How to Scale Your Impact and Make More Money

As mentioned in a recent LAC newsletter, my word for 2017 is impact. With everything going on in the world lately, these last few months have had me really evaluating how I am making a (positive) difference—with my clients, in my community, in the environment, and more. 

And as a full-time freelancer, you bet I've been taking a hard look at how I can connect this service-driven side to my business goals. Being quite honest here, ever since I graduated college my major focus has been on making money and figuring out how to financially support myself and my ambitions. 

But now it's time to reconcile two things that I've always internally thought were at odds with each other: making money and doing good in the world. 

What I'm realizing now is that how much revenue you earn is actually a pretty good indicator of your impact on the world. If we consider the basic principles of supply and demand, the more revenue you bring in reflects a certain level of demand—people who are seeking your skills, services, expertise, and specific impact on the world. 

And I know money is certainly not the only measure of impact. There are so many people out there who are making a huge difference in the lives of others without earning large amounts of revenue. 

But here's the thing: maybe they should be making more than what they earn currently. How might we all be playing the small game financially, and not openly valuing our impact for what it's truly worth? 

Making money does not have to conflict with your values. In fact, it's necessary in order to act on your values. If you can't sustainably grow your business or keep yourself afloat, how can you possibly expect to amplify your impact? 

Let's stop getting that "icky" feeling when we talk about revenue and profit. Let's celebrate it as an indicator of success and impact. 

And if you really want to talk numbers, check out this calculator that shows exactly how you can scale your impact and influence the lives of those around you. 

How to Scale Your Impact and Make More Money

What if your impact reached thousands of people? Maybe even millions?

Sounds a bit daunting, right? 

The good news is that the digital world makes it easy to share that knowledge with all those people. Online courses in particular are an increasingly effective way to reach more and more people and scale your impact in a sustainable way. 

If you've ever thought about creating an online course, I highly recommend Danny Iny's flagship program, the Course Builder’s Laboratory

The Course Builder’s Laboratory is the most comprehensive program out there. Inside, you will get eight modules that will teach you the entire system for creating predictably profitable online courses.

From zeroing in on a promising course idea, to validating it with real sales, all the way to building a course people will want, CBL will take you through a proven step-by-step process.

In addition to that, the Course Builder’s Laboratory comes with templates and scripts to help you eliminate guesswork and unnecessary effort – including email scripts, webinar templates, and sales call scripts for reaching out to people in your existing audience or personal network.

The really awesome thing is that you will be getting a lot more than just the core CBL material. As soon as you join the Course Builder’s Laboratory, you will be assigned a personal course-building coach. This is someone who’s been extensively trained in the CBL process, and has worked through it with dozens of entrepreneurs. Your coach will work with you for the entire duration of the program, giving you feedback and helping you if you ever get stuck.

If you’re serious about creating an online course this year, the Course Builder's Laboratory is the best way of making sure you follow through with it and succeed. Click here to learn more! 

We all have a skill to share or something to teach. What is yours? I'd love to hear in the comments below! 


Learning to Say “No”

Written by Davis Nguyen

I’ve always had a hard time saying “no,” until saying “no” was the only thing keeping me from ending up in the hospital this month.  

When I first moved to San Francisco a year ago, I didn’t have much of a social base being 2,500 miles from home and 3,000 miles from where I went to college. 

To fill the void, I started joining volunteer groups at and outside of work. The committees at work and non-profit organizations I joined started to slowly solve my want for a social community. I met people I normally wouldn’t have met, create memories that otherwise wouldn’t have existed, and slowly found my community in the city. 

A year later, I have no problem picking up the phone and having someone come over for dinner. But last month, I started noticing the side effects of being so committed. As my social time increased, my personal time declined. 

This month a number of my commitments ran into unexpected obstacles that needed to be solved quickly. I encountered a problem I’d never experienced in my life: there was just not enough energy in me to do everything despite staying up 7 days to the AMs. I was near exhaustion every night.  

When it was all done and I could finally breathe, I was happy with the results but saddened by the price. I finally understood what “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” meant. Instead of being energized by volunteer work, I felt drained. When the last event concluded, I just went back home and fell on my bed. It was first time I remember such a restful sleep since the cascade of commitments came down. 

But besides the positive communal results that came from this period, there emerged a personal result: I learned to say "no." During this intense period, the request for my time didn’t stop, but it was the first time since moving to San Francisco I just said “no” without hesitation. Not to anyone’s surprise, the world didn’t stop and the people who asked me simply asked someone else. 

I wish this lesson didn’t have to come when my health was declining, but I am glad I learned it. Learning to say no is tough, but I remind myself that if I say yes to something, I am saying no to everything else. In the end, I want to be in control of what I say no to. 

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

The Biggest Problem Millennials Face in Achieving Their Dreams

Written by Paul Angone Millennials get knocked for having big dreams. As if having goals, plans, and wanting to do something significant with your life is a personality flaw.

Millennials want to live on purpose with purpose.

How’s this a bad thing?

Staying optimistic, even as all the “reality checkers” are telling you “that won’t work”, is something to be commended – not scoffed at.

Yet, there is a problem.

There is something that will keep you from ever seeing those dreams come to fruition.

There is a problem that we need to understand and overcome if we’re going to make our big dreams a reality.

Here is The Problem to Pursuing Our Dreams in Our 20s and 30s

Your big dreams aren’t the problem. Your timeline is.

As I first wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties,

“Our big dreams aren’t the problem. Our crazy timeline of how quickly we want those plans and dreams to be sitting on our doorstep with a big Christmas bow is the problem.”

For me personally, I thought the red carpet was going to be rolled out on Day 33 of life in my 20s when God had that penciled in for Day 2,333.

You know, for when I was actually ready for it.

God has His timeline for your life. You have your timeline for your life. Some of the time those match—like on that one Tuesday in February, three years ago. But most of the time they don’t.

We could try and hold tight to the uncontrollable, gripping the details of our lives like a five-year-old trying to walk a rhinoceros.

Or we can let them go and do their thing. We can drop our dreams deep into the ground and water them with creativity, consistency, and patience.

