Summary-Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do - Chris Guillebeau

Summary-Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do - Chris Guillebeau


Here's a summary:

  • The book provides practical advice and strategies to help you find work you love that pays well.

  • It challenges conventional assumptions about careers and provides an alternative model for success.

  • The book is organized into two sections: lessons to change your mindset and strategies/tactics to take action.

  • Key terms: escapology (leaving an unfulfilling job), serially resetting (changing life/work every few years), flow (enjoyment from skilled work), side hustle (extra income source), digital asset (online income source), gold rush (short-term moneymaking opportunity), umbrella profession (varied work under one theme)

  • The book's goal is to help you make significant improvements and changes to your career. It provides action plans for making more money, finding a job, improving your current job, quitting properly, negotiating salary, turning a side hustle into a full-time job, being self-employed, and building a multifaceted career.

  • The "Joy-Money-Flow" model is a key framework referenced throughout the book. Passion is created, not found. Many people never develop the skills to truly enjoy and excel at their work.

  • Winning the "career lottery" means finding work you love that doesn't feel like work. This requires a mindset shift, new strategies, and action. How people respond to winning an actual lottery illustrates different possible responses to finding dream work.

In summary, the book presents an unconventional perspective and practical guidance to help you achieve work you find deeply fulfilling. The strategies and mindset shifts it recommends can help you make significant improvements in your work and life.

The person has won the lottery but loves their job so much that they plan to only take a short vacation and then return to work. Many people spend most of their lives working jobs that they may not find fulfilling. Some lucky people, however, find work that they truly enjoy and are passionate about, which leads to greater happiness and success.

Finding fulfilling work usually requires effort and a process of exploration and discovery. It often involves trying different jobs, learning what you like and don’t like, and then making changes to pursue work you find more meaningful. The path is rarely straightforward but by persevering, you can eventually find the work you were “meant to do.”

The example of joining the circus illustrates this process. At first, the work seems exciting but then the realities of the job lead to a change in roles. After trying different circus jobs and then an office job, the person finally discovers that designing circus-themed t-shirts is the most fulfilling work.

Like winning the lottery, finding your ideal work often requires taking a chance, persevering, and following up on opportunities. Success is rarely due to luck alone but instead results from the choices and actions you take, even if the path toward success has many twists and turns. With an open and determined mindset, you can find the work you were “born to do.”

Here is a summary of the key ideas:

  • As children, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up. We tend to give ambitious answers like astronaut or president. As adults, we realize these are unrealistic for most.

  • The answers we give as children are often influenced by what we see around us, like our parents' jobs. We may aspire to be like them or like other roles we observe in our communities.

  • The author's examples show that our career dreams as children can stem from a combination of influences. His dreams came from his dad, who worked as an aerospace engineer and later as a novelist.

  • The "Joy-Money-Flow" model refers to finding work that aligns with what you love, provides good pay, and allows effortless productivity. The key is to understand your preferences and set clear goals.

  • You don't have to choose between enjoyment and good pay. You can find or create work that provides both. The key is figuring out what "freedom" and the ideal work-life balance look like for you.

  • Leveling up refers to making major improvements in your situation, not just incremental changes. If your job is awful or you're in major debt, small tweaks won't help. You need bigger shifts to improve your circumstances in a meaningful way.

  • The book aims to help readers make these bigger shifts to find or create their dream jobs and win the "career lottery." Making the right choices and increasing your luck can help make this happen.

  • As a child, the author aspired to work as an astronaut or at Burger King. These seemed equally exciting careers at the time.

  • As people get older, career questions become more serious. Childhood dreams are indulged but adult ambitions are expected to be more practical.

  • Career choices are hard because there are so many options and limited information. People often end up in careers they didn't expect due to unforeseen opportunities or circumstances.

  • The formula for finding work you were "born to do" is: joy (work you enjoy) + money (financially viable) + flow (uses your skills). Most people want work that meets these needs.

  • The author's childhood dreams of working at Burger King or in the NBA were unrealistic fantasies. As he got older, he studied sociology in college but struggled to find opportunities.

  • He ended up stumbling into a career buying and selling items. Through experimenting, he found work that met the formula of joy, money, and flow.

The key message is that career choices are complex with many unknowns. Although people seek purpose and meaning in their work, the path to the "work you were born to do" is often winding. By trying different options, remaining open to the unexpected, and looking for work that satisfies key needs like enjoyment, pay, and utilizing your talents, you can find fulfilling work. Childhood dreams may be unrealistic, but you can achieve a balanced and meaningful career by being flexible and willing to change course.

The author discusses the need to find fulfilling work that provides joy, sufficient income, and the opportunity to utilize one's skills and talents. He shares the story of Angela May, an engineer from Canada, as an example.

Angela grew up wanting to be an inventor. She enjoyed fixing and improving things. She studied both engineering and art in college. After graduating, she found it difficult to find a job that aligned with her interests in sustainability. She eventually landed a job at an electric utility company but found the work unfulfilling after four years.

While working at the utility company, Angela continued to draw an online comic series in her spare time. The comic became quite popular, giving her a side income and outlet for her creativity. Though she could have pursued the comic full-time, she didn't want to focus so much on the business aspects. Still, the experience showed her the possibility of combining her interests in a fulfilling way.

Angela's situation illustrates the challenges many face in finding work that provides joy, sufficient income, and the ability to utilize one's skills. The author argues there is no clear roadmap for navigating a career but maintaining side interests and exploring options can help lead to the ideal work. With time and experience, the "work you were meant to do" can become clear.

In summary, the key message is that fulfilling work should provide a combination of joy, money, and the opportunity to utilize your skills (or "flow"). This is illustrated through Angela's story and her journey to find work she found meaningful. Navigating a career path is challenging but maintaining a vision for work you find purposeful and impactful can help guide the way.

  • Angela, a 28-year-old professional engineer, decided to make herself a more attractive job candidate by gaining new skills and building her portfolio.

  • She took night classes, improved her art skills, networked, and looked for new opportunities.

  • She took a job at a startup with only two other employees. The job was interesting but required dangerous work. After eight months, the contract ended and she was fired.

