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lessons learned in life

10 BIG Lessons Learned in Life Since Graduating College

It’s funny, but sometimes I hear myself in the podcast saying phrases like “back in college…” or “back in grad school…” like it was the height of my education. I play it as if I haven’t learned much since then. But, when I think about it, I wouldn’t trade the experiences and knowledge I’ve gained since then for anything. When it comes to lessons learned in life, there’s a few things I can think of.

If anything, I’ve picked up quite a bit more wisdom in the last ten years. Much more than I had when I was “formally” trained. In this post, I’ll share some of the things I’ve learned along the way that might be impossible to learn in school.

College is Not For Everyone

When I was growing up, the expectation for me was that I would go to college. There wasn’t a question about it. Both of my parents had gone and, on top of that, they both had Masters degrees. So my bar was set. (Thankfully I’ve always loved learning and putting ideas together!)

Because of that, I figured that I might as well get a PhD and go the professor route. I saw what my mom was able to do during her summers as a teacher, so I thought if I put in a little bit more time that I’d be able to have an even longer summer!

Well, I get to grad school and that’s when my real education in life started. Not only did I learn that becoming a tenured professor is about as likely as getting struck by lightning, but there would be a lot of politics along the way. And, me being a staunch Republican at the time, I’d always be on the losing end of the battle.

At the same time, I was teaching an organizational leadership course six times a week to roughly 30 students in each class. While I was teaching the course, I started to realize that many students were checking out during class. And, while they might be present in that you could have a conversation with them, they didn’t seem to be involved in the class material.

They weren’t learning.

As a lifelong learner, I was naturally good at absorbing knowledge. So this was a little odd to me. The next course I ended up teaching was basically an Honors course, so I didn’t really have much of a repeating pattern.

Until I started teaching algebra at the junior college level.

Algebra… 

And, wow… talk about people who wanted to be anywhere but in the classroom… most of those students were there to have better opportunities in their career. Not to learn algebra.

So I started wondering: how many classes are like this in college? Of the three courses I taught, with drastically different material, two of them had participants who were just going through the motions to pass.

It occured to me at that point that the product that colleges might be producing are people who didn’t learn much of anything during their time there. They simply learned how to play the game of memorizing material and regurgitating it for tests.

If that’s the case, what’s the point of going in the first place? If money is the end goal, there’s better choices out there to make that money than a job. Especially with the birth and growth of the Sharing Economy. You can build your own job if that’s really your thing.

Don’t Be a Victim

This one is pretty straight forward. People who place the blame on others for their place in life never really get much traction. It’s only when they take responsibility and action that they can actually start succeeding in life. When people start moving forward and getting results, others start to notice. Many times, they’re inspired by the person to take control of their own life in some way. 

Random case: I ended up seeing Bad Boys for Life recently and in the beginning of the movie, Will’s character gets shot up. It was out on the street while he was having a good time with his friends. Obviously not his fault that he gets placed in critical care in the hospital, right?

Now the rest of the movie is based on what the next decision is. Does he cower and let the rest of the police department go after whoever did the drive by? Or should he go after the perp Bad Boys style?

You wouldn’t have much of a Will Smith movie without him choosing to do something about it.

It’s one reason I’ve always been a fan of Will’s. He’s always been a great example of someone who’s made a great life out of practically nothing.

Be a Lion, Not a Lamb

Moving on from that topic, but not too far, is the conversation about becoming a leader. It’s much easier to take responsibility for your life if your locus of control is internal. If you believe that you’re in control of your world, then you’re more prone to take action when needed. If you believe that someone else is in charge of your results, then you won’t have the motivation to try and be responsible for your outcomes in life.

So, be the lion. If you want to be fed, know you need to go out and win your dinner. Don’t stop until you do. Otherwise you’ll default to being a lamb and waiting for life to happen around you.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Our subconscious is always listening and taking in the world around us. We know this because when we turn off our active mind, our subconscious takes control. This is evident due to having dreams.

In essence, our dreams are a display of the thoughts we’ve had throughout the day.

Most people in today’s world live in a pretty negative world.  So neutral to negative thoughts are generally on the brain. It’s thoughts of “I have to do this today…” or “Man, I really need to figure out how to deal with this…” or even “What the hell is up with that dude? He can’t drive worth a damn!” They really don’t give much time to think about what’s going right in their lives. They don’t give themselves time to think positive thoughts.

That’s one of the reasons you’ll hear high performers talk about the importance of affirmations in their life.

However, affirmations don’t work for everyone. Main reason, I believe, is they’re just a part of the recipe of having a positive mindset. Setting and achieving goals, associating with other positive thinking people who are going the same direction, on top of speaking to yourself positively, helps as well. 

Be Tactful in Your Communication

Just as you should be tactful in what you say to yourself, we should need to think about the energy we’re putting out into the world. There’s a reason why the phrase “karma’s a bitch!” exists. What goes around, does in fact, come around.

Here’s the reason this phenomenon exists: people like how people make them feel. If we’re Debbie Downer all the time, that’s going to be another’s perspective of who we are. However, if we’re constantly going out of our way to add value to other people or be uplifting around them, then others will see us in a much better light.

So watch what you say to yourself as well as how you communicate to others.