Don’t let your timeline blow up the timeline that needs to happen.

Keep Growing Your Dreams

As I wrote in All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!

“Don’t chase your dreams, grow one. Plant them in good soil and consistently water it. Then trust that God will spark life underground.”

When it’s the right time, we’ll watch our plans and dreams grow bigger, better, and more beautiful than we ever could’ve planned.

Most of the time life will not feel like “it’s supposed to” and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Keep believing that in the small, daily grind something big is taking place.

And that the big outcome might not look anything like the portrait you painted of success while dreaming at the starting line.

Hold your dreams tight as everything tries to rip them away.

Keep warring for hope as everything feels like it’s warring against you.

Sometimes life in your 20s and 30s is about having the courage to write a couple crappy first drafts. Then after 5 re-writes, you start finding the story you need to live.

Paul-in-Stadium-All-Groan-UpAbout Paul Angone

Paul Angone is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator, a place for those asking “what now?” Snag his free ebook on the 10 Key Ingredients to Finding Your Signature Sauce and follow him at@PaulAngone.

13 Life Lessons I Learned Growing Up Poor

Written by Davis Nguyen  When my family immigrated to the United States, they had $200 between the six of them. To save costs they would take any job that would accept them, mostly 16-hour factory shifts, and lived together to reduce rent even as our family expanded. At one point we had 11 people sharing 4 rooms and 1 bathroom.

Many of the common conveniences my friends had I didn’t and when you grow up poor, you often imagine what it would be like had your family been wealthy. Sometimes you look at more well-off families with envy. As a kid, I thought about all the negatives of my situation – eating instant noodles for the 5th time in a week does that to you – and when I started as a freshman at a college I felt inferior to my more affluent peers because I lacked the culture, the sophistication, and the elegance I saw they had.

I viewed my upbringing only through the lens of what I missed out on instead of what I gained. Only in adulthood am I beginning to see how my experiences growing up impoverished has positively shaped who I am and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my life.

13 Life Lessons I Learned Growing Up Poor

1. The more you give, the more it comes back to you

If you’re poor, most likely your friends are too and you either learn to look after one another or suffer together. When my family first came to the United States, they barely had enough to get by, but my grandmother Rose, the matriarch of our family, always opened our home to those who had even less than us. Sunday dinners were spent with people from all races and backgrounds and my grandma always made sure noone left hungry.

Years later, when my grandmother opened up her own nail salon in our neighborhood, her first customers were many of the families she welcomed into our home all those years earlier. The people my grandmother fed brought their daughters, their friends, and their co-workers. Many of them became my grandmother’s life-long customers and even though my grandmother is now retired, she still gets requests from them to give them manicures and is able to live comfortably in retirement.

When you are generous to others, others will be generous towards you.

2. Problems can be solved with creativity

When my family took our first vacation, we encountered a problem we hadn’t thought about before. Our neighborhood was known for high levels of robberies and we didn’t have an alarm system to protect the house while we were gone. My grandfather didn’t let this deter him from enjoying vacation with his family.

The day before we left, my grandfather closed all the blinds to prevent anyone from peeking in, put the radio on a Vietnamese radio station so it would seem people were talking from within the house, and he allowed our neighbors who normally parked in our street, to park on our driveway so it seemed that people were entering and leaving. When we came back from our vacation we learned that 2 homes had been robbed a street down, but our house had not been hit.

Growing up, learning to be resourceful became a regular part of my identity. When I moved to San Fransisco, a few friends and I wanted to have lunch at a popular restaurant that had an 1-2 hour wait unless you came with a reservation. But to make a reservation, you must have at least 10 people. I gathered a group of 10 friends and made a reservation for the following month. When the day of our reservation came, half of our group could no longer make it and informed me only as I was driving to the restaurant.

So the 4 of us that remained had to either find more people or lose our table and wait 2 hours. I decided to recruit people who were waiting without a reservation and asked if they wanted to join our group. The first 4 groups I asked rejected me, since we were pretty young, I imagine they thought we would run when the bill came out, but the 5th group I asked said yes and we had our table of 10, saving both groups a combined wait time of 2 hours. When you grow up poor, you’re forced to use creativity to solve your problems.

3. Comparing plate sizes is the fastest way to be unhappy

With such a large family and a small budget, my family only ate out on special occasions. Whenever we went out to eat I would always look at what others were eating. I envied how others could have lobster, crab, and even shrimp when my family only had rice and simple meats. When I was four and we were celebrating my aunt Quyen’s birthday, my aunt pulled me to the side and said, “only look at what others are eating to see that they have enough; never look at another person’s plate to see if you have more.”

Today, I earn more on my own than entire families make in a year, but even with a large income, I see how unhappy many of my co-workers are. They make 2-3 times more than the average American, but still consider themselves poor because they see and compare themselves to the person who has been at the firm longer or their friends who work at larger firms. When you look at what others have that you don’t, you are going to be unhappy no matter how much you have.

4. If you don’t ask, the answer is already “no”

When you are poor, you do a lot of asking. Asking for a discount, asking for work, asking for an extension on your rent. In asking, you learn that the worst response anyone could give you is a “no.”

When I was five, I wanted to learn how to ride a bike so I could join the other kids in my neighborhood instead of just watching them from the sidewalk, but my family couldn’t afford to buy me a bike.

One day, my dad saw that our neighbor had thrown out a used bike that was about right for my size. My dad saw an opportunity and walked to our neighbor’s house, knocked on their door, and asked if he could have the bike they had just thrown out. That used bike became how I learned to ride a bike and it was only possible because my dad had the audacity to ask to go through another family’s trash.

In high school, I made it a goal to win enough scholarships so that I could pay for college on my own and my family wouldn’t need to take out a loan. As I was applying for scholarships, I remembered how my dad knew the worst that could happen to him was someone tells him “no”.

Over three years, I made a list of 312 scholarships and applied to every single one of them. 281 rejected me, but the remaining 31 said yes and together equaled more than $1.2 million in scholarships, more than enough money to pay for any university that would take me. I only got to this point because of the lesson my dad had taught me earlier in life. The worst anyone could tell you is “no” and if you don’t ask, the answer is already “no.”

