Episode 190- Why2k?

Just about 20 years ago. For those of you who remember, we had Y2K and the madness surrounding going from 1999 to the year 2000 and all the hysteria that so many people talked about that all the systems were going to go down because the computers were not equipped to handle the switch over. From 1999 to 2000 it was essentially an emergency that consumed the entire world. It was relatively a minor glitch, but the way computers process data ending with digit zero had a lot of experts predicting that it was going to bring down financial markets, power grids and all types of government national and international infrastructure. And as that was going down, Elizabeth and I had just started dating a little bit less than a year earlier than that. We’re in Times Square at the epicenter as the ball drop ring in 1999 to 2000 and on top of the whole Y2K thing where a ton of rumors about a potential large terrorist attack that would happen as the ball dropped.

But I had been to Times Square probably eight or nine times for the ball drop and Elizabeth hadn’t been so I thought it’d be a really cool year to go and just see what happens. And as the ball dropped in 1999 went into 2000 nothing happened. There was no Y2K system breakdown, there were no terrorist attacks and by 12:30 that night Times Square, it cleared out and we all moved on to a new decade. But this Y2K podcast is a little bit different. A few years ago, I was talking to my nephew who began working and was saving some money and it turned out that he had saved about $2,000. I have a ton of curiosity about how people spend and invest their money and how they plan for now or they plan for later or how much thought they even give to any of that.

And during a conversation he had told me how he’d saved about $2,000 I’m a curious person. I said, so what are you going to do with that $2,000 and he shrugged his shoulders with a laugh. He said, I dunno, I’m just going to spend it. And it wasn’t an uncommon answer and it wasn’t necessarily a wrong answer, but the way he answered it and the nonchalantness about that answer really got me thinking. So I started doing a little bit of research. I thought about how we make money decisions and how we’re taught to think about money. And through thinking of that and the possibilities that he held in his hand and his bank account is when I realized that anybody could become wealthy. And let me explain that. $2,000 invested at the age of 16 compounded monthly at a rate of 8% would have a future balance of $107,804 that’s over $100,000 50 years later from a $2,000 investment.

But doing that is generally not part of the conversation. So let’s change things around a little bit. Let’s talk about anybody at the age of 16 that is $2,000 and they invest that money instead of spending it, and then they get into the habit of investing $2,000 a month continuously, year after year. And let’s say it’s all that they ever contribute. They can only do $2,000 a year from 16 to 65 there’ll be a little bit less than a hundred thousand dollars contributed 98,000 to be specific over that 50 year period. And the return on that money would be a tad below one point $5 million at the age of 65 that if you’ve never thought about compound interest is pretty eyeopening. And that’s why I was so interested in his answer and I didn’t really feel it was my place to say anything in terms of advice because his parents are there and I’m sure they talk about this stuff, but these are the kinds of conversations we’d also be having with our kids when it comes to money and investing.

And oftentimes it’s a really uncomfortable conversation because as parents we did not do nearly as well with our money as we could have. And often when I talk to people it’s a source of embarrassment and because they didn’t do as well, they don’t feel equipped or confident to talk to their kids about it. But if you’re in that spot, understand what’s past is past. And we all might’ve made those mistakes cause I did. I can’t tell you how much money came in through my hands and then left and there’s nothing to show for it. And I really wish when I had that money at that age, I would have known to invest in things like a Roth IRA because the Roth is amazing and you put it in with post tax dollars but it grows tax free. So I know we have some teenagers that listen to the show and I know that a lot of parents listened to it with their kids.

So this is something to start thinking about. You can contribute up to $6,000 into a Roth IRA for 2020 and again it will grow tax free. Meaning when you take the money out after 59 1/2, and to the teenagers, I know it sounds like a million years away, but it really isn’t. If you are 18 years old and you’re making money, if you found a way to invest $6,000 a year into your Roth IRA, you will have contributed over your entire adult life somewhere around $260,000 but at the end of the rainbow, you’ll be sitting with over $2 million of tax free money at 65 and if you wait to take that money out even longer, it grows even more. I’m talking about this because I think financial education, financial literacy for our youth is so vital for the future success of this country. If more people are financially independent, as time goes on, our society as a whole, the better off for it. There’ll be less need for government programs, there’ll be more money for generosity and donations, less stress, stronger families and family trees, and just a brighter future for everybody. So that’s at six grand, but even at two grand, if that’s what you can do, think about your longterm future, even somewhat. The sooner you start planning and preparing, the easier it will be to become wealthy and make your life and those around you better and stronger. So Y two K for all those reasons we just talked about. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 189- A Beacon Of Hope

In many ways. I really think there are two types of people in this world. There are those who make excuses and then there are those that don’t make excuses. The ones that make excuses will always find a reason why things didn’t work out. They’ll always blame somebody else and they will self righteously fool themselves into believing that it’s somebody else’s fault and then there are the people that don’t make excuses and those are the people I want to talk about. I don’t really want to get deep into the stories of the excuses because trust me, if you would’ve made a t-shirt for me to wear for a good period of my life, it would have said King of Excuses. I know this as well as anybody because this was me and is the me that I’m constantly fighting against to not become again. And I’m talking month to month.

We tweak day to day and minute to minute and then you have people like Michael Coyne. Michael has autism and he’s an athlete in the special Olympics and when he turned 21 he started applying for jobs and one by one because of his disability or other reasons, but nobody would hire him and the rates of autism have been increasing on a yearly basis and it’s more common in boys than in girls. And the prevalence for autism now is one in every 42 boys and one in every 189 girls. So with something that our culture is going to have to deal with, learn from and advance on. But Coyne at 21 didn’t have time to wait for that. One of the places he got rejected from was a coffee shop and he was interested in business. So not having a job. Michael started taking business classes and through doing that he caught the bug for entrepreneurship and decided he’s going to take things into his own hands if he wasn’t good enough to be hired by all these different companies.