Be Frugal When Possible & Invest in Your Future

I remember in the book The Millionaire Next Door, there was a lot of discussion about being frugal. Just so you don’t confuse the two, being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. If someone is frugal, they’re simple in their spending habits. They don’t buy things to just perform the act of the transaction. Many times they do so because what they’re buying provides a solution for a current problem. And often, the solution they opt for has the best benefit-cost ratio.

That said, one thing you shouldn’t be too hesitant about is your future. Applied knowledge is power. And the more results you get from that power, the better, right? So if you find yourself rationalizing why you should go to a particular event or buying a course, then maybe you should take the plunge to do it. Just don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

Focus is Super Important

When it comes to getting anything done and doing it right, you have to have focus.

For example, when it comes to the sports world, Michael Phelps would never have gotten to win as many golds as he did in the Olympics if he didn’t work constantly on his swimming technique.

Patrick Mahomes had the ability to play baseball and football professionally. In fact, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers way before he was drafted by the Chiefs. However, just like he did in college, he gave up baseball to play football for Kansas City.

In both of these instances, we see focus in one thing setting the person up for greatness.

Many times when entrepreneurs are starting their business, they believe that they can be anything for everyone. This is a huge mistake because most of the time, people are really looking for a specialist to do something right.

So, as a creative entrepreneur, it makes sense to stick to your lane. Sure you might have a few little different perks that sets your process apart from competitors, but for the most part, keep the main thing the main thing.

There’s Three Ways to Achieve

Society teaches us through the story of the Tortoise and the Hare that continued hard work can beat talent. This is proven time and time again in professional sports where draft picks are propped up on a pedestal but when they get into the league, they fail miserably because they don’t put in the work needed.

However, what many people don’t consider is the team of people it took for that draft pick to even be considered as high as they were.

Likewise, it takes a small coordinated army to get someone elected to public office.

So, to become great, it takes more than hard work and a specific talent. Those skills will make you a great technician. But if you want to be a difference maker, you have to learn a third skill: finding and working with people who are going the same way you are. In other words, network and partnering is the true name of the game.

Not one big name you know in the online entrepreneur space has gotten to where they’re at on their own. They’ve borrowed the audience of someone else at least once.

We all have to learn how to do that on some level to get to that next level.

We All Have a Personal Mission

I speak about this in my free guide Uncover Your Personal Mission, but life is more than just following your Passion. Sometimes you’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do (or delegate if you can!). And really, if you’re just following a Passion and not considering your Purpose, you’re acting kinda selfish!

So, do yourself a favor and do a bit of an inventory on yourself to know what Passions, Purpose, and Process are. Once you have that, you can complete the Ikigai (your sweet spot) and find your Profit.

Business is About Solving Problems for your Customer

Now, if you’ve found your sweet spot in the business world, that’s great. However, ideas are like opinions – everyone has one.

To have a successful business, you need to get good at diagnosing problems for those you see as potential customers/clients. Then, once you have that determined, you can give them a solution and check and see if they want to implement it.

If done right, this is how sales should work. It’s not about the potential client turning down the solution, service, or product itself, it’s about them not being able to see the reasoning behind them needing it to get to where they want to be.

Or as Dane Maxwell says, you need to get good at “idea extraction” and providing a solution for the problem you uncover.

Action Steps

So these are 10 things I’ve learned in the last 10 years. Some are life related, some business related. Believe me, there’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but these are some things I’ve been thinking about recently quite a bit.

As for the action steps, let’s do a bit of an exercise in affirmations. What are some things you’ve learned about since being in the real world? Feel free to share in the comments below or, if you’re the shy type, write about it in your own personal journal!!

sales process

The ABC’s of Lead Generation – The Fuel of the Sales Process

When it comes to the sales process, there’s a few things that truly matter. Sure, you need to have a product or service that people want. And, it’d probably help to know how to close a sale. Between those two steps though, there is something that gets budding business owners stuck all the time.


Lead Generation.

So, let’s look at this big mystery box a little bit and see if we can’t plant some seeds for a winning strategy for a new business.

The Basics of Lead Gen

With lead generation, different businesses need different clients. If you’re opening up a restaurant, for example, your strategy to find potential customers is going to look much different than if you were an online coach. 

On one hand, a restaurant would do a bit more of a local shotgun B2P (business to people) approach where they target people who like the food they serve. On the other hand, depending on what they actually help people with, a coach might use a bit more of a B2B (business to business) rifle approach in finding their potential clients.

In other words, you need to know some things about your potential client. You need to know your avatar.


But that’s not all.

You also need to know where to look to find them.

And I think that’s what tends to hang up a lot of people.

A, B, and C List Leads

When I was first getting started as a business owner, I remember someone talking about the importance of developing a list of potential prospects to connect with as a new business owner. These prospects could be divided into 3 groups: Your A List, your B List, and, of course, your C List.

Your A List contains people you can casually call up and let them know about your new business and what you have to offer. In fact, they might even help you get the word out on what you’re doing.

Your B List is full of acquaintances or friends you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Obviously, these folks aren’t as warm as your A List folks.

And then, your C List is full of people you don’t know exist or if you do know they exist, you don’t have a ready way to connect with them. For me, that’d be someone like 

Strategies in Building and Approaching Our Lists

Depending on what type of business you have, we’re going to form and use these lists differently. 

