A friend of mine has a dilemma.
He is employed, full time, in the world of insurance. The problem is, he makes good money. You might be thinking- why would making good money be a problem? The money, it turns out, keeps him stuck. He doesn’t like his job. It’s been a long time since he’s enjoyed doing the work.
A quick backstory for you. He got into the insurance world twelve years ago after graduating from college. It was never intended to be a career. He had just graduated from college and with the 2008-2009 recession in full swing, it was a safe bet to get working in a safe industry and get started in the real world.
He turned out to be good at it. So good, in fact, that a decade later, he was one of the best in his area. A few new additions were added to his life as well. A wife, their son and their daughter. Within the past few years he noticed this uncomfortable feeling in his stomach regarding his career. When he started, there was the need to make a living. That was followed by the chase for success, and then the pressure to support a family and build ‘the good life’.
He apparently achieved those things, but there was an emptiness he couldn’t describe. The awakening didn’t come in a lightning bolt moment. It happened over time, during the commute and while listening to different podcasts and videos that had nothing to do with insurance and more to do with business.
He had a desire to build a business in a creative area that was always a hobby of his. It was actually more than a hobby. It was a passion that he put time into in the early mornings, evenings and weekends.
“If I could,” he told me, “I’d do it for free.”
That is a great sign for starting a business or building a career off of. When you are willing to do something for free, you have made your mission about more than just money from the start. To handle the storms, challenges and the rocky waters that come with the world of entrepreneurship, it’s essential that there is a deeper passion than just money.
It was impressive to watch him build this from an idea, to a basic business, to something that had momentum and the real potential to be something that could give him energy, passion and excitement. What it also potentially gave him was a solid income and potentially multiple income streams to be able to do this full time on his own terms. No boss. No commutes. No limits.
Unfortunately, he didn’t think it was possible. I asked him a few questions.
“If you left your job on good terms, is there a good chance that you would get this job back, or one that is similar.”
“Oh, in a heartbeat,” he said confidently. “Not even just here. I’ve been offered better paying positions but I stayed here out of loyalty.”
His side business at this point was earning more than half of what his full time job paid, all while working part time hours on it. I asked him to imagine how much he could make if he was able to put in full time hours.
After a little more back and forth, I asked him the question that I was hoping would really open his eyes.
“If you went full time with your business,” I asked, “what is your worst case scenario?”
He gave it a good few seconds to think about it.
“Worst case?, he delayed while thinking. “It doesn’t work out and I go back and and get my job back in insurance. I might even consider taking one of those other higher paying positions as well.”
I let the silence sit there for a few seconds.
“So, at this moment” I stated, “you are currently living your worst case scenario.”
His silence was deafening. Apparently, he got it. It had never crossed his mind that he is already living his worst case scenario. My friend is now on the fast track to leaving his job and going out on his own, in a career that he is incredibly excited about and one where his income potential can dwarf his current salary. Sometimes, it’s a change in mindset that can be the catalyst in advancing a change in career.
If you find yourself in a similar spot in your career. I would challenge you to ask yourself a few questions.
Are you already living your worst case scenario? And if so, why aren’t you going after what you really want?
In a new feature to the Total Life Freedom Podcast, we are introducing “The Master Series”. This should have been something that we did much sooner, but as the title of this newsletter goes, I wasn’t able to see it because of the reasons we will discuss today.
What is the Master Series, you might ask? Within the Total Life Freedom Community, we have weekly calls with experts in all things entrepreneurship, business, money and freedom. These are live Q&A and guest expert calls, and often they come from the outside- people like John Ruhlin from Giftology, Bob Burg from the Go-Giver book series, John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire, and many, many more. Often, they come from the experts within the TLF family and they get the platform to teach us in their area of expertise.
We have so many hours of calls recorded, but until now, we haven’t shared it with you or on the podcast. The Master Series is pulling back the curtain a bit to the TLF Community, and what we have going on inside. The first episode is a special one for me. Seth Godin has been a mentor, an influence and a guide for me for more than fifteen years. I read many of his books- Poke The Box, Purple Cow, Permission Marketing, after hearing him as a guest on the Dave Ramsey Show. It’s possible that I’ve read all of his nineteen best selling books.