He decided he’s going to start his own company and that’s where the red, white and brew coffee house began. And this is how their about page reads. We’re a family owned coffee shop serving up more than a cup of coffee. We employ people with developmental disabilities, encourage community engagement and change the way the world sees those with disabilities. It continues where specialty coffee has selling locally roasted coffee beans. We also sell muffins, pastries and zones, and we share our home with the budding violet or unique gift shop with items from local artists. And the awesome thing about that is a lot of those local artists were struggling as well because they also have disabilities. So by taking charge and taking the lead and not waiting for somebody else to choose him coined not only created the opportunity for himself, not only created the opportunity for other artists and visionaries in his community that have disabilities, but it’s providing an amazing service to the North Smithfield, Rhode Island community, his mother.

Sheila’s even more excited about this because as a parent of a kid with a disability, there’s so many concerns that come with that. It’s not easy for parents to watch your kids sit around the kitchen table while everyone else is enjoying the life and coworkers and talking about their day. She told reporter Amanda from the Western journal, his mom not only loved the idea but she participated in it as well, but it was more than just a coffee for them. What they loved was the community aspect of it to get out into public and to run his own show. They feel like they’re teaching people, they’re teaching you like, yeah, he has a disability, but go look at what he’s doing. And what Michael did was he turned the rejection of not getting hired into something of such greater opportunity and potential and hope for the community that if you would’ve just gotten that job and speaking of hope, that’s their purpose.

Because Coyne has a higher vision of this than just coffee. He calls this a beacon of hope for people with disabilities because not only is he have autism but he also has ADHD and bipolar disorder and the thing that pushed him to eventually take these classes and start this business was growing tired of being told no and he says that he used this as motivation to go and live life on his terms and I just so resonate with that phrase of living life on your terms and what’s beautiful is he wants to do this with inclusion. Meaning it’s not just a shop just for people with disabilities. He plans to hire people with and without special needs and their grander vision now beyond the red white and brew coffee house and beyond working with the budding violet is that they’re hoping that this business model is going to open the door for other disabled individuals that are struggling to find employment and as autism and ADHD, Asperger’s and bipolar.

What this does is it allows so many people that are dealing with this, people that have been in the shadows that have been left out, pushed aside, even made fun of and ostracized. It shows them what’s possible. It shows them they don’t have to just settle for something menial and low level just because they’re a little different in some way. And this story resonates with me so much because I was different. I am different and this stuff was not diagnosed when I was in school. Now we’re a little wary of just stamping labels on people, but I can guarantee you that if the interest in the diagnosis was there when I was a kid, I’m certain that I would be labeled as somebody who has ADHD or possibly bipolar. But those terms sounds so frightening until you realize they’re real people dealing with real problems and we can’t just ignore it.

But what’s great about Michael’s story and why it makes so much sense to me is that people like us don’t always fit in to the normal mold. And to have the option and the freedom to be able to build a business, to be able to build it on your own terms. And not just that, but to be able to have a vision, to not only give yourself an opportunity but to be able to give other people that are experiencing the same thing, that same opportunity. So this story excites me for the possibilities and for the action that Michael and his family took. And that’s why I wanted to bring this to you today. So I know it’s a small place to put. If you wind up in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, stopped by the red white, blue coffee house and support an amazing business. Cause I know that I will and as I say that I’m gonna go to their website and see if they have a gift card. Because it be a pretty cool gift to give one of my friends in Rhode Island. So like I said in the beginning, there’s two people in this world, people that make excuses and people that don’t. Michael Coyne is someone that doesn’t make excuses and I hope you are as well. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 188- Are You Waiting To Be Chosen?

So, as you might imagine, I love podcasts, but because of the way life and work has happened over the past year, I’ve listened to less podcasts in the last year than I have in the last six or seven years. It’s just different. I’m creating more content than I have before. I’m running different communities, speaking and starting to write a new book to where I don’t make the time as much to listen as I do create for one podcast that I try to never miss is Akimbo by Seth Godin and I love it because it’s different and I love that it’s a peek inside of his brain and it’s not an interview show, but his latest episode, at least as of recording, it’s called publishing is hard. And some episodes that can breeze through and get some ideas from some knocked me off my feet and some are pretty good.

And this one I really enjoyed, but I really enjoyed his answer in the Q and A section at the end and a woman called her with an interesting question that while I was working out at the gym early one morning, I stopped. What I was doing to listen cause I really wanted to make sure I heard the answer. And the woman said that recently or eight year old daughter was not picked to be in the school play and her daughter wasn’t picked a year before either and the mother was starting to fret that it’s possible that she’d never be picked and the mom was worried that the environment that she’s in is teaching her to wait for someone else to choose her. And she was worried that her daughter was going to think she’s not good enough if she wasn’t picked. And she was wondering what she can do to help her daughter with this.

And Seth kind of alluded that a lot of parents at that point would call up the school and lash out how their kid didn’t get picked and that they’re losing their mind that they don’t pick her daughter and fighting for their daughter’s rights to be on that play. And what I love that set at the start was why are there tryouts for eight year olds for a play? And he talked about when he wants produced a play for nine year olds for the Wizard of Oz, there were four of every character because there were no stars. Actually there were 20 stars. They all were in it and sets. And he was to do something that’s different than what a lot of parents will do. And he advised for the mom to encourage the daughter to put on her own play, to hold auditions and put up signs and create her own play and that this would teach her to be an organizer, which will have much more positive impact for her life than being chosen by somebody else.

And it reminded me of something that I had completely forgotten about that my brother did when we were in elementary school together. There were school plays going on all over the place. And I don’t remember either of us ever being interested in theater was an all female band named the Go-Go’s and they were led by Belinda Carlisle and their hit song at the time was called our lips are sealed. So when the fifth grade, I think he was him and his friend Josh Flum got together and they said, we’re going to make a movie. It was going to be based off of that song and the downside to that story and the spoiler alert is that movie was never made. But here’s the upside. I remember one day my brother and Josh were just students at the school, but not long after I walked through the hallways and I saw a sign up sheet on the wall for, for this new movie, and they talked about having different parts, different roles they could audition for, and then all of a sudden two unknown guys had some of the most popular girls in school signing up to audition for their movie and they knew nothing about making a movie.