New Restaurant Owner

If you’re a restaurateur, your goal is to get as many people into your business as possible who like what you’re dishing out. So, when it comes to your A’s and B’s, perhaps what you’ll want to do is help you get the word out in what you’re doing. Sure you’d like them as customers, but for you, the true power rests in attracting the C list to your business. So simple ads and message bots on social media and the use of local media might be more of value to you. (Here’s a protip: if you use ads and message bots, you might want to consider offering a freebie or enter them into a contest to have best results!)

New Online Based Coach, Consultant, and Thought Leader

If you’re that new professional coach or thought leader, quantity isn’t necessarily what you’re going for. It’s typically better to be profitable than popular, right? So you might work with your A’s and B’s a little closer to find out who in their circles might need your help. Or, if they’re already established coaches and/or thought leaders, maybe you can partner with them to get your name out there. 

(If this sounds like an interesting strategy, I’d highly recommend checking out a book called The Power of Who by Bob Beaudine. In the book, he shares how we might not even need to build our own C list because we should already have people we need to get going in our business around us. Maybe after reading his book, you’ll know who yours are too!)


If you don’t want to do all the leg work of partnering with others to access their C lists, there’s other options which will allow you to build your own. 

Most use sales funnels with ads to do a major part of the work. If done right, you can spend a certain amount on ads and expect a certain amount of people to come through your funnel and end up on your calendar via a tool like Calendly. Or, if you’re looking to build an audience, then perhaps the best end goal is to get emails from interested people.

Either way, if you have great copy, videos, and it’s organized correctly, amazing things can happen!

Leveraging B2B Connections on LinkedIn

That said, maybe your business relies on more B2B business. If so, Facebook might not necessarily be the place to do that kind of outreach. So, instead, you might be looking connect with potential clients on LinkedIn.

There’s a couple ways of connecting with folks on that platform: ads and direct messaging.

In session 126 of the AoL Podcast, we spoke with AJ Wilcox about placing ads on LinkedIn. I still haven’t done much with it myself, but if you really want a great teacher in that world or simply want to hire the right guy for the job, I’d check him out.

And finally, another choice would be to contact your avatar directly. You could do it manually, but with software like Kennected, you can make your new list automagically. 

Imagine if you had the power to send out 10’s if not 100’s of messages a day on LinkedIn. Those messages would be asking the new person to simply connect and have a short conversation with you. You find out what they’re doing and then, in turn, give them a bird’s eye view of what you’re doing and who you’re looking for. If they don’t self qualify, perhaps they’ll let the right friends know what you’re up to!

Action Steps

So who’s your desired client? Is your method of making income based on having a lot of names in your list or making a few big deals? If it’s a few big deals, I’d highly recommend leveraging your A and B lists if you can. 

Once you tap out your A and B lists, then you should automate your lead generation at that point. But don’t think you have to start networking right away.

If your business requires you to have lots of customers, then growing your C list is going to be your main focus. Use your current connections in your A and B lists to help you get the word out, but make sure you take advantage of networks (ads on social media and local media) to get ahead.

find your passion

Find Your Passion? How About Find Your Personal Mission?

One of the subjects we’ve talked about in detail in the podcast is this topic of finding your passion. Some say that once you find and follow your passion, you’ll have it made in the shade.

Well, according to Mike Rowe and Jordan Harbinger, that’s simply not the case. In their experience, they’ve come to realize that those who find passion in their work are just as happy as those who follow their passion – if not more so.

So, if the answer is not following your passion (which author Mark Nathan discusses in detail in his book The Delusion of Passion), what’s the secret? How can someone follow the advice “If you love what you do for work, you’ll never work a day in your life.”?

This is a question that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time… and here’s what I’ve found out.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

In entrepreneurial education, many educators/experts say that to be known for our work, we need to know how to find our sweet spot. What can we do that others don’t do nearly as well?

Honestly, to me, this seems kind of vague.

So here’s what I think they mean. I figure it means we need to do a proper inventory work on ourselves.  Once we have that info, then it’s much easier to figure out what separates us from our competition and/or possible partners. In fact, if we don’t do this inventory, we’ll never know if we’re trying to be someone we’re not.

In recent years, I know I’ve made that mistake. That’s why I’ve bounced from idea to idea. And, I now realize that this is because I’ve been basing my success off of the ideas of others! Meaning, if a guest on Pat Flynn’s show talked about doing having success doing a certain thing, then I’d go try that. If it sounded like something in my wheelhouse, I’d try it. And then, as I’m learning and experimenting with a certain type of business, I’d be comparing myself to people who were already making a killing doing it.

Funny enough, comparing ourselves to others on social media (which our brains like to do) makes it even harder to be ourselves!

It was a drag.

However, once I did find my sweet spot, it was easy for me to realize what I should be doing… and life just became that much easier. That’s when I came up with my free resource, Uncover Your Personal Mission. I wanted to make sure that others wouldn’t spin their wheels trying to find something that would make their entrepreneurial career.

The Ikigai

After I published my resource, I ran across the the Ikigai. It is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

At first I thought it was a different model altogether. But as I thought about it, I realized my guide corresponds directly with what the Ikigai illustrates.