  • Initially despondent, Angela realized this gave her more experience. She went on a trip to Peru and continued her job search.

  • She found her ideal job doing product design at a small, sustainable company. The job matched her skills, interests, and values. She has room for growth and is paid well.

  • Meanwhile, Angela continues updating her comic website and has released three collections of her comics, with plans for a fourth. Her "career" work and comic work alternate but are converging.

  • To find fulfilling work, you need the right type of work (content) and the right working conditions (how you do the work). Good work with a bad schedule leads to stress. A good schedule with bad work is unfulfilling.

  • Working conditions to consider include:

  1. Schedule flexibility: Want autonomy but also some structure. Angela found the right balance.

  2. Reporting and accountability: Most want accountability but also creativity. Angela wanted more freedom than her first job but more structure than her second. Her third job struck the right balance.

  3. Social environment: Consider interactions, coworkers, workspace. Angela never fit in at her corporate job or with the two guys who fired her. Her third job had like-minded coworkers.

  4. Sense of contribution: Want to contribute to something meaningful. Angela's first jobs didn't align with her mission to promote sustainability. Her third job did.

  5. Collaboration: Prefer to work alone, with others, or both. Angela preferred working alone but being around others.

  6. Deliverables or metrics: How you measure progress or success. For Angela, making a positive difference was most important.

  7. Security: Consider income sustainability and stability. Angela's side income from comics provided security between jobs.

  8. Intangible benefits: Additional perks like office supplies, events. Not a top priority for Angela.

  • The ideal blend of joy, money, and flow changes over time based on life circumstances. The key is optimizing work and working conditions for your needs and priorities.

Here is a summary with emphasis on different parts of the equation:

If you have a young family, spending time with them may be your highest priority. At other times you might value higher income or a more challenging position in your career (or both).

You may already know which values are most important to you at this time, but if not, here’s a quick and easy exercise you can complete to help figure it out.

Action: Rank these statements on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not important or relevant” and 5 being “very important.”

Results and Interpretation:
•If your cumulative score is highest for questions 1, 4, and 8, joy is most important to you at this stage of life. More than anything,you want to enjoy your work anddo highestfor something you care about. •If your cumulative score is highest for questions 3, 5, and 7, money is very important at this time. You need to make some cash, preferably right away.
•If your cumulative score is highest for questions 2, 6, and 9, flow is particularly important now. You want to make sure you do work that you’re good at.

Remember, all three components are important in your life, but their relative importance might change at different points in your life. Therefore, you may want to repeat this brief analysis on a regular basis, perhaps a couple of times a year.

DIFFERENT FORMS OF WORK: To find your own ideal balance of joy, money, and flow, it helps to figure out not just your ideal working conditions, but also your ideal form of work.

When choosing among these forms of work, there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind. Just as there aredifferent professions, there are often many different specialties within these professions.

No matter what career you choose, picking the right working conditions can be hugely important in finding your lottery- winning career. And if you’re not sure what those are yet, keep reading.

I had all of these aspirations and interests, but I didn’t have any tangible proof of what I could do. So I started taking night classes and documenting personal projects. I made myself into a better candidate.

Even though the lottery is usually an unwise investment, if you don’t play, you can’t win. Learn to evaluate risks, make better choices, and create a series of backup plans that will allow you to take the right kinds of chances.

The man had experience as a lighting technician for bands. When his last band broke up, he was left with lighting equipment. He started working small gigs as a freelance lighting tech to make some money, charging $90 per gig.

At first, the work was limited. But he studied lighting equipment and techniques to learn the skills. He got a break working a corporate gig where they needed help with new fiber-optic lighting technology. Though he had to learn on the job, he proved himself. Soon, he was getting lots of work, so much that he became overwhelmed, working 80 hours a week and unable to do basic life tasks.

He realized this lifestyle was unsustainable and quit all his jobs. He sold his equipment to have savings to live on for a while. He then drove across the country with no real plan, eventually settling in Portland, Oregon.

After recovering from burnout, he missed the work. He got some used equipment and started rebuilding his business, being more careful not to take on too much work. He now has a good balance, with work taking him to many places but not overscheduling himself. Quitting and taking a risk allowed him to rediscover his passion for the work.

The key to pursuing opportunities that involve some risk is:

  1. Identify potential hazards. Think through what could go wrong. Often, the worst risks are unlikely. Knowing them can give confidence or show the wisdom of avoiding the risk.

  2. Don't make decisions based on fear of missing out. Don't feel rushed into a less-than-ideal choice just because an opportunity presents itself. Make rational choices based on available information.

Tic-tac-toe is a game of perfect information, where the ideal strategy is known. Chess also has perfect information but many strategies. Poker has imperfect information and many strategies.

Finding fulfilling work is like poker—you need a strategy to handle imperfect information and uncertainty. The options discussed in the following sections are tools to help manage unknown risks.

Here are some of the key risks you may encounter on the path to your dream career:

•Failure of your initial plans or strategies. Like Vanessa in the example, your Plan A for achieving your goal may not work out as you’d hoped. Having backup plans and contingency strategies in place can help mitigate this risk.

•Lack of financial security. Pursuing a new career path often means facing income instability or even a drop in pay. Make sure you have emergency savings, low expenses, and preferably other income streams to provide security.

•Damage to key relationships. Taking risks in your career can sometimes strain relationships with colleagues, bosses, family or friends who don’t understand or support your goals. Work to maintain strong connections and be willing to communicate openly about your choices.

•Unforeseen obstacles. There are always unknown challenges that will arise, no matter how well you plan. Developing a mindset of flexibility, persistence and problem-solving will help you navigate obstacles.

•Health or personal issues. Unfortunately, risks extend beyond just our careers. Problems with health, relationships or other life events can derail progress. Again, having backup plans and a network of support can help provide security.

•Lack of experience or skills. You may encounter roles, responsibilities or tasks that push you outside your comfort zone or current abilities. Continuous learning and a willingness to ask for help will allow you to gain the experience and skills you need.

