about.

Andy Storch who I just met the month before asked me to interview on his podcast, which at that point was the Entrepreneur’s Hot Seat but is now the Andy Storch Show. We had a great interview and somehow the mastermind came up because I was releasing the book. I had been running a couple mastermind for Larry Hagner, The Dad Edge but with the book coming out, I want to start one geared towards freelancers and entrepreneurs not just fathers. I want this to be an entrepreneurial mastermind. So I hadn’t even started a thing yet, I wasn’t even set on what I was gonna start. So after the interview, he asked me a little bit about it and I was asking for his advice on the mastermind, on the pricing, on the format of it and he said “if you start this, I’m in.” I said “Are you serious?” I haven’t even set this thing down yet and don’t know what’s it going to be.” And he said “No. I love what you’re doing, I love the message, price is right. When you started, I’m in.” 

So I almost felt weird because I didn’t even ask him to be a part of it and he asked to join in. So the same day, I went to my friend John Vandermeulen and I messaged him and I said “can I ask you a question” He said “yeah. hop on the phone.” So, I called him a few minutes later and said “I want to run this by you. I know you’ve been in a mastermind. we were in one together. So I am looking to do this but I am looking to do in this way, a little bit different, different time, different format. This is what I want to build it to. This is the idea of the right type of people. Here’s the price point. I want to get your take on this.” So he started giving me feedback in terms of things that he seen before, things that could be done better things, the things I would be really good at and before it was all over, he said “we’ll let me know when you start this because I want in.” And I said “you got to be kidding. I said the same thing to Andy and he gave me the same answer. And now I came to you with this. I’m not doing this to sell you on the mastermind, I was literally doing this to get your input because I trust your input.” He said “I know. I know you not selling and that is part of the reason why I want to do this. I love your approach to this and when you are ready I’m in.” And that is quite literally how what turned into the Total Life Freedom mastermind started. 

But going by Michelle’s advice, I didn’t go to them asking them to sign up for it. I went to them asking for their advice and maybe it’s a mindset thing that when you’re going there, asking for advice, you’re not going into a desperate, so maybe the people sense it and they want to be around people that aren’t desperate. And on the opposite side, when you’re going into it looking for money, it feels desperate so people are repelled by that. Whatever it is, try it out. Instead of asking for the money, start asking for advice. Because even if you don’t get the money after asking for the advice that you shouldn’t expect, but you’re gonna get the advice that leads to the money. So, thank you Michelle Williams for that nugget of incredible wisdom and remember to stop asking for money, start asking for advice.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

Episode 121- Video Killed The Radio Star

Video Killed The Radio Star

So my wife said to me the other day “Do you notice that the things that don’t go on your to do list are always a thing that you don’t want to do?” And she called me out on something that is fairly obvious because running your own business, you could really make it to where you do the things you want to do and you can kind of blow off the things that you don’t want to do and there’s not a whole lot of people there to tell me what I’m doing wrong. 

So I gravitate towards the things I really like doing and we will outsource or eliminate the things that I don’t want to do, and this podcast is one of the things I absolutely love doing. I have no issue talking to my wall over here and talking to you and just telling you a story or giving a situation or trying to give a lesson that help somebody out. This does not freak me out at all. It’s so intimate for me that I forget that people actually gonna listen to it that I just tell the stories and I do the podcast. Then when somebody comes back to me and they say “Oh that episode you did about It’s all bonus or whatever, that really impacted me. I love that” then I forget often that I even recorded it. Because I’m recording it to get it out and recording it to get out into the world and I’m moving onto the next one, in the next bit of content or the next story I can tell. So I give very little thought in terms of how do I sound or do this go wrong? I just move on and do the next thing and keep trying to get better and keep trying to figure out ways to improve this more and more. 

But then there are things like video which I am frightened of. Just to be clear, I am not frightened about being on video. I run five video mastermind calls a week and there I am talking and having conversations and challenging and that’s totally fine with me. But when I have to talk into a camera and pretend like I’m talking to one person and do video, I’m like a deer in the headlights. It came to pass a couple months ago in a mastermind that I was in with Johnny Dumas and he challenged me to do more video I pushed back on as I don’t want to do video. I don’t need to. The problem with is we do these other things well that we really don’t “need” to do it. We’ve done just fine without it. But I also know there are certain times which probably can be a good thing to be good at video. 