It’s amazing the memories that come to you when you’re a kid and then as you rethink it as an adult and how you process what happened now for what happened then and what I thought then was a bunch of these people that would never have given them the time of day. All of a sudden we’re lining up for a chance to be selected by my brother and by Josh. Immediately by choosing themselves, their status changed. They shifted the perspective on how people in school looked at them and I remember selfishly wanting him to do it and to succeed because invariably it might’ve helped my status in school as well because of the really popular kids are clamoring to get a piece of what my brother’s doing. That might somehow benefit me. But it’s one thing when you’re in fifth grade to say you’re going to do a movie and it’s another thing to actually have the capability to do so.

Now, right now you could be thinking, well why not grab your phone, start recording? Well in 1980 or whatever year it was, it didn’t work that way. You need to purchase expensive video gear and just the hurdle of that sank the entire project. But what Steve and Josh did was really quite remarkable. If I can go back in time and if there’s things that I would change, I would do more of what they did during that week or two because what they did is they didn’t wait to be chosen. They didn’t get in line to audition for a play that somebody else had set up. They had an idea, they took it and like I talked about in a past episode, they had confidence and they had ignorance. To be able to put those signs on the wall and putting those signs up in the hallways was impressive.

But what really impressed me and made a lasting impression on me was to look at those sheets in the hallway and to see the different parts listed and to see the names of those people. Many of them older than us, way more popular than any of us, and to see this status change of them going from the ones that were in charge to looking to be chosen. And I could only wonder what would’ve happened if they were able to pull that movie off. I could imagine the confidence and the respect and the authority that would have been built and the relationships and the connections to people that never connected. Who knows if they would have become friends, if they would have helped each other out, if that movie would have been shared. And actually it was a catalyst to not only the people that were in it, but to those two people that actually made it.

And to me, it’s a perfect example behind the book. Choose Yourself by James Altucher and by what set’s talking about in this episode, because if this mom could take this advice to her eight year old and say, you don’t need to be chosen by them to be a success, that not only do you not need to be chosen, but you could actually take the vision of exactly. You want to do not even somebody else’s vision or somebody’s choice, but your vision and your choice of what you want to do. If this eight year old can learn this and teach this to other people her age and younger and older, that’s how we go from a society of people waiting to be picked to a society of people young and old of choosing themselves. I will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 187- Pick Me A Winner

For the freelancers and entrepreneurs out there. I want to talk to you a little bit about what I call edge marketing. And what you find so often are people that are so concerned about finding clients that they’re not really paying attention to finding the right clients. So we do a lot of things in our business right now to find the edges, to make sure that we’re only working with the right type of clients. And this is really key also when you’re building a community, because so many people are focused on the numbers and getting bigger and being more profitable in the world of building online communities that they’re not making sure that the right people come in and the wrong people stay out and nothing will divide and destroy an online community more than having the wrong people in that will eventually push the right people away.

So you have to know what your edges are, what the demographics in many different areas are of the people that you want in there. That will be the best fit for your group. But it also goes to the solopreneur freelance world. And whether it’s design or consulting or in our case what it used to be was photography. We paid attention to this and we built the business around it because most people do not spend the time early on and throughout to make sure that they’ve got their edges set because they don’t see the benefit of what will happen. And the benefit when you have your edges set is that when you bring the right people in, the raving fans, the ones that really connect with you, they’re going to tell the others just like that and they’re going to recruit the right type of clients for you in the future.

So when you’re starting out, you don’t realize how much easier it will get over time if you get this focused and disciplined in early and you stick to it. So we did that in our photography world in the way that we displayed our images. And I’ll give the example of the wedding photography world. Well, we saw very simply that most wedding photographers did not play to the edges. They play to what they thought the brides wanted to see. And they wound up doing pretty good because most brides didn’t know the difference. They just wanted a decent enough photographer to hire for their wedding. But there’s very little that’s unique about following the trends, even if they are quote unquote hip trends, trends are made to go out of style and if their hip and their trends, everybody’s going to be following them. And eventually what’s unique becomes normal.

But Elizabeth and I studied and we knew what the vision was of the clients that we wanted to work with and the work that we wanted to do. And we had to be okay putting images out there that would offend some, maybe not offend, but possibly, but scare some away. So the ones that really got our vision, we’re attracted to it. So there were select images that we would put on our website that we knew other people would be frightened to do. And I’ll give you an example. We were photographing a wedding one time. It was during the ceremony and a kid, he must’ve been about 10 years old and he was dressed nicely. He was part of the wedding mini groomsmen or something and he was bored out of his mind. So me knowing who I am and how much I can relate to how this kid was feeling when I was 10 I paid attention to him because I knew the things that he was going to do then would be different than what most people would be doing while they’re sitting there in that church.

So he’s in the front row in the first pew, his arm is leaning over the wall while the ceremony was going on. So I had a perfect angle, a clean shot of this kid as he was kind of falling asleep or leaning his head, yawning, just do it. A bunch of funny stuff that 10 year olds do. And I noticed him stick his finger up his nose and with an intensity that only a 10 year old can do, continue to really work at picking his nose. So I’m sitting there and I’m firing away while the bride and groom are up on the altar. I’m not even paying them any attention. I’m photographing this cute kid picking his nose. And then my heart dropped when I noticed that his other arm leaning over the edge and his fingers were laying in the Holy water. So in one hand he’s picking his nose in the other hand is laying in the Holy water.

And I only got a couple of images before he stopped, but I knew that I nailed that one. And I came back and we edited and I showed Elizabeth and she was like, Oh man. And I said, this has to go on display at the front of our website. And she’s always been so cool about pushing the edges. So she agreed and there were a couple of reasons for us to do so. This is what I want you to think about as you display the areas of your business that stand out. What we wanted from our clients were fun, loving, fun people we wanted to avoid with the stodgy brides or the bridezillas that had to have everything perfect. We also wanted to avoid controlling and domineering parents. If we could sit with a picture like that and other ones that we chose to display.

