“Are you sure I can’t start January 6th? I’m ready to start.”
“No, sorry. Orientation is January 13th. I appreciate the eagerness, Robbie, but you can’t start earlier than that.”
“Do I need to be in this two-week orientation? I programmed before, so I don’t need to be in this class. I’m ready to start the real job.”
“Sorry, Robbie. You must be in this class. I appreciate the eagerness, but you’ll have to finish the orientation. It’s only two weeks.”
I was the most eager new hire of all time. I just graduated college and was ready to join the workforce as a consultant. I was optimistic that I would be on the “career fast track.” I promise you that no one was more eager than me.
I knew what I wanted out of my career and in life. I didn’t want anything to slow me down. I wanted to work long hours. I wanted the challenge. I was ready to show my bosses how smart I was and how different than I was than everyone else.
Some people take a year off school to find themselves.
I never understood that. Find yourself? What is there to find, exactly?
And let’s be real. I had no money to take a year off anyway. I found myself in the mirror every morning. That was good enough.
Time off is for lazy people. Hell, I tried to convince Human Resources to start a WEEK EARLIER than my start date.
My first day after orientation completed I was taking a flight from O’Hare Airport to the client I was assigned in New York. At the airport, I met a work colleague that was on the same project as me.
I had so many questions for her.
How awesome is it to travel every week? The client seems super cool. How cool are they? Where does everyone hang out after work? They must be smart. What cities are they from?
Her response shocked me. She seemed frustrated. She talked about the struggles of working with the client and how traveling every week was tiring. She didn’t get along with her manager. She wasn’t complaining, but you can tell she wasn’t happy.
I shrugged it off. She’s probably having a bad day. It’s 6 a.m. on a Monday. She’s definitely having a bad day.
I paid close attention to her for the next six months.
She left work early every day. There was no way to leave without being noticed. She had to walk through a center aisle where all of her co-workers and managers sit.
This office wasn’t the “As long as you have work done, you can leave whenever you want” type of environment. If you left before 7 pm, you are doing something wrong.
I had several thoughts:
“She must not have her act together.”
“How dare she leave early every day, especially when everyone else stays until 7 pm. They are paying you money, the least you can do is obey the rules.”
Later that year, she quit and joined a competitor.
It surprised nobody.
I met with her a few years after she left.
She was happy. It was the best decision she’s ever made. She was doing the same work for someone else and yet everything was different.
It was then that I realized I was wrong about her.
When she left early, it wasn’t because she didn’t have her act together or she was a bad worker. It was the exact opposite.
She knew she wasn’t happy. She knew that her career wasn’t going to last long at her current company. She knew that leaving the office early would piss everyone off.
She had everything figured out! If they didn’t care about me, I’m not going to care about them.
Even if meant the death stares when walking out of the office.
She was free, and no one was going to get in her way.
Some people suffer through 30 years of career misery before doing what’s right for their life and their career. It only took her six months.
“Oh. What’s the cheapest luggage you have? I just need a small handbag. I can’t afford this luggage.”
“This is the cheapest we have, Sir.”
Did you ever get to the point where you can’t look at your bank account because you’re afraid of what it’s going to tell you?
Have you ever added up your expenses in Microsoft Excel and couldn’t believe what the total was? I mean, literally not believe that the sum function in Excel was telling you the truth, so you added it by hand?
That was me.
The answer was the same regardless of how I added it up.
I was burning $10k / month in expenses, and I had no idea how this happened.
I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t party. I didn’t shop. I didn’t travel. I was reasonable with groceries. I had a mortgage and a wife that was more frugal than me.
How in the world did me living on my own means add up to $10k a month in expenses?
My expenses were higher than my income. I was losing money fast.
I flew to New York City to interview for a job I didn’t want. This job was was my backup plan.
While I was there, my luggage that I’ve had for a good 8 years fell apart 2 hours before my interview.
I was in the middle of New York City and was in a frantic mode to find new luggage. Luggage that I couldn’t afford.
I couldn’t come while holding my luggage in complete shambles. I would have been rejected before the first words came out of my mouth.
I made the last minute decision to buy new luggage. The new luggage that I definitely couldn’t afford. I had no choice. I couldn’t price comparison shop. I was running out of time.
I made a choice to not look at my bank account. I didn’t want to know the answer if I could afford this luggage or not.
18 months prior I made the decision to quit my full-time job. I was done with the rat race. I was done with the 9-5. I was done making money by the hour, even if it was considered “salary.” I knew I was capable of more. I needed to get out.