So I tried it once or twice and they made fun of me and said all the sudden I was a different person. I seem scared, I did not seem comfortable, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I tried my hardest to do it but then I slowly slink away, change the subject, went back to doing the things that I like doing, like slowly went away from the video. Then I got faced with a bigger challenge and the challenge is this, who is an expert at building membership sites and he’s been helping me build the membership site for the Total Life Freedom community. As we’re planning and strategizing eventually came up that we need a video at the front of the website to introduce yourself. And my immediate response was, do I really have to and he said “you know, it so much more engaging, people will relate to it and you can explain everything.” And this was a great fear of mine and something I did not want to do but I really kind of had no choice at this point. It was you know feet to the fire, we’ve got to get over this and get through this. I had Elizabeth telling me this is necessary and I’m like all right I’m going to do it. 

I don’t know if you ever done a video for a site but some people make it look so easy. I had a few people tell me that I made podcast look easy to them and I try to tell them, I did podcast for a year for the mastermind alone before I ever went public with it and I had my fair share of just blunders before I felt really comfortable going behind the mic and talking. And they all told me that people who do video, feel same way. This video is going to be 2 and a ½ minutes long which doesn’t seem very long. It’s going to be the first thing the people see on our website. So I immediately freaked out because the last thing I want people to see at the very beginning of our website is me uncomfortably doing a video that I have not done before. But I committed to do. it is gonna get done. 

I got Elizabeth and the boys out of the house so I could be comfortable and I got started And it was a comedy of errors, it was me recording of video over and over again where I couldn’t get through the first line without messing up. I probably did about 30 takes on the first line of what I was gonna say. And to spare you the details, after three hours of recording for a stinking 2 and 1/2 minute video, I finally recorded something that was workable but will require multiple edits to make it work together and David had his assistant do the editing put it altogether and got it back to me. He watched it, Elizabeth watched it, I did not watch it and both of their answers to how it was was exactly this. It wasn’t bad. I immediately told Mike that it can’t go on the website. I can’t put something up there quote unquote wasn’t bad. 

So now this is the challenge. I’m not really even scared of it anymore. I need to get this done and I need to get it done well. So, I rehearse on what I am going to say and practice it more. I really get more professional about getting this thing done. Again, it takes an hour and ½, I finally get it done and I realized that my timestamp and my name is at the bottom of the video and cropping that out will going to make it look really awkward. So even though I had broken anything down, I said all back up again and this time I was really comfortable, I felt fine. I ran through it and I got it and I nailed it in about four takes. it took about 15 minutes, I was all done and I finally overcome it. As I finished, I looked down I realized that my mic wasn’t plugged in. So it recorded only with the computer audio and it sounded like garbage. But at this point, I already broken everything down. I need to start over on Sunday, the third day of doing this. 

So, I go to do it again but the problem is this is the day that I will take Dylan out, our youngest son. We are going to do one on one time while Elizabeth was out with Andrew and Nolan. So, I have the light set up and I made sure that the mic is plugged in, everything is ready. But I got Dylan at the top of the stairs waiting for me because soon as I’m done, we’re going to be able to go out. Even though I was ready and everything was quiet, I heard Dylan at the top of the stairs and he was being so good. He was being so polite and so quiet but I know he is waiting for me. I can hear every little movement that he makes and internally I felt the pressure. And again, like the first day, I kept screwing up and every screwup I hear myself, I hear him listening. I can imagine him repeating the words back to me over and over again like a parakeet because I said it so many times. I finally get it done and everything looks good. Elizabeth comes back and she watches the final version and were ready to go and then she notices something. She said “ I don’t really want to nitpick, because I know you got to get this done but do you see the shadows from your hands?” And I talk with my hands a lot and we have these two light set up. The way these lights were situated, it made these crazy shadows on my body that unfortunately were impossible to ignore. And with my hands moving and the shadows are moving all around, I was like that’s going to be impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, Elizabeth agreed with me and she normally would be one that was a you just got to get this done and put this out. She even saw that this need to be redone. 