It was all intentional. It wasn’t just about good photographs, it was about sending a message to our potential clients about who they’re going to work with. So I’ll tell you what didn’t happen. We didn’t get emails and phone calls from brides and mother-in-laws saying they were offended by that photograph or photographs like that. Those people, if they saw the website, probably clicked away as quickly as possible and moved on to the next photographer that had pretty pictures in the park that were all posed and perfect. And that was great for us because we had repelled them away. And then we found some people that would go through the site and they would hire us and that would go great. But then we also found another group and these were the people that said the reason why we hired you, and they would specifically point out that picture was because of pictures like that because they told us they wanted a photographer that was creative, was unique and would be fun to hang out with for an entire day.

So we never had to put on our website the type of person that we didn’t want to work with. We created the work that repelled the people that we didn’t want to work with at the same time, that work attracted the people that we did want to work with. And that decision right there, that mindset helped us develop a business and a brand that was distinctly us and was unique for the right type of client and the ones that were looking for somebody like us. And this was way before we met and became friends with a guy named John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire. And he talked about his marketing and he was very clear, I want you to love me, or I want you to hate me, but I don’t want you to be in the middle. And if you have the guts to market yourself and brand yourself that way, you will not only stand out, but you’ll repel the wrong people and you’ll attract the right ones. And I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 186- Act Like You Belong Part II

Steven Spielberg is one of the pioneers in film history. His first film jaws made him a household name and then it didn’t slow down from there. He was the director of ITI, Jurassic park, Raiders of the lost Ark, close encounters of the third kind and it really didn’t slow down some of his other successes of the color purple, saving private Ryan back to the future, men in black. And it just keeps going on and on. That’s all fine and good and everybody loves a winner. But how did it start? How does a career like Spielberg’s get it start and this is where act like you belong. Part two comes in and this is way more impressive than my act like you belong. Story from yesterday at 19 Spielberg had an intense interest in making movies. That’s when he jumped on a tour bus at universal studios and stayed on with everybody else while they were riding around the lot.

But at some point he jumped off and he snuck into a bathroom. Not long after the tour bus drove away, so we spent the rest of the day on the universal lot. While he was wandering, he ran to a man who worked for universal named Chuck silvers. Spielberg explained that he was an aspiring director and silvers went out of his way to write him a three day pass. So for those three days he showed up, looked around, learned, met people. Most importantly, he connected with Scotty who was the guard at the entrance of universal studios. After that, the paths expired, but it didn’t end. Spielberg grabbed his dad’s briefcase, put a suit on and shut up again walking to the gate. He threw his hand in the air. He said, Hey, Scotty and the guard just wave back for the next three months. He did the exact same thing.

There were days that the only thing in his briefcase was an extra suit so we can sleep there overnight in an empty office and have fresh clothes to walk back onto the set. During those three months, he snuck out the soundstages. He sat in editing rooms. You would talk to the Hollywood stars and to the studio executives and he’d go out to lunch with them. He made sure he taken as much information as he possibly could. Silvers eventually figured out what Spielberg was doing, but he didn’t kick him out, but he advised him to stop schmoozing and to come back with a high quality short film to show. But he had been making films since he was 12 so we started working on a film, a film called Amblin, which was 26 minutes long and he poured his heart and soul, his time and his editing into this film to present the silvers.

And when he showed it to him, silvers started crying because it was that good. Silver’s touched called universal TV’s, vice president of production, and Sid Sheinberg who had that role watch the film and immediately asked to speak to Spielberg. That day, Steven Spielberg became the youngest major studio director in the history of Hollywood because Scheinberg offered him a seven year contract on the spot. Now, I hope after hearing that story that not only you and impressed, but that you realize that you are not doing enough to build your career. Everybody says that they want success, but are they really willing to do the work to make the sacrifices, to be creative, to challenge themselves and to put themselves into position to make that success happen. Charlie Silver’s was not going to the local universities searching out talent. He was not browsing through the hundreds of resumes that was sent to him to pick that next person.

Spielberg needed to do something to show what he was capable of, but it all started by acting like he belonged. How many people would have jumped off that tour bus and hit out in an abandoned office? I would say to begin with most would not have, but then to have the courage and the guts to strike up conversations with producers and actors and explain to them what you’re looking to do. And then my absolute favorite part, which there are many, was what he’d done the fourth day and what led to that fourth day. He had to have known in his head that it wasn’t going to end with a three day pass. So we got to know Scotty and to me Scotty was the security guard or the usher from the hockey games that I was going to and I’m sure he watched the different people coming in and out, how one, they knew each other.

All they needed to do is smile and wave even though it seems so incredibly glamorous. It’s a small world that they all live in. It becomes pretty routine. So people pull up, they walk through the gate, they wave, they know him and after three days he knew him. And if you’re good enough, getting in is the hardest part. It wasn’t like he started thinking about films when he was 19 he’d been doing them since he was 12 he just needed to find a way in and once he got in he had the drive and the personality to make the connections and yes, there’s always an unsung hero and Chuck silvers was that guy. He not only encouraged this young, talented man to keep doing this, and he didn’t kick him out to go by the rules, but even challenged them, he said, okay, enough, stop shmoozing bring us your work.