5. A good solution is better than a perfect solution

When my dad was still working on an assembly line, he was applying for his nail technician license hoping that he could join my grandmother’s nail salon, then our family business. Because he was working during the weekdays and got off too late to attend non-weekend classes, it would have taken him months to get his license.

To speed up his learning, he volunteered to give free manicures to all the women who worked in customer service and secretarial roles at his factory. When he took the licensing exam he had enough experience to pass and shaved weeks off his training saving him time and money. My dad’s solution wasn’t the most elegant but it solved the problem.

When I was applying for college, I knew I needed at high SAT score but I couldn’t afford to take the same SAT courses that other students were. As an alternative, I asked a student for a syllabus of the prep course she was taking. I found the books listed on her syllabus throughout various libraries in my state and asked my local library to borrow them for me.

When the books arrived, I spent the summer self-teaching myself the material on the syllabus. It took me twice as long to get the results, but by the end of the summer I saw the same 400 point boost on the SAT while saving my family $3000 in the process. When you’re poor you can’t wait for the perfect solution so you do what you can with what you have.

6. You can find comfort in the uncomfortable

When I was still young, my father walked out on our family leaving me, my mother, and my little brother to survive on our own. My mom who had been handicapped since she was young was unable to work. To get by we relied on food stamps, welfare, and what the rest of our family could contribute.

It became normal for my mom to miss her payments: sometimes I would wake up and there would be no water and other times our electricity had been cut off. So I would go on for days dressing in the dark or not taking a shower. Somehow along the way, I learned to be comfortable. I knew if the electricity went out to grab the flashlight and when the gas went out to use a lighter to heat our food. I learned to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

My job involves working with people who are older and more experienced than I am, but it is my job to be in the same room with them and give them advice on how to run their business; some of my clients joke that I’m young enough to be their son. To a 23-year old, being in this situation can be frightening, knowing if you say the wrong things, you’ll be out of a job, but when you know what it is like going for days without running water, going into a broad room isn’t so scary.

The more uncomfortable situations you experience, the more comfortable you will be next time you find yourself in one.

7. Don’t be bothered by small stuff

When you move from house to house and you have a budget constraint there is never a perfect home. Sometimes the heater didn’t work well, other times you hear the noise from cars driving on the major road in front of your house.

One of the homes I lived in had such a bad cockroach problem that even exterminators couldn’t keep them from coming back. I would find at least a dozen cockroaches when I turned on the light in the morning, but everything else about the home was great: big rooms, cheap cost of living, and on a quiet street. Crazy looking back on what my family put up with, but it helped me learn not to be bothered by minor inconveniences.

In life things are inevitability going to go wrong. Your taxi driver will take a wrong turn so you’re late for a meeting, you forgot your umbrella at home so you’re walking in the rain, or you get locked out of your house. In those moments it can be frustrating but remember that compared to a hundred of other inconveniences such as living with cockroaches, your inconveniences are quite small, so don’t let it bother you.

8. Knowledge is indeed power

Growing up my uncle worked at my grandmother’s nail salon, but since the income wasn’t fantastic, he read books on computers when computers were still new and floppy disks were the closest thing we had to the “cloud.” On the weekend, he would repair computers of local businesses. He was able to make a good side-income doing this for years based on a few books he read.

Even when my aunt passed away and he was the sole provider, he would continue to read books and find ways to make side-income to care for my cousins. My uncle is one of the most resourceful people I know – give him a book and he’ll turn it into income.

My first apartment after college didn’t have a washer or a dryer and going to a local laundromat would have cost me an afternoon. Luckily, a roommate of mine found a young couple who were giving away their washer and dryer for free, it just needed some small repairs.

After we spent a Friday evening moving the washer/dryer into our apartment, I spent the weekend learning how a washer and a dryer worked, went to a local hardware store, bought some parts, and spent the weekend repairing the units. By Sunday evening, they were as good as new and I did my first laundry load in our washer. Though I don’t plan to be a professional washer/dryer repairman knowing I have the power to access knowledge and use it to improve my life is powerful.

9. Care for the things you have, no matter how little you have

I didn’t have much growing up. My drawers were never filled and my room was mostly empty. This made it easy to clean up my room and care for my stuff. Because I didn’t have much, I would wear the same clothes often and so I took care of the few shirts and pants I did have. So when a shirt was stained, I would clean it right away otherwise I just lost a shirt I’ve had a long history with. Today, I still own very few things but whatever I do own it is because I enjoy having it and invest effort in caring for it.

10. Opportunity is everywhere, but not where you thought it would be

My Yale friends are some of the most intelligent people I know, but I still can’t find more street smart than with the friends I grew up with. One of my best friends in high school is a guy name Phi. He and I had similar backgrounds, our families immigrated from Vietnam and we both had fathers who left us when we were younger.

Phi wasn’t the academic type, but he knew how to create opportunities for himself. When we all turned 18, we began receiving credit card offers. These credit cards are meant to get you to spend and begin a cycle of debt. For the people who knew this they avoided the cards all together. Phi saw an opportunity.

Many of these credit cards even though they had horrible terms gave you a period where you didn’t have to pay interest. Phi applied for all these cards that had a 0% interest period and withdrew all the cash he could from them. He used all the money to buy three small homes that were in foreclosure, fixed it up when he wasn’t at school, and moved himself, his siblings, and his mom to one of these homes and rented out the other two.

Since he fixed the other two homes, he used the rental income from those to pay off his bills, the mortgage on the house his mom lives in, and earns equity at the same time. Since the 0% interest credit cards keep coming, every time a card is nearing its end, he would use the new card to pay off all the debt of the old one and cancel the old card.

Today, Phi has paid off all three homes and all income he makes from them he invests in a fourth rental home. Where the banks thought they would make money off Phi, he has used them to make a better life for himself and his family.

11. If you want something, no one will get it for you except you

My grandparents always dreamt of owning their own business so when they came to America they spent their time and money to make their dream a reality. They only bought second-hand clothes, cooked all their lunches, and when something was broken would attempt to fix it themselves before hiring someone or buying a new one.