3 P’s of a Personal Mission vs the Ikigai Model

While they might use some of the same words for different sections, what I found out about developing a personal mission lines up pretty close to this model. 

  • Your Passion (Why?) lines up with the Ikigai’s “What do you Love?” section.
  • Your Purpose (What?) lines up with the Ikigai’s “What does the World Need?” section.
  • Your Process (How?) lines up with the Ikigai’s “What you’re good at.” section.

The only thing I didn’t include as being part of a personal mission is the “What can you be paid for?” section. Why didn’t I include it in the personal mission guide? For one, I feel that culture already puts attention on this part anyway. Also, you have to know the other 3 sections before you can pick something to do and get compensated for. Sure, I understand why it’s in the Ikigai model, but I believe it makes more sense if someone’s personal mission is what someone would do even if they didn’t get paid for it. Remember, there’s a lot of unhappy people who built a career on doing work they can get paid for. Chances are, the world told them they were good at it and that’s why they chose that path… which is better than just choosing a path simply because it pays well.

Action Steps

So this idea of finding your personal mission is a bit of a conceptual exercise. I realize that. However, I truly believe that the more of the 3 P’s you’re aware of, then the easier the Profit part will be. In fact, Andy and I talked about this in great detail with Tommy Breedlove.

So be sure to check out that interview.

Also, if you haven’t yet, check out the Uncover Your Personal Mission guide. Do the exercises in there and then we can figure out what your income avenue should be.

business culture

Connecting the What with the Why: How to Create Business Culture and Strategy the Right Way

“Everything rises and falls on leadership” is a phrase often heard in the startup and corporate arenas. As we’ve talked about in the past, leadership can be described by our influence on others. And with that influence automatically comes our business culture.

As creatives, we need to be aware of this culture that we’re building from the very beginning of launching our business.


Why is that?

Well, culture can be defined as a pattern of beliefs, behaviors, and values, encouraged or discouraged by people or processes over time.

So that means, whether we’re actively promoting a certain culture or not, one is being formed around the work we’re already doing.

So let’s talk a little bit about how we can get ahead of that culture as we’re scaling and growing our business.

It Starts with a Mission

Last week I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop called the Mission Roundtable. In this workshop, we focused on helping people in business find out what their personal and corporate missions were and then use that info to determine their values and vision. Once those were clear, we then set out to learn how we can create a unique strategy and culture for our business.

As you probably guessed, I was all about the part where we focused on determining our missions. This is something that I’ve thought about in quite a bit in the last year or so. In fact we recently had a guest on the podcast to discuss it.

Being part of this roundtable was not only clarifying for me, but also validated what I’ve been finding out.

For me, the reason I went into this research was fairly straight forward. As I’ve met more and more people in the entrepreneurial space, I’ve learned that many new entrepreneurs fail to learn how to connect who and what they’re about with the work that they’re doing.

The problem with this is that they’ll start doing one thing, realize they’re not being fulfilled, and then go on to try something else that might fulfill them.

Basically, they’re recreating a job for themselves.

Not only that, but many go hard core into this new role, go crazy with the grind, and come out the other end thinking “I’m more unhappy now than I was when I started!”.

Finding your own mission and being part of a company that reflects those qualities is an important foundation in doing meaningful work.

Vision and Values

Once we have our mission and have aligned it with our business (or the organization we’re a part of), then we can move onto the next step.

Determining what your vision and values are.

Now, I’m sure if you’re reading this post you know what both are. Your vision is simply where you want to be. And your values are the characteristics of yourself and your team as you get there.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably even written them down for yourself sometime in the past.

It’s possible what you haven’t done yet is to think of those values and your vision from the perspective of your personal and company mission. Even more, many of us might not even be fully using the vision or values we currently have in place.

If you’re not utilizing your current vision and values, why is that? Where’s the disconnect? If you’re not sure, it might be time to draw up a new vision and values to get you there. It might be as simple as the fact you might have a mission now, but the vision and values don’t fit that mission.

All of this should be aligned.

Strategy and Culture

Ok, now that we have those fundamental building blocks in place, it’s time to come back to our business culture and strategy.

Without vision, we can’t really develop a strategy. And without values, we’re going to have a heck of time developing a culture.

Now that we have those in place, though, we can now develop both.

Strategy

So first thing is strategy. Of course, when we’re developing a strategy for anything, we need to know what the rules of engagement are. We want to make sure the moves we’re making aren’t leaving anything on the table. We also want to make sure we’re being as efficient as possible. 

To do that, we need guidelines. 

Now that we have thought of our vision, we have these guidelines. 

We should also know 3 things:

  • What our company does.
  • Who the customer is.
  • What our customer values.

Once you know what those are, you can much more easily build your strategy.

  • Of course you want to begin with the end in mind, so what do you want to achieve in 3-5 years?
  • What options do you have to get there?
  • After choosing an option, what are your next steps? Reverse engineer from where you want to be from where you’re at.

Many make the mistake of not being clear with the answers to these questions, so while you might be taking action, you’re not actually getting anywhere because you haven’t clearly planned out what you want.

Culture

When it comes to building culture, for many creatives it’s seen as something that they can put on the back burner. What’s the point of building a culture when it’s perhaps just you and a few VA’s?