And he did. And the rest is history. And I can bet that Chuck silvers would say he’s so glad that he didn’t play by the rules either because he’s the one that gives Steven Spielberg his big break and they’re all better off for it. So yeah, we need to know what the rules are, but we also need to know when the rules should be broken. And they both did it so masterfully and that’s why this is such a great story. So did he fake it till he made it? Maybe. Did he act like he belonged? Absolutely. And something tells me that even if he didn’t get in that time to universal, that Steven Spielberg was going to find a way to make it. But I’m so glad it didn’t happen. The normal route and that it happened in such an unconventional, creative, and different way that gives hope and inspiration to people that do not have the connections. And it shows that there’s always a way. If you have the dream and you have the desire, I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 185- Act Like You Belong Part I

This topic we’re going to talk about today is a pretty fun one for me because there’s a phrase that goes around all the time, which is fake it till you make it. And I have a love hate relationship with this phrase because on the surface I don’t like it. Don’t be something that you’re not. But the flip side of it is how do you get started when you have no experience? So I don’t believe in fake it till you make it. Because I don’t believe in faking something, but I say it a little differently and it goes like this. Act like you belong. Oh I guess you could challenge and say faking is acting. Maybe that same thing. But I do know that action and experience leads to confidence, which makes us able to do the work better, which in time will make us legitimate and the things that we do.

So one night during the harrowing and eyeopening, first year of me trying to become a sports photographer, I learned that it didn’t always go the way that I thought it might go. And I see so many people even afraid to try something because they’re fearful of what people are going to think about them or what’s going to happen to them or would they be found out. But you need to try things to learn and sometimes you need to push boundaries, at least nudge to see how sturdy they are. Because what we think is set in stone isn’t always that way. So for over a year, my sports photography career was built off of me buying tickets to games as cheapest possible and trying to get the best access I can. And they became kind of a dance with the different ushers. So I needed to understand the security guards and ushers were doing what they were looking out for.

And I had to be willing to risk getting thrown out of the game to be able to get close enough to be able to make an image that would maybe get the attention of somebody within my portfolio. So desperation could be a bad thing, but often it could be a motivator. So I was not in a big rush, but I remember going to some games and sitting as close as I possibly could without getting to the usher of the security and I’d watch them. But not only that I watched them, but I watched the photographers, I watched how they acted, I watched how they dressed and they didn’t act and dress the way that I thought they would, especially the acting part. To me it was the greatest job in the world. You’re literally up against the glass. You’re photographing the game. You’re as close as anybody could possibly be.

And to me at that point, it sounded so incredibly exciting. But what I knew and what I learned from watching these people was they all looked bored out of their minds. They’d saunter over to the glass, they’d grab their chair, they’d nod to the security guard, they’d make small talk that offer him a piece of gum and they just sit there doing nothing. They weren’t a rabid fan, excited wearing a tee shirt of their favorite team. They didn’t dress like they were going to a hockey game. And I also noticed they didn’t wear tee shirts and they generally wore sweaters of dark colors as one photographer was leaving one time in between periods. I said, why do all the photographers kind of dress the same? And he said, I never wear white because if you wear a white you’re sure it will be reflected in the glass.

And in those days we needed to shoot through the glass. And I was like, ah, okay. So I was kind of doing my due diligence of what it was like to be a hockey photographer. So one time I got the nerve, I saw a folding chair sitting there next to the glass. There was a security guard sitting there looking almost as bored as the photographers looked. So it just felt right. And I said, it’s time to take my chance. And now I was dressed right. I figured out what clothes to wear to look just like the other photographers looked. Instead of being excited and nervous, I got my game face to meet her on, which was to look disinterested and with access that anybody else could have taken. I walked right down with my camera of my shoulder, I grabbed the chair, I sat down in the moment of truth, I looked up at the security guard and I just nodded slowly and he just looked at me and I just had two words. “Another game.” 

And he looked at me and looked back and he goes, yup, another game. And I turned towards the ice. I started shooting warmups. He turned towards the crowd to make sure that somebody that didn’t belong didn’t walk down to ice level. And during the entire game I shot. And then in between periods just made small talk with this guy and I have everything that I needed, camera, demeanor, the clothes. The one thing I didn’t have was a press pass, but he never asked me for a press pass because I acted like I belonged. So that entire season I strategically would enter the arena and sit wherever he was guarding. And we knew each other by name. At this point we would laugh and joke around. Even one time another security guard questioned when my press pass was and he interjected and he goes, no, he’s okay.

And now I had the other guy on my side, so I got the shooting an entire season of NHL hockey and build my portfolio and actually be friend other photographers, other ushers and other security guards because I acted like I belonged. And I really believe that way too many people are just afraid to take a chance. Optics matter and success stories are piled up all over from people who in the very beginning acted like they belonged so that they can get that first break. Because if you’re ambitious enough and you’re good enough and you work hard enough, often the first break is the only one that you’re going to need. And most people underestimate the impact that having access will do for your career access get you in the game, it gets you to meet the right people. It gets you to learn the things that you never would have learned without it. And whether you’re at a cocktail party or a networking gathering or you’re trying to figure out a way how to shoot your first hockey game, understand the people around you, understanding how those people think and act and learning how to act like you belong there will help you go a long way to achieving your goals. I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 184- Two Reasons Why People Struggle Financially

I’m going to tell you today why I think most people struggle with money because the large majority of people that struggle with money overestimate how much they need an underestimate how much they spend. I don’t do it anymore, but for a period of time I did a good amount of personal finance coaching and you learn a lot about people when you dive deep, not only to their money situation but into their psyche about money. And it’s so easy to say as I’ve recited before, and as Dave Ramsey says, live on less than you make. That’s common sense. It’s obvious. It’s quite easy to do when you have the right framework in your mind about money, but unfortunately most people are not raised or taught to have a solid mindset around money. That’s why we go into these two ideas of why I think so many people struggle in my book, freelance to freedom.

I talked about it with the idea of your FRUIT. So what does fruit when it comes to your expenses? Every month I have you gather your fruit. F is food or is your residence or your housing, you are your utilities, I or your insurance and your investments and T our transportation and taxes. And when I have people gather that up, they really see right in front of their own face how they overestimate how much they need. And subsequently they underestimate how much they actually spend. It’s actually a really fun exercise to do and I challenge you to do it either by yourself or with your spouse and not having control. This I think is why so many people struggle with money. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to or coached that make $125,000 a year or 140 or 105 and they don’t have any money to show for it.