On the weekends when they weren’t working, they would drive around looking for locations to open their shop and scoping out the competition. When I was 4, a location opened up near where we lived and my grandparents spent their savings to secure the lease. My grandparents had a dream and pushed themselves to make it happen.

When I was applying for college, my grandparents became my role models. Though my community wasn’t known for sending people to elite universities, my dream was to be the exception. I would wake up while my friends were still asleep to work on my essays and stay up late when my friends were already in bed to work some more on my applications, essays, and scholarships. When you grow up poor, you learn that no one will push you. You have to push yourself.

12. What you have and where you are at isn’t as important as who you are with

Growing up, my family vacations were going to nearby beaches. These beaches weren’t the cleanest, but they were close and the motels were cheap so my family could afford to take a weekend trip every summer. As a kid, I didn’t mind how dirty or trashed the beaches we went to where because I was just glad I could leave the house.

As a teenager, TV and the internet showed me that beaches didn’t always have beer cans everywhere or were puke green in color. I just wanted to escape all of it and vacation somewhere beautiful like what I was seeing on National Geographic.

After I graduated from college, I took 5 months to travel the world by myself with money I saved from working the previous summers. I saw the most beautiful sites in the world from the beaches of Thailand to the mountains of Sapa, but all I could think was how I wished I could have spent those months with my family back on the dirty beaches I would despise as a kid. As I learned, being on top of the world doesn’t mean much when you can’t share that view with people you care about.

13. Be confident with who you are

Being comfortable with who I am took a long time for me to accept. When I started college, in my class were the decedents of many of America’s most prominent families. I didn’t dress as well as they did; I didn’t speak as eloquently as they did; and I wasn’t as cultured as they were. I felt vastly inferior.

As college went on and I became friends with many of the people I initially felt so intimated by, I realized I didn’t have many of the experiences they did, but that wasn’t to say my experiences weren’t as valuable. Since graduating from Yale and working with some of the wealthiest people in the world, I’ve come to see that I do lack many of the experiences they’ve had and learned from, but I also learnt I could easily gain many of these experiences.

A few wine tastings and I can tell you why you should pair your ribeye steak with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux for a juicier dining experience; a few black tie events later, I can tell you how to present yourself at an elegant setting; and a few fancy dinners later, I could tell you why sending your daughter to a summer camp in Maine might be the best thing you do for her.

I learned that many of the experiences that my friends who grew up in wealthy households had, I still have opportunities to have and learn from but few of them will ever get an opportunity to have the experiences I’ve had and learn the lessons I’ve learnt.

We can’t change how we were raised, we can only appreciate how it has made us the person we are today.

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

Late Bloomers in the Wild

Written by Jenna Leah

“It’s OK to be a late bloomer as long as you don’t miss the flower show.”

—Jane Fonda

Not living your dream yet? You might just be the coolest person I've never met.

I used to sit behind our high school prom queen in math class. I remember staring at her impossibly shiny hair and the careless way she tossed it over her shoulder. I would study her always impeccable outfits and marvel at the ever-present crowd of admirers around her desk. She was bright enough to get by, but her crowning achievement was beauty and fame of the effervescent all-American cheerleader variety. She made everything look effortless and imbued with magic, and I know for a fact that I would have given up everything that I was for just a second of life in her shoes.

Fast forward 15+ years, and thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I actually know where this girl is now. Her life in small-town USA looks nice enough: she has two kids, a big yard, and a husband with a warm smile—but there is nothing remarkable about how she turned out. On the contrary, from a looks, respect and star quality perspective, a jury would be pretty unanimous in saying that she peaked in high school.

If I wanted to find this girl's antithesis, I would need to look no further than myself. Maybe it was my glasses, braces, pale skin and gangly body that made me unpopular. Or maybe it was the fact that I grew up as an only child and truly didn't understand how to interact with my peers. I chose books over soccer at recess, and I proudly wore plaids with polka dots before clashing was cool.

Yep, I was awkward...and not in the fun way. True to any coming of age story, I wouldn't have forgone a single moment of my awkward adolescence, super sloooow life purpose development, relationship missteps and general extended angst.

But to be honest, over the years something has shifted. I have developed a certain confidence and sassiness that is well beyond anything I would ever have imagined for myself in my younger years. I am finally able to cop to my early days of nerddom, and in doing so admit to myself that I am no longer that frightened wallflower watching life go by around her.

As uncomfortable as it is for me to admit this to myself, somewhere along the way I started to bloom. I'm still a work in progress, but for the first time in a long time, I no longer doubt that I will get there.

Clearly I have a bit of a bias in the late bloomer direction—it serves my soul to feel that it is possible to start off as a cockroach and somehow mystically morph into a bunny. Yet at the heart of the matter, when I cast all of my stubborn beliefs aside, I believe in late bloomerdom because I've heard wonderful, heart opening stories of it from my friends, witnessed it with my own eyes, and delighted in the stories of the movers and shakers of the world (think Van Gogh, Martha Stewart and Julia Child) as they recall their days as struggling peons.

Here are some of my favorite late bloomer facts:

They take a circuitous path.

Many late bloomers have dabbled in not one or two, but a vast multitude of professions that runs far closer to the double digits. Back in the day, we used to call people who were well versed in a myriad of different arenas renaissance people or polymaths. These terms were used to denote people that were both clever and interesting, who also boasted an impressive amount of knowledge that spanned fields and made for some pretty fascinating conversations.

Part of allowing yourself to bloom a bit behind the typical timeframe requires a willingness to get a bit sidetracked and not always understand where your passions are leading you. It involves being willing to get really uncomfortable and wake up in the middle of the night wondering what the f--- you are doing. It requires heaps of blind faith and a willingness to sometimes leap with trust that the net will appear. Late blooming is not for the faint of heart ;)

They tend to be experimental, rather than conceptual.