However, I couldn’t make it work financially being an entrepreneur without a stable source of income. My Plan A, B, and C failed. And most importantly, my cash reserves plummeted.
I had no choice but to get a salary job. I called it the “real world.” The world I was desperately trying to avoid. The real world is PLAN D.
And here I am fighting to get back into PLAN D.
The one smart thing I did when I quit my full-time job was to prepare for PLAN D.
Meaning, If I ever needed to get a full-time job I could make a few phone calls and explore my options. I did this by keeping in touch with previous co-workers. I did this by networking my ass off in Chicago. I took 250 coffee meetings in 400 days.
I learned new skills every day. Whether it was programming or marketing or writing, I made sure that I was ready to go.
“In case of emergency use this hammer to break open the glass.”
I built my own hammer.
Within a week of deciding that I needed to use my hammer to break the glass, I had 3 interviews lined up. Everything was going as planned.
All of them were in consulting. Nobody saw me as a marketer. Nobody saw me as a writer. Nobody saw me as a programmer.
They saw my previous 8 years of experience doing consulting. I was a consultant by their terms. That’s what I was good at in their eyes.
I had no time to tell them what my dream job was.
Income and stability are what I needed.
Fast forward a month, and all of the interviews are completed. Every meeting went well. I was 100% sure that I would get at least two offers, if not three.
Friday, May 24th, 2013. (Memorial Day Weekend)
I used the leverage of having 3 solid opportunities to let them all know that they needed to get back to me before Memorial Day. As luck would have it, I found all the answers on the Friday before Memorial Day.
The reality was that my financial situation was in bad shape and I needed income faster than they would ever know.
Then the first phone call came. I took a deep breath while watching my phone ring. “please let this be good news,” I thought to myself.
“Robbie. I would love to have you on. But, you’re a little too premature for what we need here. The team likes you, but let’s revisit in 6 months. We’ll have a much better idea of where you fit in at that time.”
In any typical situation, this was a positive outcome. The company isn’t ready for me, but they liked me. The door was still open.
But, not in my situation.
Anything that resulted in me not working the following week was a failure.
“Robbie. We’ve decided to put the position on hold. The team really likes you, but we need to feel out the market a little bit more. Can we revisit in the next 6-12 months?”
“Robbie. You’re too senior for this position. The team likes you, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a fit for us. When we have a more senior position open up, we’ll let you know”.
You know how I mentioned PLAN D? This final rejection was PLAN Z. I thought I had this job in the bag.
And here I am.
Jobless. Incomeless. Lost. Embarrassed.
I secretly wished they just told me that they didn’t like me. I wish the company said, “Robbie, you’re not qualified for this job.”
I would have felt better.
It was the longest weekend ever of my life. I needed to go back and look at my options again. I was determined.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend.
Everyone is off Monday.
To 99.99% of the world, a holiday on a Monday is a great thing.
That meant spending time with family. BBQ’ing, laughing and volleyball.
For me, it meant one more day I couldn’t apply for jobs. It was one more day I couldn’t email my contacts asking for referrals. It was one more day of me contemplating what my next steps were.
The day I got rejected by 3 different companies on one day wasn’t the longest day of my life. It was that following Monday, Memorial Day.
It was the first day I felt truly hopeless. I had everything under control. I PLANNED for this day, so this would never happen.
And here I am again, in a situation I told myself I would never be in.
6 weeks later I run into a co-worker at an alumni event. I must have worked with him for less than 2 days. I’m surprised he recognized me.
He asked me what I’m up to and I said: “Just finished my last gig, exploring my options.”
He was in a hurry, but he said to contact him the next day. He has an opening.
2 weeks later I nailed the interview and got an offer.
Thus, putting an end to PLAN D.
The funny thing is that I’m back to Plan A.
Plan A never dies. It just takes a little longer than you want it.
For many of you, you know you want out of your 9-5. You know you are more capable than what you’re achieving now. Except, that you’ve been in PLAN D mode since the day you started your career.
Don’t let PLAN D get in the way of what you want to accomplish. Just keep it there in case your original plan fails.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I hate articles that have the similar title’s as mine. I hate the promises that those articles make.
“How to become a millionaire in a year. Here are the secrets!” “How to make $10,000 / month in less than 60 days.”