Godin generously endorsed my book, Freelance to Freedom, which in my mind made the book a career success before one book was even sold. At the start of 2019, the Total Life Freedom Community did a year long, deep dive study of his newest book, This Is Marketing. As a group, we did two live calls a month where, chapter by chapter, we broke down the lessons of the book and applied it to our businesses.
Again, Godin surprised my when he agreed to come on a call with TLF to do a live Q&A session. For an hour, he knocked it out of the park doing rapid fire precision answers. As a treat to you, our first Master Series is a clip from that Q&A, which is the podcast episode linked to below. I hope you check it out.
As I was getting that episode prepared, I thumbed through Godin’s book, the Icarus Deception, which I believe is one of his most underrated books. In doing so, I was struck by a line that would have been easy to pass over.
“The difficult part of seeing is setting aside what you are sure you already know,” Godin wrote.
This quote sums up, so succinctly, what stops us, holds us back and limits us. What’s amazing, it that this is across the board in our lives. It’s not that we don’t have access to the information we need. It’s that we already believe we have the answer so we don’t allow ourselves to see a different point of view, opinion or fact.
This is especially true in politics today. Everyone believes that they are right. They are sure that the person who sees it differently is wrong, and is in need of more information, knowledge or an awakening. People heavily involved in spreading information on politics are ‘sure they already know’. But, as is the case in a polarizing election year, they are unwilling to set that aside to possibly see something different. And the crazy cycle goes round and round.
But it’s not just politics. It’s business. Family. Money. Relationships.
Could it be that we just aren’t curious enough? Is it possible that we aren’t paying attention to other things that are going on because it doesn’t fit our worldview?
I can tell you that this has been one of the biggest roadblocks for me as well. I read that line from the book, and I literally had to put the book down and just think. I knew that more reading would take me away from diving deeper into this thought. So many of my struggles have stemmed from me not seeing things because I could not put aside what I already knew. Have you ever argued or disagreed with someone when you had no interest in hearing their point of view, only speaking to convince them to see your point of view? Yeah, me too. It’s the ultimate sign of arrogance and ignorance.
We talk so much about needing more education. But that education is useless if we don’t allow ourselves to see something different and replace, at times, what we already know. Isn’t it astounding that what we already know may be the thing that is holding us back from learning what we need to know?
The pain isn’t felt until it hits close to you.
My friend, Anthony Causi, passed away on Easter Sunday from the Coronavirus. Anthony and I are the same age. We’re both Italian, from New York, and, without knowing each other at the time, we both decided in 1994 to pursue our dream of being a professional sports photographer.
Our paths were very different, but in so many ways, incredibly similar.
Anthony was all in when it came to the world of journalism and sports photography. I became jaded. Up until he contracted the deadly virus, he was at the top of his game, including heading down to Florida in March to cover spring training and then to the Big East Tournament, where he was sitting courtside when it cryptically was cancelled during halftime of the game between Creighton and St. John’s. I quit the newspaper world in 2008. My freelance career continued, but my reliance and interest in staying in that space waned with each passing year.
I didn’t look back often, but I would experience twinges of regret when I’d see Causi post an image of his from a world championship game, or a behind the scenes image of him next to people like Mike Tyson, Tom Cruise or any of the countless celebrities and athletes he’d schmooze with.
I loved being in that world, but I knew I was meant for other things. Anthony was built for that world. But as much as our careers zig zagged past each others and contrasted often, there were common themes. We both loved connection. We both adored our family. We both could talk anyones ear off, often too loud for our colleagues in the press room, and we each found so much value in sharing the benefits that we enjoyed with the access that we were granted with others.
I remember walking towards the ice with Anthony before the start of game 7 of a playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. He stopped to grab a picture with Iceberg, the Penguins mascot, to send to a friend’s kid. I didn’t get to see him often, but I heard countless stories of him going out of his way for others to teach them about photography, or to connect someone he met with a different friend who could be of help, or to take pictures of fans and go out of his way to send a print or a file to them.