•Self-doubt or lack of confidence. Pursuing a dream is difficult, and it’s normal to face doubts and confidence issues along the way. Believe in yourself, reflect on your strengths and accomplishments, and seek encouragement from others. With each success and milestone, your confidence will grow.

The path to a dream career is filled with risks and unknowns. But by planning well, maintaining strong security measures, developing the right mindset and refusing to give up in the face of failures or setbacks, you can navigate the risks and overcome the obstacles to achieve your goals. Fortune favors the bold, so take a chance and get started today!

  • Daniel, an immigrant from the Czech Republic, had worked his way up to become a manager at a housecleaning company.

  • However, after a disagreement over giving bonuses to his crew, he quit his job in frustration.

  • With no job, Daniel started his own property management business. He sent postcards and texts to property owners offering his services.

  • He got a few clients and was making $27,000 per year. The flexibility allowed him to spend more time with his family.

  • A year later, his business had grown and he was able to hire help. Daniel felt free and in control of his life for the first time.

The key lessons are:

  1. Don't accept limitations or unfair treatment. Have courage to make a change.

  2. Look for opportunities to use your existing skills in new ways. Daniel leveraged his management experience to start a new business.

  3. Start small and build up gradually. Daniel's initial postcard campaign only yielded one client but it allowed him to get started. He then improved his approach.

  4. Value freedom and flexibility. For Daniel, having control of his time and schedule was most important. The money was secondary.

  5. Continuous self-improvement and learning are key. Daniel was inspired by a book on leadership to start his own business. He then kept enhancing his skills.

In summary, the story shows how one can transform skills and experiences into new opportunities through hard work, persistence, and the courage to make needed changes. The path isn't always straight but with time and effort, one can achieve freedom and success.

The person in the story didn't have much knowledge about yoga but wanted to become a yoga instructor. Instead of enrolling in a lengthy certification course, the person rented many yoga DVDs and studied them intensely, taking careful notes. After a week of studying the videos, the person started teaching yoga classes. The first class went well, and the person continued teaching three classes a day, five days a week. Although lacking formal training, the person went on to win teaching awards and built up a successful yoga studio. The lesson is that there are often alternate paths to achieving goals and gaining needed skills.

To improve your situation, first understand and make the most of your existing skills. Make a list of things you're good at, including skills from education, work experience, mentors, self-study, etc. Also note things you dislike doing and aren't good at. Focus on upgrading and building upon your key skills.

Improve high-impact skills that will help in any job or role. These "soft skills" include writing, speaking, and negotiating. To improve writing, make it persuasive, engaging, and concise. To improve speaking, gain experience by joining Toastmasters or speaking up more at work. Learn win-win negotiation strategies.

Build a countdown to your final day in a job or role you want to leave. This can help maintain motivation and a sense of progress. Even if there's no set end date, pick a target one to work toward.

In summary, assess and build upon your strengths, improve key soft skills, set a deadline to work toward, and you'll be well on your way to improving your situation.

-Improve your negotiation skills by understanding what you and the other party want. Play your cards right and make your best offer at the optimal time.

-Successful people are good at following through and following up on ideas and tasks. Write things down, set deadlines and use a system that works for you.

-Become comfortable with useful technology. Those who can harness technology productively will thrive in the future.

-Develop strong soft skills, not just hard skills. Be dedicated, inquisitive and a good problem solver. When you’re good with people and at your work, you become indispensable.

-Consider resigning from your job each year on a chosen date. Re-evaluate whether it’s the best option and find something better if not. Apply this to school programs too.

-Decide whether to make a big change right away or build toward it over time. Leaving without a safety net is dramatic but planning an escape is usually smarter. Use time in an unfulfilling role to gain skills for a better future.

-Pay attention to people around you. The answers you need and path to meaningful work may come from your daily interactions. Sam took a chance and went back to school at 40 to become an artist. After 25 years in IT, she followed her childhood dream.

-Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Get better at marketing yourself and learn to say no to things that don't fulfill you. The people around you and opportunities right in front of you can lead to the work you were meant to do.

The woman in the story spent 25 years working in technical support, solving problems for customers over the phone. Though she was good at her job, she felt unfulfilled because she had abandoned her childhood dream of working in the arts. At age 40, she went back to school and earned degrees in sculpture and fiber arts. However, she struggled to find work as an arts professor.

Around this time, she started quilting and knitting as a hobby. She noticed that many quilting patterns were poorly designed and hard for beginners to follow. When a friend suggested she design her own patterns, she did. She shared her first pattern with friends, got positive feedback, and decided to try selling the pattern more widely.

She found her first distributor by cold calling them and pitching her pattern. She then created more patterns, built a website to sell them, taught workshops, and wrote a book. In three years, she sold over 15,000 patterns, with sales doubling annually. She focused on designing patterns that looked complicated but were actually simple for beginners to make. She understood this target market well because she had once been a beginner herself.

The story illustrates that you can find your "thing" and a successful career by paying attention to the questions and requests that come from your network and community. Look for the kinds of advice and recommendations that people frequently ask of you. Solve the problems that others struggle with. The woman in the story did this by creating quilting patterns that addressed the frustrations she herself had encountered as a beginner. By solving a common problem for her target community, she built a successful business and career.

The key takeaway is: become a master problem solver. Look to your network and community to find areas where you can solve problems or provide value. Build a business, product, or service that addresses a common frustration or need. Success will follow.

  • Wes is a professional photographer who traveled frequently for work. He kept hearing people ask him how they could learn to take better photos and videos.

  • In response, Wes created an online video course to teach beginners the basics of photography and videography. The course focused on questions like what equipment is necessary, how much it costs, and how much time is required to learn.

  • Wes aimed the course at casual users, not professionals. By solving a problem many people had, he generated a new source of revenue.

  • The best way to figure out real-world problems you can solve is:

  1. Focus on everyday problems that affect many people, like saving money or improving health. Solving common problems is usually easy and successful.

  2. Pick specific, measurable problems rather than trying to create huge behavior changes. Help people improve one concrete issue at a time.

  3. Always ask yourself why people should care about the problem you want to solve. If you can't answer that, spend more time thinking about it.