While this perspective might seem ok when you’re first starting up, it can cause big issues in the long run.

However, because we’ve already developed our list of values, then getting an idea for what our culture is isn’t really too difficult.

Organizational Clarity

First thing? Let’s look at the big picture and get organizational clarity. Here’s a few things to consider:

  • What’s our brand and story say about us? When people think of what we’re doing, what comes to mind? How are we described?
  • What’s the structure of the team? If it isn’t formed yet, what will it be? Will there be a hierarchy? Will it be centralized with you in the center? Or will you be part of a decentralized team?
  • What roles are there and what is each person in charge of? The more defined this is from the get go, the less problems there will be down the line.
  • What’s our communication process?

Leadership Clarity

When it comes to leadership in our organization we need to lead by example. Do that and I think you’re at least halfway to being a great leader.

That said it also helps to make sure that our team can work autonomously. While we might want certain things done a specific way, it’s important that we don’t feel the need to constantly micromanage.

However, many times we aren’t always at the top. And in those instances, we have to be aware of where we fit and interact with those around us. 

John Maxwell addresses this in the 360 Degree Leader. In the book, he shows middle managers how to leverage their unique positions and become 360 degree leaders by exercising influence in all directions–up (to the boss), across (among their peers), and down (to those they lead). 

While he goes into much more detail, the gist is that we need to do a few things as a middle manager:

  • Follow our leaders humbly. (Without being a yes man.)
  • Inspire those around us (by example).
  • Manage our subordinates individually. (Never criticize in public.)
  • Influence Lovingly (Don’t have an ulterior motive.)

Relational Clarity

Finally, when it comes to where the rubber really meets the road, it’s all about relationships. Another book of John Maxwell’s (and a favorite of mine) is called Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. And really, the better our relationships with those around us are, the better the system works.

To make sure that we’re connecting with those around us in our work, it’s important to focus on a handful of principles here as well:

  • Define and pursue the same goals (teams with goals win, those that don’t lose)
  • Believe in something bigger than ourselves (believe you’re in it for the greater good!)
  • Collaborate rather than compromise
  • Develop strong relationships (care about others, they’ll care about you)
  • When necessary, engage in constructive conflict resolution.

Action Steps

So as you can see, it’s imperative that we do the work to zero in on what our personal and business missions are. Only when we have them can we build on those to develop our culture. When we have the culture we want, it’s so much easier to build and scale our businesses simply because those folks who don’t fit, normally filter themselves out before they start working with you. 

If they do fit the culture, then it’s so much easier to move forward and actually accomplish goals.

So, again, if you haven’t done so yet, start from the beginning and determine your own personal mission by checking out Uncover Your Personal Mission. From there, work out the other sections until you have an idea for how things are going to be handled differently by your current or future team.

big business

Fractal Patterns: The Secret to Big Business

In the last post, we talked about the main passive income streams that are being utilized today. As part of the post, I briefly talked about fractal patterns being the secret to the B quadrant and big business.

Since that post, I’ve been thinking about how quickly I went through that description. I’ve felt I didn’t do it much justice. 

So, let’s get a little into what fractal patterns or fractals actually are. And, even more importantly, how the apply to internet based business so we can use them to grow your passive income.

The Basics

So a fractal is defined as… 

a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.

Here’s a few examples:


I reiterated this in the last post by talking about how we see these patterns everywhere. One example is with giant sequoias. These trees interweave their roots with each other so that no one particular tree supports the weight of itself. They’re tied to the mesh of these roots. It’s because of this that the trees are able to grow huge in size.

Behold, the Giant Sequoia Network!

In this example, the tree itself is a node where the root system connects the tree to others by acting as branches of a larger organism – a larger system, the forest.

As you can see in the image below, branches connect nodes to each other. Tree A has roots which are intertwined with roots of trees B and C. They, in turn, have their roots interlaced with all the others of the forest.

Parts of a System

They are part of a larger system.

Forms of Systems

So if trees are nodes in a forest, and a forest is system, what else can a system take the form of?

Well, if we understand the word system as “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network”, we can think of a city as a system. And just like we’re part of that system, we have systems that are part of us (circulatory, lymph, nervous, etc.).

That said, where we and forests consist of natural systems, a city is a form of a designed system.

Designed systems are systems which we as people have designed. And one such system is the internet. A fractal system built on servers (nodes) and communication wires (branches).

Interconnections of Facebook Users Across the Globe

How the Internet Changed the Game of Commerce

Before the internet, the only systems that existed which transported information were owned by large corporations. These included newspaper, TV, and radio companies. Since the big companies owned them, they were in control of the information which they transmitted. To this day, this is how these networks generally work.

However, due to the internet growing up and becoming the behemoth it has become, they’re having to compete with the open flow of data and commerce. And since they seem to not change how they do things, they’re losing quite a bit of money and influence. In the last 15 years, a lot of people have stopped reading newspapers, watching network TV, and listening to the radio.


As business owners ourselves, we can capitalize on this change of interest and focus. To do that, we can go where the eyeballs have gone – search engines and social media.