And they say funny things like, well, we don’t spend on extravagant things. You know, we don’t have real fancy cars or big vacations. I’ll say, well, the average American household incomes around $50,000 maybe a little bit more, you make twice as much as that. Where’s your money? And they have no answer. So how can you make that much money and quote unquote not buy extravagant things and consistently had nothing to show for it. And simply because they don’t track it. Because if you knew what your fruit was, if you knew what all those expenses are, you will know where your money is going and what they find in the first part of it, the overestimating how much they need. The biggest creep that does them in is they start turning wants into needs. Gymnastics for the kids is no longer a want. It’s a need because once it’s in the budget or we can’t pull it out or the travel expenses that come with those activities, all these things that are not necessarily bad things, but we’ve turned them into needs.

And as typical Americans do, as you make more money, you find a way to spend more money. But so many people do it where it doesn’t benefit them. And the one hack we learned was that once we reach our fruit, we start paying attention to spending our money in things that become investments. And what do investments do? They reduce your taxable income. And this is why I try to convince so many people to quit their job and go in and do their business. Because like the episode that I did where I talked about rich dad, poor dad, the rich buy assets and poor buy liabilities. The difference between the people that succeed with money and those that don’t, especially in the lower to upper middle class, is that after the fruit is covered, people doing well with their money, take the rest of that money or a good percentage of it and they put it towards assets and the people that aren’t put it towards liabilities and the ones that put it towards liabilities still see those liabilities as a need.

And when you put it in the need category, your spending consistently creeps up. So we wind up underestimating how much we spend. And they usually fool themselves by thinking, Oh we don’t spend on expensive things, but what they’re spending on is a bunch of liabilities. They’re putting their money generally towards things that are not making them more money. And I’m all for fun and activities and entertainment. But you have to know what percentage of your income goes towards that. And you’d be amazed by how many budding entrepreneurs, freelancers, they want to put the money to invest in their business so they can grow the business and make it more successful so they can either go on and quit their job or just have more time with their family or have less financial stress or eliminate some of the work that they don’t want to do.

So they could take on more work that they do want to do. But I’m astonished how so many people that have these dreams and goals and they know that it’s their future, but there’s no money left to invest in it because all the money’s been spent in other areas that actually creep up their budget but do very little to increase their future success. So they keep on riding this hamster wheel and they keep on making good money or decent money and having nothing to show for it is why I think financial education needs to be so important going forward, not just for adults, but for kids. Because way too many people are struggling when they don’t need to be. And this is a topic, obviously it’s near and dear to my heart, because in all those years in writing the book, we’d never had the biggest income in the world. We just did our best to not overestimate how much we needed and to underestimate how much we were spending. So pay attention and write out your fruit, figure out what money is going towards assets and what money’s going towards liabilities. And if the categories are off, shift them around so you’re spending less on liabilities and more on assets. And with that, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 183- Lemonade and the Law

So it’s really interesting to see entrepreneurship becoming such a hot trend for the young and the older. Entrepreneurship, when I was growing up, it was not even part of a conversation. There was nowhere to learn it, there was nobody teaching it and there were so many hurdles and hoops to jump through to get started. So so many of us did the traditional route of getting a job because it’s, we were taught to do. You go to college, you get a job and you settle for doing what somebody else tells you to do. And the script has flipped tremendously now, but the rise of the internet, computers, cell phones, and just mobility to do work from anywhere. But when you think about a first entrepreneurial venture, the first thing that you see kids doing is the good old fashioned lemonade stand. Now, with all the ventures that I’ve had in this field, I don’t think I ever did a lemonade stand.

It just was not appealing to me to put a tad at thable in front of my house and to make lemonade, just to wait for somebody to show up to buy a cup for 25 cents for my active ADHD brain, which wasn’t even diagnosed at that point. I needed something with a little bit more life, but it is the first start often for kids to realize how to sell, how to talk to people, and that if you do good, there’s no limit really to the amount of money you can make. But something interesting happened in 2018- all of a sudden kids lemonade stands started getting shut down for operating without a business license. If you can believe that, if that’s not a sign of the legality of this country going too far, I’m not sure what is, but what happened was a brilliant move and a brilliant marketing technique by Country Time Lemonade. 

Now essentially, if a kid has a lemonade stand, there’s a good chance that they’re using Country time as their product. So that summer, country time lemonade had a mission and it was this-helping young entrepreneurs who get tangled in red tape by overzealous local governments and grinches. How’s that for a catchy title.  country Time saw all these new stories about kids getting busted for their lemonade stands and they brilliantly came up with a title legal aid spelled ADE like lemonade. And Leo Burnett helped create this. And what they did was they invited parents to apply for reimbursement to cover the cost of permits and find up to $300 and they even did a video summarizing the highlights of how absurd this whole thing was around the country. They said, kids are getting busted for running lemonade stands, entrepreneurship, good work habits, good old fashioned fun, shut down because of old, but very real laws.  And the videos were cute- it shows these little victims and they’re fictional legal sharks fighting for their rights to be able to sell lemonade on the street. But it was such a brilliant marketing technique. And even though they have a big marketing budget, unlike most freelancers and entrepreneurs, it shows what can be done if you really pay attention to what’s going on to begin with. It was a real time marketing campaign. It wasn’t something that worked up over years that didn’t relate to the public. Around the time that they launched this three brothers aged two to six with their mother had to shut down their lemonade stand because other permitted vendors at the park complained because the boys were undercutting their prices. That’s what they told the police. Oh, on top of it, the kids were raising money for charity. So country time did this so well, not only their, their fingers on the pulse of what the people who buy their product were dealing with or paying attention to, but they were able to do it in a way that showed that they had heart of  compassion and a sense of humor, really humanizing a big corporation, and on top of it, the entire campaign did nothing but call direct attention to their number one product, which is their lemonade.