  • Shenee Howard was a brand strategist who was broke and without clients. She decided to call 100 people for 15-minute chats to learn about their problems and see if she could help them.

  • Though the calls were free, some led to paid work or strong relationships. Shenee developed products based on what she learned and soon had a successful business.

  • You can create your own "100 Person Project" to learn what skills and services people value from you:

  1. List 5 problems you've helped people solve. Identify what you know that others struggle with.

  2. Name your 15-minute consultation session. Give it an interesting title to convince people to participate.

  3. Create a short description of the session and what people will gain. Be specific.

  4. Set up an easy sign-up process and invite people to participate. Ask for basic info like their biggest problems and goals.

  5. Do the consultations by phone or video chat. Focus the calls but go longer if needed and the other person agrees.

  6. Follow up after each call. Say thanks, provide a recap or recording if allowed, and suggest next steps.

The key is using feedback from many people to determine which of your skills are most valued and test potential products or services. Even if you don't think you know 100 people, once you start counting all your connections, you probably do. Their networks can also help.

  • Build connections with your 100 Person Advisory Board

  • Turn it into paycheck either right away or later: -- Offer more in-depth client sessions for interested people -- Use what you learn to develop a course/product -- The point is to discover what skill you can offer that others will pay for

  • Follow through is key to turning a skill into steady paycheck: -- Teach through lessons/consulting -- Create a product/course/service -- Apply the model to your current job by focusing on unstated needs

  • Examples: -- Shenee gained confidence/clarity, stronger relationships, and good living -- Sam built successful business by spotting unmet need and developing product

  • Advice: -- Be a "humble expert" - focus on how others do things, not telling them how you do it -- Your work will speak for itself

  • On choosing between options: -- Expand your options first, then limit them -- Jay-Z's options: drug dealer or entertainer. He chose entertainer. -- You likely have more options than you realize - list any possibilities -- Then examine pros/cons of each to determine the best choice for your skills, values, goals -- The right choice should provide joy, money, and flow

• There are many options to change your role, responsibilities, or schedule, such as:

  • Finding a new job in the same or different field

  • Going back to school for new skills or training

  • Starting a side business

  • Retiring

• Use the Joy-Money-Flow model to evaluate options:

  • Joy: Choose options you love

  • Money: Options that pay the bills

  • Flow: Options you're skilled at

• The story of Laura Simms shows how she transitioned from acting to career coaching:

  • She loved acting but disliked the culture and work conditions

  • She took a teaching job which led her to realize she didn't want to return to acting

  • She went through a "wilderness period" trying different options before finding her passion in career coaching

  • Career coaching aligned with her skills, brought her joy, and paid well

• Don't try to emulate the paths of famous CEOs or celebrities. Their situations are very different from yours.

  • Think of yourself more like a janitor - focused on what works for your own life and situation.

  • You have to actually implement your own choices and live with the consequences. Your life is not a corporation.

• Warren Buffett's "Five Life Goals" model suggests focusing on your top priorities:

  1. List your top 25 life goals

  2. Circle your top 5 goals

  3. Discard the other 20 goals and focus only on those top 5. You can't pursue 25 big things at once.

  • Many people recommend having a side hustle to generate extra income outside of your main job.

  • A side hustle can provide financial security, confidence, and hope for the future.

  • The author provides several strategies for starting a side hustle:

  1. Sell a product: like the woman who started a clothing business making accessories for an hour a day and selling them online. After six months, she was making $170 overnight while still working her part-time job.

  2. Provide a service: Some easy options include dog walking, tutoring, driving for a ridesharing service, or doing freelance work like writing, programming, or graphic design. These options have low startup costs and can generate income quickly.

  3. Rent out unused space: You can rent out extra rooms in your home on Airbnb, rent out parking spots, or rent out storage space. This generates passive income with little extra work required.

  4. Flip products: Buy products secondhand and resell them at a markup on websites like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace. You need to find products that you can buy cheaply and resell at a significant profit.

  5. Online courses: Create an online video course to sell through platforms like Udemy or Teachable. You can make money through monthly subscriptions or one-time course fees. The initial work is in creating the course content, but then it can generate ongoing passive income.

The key is to start small by picking one of these options to generate some extra money on the side while keeping your main source of income. As it grows, a side hustle can turn into a full-time self-employed venture. The important first step is just getting started.

  • David worked as an industrial engineer during the day but also ran a subscription service for fantasy sports fans on the side. The extra income allowed him to pay off debt and take a vacation.

  • Maya worked for a nonprofit helping increase literacy in at-risk kids. Though the work was fulfilling, the pay was low. To supplement her income, Maya and her sister wrote an ebook on using technology in nonprofits. It brought in $500-$700 per month.

  • A "side hustle" is a way to make extra income outside of your regular job. The goal is to achieve the right balance of joy, money, and flow in your life. There are four types of side hustles:

  1. Sell something - Like Amber who sold her crafts on Etsy for $450/month. Look at what others are buying or selling unused items on auction sites to gain experience.

  2. Provide a consulting service - Like Gary who helped people use frequent flyer miles or Harry who advised Uber drivers. Master a skill and share your expertise with others.

  3. Become a middleman - Help sell other people's products or services through affiliate marketing like Marie Forleo. Drive traffic to someone's offers and earn a commission. Requires work to be successful.

  4. Join the sharing economy - Rent out underutilized assets or provide a service through platforms like Uber, Airbnb, etc. Many are part-time jobs with flexible hours.

In summary, a side hustle can provide extra income and satisfaction. Find ways to meet people's needs and solve problems by selling something, offering a service, affiliate marketing or participating in the sharing economy. With effort and experimentation, you can develop a side hustle that fits your skills, interests and schedule.

  • The man worked a full-time job but earned extra income driving for a ridesharing service in his spare time. He would leave an hour early for work each morning and pick up passengers arriving at the airport, as the airport rides often paid higher fares. He would do the same in the evening after work. He earned an extra $260 per week from this side hustle.