So now I’m on to like take number 87 or whatever it is and Elizabeth took the kids upstairs, I took a deep breath I tried one more time and it probably took another 45 minutes. I’m not sure how many takes to get it right but we finally had one that we could send to David and that was how I created my first 2 and 1/2 minute video. Here’s the problem, it’s not even close to being done to what I wanted to be but we’ve got to get something out. We got to get something shipped something ready into that spot. 

So that is the behind-the-scenes look at how I created a 2 and 1/2 minute video for our website. It’s embarrassing to even say go look at it because I know that I’m mashing some words together. I know that I’m rushing through the words a little bit. I know the message isn’t as clear and concise as it will be in the future. But as my friend Andy Storch says we have to start our fears. We have to get over it. We’ve got to be able to ship these things, put them out and then move on to version 2.0, which will be coming soon. But I know a lot of people struggle with perfectionism, with getting things done, getting things out there and thinking it’s just easy for other people. I just want to give an inside glimpse that we all struggle with this stuff and you just have to keep pushing on. If you’d like to see this video, this mediocre video that took me an entire weekend, go to members.totallifefreedom.com and that’s the video of me after three days of frustration and uncomfortableness. But with video, I’m better than yesterday and I will talk to you tomorrow!

Episode 120- This Is A Big Deal

This Is A Big Deal

I published a podcast last week called “The Crossroads”, it was a story about when my photography career interchanged with my coaching career. And the decision I had to make between shooting a Pirates playoff game and going to a conference with Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk. If you didn’t hear it then go back and listen to the episode, it is a pretty important one in our career and our progress.

Dave Ramsey is somebody that I had a lot of passing by interaction with over the last decade or so. I was first introduced to him through the radio about 16 years ago while we were breaking and in debt and it was the perfect voice and the perfect time. I was fortunate to have photographed one of his events when he came to Evansville years back and I got to meet him then in person. I met him in passing a handful of times. They hired us to photograph a couple events like I mentioned in that episode. But to all the impact that he’s had and the content he’s developed has helped us, a relatively impromptu meet up at his studio about a year and 1/2 ago really impacted many of the validity of what we’re doing here and the book that I wrote and I want to talk about that today. 

Elizabeth, me and the boys were a couple days into our thank you tour for our book Freelance To Freedom and we’re in Nashville for a couple days, meeting a couple friends and giving the book to Dan Miller who had a big impact on our life and his wife, Joanne and we’re hoping we could possibly give the book to Dave Ramsey. But we didn’t make any plans, we weren’t even sure if he was on the air at that time. So we met with Dan and Joanne earlier in the day. The kids got to hang out at The Sanctuary and we get to talk for little while which is great and give them the books. We met for lunch with a couple friends. Our friends Jamie Silverman and Andrew Buckwalter. We got to meet downtown Franklin for lunch. It is just great just to be able to see everybody along the road and then quite honestly we need to do some laundry and get some laundry done for the next part of the trip. We shot over to the laundromat and got a little bit done and we listen to the radio and realized Dave Ramsey was on the air live and he was at his office in Brentwood. So I said “Okay let’s give this a shot.” We have a hotel in Franklin. Let’s get this a shot. Let’s shoot by the studio and we’ll see if we could probably get in there and just give him a copy of the book, maybe get a picture with Dave because the first third of the book is a note to Dave Ramsey in terms of how we use his teachings, we got out of debt and that helped us on to the life of freedom. 

So we packed up the car with our fresh clean laundry and we headed over to Brentwood and we were just hoping that we get there and it was in fact live and we would be able to meet him. I’ve been there before with the parking lot is empty but the show was going on and you realize this is a tape. This is something from before and it is not a live show. So we pulled into Ramsey solutions and we saw the parking lot was packed. We knew that the show is live and there’s a good chance that we could meet Dave. The kids were all excited, they went to the trunk and they grabbed a couple copies of the book and we went inside. When you walk into the buildings, it’s the old building now, it doesn’t take long to see Dave on air through the glass and he is doing the show. There was a couple outside about to do their debt free scream so the kids are so curious like “are they gonna be on the radio?” Like “yeah that’s them. They’re about to be in the radios.” They did their whole speech and their conversation. 