I’m the first one’s to click on those articles, and I almost always leave disappointed. They aren’t realistic goals, nor do I find that they have simple, effective steps on how to get there. They’re promising I can double my income, or that I can increase my salary offers by providing plans that don’t actually work. I hate that I wasted my time even reading them.
So, here is my disclaimer for this article. I know that what I’m about to tell you works really well. When I say this, I really mean it worked really well for me. I’ve seen others in similar situations who have done what I do and recommend, and they are on the same trajectory.
I’m also a firm believer that if it works for me, it can and will work for you. I’m not going to lie, this guide requires a lot of work. But then again, everything worth having requires work and doing something different than you’ve done before.
The worst part about being broke, isn’t the actual broke part. That was fine. The worst part about being broke is that I couldn’t take any risks with my career.
I needed every dollar I can get. So, I couldn’t even take the slightest risk with my career. I couldn’t ask to be transferred to a new department for the fear that something bad might happen and I’ll lose my current job.
I couldn’t negotiate more than I wanted to because I feared that the hiring manager would rescind the offer.
I was stuck.
Luckily, I was able to get out of it and share my tactics.
So, let’s talk about money.
If you make $50,000 a year, I’ll teach you how to get $100,000 in 3 years. If you make $100,000 a year, I’ll teach you how to make $200,000.
Reminder, this is over 3 full years. Not 3 months. I went the realistic approach, because that’s what works. I’m all about what works.
Here is how you do it.
STEP 1: Separate yourself from your current job.
This requires a mind shift. A big mind shift.
You won’t make this happen by relying on your current employer. They won’t teach you the skills, they won’t pay you double within 3 years, and they won’t tell you how to advance your career.
So, get that out of your head. You have to separate yourself from your current job. I’m not saying become a delinquent. I’m just saying that this is not possible if you’re too busy working your ass off at your current job.
How to make this step a reality: Act like an independent consultant
An independent consultant is a person who is self-employed and gets paid by working at other companies on a contract. An independent consultant is unique in the sense that they can work on one client or multiple clients simultaneously, but it’s their responsibility to find clients to work on. If they don’t have a client, they don’t get paid. It’s that simple.
Achieving this goal is a big task and requires a different frame of mind.
Here is what you need to tell yourself:
You are no longer Michael Smith the full-time employee of Acme Corporation. You are now Michael Smith, the independent consultant who was contracted to perform a specific set of activities. Acme Corporation is no longer your full-time employer; it is your client who pays you for every hour that you work.
You have a 6-month contract with Acme Corporation in which they pay you for 40 hours of your time each week. Any time worked outside of these 40 hours must be pre-approved by the client.
Here’s the difference between the full-time employee and the independent consultant.
Michael Smith, full-time employee:
Hired to perform one activity, often gets involved in many other activities not specifically related to job function.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
Expected to work all day and night, including weekends even if the work doesn’t require it.
Pay is based on salary, not the value of his services.
Attends all required employee meetings, whether they directly pertain to his work or not.
Has a secure job for a successful company and doesn’t need to look for next gig.
Doesn’t take responsibility for something that went wrong if it wasn’t his fault.
Michael Smith, independent consultant.
Hired to perform one activity. Contractually not allowed to work on other work specifically not defined in the Statement of Work (SOW).
Master of a specific function; Knows a little bit of everything else, but is known for his specific function skill.
Expected to complete the deliverable based on agreed hours in the SOW — If he goes over those hours, it will require more difficult conversations and approvals in the budget to perform those activities.
Hourly rate is determined on how valuable his specific skill is and how important his skill is to the organization.
Attends few to no company meetings so he can focus on what he was contracted to do
Forced to continually look for new gigs and maintain his relationships with other companies to see what opportunities they have coming up.
Will stop getting paid once this contract ends, so is always thinking 2 steps ahead and planning for next gig.
Takes responsibility for something that went wrong, even if it was the client’s fault. Puts an action plan together to fix the issue and fixes the issue once the plan is approved.
See the difference between the two? They were both hired to do one thing, however one person ends up getting pulled in a million directions while the independent consultant has a clear vision what his job is.
The full-time employee Michael Smith has more stability than the independent consultant. But since he doesn’t have to look for new jobs, he isn’t expanding his network and forming new relationships.
The Most Successful People Are a Double Threat (or More) If you’ve ever complained about “not having a good enough job” or “not making enough money” then pay attention, because I’m about to blow your mind.
And he hit it right on the head.
Big salary increases don’t happen when you become really good at one skill. Big salary increases happen when you become really good at 2 to 3 skills and become a well-rounded employee that can do way more than someone with one skill set.