  • Rachel earned money completing tasks for strangers through an online service called TaskRabbit. She worked full-time as a teacher but used her summers off and spare time to run errands and complete tasks for people who hired her through the site. She used the money she earned to save for travel.

  • Maylene and Charity bought a larger house than they needed so they could rent out a room to short-term guests through Airbnb. They started by renting out one room but soon began offering property management services to other Airbnb hosts who didn’t want to deal with the hassle. Their side project turned into a full-time business.

  • You can earn money through the gig economy and share economy while maintaining a flexible schedule. Set your own minimum wage to determine which opportunities are worth your time. Price services based on the value they provide to customers, not just the time involved. Build a strong reputation by providing great service.

  • Amy Hoy provided 12 lessons for successfully selling items on eBay based on her experience earning a living that way. Some of the key tips are: start auctions at a low price, provide many detailed photos, be very specific in item descriptions, share the item’s story to interest bidders, note any flaws clearly and honestly, and always be honest in listings.

  • Modern “gold rushes” are often easier to spot and participate in than the historical gold rushes. They require less risk and investment. Examples include Benny Hsu earning over $100K designing t-shirts, Pirate Joe’s reselling Trader Joe’s products in Canada, and finding opportunities in online advertising. The key is spotting opportunities created by new technologies or markets and putting in the work to take advantage of them.

The author was volunteering in West Africa and figured out a way to make a profit through Google Ads. By spending $300-$1000 on ads, he was able to earn $350-$1200 in commission from a lead generation site. He did this for about a year until the opportunity disappeared as others found out. Before then, he was able to save enough to pay for graduate school.

The author says opportunities are always around us, we just have to look for them. We don’t need a “big idea” to make big profits, we need a “helpful” idea, like the cupholder. Examples of possible gold rushes include:

  • An untapped market

  • New technology that people don’t know how to use

  • Something people want but can’t get

  • Scarcity or FOMO

The author provides a 19 day timeline to launching your first side hustle by spending 1 hour a day:

Days 1-3: Decide on your side hustle, the deliverable, and your target customers Days 4-5: Set a budget and determine 3 key benefits Days 6-7: Determine your pricing and set up a simple 1-page website Days 8-9: Write a sales page and FAQ for your website Days 10-11: Add a payment method to your website Days 12-13: Get feedback and launch your offer! Days 14-16: Tell friends/family, mention on social media Days 17-18: Get feedback from first customer and relaunch Day 19: Celebrate your first sale!

To estimate potential income, you can use the “Income Projection Tool.” Come up with some assumptions for a product or service like:

  • Startup costs

  • Sales price per unit or service

  • Expenses per unit

  • Time commitment per service

  • Maximum units sold per day

Then calculate potential monthly profit for selling 1 unit/service per day up to the maximum. Choose ideas with more income potential.

The “24-Hour Product” is about Nathan Barry who wanted to work on a side project outside his full-time work. He decided to create a complete product in just 24 hours. By setting a tight deadline, he was able to finish his “24-Hour Product” and continue working on his bigger projects. The takeaway is that tight deadlines can help motivate you to finish side projects.

Here is a summary of the guide in about 350 words:

Nathan Barry, an author and course creator, decided to create and sell a product called “10 Days to Better Design” in just 24 hours. He livestreamed his progress on the project to build interest and get input from his followers. By the end of the day, he had created a basic website and much of the content for the guide. Within 36 hours, he had made over $3,000 in sales.

This shows that you can create and sell a simple product quickly by following a few key steps:

  1. Decide on the product. For a 24-hour product, focus on something knowledge-based that you can teach through writing, video, or audio.

  2. Determine how you will sell it. Sell it online to keep it simple. Don’t worry about shipping physical products.

  3. Set a reasonable price. Price based on the value to customers but keep it low since you created it quickly. A lower price will also allow more people to buy it.

  4. Get others involved. Share your progress on the product with your followers to build interest and get feedback. This can motivate you and prompt people to buy it as soon as it’s ready.

  5. Set aside time for a “Mo’ Money Day” occasionally to generate extra income through small tasks like: selling unused items, auditing bills for errors, canceling unused subscriptions, negotiating lower rates with service providers, rebalancing investments, opening a high-yield savings account, setting financial goals. Small amounts of money can add up.

Side hustles, like the 24-hour product challenge, are a great way to earn extra money and test other work you may be interested in. They provide satisfaction, allow you to keep your day job, add variety, and could even turn into a full-time career. It’s best to start a side hustle before there’s too much competition.

Benny Hsu made over $101,000 selling T-shirts by targeting ads on Facebook. It took him 22 attempts to get his first sale but he learned from each attempt and ultimately built a successful business. This shows that persistence and continuous optimization can pay off when starting a new venture.

  • Benny began selling T-shirts on Facebook in 2017 as an experiment. After some failures, he began making money and realized it could be a full-time business. Two years later, it continues to be successful and provides him freedom and good income.

  • To grow a side hustle into a business, focus on selling more to existing customers or reaching new customers. Benny's business grew by reaching new customers. Other businesses may grow better by offering more to existing customers.

-Invest in yourself by improving your skills, building connections, experimenting, and taking opportunities. Heath Padgett invested in himself this way, which allowed him to leave his job and build a successful videography business.

-Angelia Trinidad combined her passion for art and skills in organization and studying to create the Passion Planner. Though her degree was in art, she realized neither art nor medicine was the right career path. The planner was a success, raising over $650,000 on Kickstarter.

-The key takeaway is to find the intersection between your skills and passions. Don't rely solely on either skills or passion. Combine them to create something unique that provides value to others.

  • The Passion Planner creator started selling planners to schools, libraries and organizations. Electronic Arts then placed a large order, turning it into a real business.

  • Peter Thiel proposes the "Zero to One" model for business growth. Horizontal progress means copying existing ideas (1 to n). Vertical progress means creating something new (0 to 1). Typewriters to word processors is an example of vertical progress.

  • There's no set time to quit your job and pursue your business full-time. Do it when your business generates enough income to live on, not just when it has potential. Some prefer the security of a job while growing the business on the side.