What we learned is that we made it just in time before the final commercial break. We were standing there and then Dave comes out and starts greeting the people that on the outside waiting for him. They talked to the couple that just did their debt free scream and then we were the last ones in the semicircle before he went back to the studio. He came up, it was really nice, he knelt down and he talked to the kids, talking to them a little bit, shook Elizabeth’s hand and he came over to me and I handed him the book. I got to thank him to his face and I got to let him know how much impact his teachings and what he’s has done on me and on writing this book. It is really kind of cool. He looked at the book and on the top my book is an endorsement from Seth Godin. I am not sure if his reaction was based upon anything with that but he looked at me and it was really a moment that I’ll remember for a long time because he didn’t just blow me off which he could very easily could have done. And even though it was quick, it wasn’t in passing and he looked at me and he held the book and he tapped the top of the book very firmly. He looked at me again and goes “this is a big deal right here.” He slapped the book again and he took a moment to look at my kids and said “what your dad did is a big deal.” And he held it up, he said “be careful. This is how it all started for me” and he congratulated me. We talked a little bit more then we took some pictures together and then we went on our way. 

He went to the studio and he start answering questions again. He finished up his daily, probably never ever thought about that moment again. The guy gets enough praise to last multiple lifetimes. And when you’re on the radio like that you’re impacting so we people you don’t know individually how much of an impact you can have on somebody’s life. I imagine after so much praise, it probably gets numb or probably gets normal. But to someone like me to give the book to somebody that had such an incredible impact on your life and then for them to validate what you’ve done and then the absurdity to compare it to the massive success that he’s had, it gave me a hope that I didn’t have before because you understand we were literally in the throes of ending our photography business. The business that got us all the stuff that led to this book. We had made the conscious and on purpose decision to end that business and go on a completely different career path that we were not sure was going to be a great idea. We were not sure if it was going to be profitable and there was no guarantee for success. But for some reason, Dave Ramsey looking me in the eye while holding my book and saying to me personally “This is a big deal” and “this is how it all started for me” and him walking away from me getting in front of a microphone and talking to 15 million people. It was then that I realized maybe this isn’t just a dream. 

Now I might never impact the amount of people that he has but that wasn’t the goal at all. It said often that so many people are not necessarily looking for success and are looking for affirmation. And so often, people quit because they don’t get it. And I don’t walked into that studio looking for any type of affirmation from Dave Ramsey or anybody else but I can tell you that his affirmation changed me. It made me realize yeah everything he’s doing really did start with writing one book. It wasn’t an overnight success and he had a lot of hard times. He had to fight through a lot of difficult things but it was all worth it and not only was it worth, it was necessary to have that type of impact. What it also made me realizes is the power that our words have to the people that are trying to do what we’ve done and the importance of using those words in the right way to lift other people up. Other people that are in the same spot that we used to be in and supporting them to achieve their dreams and to use the work that they’re doing to make the world a better place. 

So, Dave Ramsey I know you’re not listening, you’re too busy doing what you’re doing which is awesome but I want to thank you for saying those words because it truly has had a tremendous impact on the way that we’ve grown, on the way we helped others, on the way our business has grown and maybe most importantly, the way that I view my own work. Because when we don’t fully believe in ourselves and what we’re doing, how can we expect other people to do the same. So thank you for that and will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 119- The Opportunity Fund

The Opportunity Fund

So, I’ve talked about Dave Ramsey a bunch in the podcast recently and how much of an incredible effect he’s had in our life in helping us get out of debt, helped us build a life of freedom. But there’s one area of the teachings that I’m not sold on or maybe he missed it or maybe he doesn’t care because he’s talking more to employees and not entrepreneurs. I think that can be a big part of it because his listeners are generally employees that aren’t making very much money and are trying to get out of debt. But often they’re not employee’s kind of with an abundant mindset so he needs to stick on the path and I get that. So not everything he taught jived with the way that we wanted to build our business going forward. 

The thing I wanted to talk to you about today is the emergency fund. Now this might not even hold water for so many people because I read a report recently, it said if a $500 bill, an unexpected $500 bill showed up for every American, 50% would have to take out a loan to pay that $500. So that goes to show that most people don’t have an emergency fund. So as this is today. if you’re in that spot, this might not help you. But it’s something to think about as you go forward and become more financially secure and independent. Randy talked about the emergency fund about having a 3-to-6 month emergency fund but you start off with a $1000 baby emergency fund just in case you need to pay for something so you could pay down the rest your debt. 

