Tag Archives: pre-beginner

Homework: What do you care about?

This is a follow-up to a guest post I wrote for The Finance Geek: You don’t care about money. I argued that you only care about money because it helps you get what you actually care about.

So what is that?

    What would you do if you were going to die tomorrow?

    What would you do if you were going to live forever?

    What would you do if you knew that you could not fail?

    What would you like to do before you die?

    If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

    If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

    If you rubbed a lamp and a genie offered you three wishes, what would you wish for?

    What one thing — object, event, or change — would be worth having, even if you couldn’t get anything else for the rest of your life? What would be worth living on oatmeal in a one-room shack if you could only have that?

Journal about this. Discuss these questions with your BFF. Answer them on your blog. Post your answers in the comments. Don’t stop until you know what you care about.

Resources for Further Reading
You don’t care about money
Homework: Figuring out what to do
What would you do if you could live forever?
What do you want from life?

The 4-Hour Workweek Book Review

The Cover of Timothy Ferriss' The Four Hour Work WeekYou need to read this book. Go to the library, bookstore, or whatever source you prefer to use. Get this book. Read it. Then read it again. If you are serious about monetizing yourself without working 40 hours/week, this book is the single greatest resource towards that end. (Other than me and my website, obviously.)

And if you’re just looking for the summary of the review, you can stop reading. But I’ll go into more detail, in case you’re interested.

Why you should read this book

Because it helps explain the whole monetizing-yourself concept
I posted a while back about resources for self-monetization fundamentals, and included The 4-Hour Workweek in that list. Timothy Ferriss is well aware that what he’s advocating is not normal. There’s a significant section on how to accept not being normal, realize that “normal” actually is really pretty awful, how much work it’s going to be, and why it’s worth the work. In fact, about half of the book has nothing at all to do with money, and instead talks about the actions and ideas that you’ll have to incorporate into your life to make this transition.

Because it’s specific
There’s still a lot of stuff you’ll have to figure out on your own, don’t get me wrong. It’s the nature of this new world — if you make the decision to be in charge of your monetization, then you have to accept that you no longer get your tasks spoon-fed to you in idiot-proof sound bytes. But each chapter ends with specific actions to take that will help you implement the ideas in that chapter.

Because it helps you build courage
I explained a while back why I focus on courage so much– because you’ll need it in many different aspects of your new, non-employment life. Ferriss is also aware of this need, and so each chapter also has “Comfort Challenges” to help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable, starting with the fairly low-risk “Look someone in the eye until they look away” and becoming progressively more scary, although no more dangerous.

Because it’s inspiring
Monetizing yourself is a lot of work. Consider the amount of work you know you’ll have to put in — finding a niche, learning new skills, implementing your plans — and consider that there are probably some things you don’t yet know about. Then consider that the amount of work you have to do in the world is 50% – 90% less than the amount of work you have to do on the inside to develop your strength, courage and tenacity to the point where you can do the “outside work”. It’s a lot of work.

The 4-Hour Workweek includes stories, ideas, and descriptions of what else you could be doing with your life, if you didn’t have to spend 2/3 of it working. Stories from Tim, stories from people he’s helped, or just ideas of things you might like to do. It can be a nice reminder when you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Read this book

That is all.

Define Monetize

Since the name of this site is “Monetize Yourself”, I suppose I should define monetize, in the interests of completeness.

    To Monetize (v): to make money from something

    “My website used to be an expense, but I monetized it and now it more than pays for itself.”

    “The number of Twitter users may be growing at 1385%, but if Twitter can’t monetize that, the company is still worth nothing.”

Monetization is the process of making money from something. It originally meant the process of making something into money, ie molding gold into gold coins, but it got co-opted, and is used today primarily in relation to websites and blogs: lots of people have websites and blogs, but if you want to be a professional blogger, you need to monetize your blog.

Let’s take a closer look at how you go about doing that…

Step 1: Identify an asset

Monetization is something that’s only done to an asset. Before you can monetize, you must have something — a skill, a location, an item, a gold mine, whatever — that’s valuable to other people.

Sometimes this is obvious: if you’ve got an apple orchard, then you can provide value to other people in the form of apples. Everyone needs to eat, so that value is fairly easy to spot.

Sometimes it’s less obvious: the Middle East, for a long time, was valuable not for anything it had (it was always fairly desert-y), but for where it was: at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa. To get from one place to another, you had to pass through Persia.

Sometimes it’s really obscure: John Elway, here in Denver, realized that he had an obvious asset: the ability to play American Football really well. But he also realized that he had another, less obvious asset: the fact that he was well known for playing football really well, and that people (especially here in Denver, where we adore our football team) really liked that.

Step 2: Make money from it

Once you’ve identified what value your asset can provide, you have to figure out how to get money in exchange for that asset. Again, in many cases this is pretty clear: you have apples, you exchange them for money. No problem.