On March 31st, my friend Jared Wickerham posted on Facebook that Anthony was in the hospital on a respirator while fighting COVID-19. Anthony was the first person that I knew personally that was hit hard from the virus. I checked daily on his status, as his wife Romina, who was also battling the virus, would give occasional updates. Days would go by, with no word. It was bad enough that he was going through this, that his wife and two young kids couldn’t go see him made it more painful. About a week ago, she gave an update that Anthony was improving.
After that, it was almost total silence.
On Easter Sunday, as our family wrapped up a backyard game of wiffle ball, I checked his status again. All I saw were more prayers sent from family and friends. I went to my phone before bed, which I shouldn’t do. I took a deep breath as I saw the attached article from my friend Dennis Clark reporting Causi’s death.
I won’t go into my feelings and emotions, because we all know what it feels like to lose a friend. But what struck me is what happened the next day. There is a time when we find out the type of impact that we have on the world. For some, it’s a quiet remembrance. For others, unfortunately, it can be of hostility. Others, like Anthony, have their life reflected back.
A Go Fund Me was set up for his wife and two kids. Within 24 hours, it had raised more than the original goal of $150,000. People from the New York Mets, New York Rangers and other teams made public statements explaining the impact that Anthony has had on their world.
The kindness that he exhibited during his life was given back. The times that he went out of his way to use his access to let a friends son stand on the court for the New York Knicks during warm ups, and then shoot a picture and send to the dad, was shared. The stories of him teaching photography- from fans in the crowd, all the way up to players for the New York Yankees, kept pouring in. I thought immediately to the scene at Wrigley Field, as the New York Mets were about to sweep the Chicago Cubs and go to the World Series for the first time in 15 years. The final inning was about to start, but Causi turned away from the field and towards the crowd.
With his arms raised, he found a way to get them even more excited. He shot images of the fans in all of their glory, and then collected information to send those same images to the fans. That moment is how I will remember him. And it made me think.
How do I want to be remembered?
Is it the size of my house? The amount of money in my bank account? My “successes”? Death has a way of showing us what life is about way more than life does. When I read about how his friends reacted to his death, it wasn’t because he wouldn’t be sitting next to Kim Kardashian or joking around with Rihanna any longer. It was because he made everyones life more fun. It was because he couldn’t stop talking about his kids. It was because he went out of his way to make others feel special, while working hard on the work that he loved doing.
This is a crazy time for everyone. Unfortunately, Anthony Causi wasn’t given the opportunity to slow down like many of us have been given. And in your quiet time, I want you to think about how you will be remembered. And if you don’t like what you see, you have an opportunity to change that.
I know that I will.
I haven’t done this before in my weekly newsletter, but I received an interesting question and I thought it might be best to answer it for you here.
“I need to run my business during the coronavirus outbreak. But I’m struggling offering my services and seeming like I am trying to make a profit when so many people are struggling right now. I feel completely stuck and unsure of what to do. Can you help?”- Mark A.
Mark- first off, I get it. You didn’t mention what your business was, so I can’t get too specific with my answer. But the truth is, even before the coronavirus took hold of the world, many entrepreneurs and freelancers struggled to offer their services because of a fear of selling- or maybe more accurate- the fear of looking like they were being sales-ey. So if you were already feeling that way, this whole situation probably makes it more difficult for you. What this did was just expose in greater light how you already felt.
In your minds eye, you might see the news and believe that everyone is struggling and in a panic. It dominates our news, our social media and our general conversations.
Would it surprise you if I told you that there are a lot of businesses thriving right now? That might sound crazy because it might seem as thought the world is coming to an end. And yes, many businesses have been hit, and hit hard. Restaurants, live events, public speakers, photographers, event planners and others have all been greatly affected by this pandemic.
But not only are many doing well, it’s quite amazing to see the resilience in how many of the ones hit hard are bouncing back. On the Total Life Freedom Podcast this week, I am doing a full week of reinvention stories from people I know who are reinventing what they do on the fly.
Last night, for example, The Bonefish Grill created an amazing offer for carryout that we jumped on. They appeared as busy as ever, and we left a nice tip for the staff. Speakers are reinventing their offerings online. Live events have shifted virtual, and new income streams are being created.