For example. I’m a writer + marketer + technologist. This means that I can write great content, know how to market it, and be able to use the right platforms online to make sure my content gets distributed far and wide.
For the most part, all of these skills are self-taught. But, can you see the advantage I have over someone who is only a writer? I can also use these skill sets to get executive positions as Director of Marketing because I can combine content, marketing and technology. I’ll beat out any traditional marketer any day of the week.
So, how do you become a double threat?
First off, make sure you read Step #1. You don’t become a double threat by learning on the job. You’re going to learn off the job.
You do this by creating a side project. Creating a side project forces you to learn a new skill. It’s going to force you to meet new people. It’s going to force you to learn email marketing. It’s going to force you to learn social media. It’s going to force you to reach deep into your network to build new relationships.
That’s the power of side projects. It forces you to learn.
I will say this though.
A real and true double threat has a technology or marketing component. I would highly recommend become really good at technology or marketing. These are skills that are used everywhere.
STEP 3: Become The Goto Person In Your Network. AKA: The Super Connector Technique
Let’s play a game.
Of the 4 people in this picture below, which one is the most well connected and most likely to help you?
(Yes, that is me on the left)
Which one did you choose?
It was a trick question! The answer is none of us.
The real person you should be targeting is the moderator….
Do you know why?
He’s the person that set up this event and he reached out to all of us individually to attend the panel. He knows all of us. I only knew 1 of the 3!
He’s the person that knows everyone in the industry.
He’s the person that is looking to build his brand by doing these public events.
He’s the person that is very active in the community and always looking to build new relationships so his future events are that much more exciting.
He is the person that knows of all the open opportunities before anyone else! He is on the inside track.
I did the same technique to build my network in Chicago. Here are some examples of how I used the super connector technique:
I used the super connector technique to build relationships with the CEO’s of some of the most explosive companies in Chicago.
I used the super connector technique to get free office space and insurance paid for.
I used the super connector technique to be the first person to know when a hot company is hiring.
I used the super connector technique to build relationships with founders & CEO’s of the hottest startups in Chicago.
I used the super connector technique to be 1 phone call away from speaking with almost any venture capitalist in Chicago and San Francisco.
Want to get a gauge of what you’re worth? Not what you might be worth, but what you’re really worth. You do this by getting offers from multiple companies.
The reason I don’t rely on sites like Glassdoor, is because for people with multiple skillsets, it’s hard to reduce them into a single bucket. And the most important thing is what companies are willing to pay for you.
So, this is what I do.
I reach out to my new contacts with whom I built a rapport, and some old colleagues of mine. I ask them for a coffee meeting or a quick phone call. I tell them about my situation and get their thoughts on where I can interview at or what companies might be good fits for me.
I get as much inside intel as I can on who’s hiring and look for referrals into those companies. I’ll also look on websites like indeed.com and job postings on LinkedIn, but instead of applying to those web sites, I’ll look for the decision maker and look to get a referral or email that person directly. Often times, the email address you need to reach a decision maker is right online. Be thorough in your stalking, and you will reap the benefits.
Persistence and targeting is key. At this stage you should be confident in your skillset and what you can offer. You know your one sentence story for your present, and your future.
Get as many offers as you can. See what you’re worth. Keep repeating steps 1-4 until you get your desired pay and work at a company you enjoy working at. This process is lengthy and requires hard work, and persistence in filtering out what offer, and what situation is going to work best for you.
STEP 5: Get Your Financials Straight
One thing that isn’t talked about much in career advancement is how much money you have in your bank account. A big part of making more money in your career is about taking risks. The more risks you take, the more likely you are to find more opportunities to find higher paying jobs.
However, if you don’t have a lot of money saved up and because of this you can’t take any risks with your career, then you’re back to square one.
Money in the bank is important! Do you know why you get mad at others who got 100% financial support from their parents? You’re mad because that person can take any risks with their career and fail without any repercussion.
There are a few things you can do right now to get your money straight.
Watch your fixed costs. Mortgages, rent, car payments, the internet, telephone, etc. The first thing I noticed after I really started budgeting was how much money I was spending on all of these things. Stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Do what you can do to keep these costs to a minimum.
Subscribe to Reddit.com/r/personalfinance. I go to this subreddit at least once a week to see how other budget experts spend their money. Don’t be afraid to create an account and ask an honest question about your financial situation.
In summary, 3 years is a reasonable plan to double your salary.