Persia was a little harder, and no one, simple solution suffices. Instead, Persia made use of its central location by

  • Selling services directly to tourists and merchants (guides, maps, advice, translation, etc)
  • Taxing trade that passed through the area (in times and locations where they were strong enough to enforce that)
  • Setting up marketplaces and trusting that the traffic from those markets would spill over into local businesses like restaurants and hotels
  • Serving as a home base for merchants who ran trade routes through it

John Elway monetized his football skill by playing football for the Denver Broncos. But, having taken business classes in college, and aware that the football gig is only good for a few years, he also monetized his football-related fame… by starting a series of car dealerships in the Denver area. They were as good as any other dealerships (sometimes better) and you got to drive a car with John Elway on the back, so they made quite a good profit for him.

You are an asset

So that’s how I define monetize yourself.

Notice that when I tell you to monetize yourself, I am claiming that you are an asset. And so I believe. Furthermore, I believe you are an asset that’s worth more than the brainless-labor hourly rate that you currently get paid.

I believe that there are better ways to monetize yourself than to sell the precious hours that make up your life to an uncaring boss. Your assets are worth more than that, and we need more from you than 45 years of labor.

How can you monetize yourself without getting a lame job?

Resources for Further Reading
HomeworK: Figuring out what to do
The slightly smaller big picture: how to monetize yourself
What do you want to be when you grow up? A stupid question
Finding Your Niche

Flickr used to be an MMORPG

Sometimes (what you want to do) and (what you think you want to do) are two separate categories.

For example, the people who started Flickr thought they were making a Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing-Game, a la World of Warcraft or Everquest. They started building it, and added (as a nifty side-feature) the ability to upload and share pictures while you were playing.

Before long, they realized that (a) the MMORPG market was saturated (b) the photo-sharing market was underserved, and (c) their product was a lot cooler in the photo-sharing market than in the MMORPG market.

So they changed. In start-up terms, it’s called a “pivot” — you stop right where you are, and go in an whole new direction. And it’s totally OK.

Sometimes you don’t know where you’re going

Actually, a lot of the times you don’t know where you’re going. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start.

Sometimes you realize that you’re going the wrong way

This isn’t quite as common. But it’s no shame. Feel free to change what you’re doing if you find something better.

It’s still better to be going

When you were little, your parents told you that you should stay put if you got lost. That way someone could find you.

But you don’t do that now. If you get lost, you might pull over and look at your directions. You might drive around the block a few times, trying to spot your landmarks. But what you most definitely would not do is to stop in the middle of the road and hope that someone would point you in the right direction.

Business is no different. If you don’t know what you want to do, then make a guess and try it out. At least you’ll learn something.

Lack of Instant Success is NOT Failure

Last time, I used my new attempt at adwords as an example of how success actually works in the real world, ie slowly. (To date, it’s generated a total of 579 clicks, 577 of which were before I realized that I needed to adjust my settings to generate useful clicks. Which is to say, I’ve had 2 clicks.)

Have I failed? Well, certainly it didn’t go like a movie montage, where it’s an instant success, I go on to fame and fortune, and never have to work again (*sigh*). On the other hand, I didn’t lose anything (I lost $81, but that’s not going to break even me). There’s no teacher saying “Raina, you stupid child, can’t you get anything right? F- for you!”. There’s still a terabyte of Google Adwords Help I can read. I can try again.

  • My nephew, Dragon, has not yet stood up without falling down. Has his learning-to-walk campaign failed? Of course not! He’s still learning. Give him a break; he’s not yet two.

  • A teenager tries to park his car next to the curb, but starts turning too soon and can’t fit into the space. Has he failed? No… he pulls out and tries again.
  • The plumber comes to your house, replaces the leaky valve, and your hot water heater still leaks. Has he failed? No, he’s identified another problem that needs to be solved.

Issac Asimov got rejected several hundred times before he went on to become the most published sci-fi writer ever. Thomas Edison tried thousands of potential filaments before he hit on tungsten and invented the lightbulb. Look up Abe Lincoln’s political track record sometime.

I haven’t succeeded. I haven’t failed. There’s a status in-between the two, which we might call “Pending”. I’m pending. I’m trying. Despite what Yoda says, trying is a very important part of life.

You can’t judge in the middle

The thing is, it doesn’t even make sense to determine “success” or “failure” until you get to the end of the trial. When you judge in the middle, you determine that Asimov will never get published, Edison is on a fool’s mission, and Lincoln should give it up and start a store (oh wait, he already did that. It failed, too.)

Lack of instant success is not failure. But you can make it so, by judging someone or something to be a failure before they have a chance to try again. When you say “You failed!” to yourself, or your kids, or your classmates, you’ve declared an arbitrary end to the trial. You’ve decided, on the basis of the first iteration, not to bother experimenting any more.

By what right do you do that to someone else? By what possible logic would you do that to yourself?

What to say instead

“You failed” doesn’t help anyone. Can we replace it with my brother-in-law’s solution instead?

    What happened?
    Why did it happen?
    What are you going to do different next time?

Resources for Further Reading
This Ain’t Middle School
Pessimism Vs. Realism
Shipping Hurts
Why Courage