Leveraging Internet Commerce Today

At one point, about 10 years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much competition on the web for these eyeballs. Not only that, but the way that sites were indexed on Google and how posts were shared on Facebook was completely different. If you knew how to do SEO properly, you could rank fairly well on Google, and if you posted regularly on Facebook, you’d get plenty of exposure.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works today. Organic growth through posting has dwindled to 5% (if not lower) and there’s way too many people to compete with on search engines. 

So the question is, how do you use these particular systems/networks to get your business noticed these days? 


Well, unfortunately (or fortunately?) through ads on social media and search engines.

Remember that Facebook (and the internet for that matter) is based on fractal patterns. So what works for you on a small scale with a handful of clients can be advertised to those who share the same demographics.

However, paying to play in ads isn’t something they think they have a budget for. But, what they’re not seeing is the opportunity they’re missing. 

The reason you would WANT to post ads is that you can specifically market to the people in your niche. The more money that is spent, the more likely Facebook’s algorithm will figure out who exactly you’re looking for. For example, with America Multi-Sport we’ve been placing ads for years now every week. That’s plenty of time for Facebook’s system to know who you want to get in front of.

Of course, the algorithm can only do so much. You still have to create copy that creates a desire to take action.

Action Steps

I hope this gives you a little perspective on what fractals are and how they’re used to create passive income. 

Remember, even though I shared the idea of using the Facebook network as a system to make use of with ads, you can use others as well. 

In fact you can use your own! 

One of the books I’m reading called The Power of Who talks about how knowing just a few people will launch you to wherever you want to go. We each have a handful of people in our lives who are highly connected themselves. It’s your job to figure out who those people are and how you can leverage (notice I didn’t say use) them to get where you want to go.

Sure this method is a bit more manual and slower. But you actually have control of who your message is being delivered to.

passive income streams

Popular Passive Income Streams in Modern Business

Passive Income is a topic that many still struggle with today in 2019. And, I have to admit, while I understand why people aren’t too familiar with the concept, it still kind of blows my mind. Personally, I think it’s been 18 years since I first read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad and his second book, Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant. Since then I’ve picked up the basics of developing passive income streams and understanding how it all works. In this post, we’re going to explore the top 8 methods of developing passive income.

Yes, it’s really that simple!

I Quadrant Opportunities

If you’re familiar with Robert Kiyosaki’s work, you’ll recognize his company, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Robert himself is a fan of all passive income opportunities, however, when he originally wrote his first book, his experience was via Real Estate Investing (REI) and Traditional Investing through Stocks, Bonds, 401k’s, Mutual Funds, etc.

Real Estate Investing (REI)

REI is probably one of the most well represented options out there. However, when most people think of REI, they believe that they can’t get in the game. In fact, I remember starting to read Robert’s book Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing when I was in college and thinking “When I get a real income when I’m out of college, this will be how I make my fortune!”

While I still haven’t gone that route, it’s definitely something I see myself eventually getting into.

If this is a track you might be interested in, I’ve had several REI success stories on the show:

Chris Prefontaine (AoL 155)

Damion Lupo (AoL 125)

Kevin Bupp (AoL 124)

Whitney Nicely (AoL 123)

Traditional Investing

Outside of REI, when most people think of passive income, they think of making money through stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. 401k’s fit in this area as well.


While this isn’t necessarily a bad topic to think about, I will say that if you do the math, it takes about $1.25M to be invested in various assets to yield a comfortable $50k+ per year income.

Thing is, most people won’t ever smell that kind of lump sum amount in their career working a day job. However, there are tactics you can use to save a little bit here and there to eventually make that work out. Fortunately, you can read material by folks like Dave Ramsey to make this more of a reality than a dream.

Also, if this is an arena you’d want to play in, I’d also recommend checking out Tony Robbins’ book Money: Master the Game

B Quadrant Opportunities

If you’re already in the S Quadrant, you should definitely look at the B Quadrant!

In the I Quadrant, we’re mainly focused on making our money work for us to make more money. However, again, not everyone has access to that seed money to get up and running. So what’s one to do if they want to get in the passive income game?

They should totally look at the B Quadrant. The B standing for Big Business or Business Systems. These terms can be used interchangeably because you can’t have a big business without harnessing the power of business systems.

What’s great about the B Quadrant is that it’s the scaled up version of the S Quadrant. The main difference being that while in the S Quadrant you’re capped by the activity you can put in yourself, in the B Quadrant you can grow your business through fractal patterns or fractals. If you’re unfamiliar with fractals, a basic example is a tree in a forest. A tree has a trunk, limbs, branches, and twigs. They all are formed using a pattern of nodes and branches. Depending on the type of tree, however, the pattern might keep going. 

Most trees have a tap root that counterbalances the tree and keeps it in the ground. When the tree is growing, a lot of energy is put into creating that tap root.

However, Giant Sequoia trees have a network of roots that support the entire forest like a mesh. Sure, a tree can grow by itself and support itself, but Sequoias, being the largest trees in existence have evolved to support each other in this network. The trees themselves act as the nodes, while the roots act as the branches. 

So simply saying when it comes to fractals, the larger the network, the more potential for growth.

Traditional “Tried and True” Opportunities

The B Quadrant isn’t anything new. In fact, you probably already know of examples of people who are successful in this quadrant.

Insurance

As long as there’s been insurance, there’s been agencies. And insurance has been around a pretty long time.