  • You don't need advanced tech skills to run a successful business. Focus on a few social networks, keep up with communication tech, have a way to get paid (like PayPal), and have a basic website. Learn what you need on the go.

  • An MBA teaches you to run someone else's big business. To run your own business, you need to know how to work with people, manage operations, finance, accounting, marketing, and some statistics. An MBA isn't necessary and is very expensive.

  • Consider going all in on your own business if the time is right and you feel the urge. Keep the Joy-Money-Flow model in mind. Create your own security instead of joining someone else's entity.

  • Moving first is a tactic, not the goal. It's better to be a last mover. Discovery led to something that paid well and provided autonomy.

  • Stop sending out resumes and playing the numbers game. Improve your odds by playing a different game. Becoming a firefighter is very competitive but requires extensive training and certification. The job is also physically demanding.

Becoming a professional firefighter is extremely difficult and requires overcoming many obstacles. Shelli Rae Varela was an unlikely candidate given her size and background, but through perseverance and hard work over 3 years, she achieved her dream of becoming a firefighter.

The common advice for finding your dream job, like applying for as many jobs as possible or networking, is flawed and misleading. Simply applying for more jobs is ineffective due to "application inflation"—the huge increase in applicants for every job. A better strategy is to apply for the right jobs, not just any jobs. This requires:

  1. Identifying the jobs that are the best fit for your skills and interests. Don't just apply randomly.

  2. Developing a tailored strategy for each position. Do research on the company and role so you can demonstrate why you're uniquely suited for that specific job.

  3. Using your networks and connections in a targeted way. Don't just blast everyone you know with a generic request—ask specific individuals who may have insight or connections for that desired role.

  4. Persisting and never giving up. Like Shelli, stay focused on your goals and continue improving and preparing so you'll be ready when the right opportunity arises.

The keys to landing your dream job are choosing the right opportunities to pursue, dedication, hard work, and refusing to take no for an answer. With the right mindset and strategy, you can achieve what others say is impossible.

  1. Decide on the job title you want. Create your own unique title to make the competition smaller. Some examples of self-styled job titles are "chief happiness officer" and "Mayor".

  2. Create an artist's statement to describe your future self. Focus on your past accomplishments and future goals. Keep it short and specific.

  3. Ask five people for help. Send personalized emails to ask for leads, introductions or advice. Meet with influential people and follow up to make a good impression.

  4. Use "demonstrated interest" as a strategy. Show your passion and enthusiasm for a role like researching the job, asking questions and gaining relevant experience. An example is Shelli Rae Varela who prepared thoroughly to become a firefighter.

  5. Decide to just start working and see what happens. Take initiative and show up ready to work without waiting for permission. Mark Suster is an example who flew to Tokyo and started working on a project without being assigned to it. His risk paid off and he was eventually offered a permanent role.

For career advancement, choose roles with the "shortest line". Look for positions with fewer applicants so you have a higher chance to get selected. In some careers like the military, promotions follow a fixed timeline so the key is to get in early.

  • Enter military service: choose the branch that promotes faster if all else is equal. This allows for quicker advancement and greater rewards.

  • Build relationships and networks: Cultivate weak ties, casual acquaintances in addition to close friends. Weak ties tend to have access to different networks and opportunities which can lead to new opportunities. Using the example of finding a literary agent, the author was able to connect with an agent through a weak tie, a referral from an author who read the blog.

  • Be authentic in your networks and relationships. Write and communicate as if speaking to someone you care about. The example of the author's grandma showed how considering your audience can make your communication more effective.

  • Ask good questions in a job interview to determine if the role and company are the right fit, show your interest and desire for growth. Questions about the problems the team faces, how you can contribute, what a typical day looks like, how performance is measured, and opportunities to take on more responsibility outside the main role.

  • Be willing to put in effort to achieve your dream job. The example of the female firefighter who spent over 1,000 days training and preparing to become a firefighter. Her job is meaningful and impactful to her.

  • Start taking action even if you're scared. Don't wait until you know exactly how to achieve your goal or dream. Taking action leads to progress and opportunity. No one wants to be known as the person with ideas but the person who makes things happen.

  • You can hack a traditional job by becoming invaluable to the organization while crafting your dream job. The example of the "head geek", a tech evangelist who loves his job role and title. Making a job work for you through finding meaning, impact, and fulfillment.

Leon Adato grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He initially pursued a career in theater but struggled to find work and make a living. He fell into a job teaching software in the late 1980s and discovered he had a knack for it. Over the following decades, Leon worked in various IT roles, frequently changing jobs to gain new experience and advance his career.

In his spare time, Leon wrote about technology and built websites. He eventually started contributing to a community forum run by the software company SolarWinds. SolarWinds was so impressed with Leon’s skills and knowledge that they created the role of “head geek” for him. As head geek, Leon gets to attend and speak at industry conferences, write about topics he’s interested in, and design a job that fits his skills. Though the path was long, Leon ultimately found his “dream job.”

The key takeaway is that in today’s economy, even traditional jobs are not guaranteed or secure. The best way to advance your career is to develop your skills and make yourself indispensable to your employers. Leon did this through four key strategies:

  1. Get the job done and help others. Go above and beyond what’s expected and be the person who makes sure things run smoothly.

  2. Prevent “rent-seeking” and other unproductive behavior. Don’t waste time on pointless tasks just to look busy. Focus on adding real value.

  3. Develop a reputation as the go-to expert. Build up your skills and knowledge so you become the person everyone relies on.

  4. Look for opportunities to innovate. Once you’ve proven yourself, look for ways to improve systems and processes. Come up with new ideas that will benefit the organization.

By employing these strategies over time, you can work your way into a role you find ideal, just as Leon Adato did. The key is to start by making yourself indispensable in your current position.

  • The author describes a woman named Chiara Cokieng who grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur. After graduating, she took a job at a consulting firm but eventually quit to start her own copywriting business. Although the business wasn't as successful as she had hoped, she reached out to a mentor for advice. He ended up hiring her to help grow his startup.