And even by doing so, they didn’t have to commit very much money at all. So in a day and age where so many of these corporations are so out of touch, but the public where it’s about bottom line and market share, country time position itself as a very human company who are for the people and show that they’re paying attention to what’s going on in their world. And even the statement they made in one of their ads shows their humor. Life doesn’t always give you lemons, but when it does, you should be able to make and share lemonade with the neighborhood without legal implications. This is what legal aid said on their website. That’s why we’re here to take a stand for the lemonade stands across the nation. And it just made me think about small business and the businesses that we’re all running and how we can use that and the examples around us to do creative marketing like they did and how you can use the news and pop culture and things that are happening in the moment that are relevant to your business and your product and how you can use that via social media or traditional advertising or even within your own content of writing or blogs or podcasts to take something that’s relevant in your world and put a human and real spin on it.

Because I think it’s fun seeing stories like this with country time and other brands lately within social media that are quick on their feet and they’re paying attention and they’re not just going with some stodgy campaign that was pre-packaged and pre-planned. And this is why companies like country time stay ahead of their competition because after doing so and standing up for these kids and their families, a big business has found a way to create raving fans. There’ll be with them for a long time and would not think about switching products after that company made a campaign about them. So I hope this makes you think a little bit, cause it has for me and I just love that story and I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 182- The Four Quadrants

One of the books and the messages than had a profound effect on me, to go from where I was to where I wanted to go to was a book called the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Now, there were so many gems in this book. It was in the very beginning of my entrepreneurial phase. I’m pretty sure I read it in 2005 when I started to read all these books that I had never heard of before and it couldn’t help think to myself all these years that I was in school and in college. Why are all these books I was reading now? Why were none of them introduced to me in school? That’s why I love it. I’ll meet somebody that’s been in the world that I used to be in. Then all of a sudden they discover this and they start reading these books and listen to these podcasts and you can see the change.

You could see the mindset and the excitement and all the possibilities start rushing into their head. It’s like a whole new world’s been introduced to them. And this book along with rich dad, poor dad QBQ by John Miller, Dave Ramsey, Dan Miller, Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid, a ton of Seth Godin books, all around the same time. I read them in more and it led to a dramatic shift in the way I thought and the way I worked and the way I connected. But this book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was a big deal for me. And the part that hit home the most was when he laid out as four quadrants. And I’m going to run through them today with you and explain why they were so impactful in what quadrant is where I realized I needed to spend my time. So with these quadrants, you basically place each activity you do into one of these four quadrants.

So quadrant one is urgent and important. Quadrant two is not urgent and important. Quadrant three is urgent and not important. And quadrant four is not urgent and not important. And as Covey said, the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves. So the idea behind quadrant one are things that require your immediate attention. These are things you couldn’t have foreseen or maybe things that could have a few or a plan for them. So what you do in your in quadrant one is you’re managing crisises and problems. And a lot of people spend time here. Spend a lot of time here. If your life, if your activities revolve around drama, you will spend a significant amount of time in quadrant one because the more time you spend in quadrant one putting out fires, the less time you spend on activities that will prevent quadrant one activities.

So you constantly go from fire to fire putting it out, never planning ahead, never learning and living in a state of constant panic and anxiety. What it does is, as we’ve seen with so many people is it leads to stress and it leads to burnout because this never ends. Quadrant two though are things that are not urgent, but they’re important. So these are things like relationship building, building your network, building your network is never urgent unless you’re in quadrant one and an example of that is you’re writing in a book, but you need a big time endorsement. So you spent no time developing relationships, having conversations, go into conferences, meeting with different people. That would be great to endorse your book. You spent no time on that. But now your book publisher is saying who’s endorsing the book? And then you try to scramble to get an endorsement that’s urgent and that’s important, but it’s not doing the right way.

So in quadrant two, when you’re not urgent but important, you’re doing all those things before you need it. Exercises the same way. When do people actually make a change in their health when they’re desperate, when something’s gone wrong, when they feel awful, when their doctor says they need to change, now that’s when they do it again. Instead of doing it in quadrant two they’ve deferred to now they have to do it in quadrant one which is not good for the health and it’s not good for longterm planning. So all these things, strategic planning, education, personal development, all the things we know we need to do, but we don’t really get around to it because it’s not urgent. Then there’s quadrant three. These are the things that are urgent but not important, and this is a world that so many of us live in today and here’s why.

When he wrote this book in 1989 there were certainly distractions, but those distractions pale in comparison to what we have in terms of distractions today. Think about the people that message you or somebody that needs something right now, but when it comes to your life at this moment, it’s not important. Like we’ve said, often your lack of planning doesn’t lead to my emergency. A lot of meetings can fall into this. The most successful people I know often do not take meetings. Also somebody else’s phone call where they might just be looking to waste time. That’s an urgent thing when the phone rings, but it’s not always important. So when you’re in the spot, when you’re in quadrant three you need to learn how to say the magic word of know or figure out ways of delegating this or outsourcing this to are quadrant three activities.

Don’t take up a whole lot of your time. And then there’s quadrant four which is not urgent and not important. So if you are scrolling social media for long periods of time, if you were just laying in front of the television endlessly channel surfing, spending hours on social media and on the internet with nothing but mindless entertainment. Yup, that’s quadrant two. See I wouldn’t say daydreaming and thinking is in here cause I don’t think you need to be doing something active for it to be important. Some of my best ideas come from just sitting there doing nothing and thinking but mindlessly being entertained for long periods of time. Certainly qualify for quadrant four which is not urgent and not important. So after reading this, this really compartmentalized everything for me in terms of how I spent my time. And it was quite obvious and I think it’s obvious to you that the best quadrant to spend time in it’s quadrant to the time of not urgent and important.