Separate yourself from your job. Learn how to become an independent consultant within your company
Learn new skills that make you a double or triple threat.
Become a super connector
Interview like a mad man to get an accurate representation of what you’re worth to the market
Get your financials straight. You need to get your money straight to take the appropriate risks for your career.
Finding a new job isn’t like it used to be back in the good ol’ days. The process back then was strictly limited to the following rubric: create your resume, apply online, get interviews.
Now when you apply for a job online, you’ll be lucky if you ever get a response. Hell, most people would celebrate if they even got an acknowledgment email.
This old process is a good recipe for spiraling into a deep, unproductive depression.
The good news is that I have a solution. And it works. Let’s focus on what works, shall we?
The following items are crucial to finding a job while employed and finding a job quickly.
The 17 Commandments of Finding a New Job.
1. The hidden job market is real. Most jobs waiting to be filled are not posted online. Just because you don’t see a job listing, doesn’t mean the company isn’t hiring. Get that out of your head right now. Print this section out if you have to. Just because the job doesn’t seem to exist online, it doesn’t mean the company isn’t hiring. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see a job posting regarding a position you want, or with a company, you want to work at.
2. It’s not about who you know. It’s all about knowing the right people who know that you’re good at what you do. Let me say this again; it’s not about you knowing the right people, it’s about the right people knowing you.I know plenty of extremely well-connected people who for the life of them can’t advance their career for this exact reason. You need to fill your network with people who have a clear idea of what you do and who you are, and what you can do for them.
3. You can build-up your network fairly quickly with some guidance, even if you’re an introvert. The first part involves getting over the fear of reaching out to influencers in your industry. The second part includes practicing over and over, how to explain who you are and what it is you do in a clear and concise way. Meeting people in a coffee shop or on the train and striking up a conversation are more casual examples. Networking doesn’t have to be as painful as speed dating, so stop thinking of it the same way.
4. Your current company isn’t responsible for teaching you new skills. That’s your job. Don’t wait for the company to teach you anything. That’s quite literally, not their responsibility. It’s up to you to continue your education and continue to grow. YouTube videos offer free tutorials, and they aren’t just for when you need to fix your iPhone.
5. Applying for a job online is the worst way to apply for a job. Even if you don’t know anyone who works at your target company, submitting your resume cold turkey through an online site is always the worst idea. This is especially applicable when the job you’re not an exact match for the job you are applying too. There’s a better way to do this, and I’ll show you.
6. If you don’t know what you’re good at, neither does anyone else. Don’t assume the company you are applying to knows what you’re good at, either.
7. The resume is dead. If you spend more than an hour a year on your resume, that’s more than enough. I will admit that the resume will never go away, so it is still needed for formality’s sake. However, LinkedIn should be your new focus, and your most up to date, online resume replacement.
8. You don’t need a formal education to do your job. Unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, scientist or another profession that requires a certain advanced degree, you do not need a formal education. There are any number of successful business entrepreneurs without a degree that are thriving. All you need is a little determination and the internet. The internet is an amazing place. Use it to your advantage.
9. People hire people. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to people more successful than you. Nobody is doing you a favor by hiring you. They will hire you if they think you can make their lives easier. You make their lives easier by doing good work. Successful people want to hire other successful people. I cover this topic in detail in the Ultimate Guide to Networking chapter [WILL BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 20TH]. It starts here.
10. The more proof you have online that you’re good at what you do, the easier your life becomes. Remember when I said the resume is dead? Hiring managers would rather see solid proof that you’re good at what you do, then read what your job activities are. Solid proof comes from building your online presence.
11. 70% of your effort should be in your existing job. 30% should be on building skills and relationships for your next job. If you find yourself too busy focusing on your current job, then something is wrong. Prepare for your future by staying on top of creating more opportunities for yourself.
12. Hands down the easiest way to make more money is to find a new job. Ever tried getting a raise and find yourself stuck in the grid of performance reviews that underestimate your value? Yeah, exactly, don’t get stuck in this cycle. It’s easier to go out and find a new job than it is to argue your way into more pennies at your old one.
13. You get jobs by talking to people. What’s that? You hate networking? You might reconsider once you realize the power of a conversation, and how it can make your life easier. My wife once told me that networking means you’re not working because other people are doing the heavy lifting for you.
14. Companies don’t hire you because they like you. They hire you for a very selfish reason. They want to make more money! Hiring you enables them to save more money or make more money. You are there to help them achieve that goal. The better you position yourself to help them make more money or save more money, the easier your job search will become.