When someone takes the leap from being an agent and starting their own insurance agency, then they’re taking a step into the world of the B Quadrant. Those agencies can continue to grow to a point where they train other agents and agencies. At this point they become a Field Marketing Organization (FMO). Their most basic role is to offer insurance products, services and possibly training to insurance agents or agencies.

An example of one here in Indiana is Gordon Marketing.

Franchising

Using the same idea as an insurance FMO, a business can eventually grow to the point where they franchise the model of their business.

Like insurance, the idea of franchising goes way back to the Middle Ages. However, the franchising that we’re aware of today didn’t really start until after World War II.

Of course, one of the most well known franchises is McDonald’s. And luckily for us, a movie was released about the man who built the franchise. The Founder is the story of Ray Kroc and his journey to create the business that we know today.

It’s easy to see that this method of creating passive income works. There’s more franchises today than ever! In fact, there’s so many suburbs of one city resemble those of another city.

Personal Franchising

When it comes to franchising, you can do it one of two ways. The first is the more familiar route we just talked about. However, one issue with this method is that it can take quite a bit of startup capital.

Most people don’t have a spare $10k+ just sitting around.

So they participate in the age old tradition of direct sales. Direct sales is defined as “The direct personal presentation, demonstration, and sale of products and services to consumers, usually in their homes or at their jobs.” With that kind of definition, you could say that just about any kind of sales outside of a traditional store or place of business is a form of direct sales.

Many direct sales companies today allow their sales associates or Independent Business Owners to sponsor other people to do what they do. One of the oldest companies that is set up to do specifically this is Amway. In fact, the reason  Amway was created, was so that anyone could have the capability to start their own business. At the same time, they’d also have the support from those who sponsored them as well as the company itself. 

If you’d want to know more about this form of direct sales, often referred to as multi-level marketing, you can check out our friend Robert Kiyosaki has to say on the subject. Interestingly, it’s how he met his wife Kim!

Like Robert, I highly recommend checking out this path if you’re stuck in the E Quadrant and want to quickly move to the B. Or even if you’re in the S Quadrant and don’t have enough to pursue the other options we’ve talked about so far.

Here’s a couple of folks I’ve had on the show who are experts in Direct Sales:

Mark Nathan (AoL 23)

Jeff Gamble (AoL 156)

Cyndi Walter (AoL 163)

Licensing

I’d be admiss if I didn’t cover the topic of licensing and what that means. Basically, it’s the sharing of Intellectual Property (IP) from one company (company A) to another (company B) in agreement that if the company B uses the company A’s IP, company A gets a commission. While it is similar to franchising, franchises differ in that they are in charge of how company B is actually ran. In licensing, while company A might have recommendations and regulations set, it’s pretty much left to company B to work out their own systems of operation.

As an owner of America Multi-Sport, I’ve had first hand experience to see how this can work out. While on the surface it might seem like a great idea since you’re skipping over some pretty hefty fees to actually make a franchise, there’s a good chance you’re going to fall behind. Since your licensees don’t have to operate to a certain standard, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Just with us, we’ve had a handful of licensees come and go in the last couple of years simply because they couldn’t do what we recommended to them.

However, just because it hasn’t been overly successful with us doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. The NFL got started the same way. Even though it’s had its ups and downs,  it’s celebrating 100 seasons!

Internet Powered Opportunities

Now that we’ve covered forms of opportunities that have been around 100 years or more, let’s look at a few things that have popped up in the last 20 due to the advent of the internet.

Scaled S Quadrant Work

If you’re more familiar with the podcast, you know that a number of the guests are simply people who have taken their service to the next level. They’ve found their Ikigai and have used technology to build a lifestyle that they’re proud of. Of the numerous hats I wear as an entrepreneur, one is helping people take their solopreneur business and scaling it through technology if they haven’t done so themselves. 

Of course, there’s different ways to capitalize on technology. You can become a digital nomad where the only work you do is through your laptop as you travel the world. Or you can start a brick and mortar agency that offers a service which can be executed online. Or perhaps you already have an agency and you’re up to your eyeballs in work and need help with all the work that’s coming your way.

There’s ways to do all of this. It really depends on what you want to do. Of course if you’d like help with this, shoot me an email. I’d love to help you get to the next level.

Affiliate Marketing

The internet has brought on another form of direct sales called e-Commerce or internet marketing. Today, most of us no longer go to places of business and buy something on the spot. We opt to do our shopping from the comfort of our own home.

Lots of online business owners get their start in internet marketing by pedaling other company’s products or services. Most of the reviews that you see on YouTube, have an affiliate link in their description that you can buy the product through them and they get a commission. 

In fact, Pat Flynn did pretty much this for years. However, as his platform grew, so did his need to create his own online products.

Influencer Marketing

When I first learned of Pat, I also learned of Brendon Burchard and his course called Expert’s Academy. Today I think he’s called it the Influencer Academy because more people are familiar with that term on Instagram.

The idea of Influencer Marketing is pretty straight forward. If you have an engaged audience, you have a list of potential buyers. The bigger the audience, the more potential buyers.

You make a product specifically designed for that audience, and there’s a good chance they’re going to buy from you. Why? Because of your influence on them through that engagement!

Typically speaking, those products take the form of digital products like courses and eBooks. That said, it’s not uncommon to see books, audios, and videos released by people in this arena.