This means that instead of starting off saying "I want to be a lawyer" and then doggedly pursuing a course of action that makes perfect sense, late bloomers are more likely to say "I'd really like to sign up for this online HR course," and then allow that to seamlessly lead them into the next passion they pursue. They make choices not because there is a clear end goal in mind, but with the bold understanding that they can't yet know where they are being led. Simply put, being a late bloomer often forces people to dig the journey more than the destination—or at least develop a healthy respect for the process.

They are often misunderstood.

To further complicate our societal notions of late bloomers, Malcolm Gladwell tackles the typical late bloomer story by arguing that being a late bloomer is not always synonymous with being a late starter. Although we are all familiar with stories of the famous fashion designers who never sewed a button until age 40, it is equally likely that the late bloomer down the hall from you has been painting or writing screenplays since they were 8.

Why hasn't the world seen them before now? Late bloomers are as complex as any other group of people, and so their decision to wait on revealing their gifts to the world may stem from a variety of sources. Perhaps they are insecure, not ready for the pressures that success will bring, or uncertain if they are chasing the right dream. Whatever the reason, a late bloomer that appears on the scene at 30 may be new to success, but not to the craft for which they are becoming famous. You just never know!

Sometimes they get left in the dust by the new and shiny.

Lately the demise of late bloomerdom has been getting a lot of press, with articles proclaiming that times are changing with the rise of the 24 year old CEO wunderkind. There is certainly a case to be made for the fact that our society is obsessed with the new and shiny, hence the prevalence of "30 under 30" lists heralding the next big thing.

In addition, many of the more lucrative, innovation-driven fields (think technology) tend to be more inclined in the direction of youth. That said, late bloomers have been around since time immemorial, and it seems highly unlikely that even the best laid social conventions can touch them.

Why I get super stoked about working with LBs:

Whether you've never had the chance to be what you might have been, or identify as a mid-career professional wanting to make a radical shift, I LOVE YOUR ADVENTURE. I might be biased, but I believe that the time you've spend developing your identity, observing, and gathering information about the world around you makes you immensely valuable in whatever realm you choose to direct your focus. You don't take anything for granted, because you know what it looks like to feel unsuccessful.

When you DO blossom and achieve success, you truly feel it and have the opportunity to know true gratitude. You are kind-you've learned to have patience with yourself, and that sensitivity translates to holding space for other people as well. Having spent time watching from the sidelines, you understand more about the way other people work, and you are filled with ideas and wisdom as a result of what you've seen.

In sum:

If this were a fairy tale and we went hunting for the moral, it would probably be something like this: there is no “perfect” journey, and there is no “normal” timeline. Wherever you are is just ducky, and wherever you are going is even better. I say this as someone who fights the good fight against perfectionism and linear thinking almost daily. I’ve outlawed career ladders, pyramids, and just about any other hierarchical model used to mark progress. Real peace for me comes from visualizing growth and progress as a spiral. True success of the lasting variety rarely happens the way we think it will, but it always promises a wild ride, and it is never truly far beyond your reach. <3



Jenna is a Silicon Valley tech gal by day/intrepid adventurer and yogi by night. She believes that everyone is born with a purpose, and that not everyone finds theirs at the same time. She loves to work with late bloomers, mid-career pivoters, and people who are struggling with a vague sense of feeling unfulfilled. It is her deepest joy and calling to help people unwrap their life stories and build awareness around what they offer to the world. She graduated from Smith with a degree in Anthropology more years ago than she cares to admit, and embraces the late bloomer label with pride.You can find her at

6 Ways You're Making Life Much Harder Than it Has to Be

Written by Paul Angone Life is hard.

So why do we consistently make it harder than it has to be? Life is complex enough without adding a bunch of baggage specifically designed to make it more difficult, more frustrating, and break down more frequently on the side of the road.

Why do we do this? On a daily basis.

How do we lay all the dead weight down to rest?

Well, here are six ways you might be making life more difficult than it has to be. The first one in particular is like grabbing a 1990’s box TV off the side of road, tying it around your ankle, and then trying to run at a full sprint.

6 Ways You're Making Life Much Harder Than it Has to Be

1. You’re hitched up to the gigantic dead-weight called unforgiveness.

Man, being bitter just feels so right sometimes, doesn’t it?

When by all accounts and witnesses you have every right to be utterly furious with someone, yet as you replay all the wrongs like a Spice Girls song stuck in your head, the more you obsess over it, the worse and worse you feel.

You have every right not to forgive, yet holding tight to that anger is like letting that person repeat the offenses over and over—completely tearing you apart while doing nothing to them.  As author Anne Lamott described best:

“In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott

Now hear me, I don’t know your situation. I don’t know the stuff you’ve been subjected too. Yet, forgiveness is more for you than it is for the person you’re forgiving. It allows you to be free and move forward.

Like getting over someone you loved and thought was the “The One”, forgiveness doesn’t always happen overnight. In my life, forgiveness has been a process that’s taken a lot of prayer and some counseling. And it’s not easy.

Unhitch that box TV and never look back. Unforgiveness is a weight that is too heavy to carry.

2. You’re trying to solve your big life problems late at night

I’ve realized in my life that late at night isn’t the best time to try and solve problems. Instead of trying to solve life’s big problems late at night as an anxious exhaustion swallows me like a black fog, I should just try something more productive–like going to sleep.

Morning is magnificently redemptive.

3. You’re secretly searching for perfect

The search for perfect is the perfect way to be perfectly miserable.

There is no perfect job. No perfect partner. No perfect friend. No perfect time. No perfect answer.

You’ll never have all the answers. Or enough information. Or the perfectly uninhibited view.

For years, I think much of my angst came because I was subconsciously searching for that perfect path to my future that didn’t exist.

As I write in my new book All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, “after college I expected a dove to fly down and deliver the detailed plans for my life, tipping his hat like a friendly 1950’s milkman, but someone must’ve shot that dove because I haven’t seen him.”

The only thing you’re going to find on your search for perfection is a bunch of imperfections to be depressed about.

4. You don’t utilize an Entrepreneurial Mindset enough

No, I’m not saying becoming an entrepreneur is going to solve all your problems because whether working in a cubicle or for yourself, it’s not going to be perfect (see what I did there).