  • Chiara showed "proof of concept" by demonstrating the value she could provide before being officially hired. She took initiative and jumped right in to show what she was capable of. This strategy of proving your worth and value can be effective for getting hired or shifting responsibilities in your current role.

  • The author then shares a story of being overly helpful while living in Togo, Africa. She volunteered to drive a co-worker six hours round trip twice a week for three months so the co-worker didn't have to stay in a village over the weekends. Although the author's intentions were good, she realizes in hindsight that it may not have been the smartest decision. By being so helpful to one person, she was unavailable to others and fell behind on her own work.

  • The key takeaway is that while it's good to support your team and be the first to volunteer, you need to find the right balance. It's better to find an alternative solution that doesn't require you to do everything yourself, even if your intentions are good. You need to make sure your priorities and key responsibilities are still being met. Being overly helpful can sometimes do more harm than good.

  • The key to becoming indispensable at work is saying no judiciously and making sure you don't get overwhelmed by taking on more responsibilities than you can handle well.

  • You should have an open conversation with your boss about priorities and ask for additional resources if needed to do a good job. You can suggest sharing the workload with others or finding ways for others to take over responsibilities in the future.

  • Taking a sabbatical, whether officially at work or unofficially on your own, can help you recharge, gain a new perspective on your work, and discover new areas of interest or passion. Some companies offer innovative sabbatical or time off programs that aim to benefit both employees and the organization.

  • The author originally aspired to become a rock star but realized what she really wanted was the experience of traveling and connecting with different audiences, not fame or glamour. She ended up creating that lifestyle as an independent writer, though in a different form than she first imagined.

  • After seven years of writing independently, the author continues to write, travel extensively, and connect with readers around the world. Her journey is ongoing, though she shared the story of her first year in a manifesto called "279 Days to Overnight Success."

The key message is that you can create the job or lifestyle you want, though it may develop in unexpected ways. With hard work, persistence, and by building strong connections with your "fans" or audience, you can achieve a level of "rock stardom" in any field or creative endeavor. The key is figuring out what will really fulfill you and give you a sense of purpose or mission. Money and status are not the only measures of success.

The author was ready to release her first book. She had been blogging for years and built up a dedicated readership. To connect with her readers in person, she organized an unconventional book tour visiting all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces.

The tour was a success. Readers showed up, some driving hours to attend. The author gave a talk and Q&A at each stop, focusing more on connecting with the readers than promoting the book. She met with readers in unusual venues like a Pilates studio, coffee shops, a pizza parlor, a bed and breakfast, an art gallery, a farm, a heavy metal venue, office buildings, and coworking spaces.

The weirdest stop was in a grocery store in Minneapolis with terrible acoustics. The author resolved not to do any more events in grocery stores after that. But she was committed to building her readership and supporting her community however she could. As long as she kept producing work people valued and paid for, she felt like she had found her "inner rock star."

To succeed today, artists need to build their own fan base, not rely on gatekeepers like record labels, publishers, galleries, or radio stations. Successful DIY artists share four characteristics:

  1. A body of work (the product): This could be art, podcasts, essays, music, merch, or anything else. The key is consistently creating.

  2. A group of fans (the audience): Gaining fans requires patience, authentic engagement, and providing value. Over time, by connecting with people who appreciate your work, you'll build a loyal following.

  3. A means of sharing work (the platform): This is usually an active social media following or email list but could be anything that helps you reach your fans.

  4. A way to get paid (the marketplace): The most common way is selling your work directly to fans. But there are other options like crowdfunding, affiliate programs, sponsorships, and more.

To make a living, don't just inspire people—give them something to buy. The offerings will depend on your skills and audience. They could include books, online courses, membership sites, events, or other products and services. The key is providing real value that meets the needs of your community. With time and experimentation, you can build the right “funnel” of offerings for your unique situation.

  • As a DIY rock star, you get to choose your own business model without relying on sponsors or advertisers.

  • Sometimes it's worth losing money in the short term to achieve long-term goals. For example, Jason Sadler and the band Pomplamoose both lost money on tours but saw them as investments to build their audiences and businesses.

  • Focus on creating something that matters to people rather than perfection. Restaurants that invest heavily in the experience but have no customers prove this point.

  • Jason Sadler changed his last name multiple times as publicity stunts and earned money from sponsorships and auctions. His series of crazy ideas and ability to reinvent himself led to his success.

  • You have to choose between focusing locally or globally. Doing too much locally limits your ability to create for a global audience. Derek Sivers faced this choice in Singapore when constant local meetings prevented him from building his new business.

  • As a modern artist, you can build a direct relationship with fans and forge your own path without relying on traditional business models.

In summary, the keys to success as a DIY rock star are: choose your own business model, focus on the long term, create something meaningful, reinvent yourself, decide between local and global impact, and build direct relationships. By employing these strategies, you can find success on your own terms as an independent creator.

  • Choose a career path when the time is right, not just because you're told to. Life is seasonal, and there are times to explore multiple options and times to focus on one thing.

  • Don't feel pressure to choose just one career or have only one interest. You can craft a life around multiple pursuits and still be successful. The advice that you must pick a narrow niche is misguided.

  • Adapt to changes in your life and work cycles. Sometimes a stable job fits your life best, sometimes entrepreneurship or experimenting fits better. Sometimes one goal takes over, sometimes you mix multiple interests.

  • There are natural life cycles we all go through - growing up, relationships, aging. We have to adapt to the changes. Similarly, we go through work cycles where different pursuits fit at different times.

  • Look for the "perfect intersection" of the things you enjoy, as one example showed. Don't be afraid to try new things, even if some don't work out. See each experience as part of your journey.

  • Happiness comes from within, not from any one job or circumstance. Look for meaning and purpose, accept life as it is, and seek to improve - but don't get hung up chasing money or status.

  • If you feel stuck, get started living. Make choices, walk through open doors, work at things that excite you. Even unsuccesses or dead ends can lead you to where you need to be.

  • No one can give you the answer to what you should do with your life. Develop tools to find your own answer, and accept that the answer may change. The goal isn't a single solution but learning to navigate.

  • It is challenging to juggle multiple pursuits or interests at once. A strategy called “workshifting” can help navigate this.