One thing I want to point out, is that none of these companies had “a fear of selling.” Bonefish wasn’t giving their food away for free as to not appear greedy. They know that they could help a lot of people stuck inside, tired, and looking for an amazing meal. (And it was- the salmon and whipped potatoes were fantastic!) And they knew that the cost was one that so many people were excited to pay for.
Understand this- not everyone is struggling. Not just that- there are people who were ready to spend money on tons of things- travel, eating out, ballgames, activities- where they can’t spend it now. So there actually is a lot more money in some pockets than before. The question for you is- can you make your offer appealing enough and helpful enough- that your potential clients are excited to part with their cash because it helps them?
As a consumer, there are things we want and need. Services and products that I am thrilled to give up my cash for. I need that thing way more than I need the cash! Think about it- if you drove around with a truckload of toilet paper right now for sale, you would have people chasing you down the street (six feet apart from each other, of course) with wads of cash in their hand excited to give it to you.
So start thinking about what you can offer that they might need now. Meaning, for many of your customers, the world is going to look much different to them from now on. What service or offer can you add that you haven’t before? For us, we have had so many questions about the world of homeschooling. They want to learn how to do it, they would love a community of homeschoolers to connect to, and they want to learn that with us. So that is a new offer that we are rolling out soon. Two months ago, it wasn’t on our- or their- minds.
Don’t let the fear of selling stop you from providing the value that so many need. There are many things more valuable than money.
Like toilet paper, mango salsa salmon and whipped potatoes, among many others.
It’s late Saturday night, and I’m on a red eye flight leaving San Diego while I write this. I was in San Diego to attend an event called HPX Live- High Performance Experience, which is led by Brendon Burchard. It’s a three day, transformational experience that is as exhilarating as it was exhausting. Exhausting, in a great way.
For three full days, Burchard energized, informed and challenged the attendees. I love the energy, and I love the information- but I really love the challenges.
I truly believe that if I am to improve consistently, I need to not only embrace challenges daily, but I also need to actively seek them out. By accepting challenges- difficult questions, for instance- we are opening ourselves up to stop pretending like we know all of the answers. Have you ever blown off a difficult question because it would force you face a harsh truth that you weren’t comfortable discussing? Yeah, me too. Although the avoidance feels good in the moment, it pushes the discomfort down into your gut, where it manifests negatively. Not just with you, but in the people in your life who wish that you would face the challenge.
“Who in your life needs you to be a better role model?” Burchard asked us. And then he said that someone we love is watching us more closely than we think they are. Sometimes these comments breeze past you, and sometimes they hit.
That one hit.
Burchard challenge us to answer a question during that break, and write down our answers. The question was a difficult one for me. And it wasn’t because I couldn’t think of one. It’s because I wasn’t comfortable answering it.
“What three things would you change to be a better role model?”, he asked.
After spending a few minutes writing down our answers, we then broke out into groups of five to brainstorm together. Remember that we were supposed to come up with three answers? You might find that hard, but me? I was at eight when we stopped writing and got together.
Here’s what I wrote.
1- Be more complimentary to my awesome wife and kids.
2- Get off of my phone!
3- I need to be a better listener.
4- My exercise habits aren’t of ‘role model’ status for my kids.
5- My work ethic certainly can improve.
6- Healthier eating.
7- I am not dreaming big enough.
8- Be more present in the moment!
Trust me…there’s more. We just ran out of time. Writing these on Thursday was painful. But typing them while flying over Arizona early Sunday morning, knowing that you are going to read it, is empowering.
Because getting it out of my gut, onto paper and then into the world where I am forced to change is what is going to challenge me to get better.I know that I will receive emails, messages or phone calls asking how I’m doing with this. By me knowing that people are watching- often closer than I think- it is the accountability I need to improve.
I want to pass this challenge along to you. Burchard did it so well that I won’t deviate from his approach on this.
Question 1- Who in your life needs you to be a better role model?
Remember- someone you love is watching you more closely than you think they are. And…
Question 2- What three things would you change to be a better role model?
I challenge you to do this. If you would like, email me with your answers here. Show it to your spouse. Post somewhere in a community that you are a part of and trust. But write it down, and get it out there.
Go be a role model!