Yet, I do think you would make life much easier if you became intentional about having an Entrepreneurial Mindset. What do I mean?

In my Finding Your Signature Sauce course, I discuss four different mindsets that I believe would change our lives if we intentionally modeled them–the Entrepreneurial mindset being one of the four.

At the core, I see the power of the Entrepreneurial mindset as the ability to see challenges as opportunities. Entrepreneurs make a living getting excited about problems they see because they can work on creating the solution. Obstacles are opportunities, challenges the trampoline to their purpose.

I just finished reading a great book by my favorite historian David McCullough on The Wright Brothers, who famously made the first successful manned flight with their own homemade airplane, and it was amazing to see their entrepreneurial mindset at work.

While the leading experts around the world with well-funded, never-ending resources at hand were trying (and dramatically failing) to become the first to fly, it was these two brothers, two bicycle mechanics who didn’t have a college education, who saw each new problem standing in their way of flight as one amazing step closer to solving the problem.

The Wright brothers were brilliant, but also doggedly optimistic that each challenge they faced was another key insight into solving the mystery of flight.

Successful entrepreneurs never let their epic failures stop them from possibly failing again.

What if instead of dreading and avoiding the problems in your life, they became your new business ideas, non-profit, invention, way to serve someone, etc. How much easier would life then be?

5. You’re on social media way too much

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, then jumped off and thought, “Wow, that was a great use of my time! Oh, and I feel so much better about my life too.”

I think only Mark Zuckerberg, and that weird guy who sits way too close to you at Starbucks, does that.

People used to go to their 10-year reunion and have to make it appear for one night that their life was amazing beyond belief. Now, we’re trying to pull that appearance off every second of every day. It is an impossible, crazy-making, endeavor.

We consume social media like a two-year-old downing birthday cake–we can’t get enough until we get more than we can handle.

There’s no better way to become depressed about everything you don’t have than by staring at the illusion of what everyone else apparently does.

Like I wrote in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, don’t check Facebook when…

Don't Check Facebook When | Funny Quote Print

Now I’m beginning to think there should be even more stipulations than I originally thought.

6. You're trying to figure all this out on your own

We all need help. Or at least, I know I need a lot of help. From friends, mentors, family, and most importantly from my faith.

If I had to carry life's problems all on my own, I'd have been crushed to death a long time ago. I know enough about me to know that on my own I'm definitely not enough.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments on this article: How do you resonate with the ways we make life more difficult discussed above?

Paul-in-Stadium-All-Groan-UpAbout Paul Angone

Paul Angone is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator, a place for those asking “what now?” Snag his free ebook on the 10 Key Ingredients to Finding Your Signature Sauce and follow him at @PaulAngone.

Waiting for Perfect Alignment

Written by Melissa Anzman ducks

Our fears present themselves in many different ways – procrastination, frustration, anger, excuses, and so on. The easiest way to prolong anything is waiting for perfect alignment. You know, “I can’t do X because Y isn’t in place yet.”

When I was working in the corporate world, it usually looked like:

  • I can’t apply for that job because I don’t match the job posting 100%.
  • I’m not ready for a promotion because I haven’t been at the company long enough.
  • I’m not a leader because I don’t have any experience with people management.

As a solopreneur, my alignment excuses have presented in many ways, recently:

  • I can’t launch my new design because it’s not perfect yet.
  • I am not ready to write a new book because the first two weren’t best sellers.
  • I can’t pursue an exciting opportunity because it does not match my current trajectory.

The funny thing is, I’ve found that we’re all waiting for perfect alignment before we take risks of any kind. Whether we’re using perfection as a comparison tool or as a procrastination method, it’s holding all of us back.

Stop Waiting for Perfection

I wish I had a guaranteed method to walk you through to start bursting through your perfection and alignment ideals, but honestly, it’s hard work – and not a one-size-fits-all solution. But here’s what I know for sure:

  • You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.
  • The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.
  • Perfect alignment will never come.

You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.

Good piece of advice there, no? A few years ago I was having lunch with one of my friends and we were talking about going out on our own and why some people make it “big” while others don’t. Because they actually put themselves out there to try.”

That conversation and our eventual landing place, has never stopped bouncing around in my mind. Sure there are people out there who may be more qualified, or better equipped, or more experienced, or…. (enter any excuse here). But they are doing it while you just continue to ponder all of the things that can go wrong.

There is never going to be a job description that matches your skills 100%. You are never going to be hired for a job you don’t apply to. Your niche market is not going to be completely untapped. Your website isn’t going to be perfect – ever. But if you don’t apply, or pick a market, or publish the site – you won’t be any closer to your goals.

The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.

We’ve all failed – some more than others. And guess what – we’ve lived to tell the story. Sure it isn’t always easy or kind to our egos, but it’s a big part of learning. “Failure” teaches us what not to do again and forces us how to try again.

If you don’t get the job offer – it’s not failure, but a good indication that you weren’t a good fit with the company (or vice versa). And how awesome is it to know that before you spend your time and energy onboarding?

Perfect alignment will never come.

I used to wait for perfection – for a sign of complete alignment. For completing steps 1 – 4 so then step 5 can be PERFECT. I hate to tell you this, but it has never happened. I spent YEARS thinking and pondering and doing the what-if treadmill.

And I missed out on doing while waiting for alignment. I denied myself the joy of writing because I was waiting for a “sign” that people would want to read what I wrote. I didn’t travel because I was waiting for the perfect mate to travel with.

Stop waiting for everything to align perfectly. It’s NEVER going to happen. Perfection or the idea of perfection, does not allow you to pursue. To create. To explore. To achieve. To be you.

Start doing – take little steps if the big ones seem overwhelming. Stop saying one day and start going after the things you want, even if things aren’t “lined up.”

What are you stalling on? How does perfection alignment present itself in your life? Tell us more in the comments below!

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

Putting Your Fear of Uncertainty to Rest

Written by Davis Nguyen 

I’ve always felt uncertainty hung around like a bad cop waiting to catch me. 