15. Nobody will hire you for someone you want to be. Except for your mother or your Uncle. Companies need help from someone who has proven experience they know what they’re doing. They don’t care where you see yourself five years from now. They might ask you that question during an interview, but trust me, they don’t give a shit. This is probably the hardest pill to swallow for many of you. How do you get a new job if you can’t get the experience the new job requires? This brings me to my next and final point.
16. Switching careers is never a straight line. If you want to go from IT to Marketing, don’t expect to just jump from one job to another. This applies to any career where you don’t have relevant professional experience i. In reality, there’s a lot of things that happen in the middle of a “career transition” that leads up to finally making the switch to what you want to be. Nobody will hire you as a marketer when all of your experience is in IT. To change careers without starting all over, you must launch a side hustle, which I explain more in Rule #1 below.
17. If your first contact for a job is an online job application, Recruiter or Human Resources, you’re doing it wrong.I don’t have any issues with HR or Recruiters. They are needed. Except, they are the gatekeepers and almost never make the final decision on who gets hired. What I found funny is that for my last 2 jobs, on paper, I was unqualified for the job. If I went through HR or a job application, I would have never received an initial interview. What I did differently for these jobs is that I got support from the VP’s BEFORE applying. Since I had that endorsement, it made the entire process much smoother. I didn’t have to prove myself. I didn’t have to answer “where I see myself in 5 years”.
These questions were already answered prior to my first interview and the rest of the interviews were focused on the role and how I can help. If you want to learn more about how to bypass gatekeepers, watch the embedded video below or go to this Coffee with Robbie episode page with text transcriptions
These 17 commandments are important, but none of these commandments are helpful if you don’t take action.
Luckily for you, I created a section dedicated to helping you identify where to start. I call this part, “Now What?”
But first, I recognize that this can be a lot to swallow. So, stop slouching, get up, stretch and observe your surroundings.
Find something around you that you appreciate and recognize its existence.
Take a few minutes break before starting this new section.
Done stretching? Great. Let’s take the 17 commandments and put them into 5 actionable steps.
Step #1 – Be the best at what you do.
Step #2 – Tell the world exactly what you’re good at.
Step #3 – Show undeniable proof that you’re the best at what you do.
Step #4 – Bypass the traditional hiring system by building direct relationships with executives.
Step #5 – Become better at what you do, even if you’re already the best.
When you nail these five steps, you won’t find yourself looking for jobs. You won’t be looking because you will be getting job offers, constantly. It’s amazing how many opportunities present themselves once people know what it is you do (and that you do it well!)
It’s 20 minutes and worth every second. This will change your viewpoint on how to find a new job.
Step #1 -Be the Best at What You Do.
Not just good, but the best.
What’s interesting about most career advice I see online, nobody ever talks about the part that matters the most: how good you are at your job. All the interview tips in the world won’t work if it’s clear you aren’t good at what you do.
Being good at what you do is the best personal branding you can ever do for yourself. People don’t want to market themselves, but by being great at what you do, you market yourself every day.
So, how do you become the best at what you do?
Remember point #4? Let me refresh you real quick.
4. Your current company isn’t responsible for teaching you new skills.
To get new skills, you must learn them on your own. The best way to do this is to create a side hustle (AKA a passion project) with every intention that your side hustle will most likely never replace your current job.
You NEED a side hustle. A side hustle almost always requires a skill that you don’t have. It requires an ability to market yourself or your product. It requires technical knowledge to build components of your business. It requires a network of people that can help you market your business or refer you leads. It requires a Rolodex of contractors that can help you with things you just can’t do for yourself. It requires you to face failure every single day. It requires you to understand a market better than you ever thought imaginable.
Most importantly, it forces you to learn.
Fire Me I Beg You was a side hustle.
The reason I’m so good at marketing now is because of Fire Me I Beg You. I wrote 200 articles in one year. I became a better writer because of it. When I released my book, I had no idea how to market it. One year later, I was coaching others on how to become better at marketing.
It forced me to become a better writer and marketer. I would have never learned this at my full time IT job.
I think I did OK for myself.
Side hustles are how you become the best at what you do. This is how you complement your primary job. Instead of being a great accountant that only a few people within your company know about, you’re now a great accountant with an excellent website, network and social media chops that help you land your next higher paying job and some side income.
You must get out of your brain that the full-time company you work for is responsible for making you better at what you do.