If you work out and exercise before you need to, you’re going to be healthier and stronger longer. If you reach out and build connections and relationships before you might need anything. When you do need something, if you ever do need something, the chance of that relationship yielding something that’s going to benefit you, it’s going to be way higher. Think about how many times have you got the phone call or message from somebody you haven’t heard from in years and they want something immediately that somebody living in quadrant one, not quadrant two which is you can see if you do that over and over again, it’s going to lead to less success in their life. So I can point back to this book and these quadrants as when my time efficiency became so much greater and the crazy part about it as I spend my time in quadrant two not only is my life become more efficient and successful, but I have a whole lot more free time because the things that are most important get done first and that leaves time for the other things.

If you want to do it, if you’ve done all the things you needed to do in quadrant two for the day, you stay in shape, you build your business, you build your relationships and you do that effectively and efficiently. There’s time for all those other things if you want them. The problem is as you do this, you find out you don’t really want them, but most people are so busy in quadrant one, three and four and they wind up being so busy while getting so little done that if they can learn to switch and do quadrant two stuff first and spend most of your time there, I can assure you your success levels and your happiness as well as the quality of your relationships will increase day after day. I hope that helps and I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 181- What I Learned From Meeting The Dalai Lama

I remember the day clearly I was inside of the offices for the Associated Press in the heart of New York City at Rockefeller Center, and as I was leaving the office to go home, I was giving my photo assignment for the next day and my editors said to me, you better buckle up. This is going to be a big one. It turned out that the Dalai Lama was in New York and I would be spending the day with him and the next day he’d be teaching 100 Buddhist monks at the Roseland Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan. Now at that point, I didn’t know nearly as much about the Dalai Lama and his history as I probably should have in 1998 the internet was just starting to boom. So I got home, I got to do a little bit of research and learn about this incredible man and then I got the rare opportunity to listen to him speak and watch the faces of these monks as they were mesmerized by his words and his message.

And then the madness of leaving the ballroom and then him walking through the New York city streets and me backpedaling with my camera navigating the bustling streets of Manhattan while trying to make great images of the Dalai Lama. And as I thought about recording this podcast, I haven’t seen any of the pictures that I shot since 1998 unfortunately, so much of my work has been archived in the AP directory and I really need to get ahold of them so I can have so many of these pictures that I shot. The upside of photographing these assignments is you get to be there as history is happening around some of the most influential and famous people in the world. But the downside is you don’t get to listen as intently as you wish you could because you’re working. But it was fascinating to listen to the spiritual leader of the Tibetans as he led the strategy of the peaceful resistance to the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

But one thing he said that I remember that I took note and I stored it away for future use as he talked about what was going on in China and in Tibet and what their struggles were and what they were learning and he said this, the enemy is a very good teacher. I can tell you this at 26 or whatever age I was when I heard that I did not understand it. Like I understand it today and what’s funny is I’ve had that written my notes for years suddenly do eventually look back on, maybe write about, and now I’m doing a podcast about it. But what I didn’t know when I started doing a little bit of research is that that quote by him is all over the internet in terms of inspirational quotes. So I guess I wrote down a good one. But I think as a culture we need to start embracing this mindset.

I think the worst thing that you can do is to block out the words of people who disagree with you. Now, I’m not saying you have to have them in your life and be friends with them, but you’ve gotta be able to hear it. One example of this is politics and buckle up because this next year is going to be a doozy, but another one is race and race relations. And judging by the little bit of news that I consume, it seems to be dying down just a little bit in terms of so much of the toxic race relations we’ve seen in the media over the past couple of years. But when that was red hot in the news, you saw a lot of people blaming each other and pointing fingers at each other and a whole lot of people talking, but not very many people listening. That’s what I want to talk about.

A guy named Daryl Davis. Davis is a black man, a musician who plays the blues and one night when he was, he was at a bar called the silver dollar lounge when he was approached by a white man who told him how much he enjoyed his music and they start talking together about the origins of blues music. And this guy says the Davis, you know, there’s the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man. So Davis asked him why, and the guy said that he was a member of the KU Klux Klan. And Davis started laughing because he didn’t believe it. And lo and behold, this guy pulled out his wallet and pulled out his Klan card. And when the guy went to leave, he gave Davis his number. He said, call me when you guys are back in town playing.

And Davis had an idea. He saw that a seed was planted and right then and there he decided to write a book and he was Davis’s crazy idea. He was going to meet and sit down and talk with Klan members throughout the country and ask them in person and face to face in real conversations, how can you hate me if you don’t even know me? So the Klan at this point was his enemy. It was an enemy of his culture. But Davis didn’t go in with hate. He went in with knowledge, he studied as much as he possibly could. And his first impression on the Klansman was that he was knowledgeable, that he had done his research and they appreciated that they might not have liked them immediately, but they had respect for him because he learned about their belief system and their organization. And once the enemies got talking, he used that knowledge to get them to start thinking a little differently because it turned out with all the studying that he did, he learned a lot more about the clan.

And even the Klansmen did. And what he learned, which is so great, is that if you spend five minutes with your worst enemy, you will find that you both have something in common. And through these conversations they had deep, meaningful, and often testy exchanges, but he used his wit and his knowledge and his heart to try to understand the way that they felt. He said clearly that he didn’t try to convert them at all. He just wanted to learn. And he learned that as they started having these conversations and they started resonate a lot more in common than they thought. They began starting a friendship. And there’s a lot of talk about Davis and about how he converted 200 members away from the clan, but he says he didn’t convert them. He said that they saw the light and converted themselves. So I want you to think about this, whether it’s race or politics or your family, screaming at people and calling them names and being righteous will never make somebody change their mind for your benefit.

In fact, it will probably push them further the other way, and trust me, I’ve done this enough times in my life to see that righteousness does not work, but being that politics is going to be such a hot button issue this year. If you’re a staunch conservative or died in the wool liberal instead of blocking, mocking and degrading people that don’t think like you, maybe you can try doing what Davis did. Sit down and talk to them. Listen, ask them questions. Let them ask you questions and see what happens. See if you don’t get somebody to understand your side a little bit more, maybe you don’t convert them, but what you might see is that they’re really not much different than you anyway, and even though your enemy could be your best teacher, they might not even be your enemy. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.