Growing up, uncertainty took the form of my basic needs. I wondered if my mother, little brother, and I would have food, electricity, or water the next day.

In college, uncertainty came in the form of impostor syndrome. I was convinced that Yale had admitted the wrong person and that any semester my professors would find out that I didn’t belong.

As I grew older, I thought uncertainty would go away, and it did—only to creep up again in new forms. My mom and little brother are now taken care of, I graduated from Yale with honors, and I work for company where I look forward to coming in every morning. But the fear of uncertainty still lingers. Will I still love my job a year from now? Will my income continue to provide for my family?

I’ve come to see that the only thing that is permanent about certainty is that there will always be uncertainty. We just have to learn to live with it.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to put my fear of uncertainty behind me by being grateful. I am thankful my worst fears haven't come true, and I channel my energy towards being ready if my worst fears do become a reality. Instead of letting uncertainty hover over me, I proactively react to every twist in my life.

In my childhood this meant making sure I didn’t waste any food, use too much water when I showered, or forget to turn off the lights when I left a room. If my worst fears did strike, my mom made sure we had at least ramen, a neighbor who would let us use his shower, and spare flashlights in the closet.

In college, I studied harder than I thought I needed, and if the results from a test came back unfavorably, I sought help so next time I would do better.

I learned to live with uncertainty by being grateful for what I already had and making the most of it. If tomorrow brought greater uncertainty, I made sure to be mentally ready to handle it.

Constantly worrying about uncertainty is like worrying that it might rain next week. It might, but constantly fretting takes away from the sunshine you are getting this week. Agonizing over the potential rain keeps you from best using your time and energy to proactively prepare for it.

Make of the most of where you are and what you have. Be grateful for today. Tomorrow might not be as easy.

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.

5 Greatest Obstacles Facing Twentysomethings (and how you overcome)

Written by Paul Angone The obstacles facing twentysomethings today are massive and can sometimes feel un-scaleable.

I thought in my twenties I'd be running full-speed and winning the race I'd been preparing for so many years to run.

Instead, I felt like I tripped at the starting line and looked up to see a race filled with potholes, rings of fire, and dream-eating-managers covering the path I thought was going to be smooth and straight.

What exactly are the main obstacles facing twentysomethings today? And more importantly, how do we leap over them?

Five Obstacles Facing Twentysomethings

1. Informationized

Twentysomethings are being informationized, a barrage of "need to knows" being shot at us with every step.

With twentysomethings being exposed to 1 trillion messages a day - give or take a billion, information is no longer gold, it's a trap. At least the wrong kind of information.

Just like the food we eat -- the information we consume can be junk or it can be nutritious. Consuming the right information is just as important as blocking all the wrong.

How we overcome:

We need to start asking questions about our info-intake.

Do you need to turn off the wireless internet at certain points during the day so you can focus on one task?

Do you need to stop watching the news about everything that's going wrong in the world and just focus on what you can do right?

Instead of reading so much of our information in today's headlines, how about we read books full of needed and important info specifically for us. If you're not sure where to start, check out my list of the Top 21 Books for Twentysomethings.

Wherever your info-intake is at right now, start asking yourself when enough info is enough. Death by information is a terrible way to die.

2. Social Media

Social media can either be like a black hole, sucking all your time, energy, and creativity into a vortex of zero returns.

Or social media can create a galaxy of opportunities, relationships, job opportunities, and platforms like never seen before.

Social media is the great amplifier, shouting the good and bad of YOU at record octaves. It takes your success, failures, fears, and puts them on stage for the world to judge. And how you're presenting yourself on the social media stage can make all the difference.

How we overcome:

Is social media something you do intentionally or without any thought?

Is your social media presence proactive or reactive?

Are you strategically creating your online brand or are you letting others create the brand for you?

Social media is like a chainsaw. How you wield it is the difference between building something or just cutting everything down.

3. Stereotypes

As I wrote in "Enough with the Twentysomething Stereotypes!", the same old buzzwords are being thrown around and adopted about everything twentysomethings "are doing wrong."

We don't dare stereotype based on gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation, but if you stereotype based on age you'll have a front cover story.

And if you're twentysomething, your managers might have their own stereotypes about you based on your age before you even tackle a project.

The stereotypes might be subtle or incredibly pronounced, but you must be aware of how you are being perceived. Then do your best to take those stereotypes to the shredder and into the outgoing trash.

How we overcome:

As I wrote in my book 101 Secrets for your Twenties,

If you feel like you’re being stereotyped because of your age, your best ally is quiet confidence—a humble consistency that shows up and gets the job done. You don’t argue with them about your skill set, you just show them every single day how awesome your skills are.

It’s a tough, thankless gig, but soon, very soon, you’ll prove to them that you’re a person, not an age range.

4. Lackluster Economy  + Debt = Holy Horse-Apple

You don't need me to tell you that the economy has been a tad dumpsterish lately, with many twentysomethings taking out thousands of dollars in college loans for the grand opportunity to step up to the garbage bin to find that job in the rough. The Great Recession became a very depressing twentysomething reality.

How we overcome:

Instead of complaining about a lack of opportunity, we need to focus on creating them instead.

We can't sit around and wait for an open door, we have to keep pounding on them until one busts open.

We can't be reactive to the economy's woes, we have to be proactive in finding needs and meeting them.

Opportunities for twentysomethings didn't disappear, it just takes a little more hutzpah to uncover them.

5. Wasted Time

Now that I'm married with two daughters, I become a tad sick when I think about all the hours I wasted in my early twenties.

Time is your greatest asset. And for most twentysomethings time is still on your side.

Just remember that time is a depleting supply.

As you possibly look to get married, buy a house, have kids, the time you're going to have to pursue your dreams is going to be fleeting. For me, that meant working a full-time job, putting kids to bed, and then chasing my dream of becoming a full-time writer and speaker at 5:00 am or 10:00 pm, trying to ring productivity out of every free second.

How we overcome:

Wasting free time is very expensive. 

Make a schedule. Choose your time. Don't let it choose you.

Wasting time becomes a never-ending carousel, anxiety multiplying with every turn.