There are two more things that you need to do to truly become the best at what you do.
Step #2 -Tell the World Exactly What You’re Good at.
It all starts with you knowing what you’re good at.
This is how you do it:
Tell the story of your life.
Think of the last 4 people you recently met for the first time.
Now write down what their story was in one sentence.
For example, here are a few people I met at an event in Chicago:
A guy with 2 or 3 side projects and a full-time job at big company.
Bright strategy consultant who believes digital is the only place to be. She has no digital experience, but is looking to connect with digital agencies in Chicago with hopes to join a growing company.
Someone who enjoys entrepreneurship and wants to learn more.
Someone looking for a new IT job.
Of these 4 people, which one do you think has the best story?
Let me rephrase that.
Which one of these people do you think has the simplest and most clearly understood story?
For me, #2 has the best story. During the 4 minutes I talked to this person I knew:
What her job currently is in very clear terms.
What job she is pursuing.
The help that she needs (connect with digital agencies).
Of those 4 people, she is the only one I keep in touch with. I’ve helped her achieve her goal of connecting with digital agencies in Chicago.The most important part of her story was that I could understand it, and I could clearly understand how I could help her achieve her next goal.
The other 3 were too confusing for me to understand and I already forgot almost everything about them.
The difference is palpable, and I remembered the Bright Strategy Consultant because I felt something as she told her story. You see, her story was all about the why. The other 3 were all about what. This is the fundamental flaw amateur storytellers make every time. They drop loads of forgettable detail, but never get to the essence that is the why. As in, why is this important to you? Why should it be important to me? An honest story is inspiring, always.
I want you to write down what your one-sentence story is. This story is focused on your current skill set. The next step after this is to create one focused on your future skill set.
I’ll show you how I came up with my own story. The key is that I don’t know what the end result will be; I just type what first comes to my mind. I press enter, and I do it again and again until I’ve discovered the reason why, not just the what or the how.
Here is an unedited flow of how I came up with my story in 2012.
I’m an IT Consultant.
I help clients help themselves.
I’m an IT Project Manager who leads complex IT projects.
I’m a self-taught developer who manages IT projects.
I lead complex IT projects as an independent consultant, specializing in SAP Software
I’m a technical Project Manager who leads IT projects for enterprise companies.
I help deliver projects through my communication skills.
I’m a Project Manager whose main focus is to manage IT projects.
My goal is to make everyone’s life easier through leading complex IT projects.
My mission is to make your life easier by helping solve complex IT issues and projects.
I will make your life easier by untangling and delivering your complex IT projects.
I solve complex IT problems while making everyone’s life easier.
IT projects all have the same problem regardless of what the technology is. My specialty is untangling troubled IT projects with clear guidance from IT and Business.
My specialty is untangling complex IT projects by acting as a communication bridge between IT and business.
My specialty is turning around and leading complex IT projects by acting as a communications bridge between IT and Business.
I lead complex IT projects because I believe IT has power, but if it’s not supported with great communications, nobody knows what to do.
Ah, yes! This last one sounds great for me.
If someone asks me who I am / what I do in conversation, my answer is “I believe in the power of IT. My specialty is turning around and leading complex IT projects.”
That’s my current story.The other stories were good, but they weren’t clear enough and they weren’t powerful enough. Let’s be honest, we’re not going to remember your details, but we will remember what you stand for.
Now let’s move on to your future story. Ideally, your future story is what you will be known for if everything works out the way you planned it.
Here’s my unedited flow of how I came up with my future story while I was writing Fire Me I Beg You.
I’m an IT Career Coach.
I help IT professionals advance their careers.
I mentor business professionals looking to advance their careers.
I empower business professionals to take ownership of their own careers.
I help motivated business professionals transition to self-employment.
I mentor business professionals who were recently laid off.
I mentor business professionals who are interested in transitioning into a career in digital marketing.
I mentor business professionals on how to transform from being a consumer to becoming a creator.
I mentor technology professionals who have built successful careers in the enterprise and are interested in entrepreneurship.
I help successful business professionals transform their careers to entrepreneurship.
I specialize in helping successful IT workers build a career in a non-IT field.
I believe in mentoring recently laid off business and IT professionals who are looking to re-invent their careers as entrepreneurs.
The key concept to understand here is that my future story will change almost weekly, as I develop myself and my skills. It will continue to evolve naturally. But the essential foundation will never change. At the heart of it, I believe in helping people. Regardless of how it manifests itself, the why never changes. Sure, the what I do may change over time, but the reason I do the things I do — remains constant.