  • Workshifting involves focusing fully on one thing for a while, then shifting focus to something else. There are three methods:

  1. Time-based: Allocating time for each pursuit, like Elon Musk who divides his time between Tesla and SpaceX.

  2. Outcome-based: Focusing on different pursuits based on seasons or work availability, like a landscaper who writes screenplays in the winter.

  3. Instinctive: Choosing what to focus on based on what feels right in the moment. Often a combination of the three methods is used.

  • The key is to avoid multitasking and focus fully on one thing before shifting to another. Workshifting does not work for everyone.

  • Sometimes the best choice is just to pick something and do it, rather than remaining paralyzed by indecision or too many options. Even an imperfect choice is better than no choice at all.

  • An example of workshifting in practice is Kelly Stocker, an online community manager. She has a degree in IT and English and started by writing reviews for travel sites. She got a job at Dell but eventually moved to Yelp, where she did community management, business development, and event production - all from home.

  • Kelly pursued multiple side jobs at once, like radio DJ and cinema host, by focusing fully on each role during the allotted time. For her, “it’s less about how do I find time and more about why do I find time.” She made time for roles that motivated her.

  • In summary, workshifting by focusing fully on one pursuit at a time, then shifting to another, can help navigate having multiple interests or responsibilities. The key is choosing based on a combination of time allocation, work availability, and personal motivation.

Kelly was an exemplary community manager for Yelp. Her tireless efforts throughout the city benefited both Yelp and her own reputation.

To succeed at workshifting and managing multiple projects, reduce options and make decisions in advance. Behavioral economists use “opt-out” choice architectures, where the default is the preferable option, making it more likely to be selected. You can apply this by creating “barriers” against undesirable behavior and “pre-commitments” for desirable behavior.

The “kanban method” is a simple way to track multiple projects using only three categories: current (working on now), backlog (coming up), and completed. Keep only a few items in the “current” column.

“Multipods” require variety and may pursue multiple careers. Some models for this include:

  1. Umbrella approach: Different roles tap the same skills and interests.

  2. Two separate jobs: Clear division between different roles.

  3. One job supports real interests: Unfulfilling job pays the bills so you can pursue your passion.

  4. Serial careerists: Go “all in” with something for a limited time, then move on.

To develop a multifaceted career, list your interests and passions. Look for common threads and ways to combine unrelated interests. While specializing in one area may be rewarding for some, others can build lives around many interests without settling. Pursuing multiple careers may require more effort but can be more rewarding.

The key lessons are:

  1. Finding your dream job does not mean you will have it forever. Dreams change as you change. Stay attuned to your intuition and desires.

  2. "Never give up" is bad advice. Know when to quit and when to persevere. Successful people quit unsuccessful ventures all the time.

  3. The story of the persistent athlete overcoming odds to win in the end is unrealistic. Most aspiring athletes fail. You usually don't have to compete against thousands to find your dream job. If something is not working, quit.

  4. Real winners selectively quit. Learn when to give up and when to keep going.

  5. The real danger is continuing to do the same unsuccessful thing over and over expecting different results. This leads to failure and insanity. The hardest time to change course is when something used to work but no longer does.

  6. When the stakes are low, make changes or quit quickly. For example, changing college majors early is better than later. Don't waste time on small things.

  7. Fight fear of missing out (FOMO). The story of the prospector stopping three feet from gold is used to suggest never giving up. But there's no guarantee the prospector would have found gold. He may have wasted more time. Opportunity costs matter. Sometimes it's best to move on.

  8. Consider opportunity costs and constraints. While persistence is key, time and resources are limited. Allocate them wisely. Quit things that constrain you and don't contribute value.

  9. Talk to others for input. Getting another perspective helps determine if you should quit or persevere. Others may see things you don't.

  10. If quitting, do so decisively. Make a quick transition to something new to avoid regretting your decision.

  • The author questions whether we should continue pursuing something just because we've already invested time in it (the "sunk cost fallacy"). We should evaluate options based on their current merits, not on past investments.

  • The author suggests using two questions to determine whether to give up on something:

  1. Is it working?

  2. Do you still enjoy it?

  • If the answers to these questions are both "no," it's probably time to move on. If the answers differ, you need to think more about the pros and cons. You may stick with it short-term but start planning an exit.

  • The CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, uses "five-year missions" - he commits to a goal or project for 5 years, then reevaluates. This provides enough time to achieve meaningful outcomes but not too long to feel stuck.

  • The author suggests making a list of "bad habits" or unproductive behaviors at work to give up, like petty control, image management, or trying to do everything. Giving these up can provide immediate benefits.

  • The author recommends building "relationship savings accounts" by maintaining your network and doing small things to help others. This provides security so you feel more comfortable giving something up if needed.

  • While perseverance stories can be inspiring, the author argues that if you continue to fail at something, it may be time to move on, contrary to the advice "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Continually missing the target is a sign it's time to "get off the ice."

Here’s a summary:

• There are many possible career paths, not just one. Use the Joy-Money-Flow model to find the best option for you. • Develop backup plans for your career choices. That way you can take more risks. • Commit to resigning from your job every year unless it’s clearly the best choice. That helps you reevaluate. •Improve your “soft skills” like writing, negotiation, and follow-up. They will make you more valuable no matter your career. • Don’t keep everything in your head. Write down tasks, next steps, and ideas. Get them out of your head so you can see them clearly. • Choose your own job title. Figure out what you want to do, then work backwards to get there. • Hack your job to create the best conditions. Become indispensable and improve the bottom line. Then consider a sabbatical. •Develop a side hustle even if you don’t plan to go full-time. Side projects provide security and diversify your income sources. • Don’t fear commitment. Make mistakes, learn, and commit when the time is right. • If something isn’t working, give up. Don’t just persist. Try something new. Real winners quit all the time.
• Pitching and proposing ideas can lead to big breaks, like Vanessa Van Edwards did to get on CreativeLive. Be bold in your pitches. • Learn strategies to at least tie at tic-tac-toe. If you can’t win, don’t lose!


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