Anyway, here’s the catch. It’s important that we never confuse three things. 

  • Don’t confuse your platform with your income. 
  • Don’t confuse your income with your career.

When people are getting started in the online entrepreneur space, many times they believe that they need to become an influencer way before they’re successful in making income. Problem is, you can’t really be an influencer unless you have some form of success in your career. They’re putting their platform ahead of their income.

To correct this, we need to learn how to separate the idea of these two. Sure your income will be multiplied as you become an influencer, but if you don’t have any income, you’re essentially multiplying by 0. 

So the next time you hear the phrase “become the next influencer” and think it’s a great idea, make sure that you already have a proven business based on the material that you want to help the masses with.

SaaS Platform

Finally, the last option I’ll mention because it’s the last category I’m personally familiar with is building a Software as a Service (SaaS) Platform. Now, doing this is just like building any other kind of business. You have to start small and in a well defined niche.

What I learned from Dane Maxwell (AoL 56) and his program called the Foundation is that if you’re creating something from scratch, you really need to do your homework up front. Find out what the people really want.

However, because it’s a product and not a service, you’re going to have to learn how to do a little bit of pre-selling the concept. Especially if you’re creating it without using your own funds. Why? Because hopefully, you’re going to hire someone to do the programming for you! 

Once you have the online tool built with the help and funding of your “champions” and early users, then you can market it and build your influencer platform like any other online business.

Action Steps

So, lots of information here! 

Hope that it provides some value and gives you a bit of clarity.

Again, if you haven’t, I really recommend getting started with reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and the Cashflow Quadrant. Everyone should be financially literate and these are great starting manuals on passive income. 

From there, feel free to connect with me. We can do a strategy session based on where you’re at and what your needs are.

personal effectiveness

Interpersonal Effectiveness – One of Four Important Topics Not Taught in School

When I first started New Inceptions, I had a ton of ideas of what I could help people with. At the time, I had learned so much during my time in LTD that I thought that it would benefit others that didn’t have the opportunity. One of the biggest things that I started learning about at the time, was how to increase my interpersonal effectiveness. 

All the way up through grad school, I always struggled to convey my ideas and build emotional connections with my peers. Many times, I felt like the odd guy out. Of course, a large part of that was that I grew up an only child. And as any only child can tell you, we learn to amuse ourselves in our own time.

So while I had friends in school who were a lot like me, I felt it hard to connect with people who weren’t. In fact, in high school, I remember getting incredibly anxious as I tried to engage with popular people.

I simply didn’t realize that there were all these self development books out there that could have helped me understand how to connect with others better.

In this post, we’re going to look at some of the things that we can get better at when it comes to Interpersonal Effectiveness.

What is Interpersonal Effectiveness?

There’s a lot of topics that aren’t taught in school these days. Even more so today than when I was going through junior high through high school. For example, I remember taking both home economics and shop classes. Heck, I actually got credit to learn how to drive a car.

Today, those types of classes simply aren’t available to your typical high schooler. Instead, most high schools are focused on teaching for their state’s standards test. And while this might be a metric to measure a students hard skills, their soft skills are left behind.

Interpersonal effectiveness refers to the skills which help us to:

  • Attend to relationships
  • Balance priorities versus demands
  • Balance the ‘wants’ and ‘shoulds’
  • Build a sense of mastery and self-respect

And wow, I have to admit there are a ton of skills that fit this description.

Skills to Help You Be More Effective with Others

So let’s take a look of this grocery list of skills. Here’s a list that comes to mind in no particular order:

  • General Communication and Conversation
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Civic Awareness (Government, Religion, Law, Volunteerism, Philanthropy, etc.)
  • Negotiation
  • Intimate Relationship Building
  • Digital Etiquette (including Social Media Safety)
  • Manners
  • Sales
  • Finding a Job
  • Marriage / Family Dynamics
  • Leadership
  • Networking
  • Entrepreneurship

Wow – just wow. Right? I mean, if you’ve been out of academia for any period of time, you probably realize how important many of these skills are. 

Personally, the two that have made the biggest impact in my life up to this point are emotional intelligence and entrepreneurship. 

As I mentioned, growing up I had no idea that others had different personalities and motivators. I didn’t even really understand what I should do when someone gave me a compliment. I was sooo totally awkward!

As I’ve learned more and more about entrepreneurship, I’ve realized a couple of things. First, and foremost, is that it’s what makes the US amazing. When done right, nothing beats the free market system. Another thing I’ve realized is that most of these skills actually play a role in some way or another. For example, if you’re a better leader, you’re a better business owner. Or, as another example, if you’re good at negotiation, you might be able to get more for less.

Action Steps

Anyway, I just wanted to point out some of these skills out as we continue going down this journey of life.

Personally for me, I feel I need to master sales and negotiation a bit more. Luckily, there’s all kinds of resources out there.

What are some skills you’ve already been developing? What are the ones that make you think “Oh, I should probably work on that a bit more…”? Do a bit of an inventory for yourself and list what you would like to know more about.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Other topics that aren’t discussed in school include Mindset (how you talk to yourself), Financial Literacy, and what I call “Ikigai Maximization”. We’ll be sure to go over some of these topics in the future as well!