The first story will help you make money now.
The second story will help you make money in the future.
Use the first story until it makes sense to transition to the second story.
Step #3 -Show undeniable proof that you’re the best at what you do.
AKA “Social Proof”
When someone tells me that they are great at something like Instagram marketing, the first thing I do is look at their Instagram profile or their company’s Instagram. If they have less than 100 followers, then something is off. In this instance, they don’t have social proof and it’s an immediate turn-off.
The same applies to you. These days employers don’t want to know where you’ve worked or what your duties were.
They want to see your work.
If you’re a programmer they’ll ask you to show them what you’ve created.
If you’re an editor they’ll ask you to show them the before and after of an article you’ve edited.
If you’re a marketer they’ll ask you to show them a marketing plan you’ve created and the results it got.
If you’re a designer they’ll ask you to show them your portfolio.
If you’re an accountant they’ll ask you to show them what you did to help people save thousands of dollars on their tax returns every year.
If you’re a lawyer they’ll ask you to show them what laws are working against them and how you can better structure their company to avoid such things.
Show employers that you know what you’re talking about – that’s the bottom line of what potential employers are asking today. It also happens to be the core problem with resumes. They’re all about telling and not showing.
There are plenty of ways to show this information without having to share confidential information. You can do this by writing articles on LinkedIn & Medium. You can create your own videos and talk about your industry.
You just need to show it.
How do you get around showing your talent when you can’t share any of your work because of company confidentiality reasons?
Many times you won’t be able to show your work because it’s for a client or your company, and you can’t go around sharing presentations, designs or excel sheets with the whole world.
A few ways to get around this:
Write about your experiences on LinkedIn or Medium and don’t mention any client names or the company you work for. Teach the world something new from your angle. You can then include these links in your email signature.
Side Project. This is why it’s important to have a side hustle. A side project allows you to control the work you create and you have a little bit more control on how you show your work. You have something to show for.
Step #4 -Bypass the traditional hiring system by building direct relationships with executives.
This is how your job search should look:
Don’t be afraid to build relationships with successful people. I cover this topic in detail in the Ultimate Guide to Networking chapter. It starts here.
When I don’t know what I want, I end up browsing aimlessly on my computer and waste my entire day. Don’t let this zap all your energy that can be used for planning your future. Don’t let your future story go to waste by not practicing telling it. All successful people started where you are now; the difference is they didn’t give up, and they refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Start by picking your cult leader.
This is like WACO without the Nike shoes and the shootout at the end.
Pick 2 people who you believe to be the absolute best at what they do. Follow their blog and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I don’t want you to miss a thing they post. This also works offline as well if the cult leader does a lot of speaking events instead of writing online.
Listen to them. Interact with them. Learn from them.
Don’t know who to pick? Ask your friends. Post a question on an industry forum. Post the question on Facebook or Twitter.
This is how I used to spend my night right before I went to sleep:
browse internet…scroll…scroll…click on article…meh..back button..scroll..scroll..scroll..click on article…good article..retweet…back button…scroll…scroll…step away from computer…go to bed..open phone…open app..scroll..scroll..click..meh..back button.put down phone…fall asleep
I woke up every morning and I had no idea what I read or even what I retweeted the night before. I wasted at least 30 minutes every single night with pointless activity.
So I made a pact with myself. If I was going to waste 30 minutes every night, I was going to focus on absorbing content that was generated by people who I believe to be the absolute best in their field.
I dedicated every single night to reading content from these 4 people:
James Altucher(Entrepreneur, Author, Podcaster) – He is the only reason I write the way I do. He gave me the confidence to “bleed on the page.” I studied everything he did.
Mark Suster – (Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist) – I learned entrepreneurship the right way from Mark. He writes with care, and essentially does formatted brain dumps for other entrepreneurs to learn from.
Noah Kagan– (Entrepreneur, Ex Facebook / Mint) – When Noah speaks at events, he does the Questions & Answers BEFORE he begins speaking. He has taught me that success comes from following systems that work. His articles tell you step by step how to do things. I buy almost everything he creates.
Ramit Sethi – (Author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich) – He has taught me that boring topics can be written in a humorous tone and still be very effective. The tone of my book, Fire Me I Beg You tone was stolen mainly from Ramit.
Learn from the best and mimic them.
Listen to these podcasts that not coincidentally contain 3 of the 4 people I am dedicated to following 🙂