Now I don’t want to talk about debt today or debt payment, that’s not with the mindset of this is about. The mindset that I wanted to talk about is abundance and opportunity. I want to introduce to you something that we introduced to our family. Elizabeth and I made this up and it’s something that allowed us to create way more opportunities in our life for things that just show up that we want to do or want to invest in. So I know a lot of people talk about the emergency fund and you meet some people, I’ve met very many of them that want the biggest emergency fund they could possibly get. I have talked to people that have $50,000 emergency funds but they want to be $100,000. What’s amazing is, now I know this is rare, but what’s amazing is they miss out on so many opportunities because of that number. So I’ll ask them “what is the biggest emergency you’ve ever had? And they will say something like they have to buy new car, that is not an emergency. Buying a brand-new car for $25,000 is not an emergency. You could buy a beater car for $3,000 to drive around. So, luxury is not an emergency. And when they got that, they basically say “maybe a hot water heater or a furnace, maybe $3,000 is the biggest emergency we had.” I say ok and Ramsey talked a lot about 3 to 6 months of living expenses as an emergency fund. 

Now that makes sense if you’re an employee. But being an entrepreneur, being self-employed is different. You are not applying for a job. You can go get money, you can go take on job, you can make money pretty quickly. A very few entrepreneurs are sitting around in 3 to 6 months to get paid for something. And if you follow what we are talking about, you are building multiple streams of income. So even if one things go away, another thing shows up. So, I don’t know how necessary 3 to 6 months of income into an account is. It is nice to have but it is not necessary. 

So, factoring all that in, we changed the game a little bit for ourselves and our life and that’s what we are going to talk about today. We decided yes, we need an emergency fund for the emergency and we figured out that it could be $10,000 or $20,000 but we really don’t need anything more than that as a base emergency fund. Cause I don’t think we had an emergency that is more than $3,000 and we never have a month where we didn’t produce an income of some sort. Also, the more you do this, the more your income go up monthly so it becomes less and less important. But I can tell you how we grew and why we were able to invest in so many other things when so many people  weren’t able to or they were too scared to. And this is what we did. 

We had the base emergency fund that was a certain amount of money but everything on top of that, we labeled in a different way. We called it the Opportunity fund. And it changed the way we did business with our money because in the past, as the emergency fund grow bigger, we will feel attached to that number. So if it gets to $25,000 or $30,000, emotionally and psychologically we don’t want that to go down because that is now the new emergency fund. But the conundrum is a possible trip would come up or an invitation for a VIP conference or mastermind and we would hesitate because that money would come out of “the emergency fund”. And going to that conference in San Diego was not an emergency so even though our numbers kept going up, our opportunities were not going up. So, the opportunity fund changed everything. Because we knew there was a certain amount of money sitting there for emergencies. But on top of the emergency fund was the opportunity fund.

Now what’s the opportunity fund for? It was for exactly what we just talked about. opportunities in our life that we want to invest in. So, you want to travel across the country, that comes from the opportunity fund. If a conference announced that I really want to go to, that’s going to grow our business, grow our network, if we don’t want to pull out of our monthly expenses, we have the opportunity fund. So we just booked a couple of months on the road this winter again. What happens is when you take out the opportunity fund, you have the ability to keep growing your income with your month-to-month income. So over the last couple of months, we just invested in that stuff just from our monthly income which hasn’t even touched the opportunity fund. So they play on each other and they build on each other sp the emergency fund gets bigger because it’s very easy to drop another thousand dollars in the emergency fund to make that even safer as your opportunity fund gets bigger. 

But what that’s done for us it’s given us the freedom that we’ve always wanted, that we were confined with when the emergency fund had to be a certain number. This excites me way more than the Dave Ramsey plan because I never saw what the end game was to doing all this. Because baby steps 7 was paying everything off then living like no one else and giving everything, which I love giving but I always thought there should be a baby step 8. This is kind of our baby step 8 because the more the opportunity fund grows, that’s when the fun of the future comes. Now everything on the table if you want to travel, if we want to invest in ourselves and as we’re doing it, if we want to invest in real estate for the future, that’s where the money goes. Because this money isn’t saved for an emergency, this money is saved for opportunity and it is only with opportunity that you have the chance to chase the life and the freedom that you desire. So, here’s the opportunity. Here’s to growing your opportunity fund and I will talk to you tomorrow!