Time is a gift. Unwrap it and use it wisely.

Your life might not be turning out nothing like you planned mainly because you never had a plan to begin with. Take time to make one.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below on this article:

What obstacles are you trying to overcome? 

Paul-Angone-All-Groan-UpAbout Paul

Paul Angone is the author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator of, a place for those asking "what now?" Snag free chapters from his book and follow him at @PaulAngone.

The Most Important Word in the Dictionary

By Davis Nguyen

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."

—C. S. Lewis

Humility isn’t a sexy word.

As recent college graduates, we are so eager to show the world what we have to offer. What we lack in experience, we make up for in our readiness to accept every opportunity coming at us – even if we don’t know what we signed on for. It is no surprise then that embracing humility is so hard; it means accepting our weaknesses. It means showing, instead of hiding, our imperfections. Imperfections we believe will keep us from getting the job we desire, being with the people we want, and living the life we dream of.

But the more we try to mask our imperfections, the more we miss out on the same opportunities we are seeking. We doom ourselves to repeat the same mistakes; we turn away people who want to help us; and we deny ourselves opportunities to grow. The outcome from making a mistake at 26 is not the same as if you make it at 36. The question is, will you learn at 26 or repeat it at 36?

But accepting humility doesn’t come from reading a “how-to” guide or waiting for an epiphany. It comes in gradual acceptances of who you are.

  • It means being proud of your accomplishments without being prideful.
  • It means thinking about how your actions will affect others.
  • It means taking responsibility for your mistakes.
  • It means admitting you don’t know everything.

Humility isn’t sexy, but it makes you more attractive.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below:

What trait in a person do you admire the most?

Davis Nguyen

About Davis

Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.


How Do You Know When to Trust Your Gut?

colorful-triangles_trust-gut-2Written by Jenny Blake

Have you ever had a gut instinct that rocked you to the core? You're in a job or a relationship, and you start getting a physical sense that it is time to make a change. These instincts often start as quiet whispers, and can be confusing and disorienting if we don't yet know what to do with them. And if you don't listen to the whisper, get ready: it will likely deliver a very uncomfortable WHACK instead.

Wake up! Our gut says. Listen to me!   

Maybe you feel it as a pit in your belly. A lump in your throat. A flutter in your heart. But what does it mean? If we go straight to problem-solving with our brain, we might miss the true meaning.

Your Gut Has a Brain

Or more accurately, it is a brain.

According to the fascinating book mBraining

  • You have a complex and intelligent brain in your gut that contains over 500 million neurons and has the equivalent size and complexity of a cat's brain.
  • The majority of nerves connecting the heart and gut brains to the head flow upwards. 90 percent of vagal nerve fibers communicate the state of our system to the head brain. Only ten percent provide communication signaling in the other direction from head to heart and gut brains.
  • Over 95 percent of the serotonin used throughout the body and brain is made in the gut.
  • Your gut brain exhibits plasticity and can learn, form memories, take on new behaviors, and grow new neurons.
  • The gut brain is primal. It develops both evolutionarily and in the womb before the heart and head brains.

"The gut brain is the core of your deepest self . . . your subconscious sense of who you are and who you are not. It's also the intelligence that is at work dealing with all core identity-based issues and motivations such as needs for safety, protection, maintaining boundaries, and what you will physically or psychologically internalize or reject. Your enteric brain is primal to who you are."

mBraining: Using Your Multiple Brains to Do Cool Stuff

Knock, Knock. Who's There? Your Gut, But I Can't Talk.

Our gut doesn't have the verbal sophistication that our head-brain does.

Our gut works on hunches; a hypothesis that something isn't right or there's an opportunity ahead, and it's up to us to suss out what that knock on the door of our consciousness really means, and what to do about it. We are left to interpret the meaning of the message, and then figure out how to take deliberate action.

That's why gut instincts can be terrifying sometimes. We may know it is time to act—to leave the job or the relationship, to move cities, to have a hard conversation, or to face a truth within ourselves—and yet the action itself takes tremendous courage.

Often our first reaction is refusal. Noooooo. No. It can't be that. I'm not ready for that. I can't possibly do that. I don't have the strength to face that head on.

But unfortunately we can't just stuff feelings back into the inconvenient box they came from. As the mBraining book explains, our gut is the defender of our boundaries and core identity, both critical to our health and happiness.

How Do You Know When to Trust Your Gut?

You can't always know with 100% certainty. Trusting your gut is like building a muscle—it takes time and practice. Another analogy might be taming a horse: you have to form a relationship with your gut instincts, and building that trust takes time.

If you're currently wrestling with an intuitive hunch or hit, here are some questions that help me:

How many times has your gut instinct been wrong?

That's not a loaded or leading question. Think back across the major decisions of your life: when you really took the time to get quiet and listen deep, then took action no matter how hard it felt, what percentage of the time did those gut instincts serve you well? In my case, it's 99%.

But in the rare instance that your gut was wrong, examine it: what could you have done differently? How might it inform future action? It is likely is that your gut instinct was on track, but the action you took may not have been exactly on track. That's okay! It's how you learn, and you can always correct course as you go.

What has more potential downside, taking the risk or staying in place?

Would your gut be speaking up if the answer was to keep things exactly as they are? In his book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Taleb defines his term for risk work taking, those with high optionality: "The property of asymmetric upside (preferably unlimited) with correspondingly limited downside (preferably tiny)." See my related post, Which Risks are Worth Taking? 

Or maybe you just need to frame the question differently:

What small next step would help alleviate this uncomfortable feeling?

Sometimes it's not about the big leaps or endings, but rather speaking your truth in a direct and honest conversation. Notice the spectrum of actions you could take: look for small steps within your comfort or stretch zone, without sending you into the panic zone of paralyzing anxiety and fear.

Is taking this action creating "clean" pain or "dirty" pain?

Certain actions are incredibly difficult and make your stomach flip, but you know that it's a "clean" pain—a necessary step for you to move on and live your best life. "Dirty" pain is dishonoring yourself. It's when you hurt because you are actively ignoring what is in your own best interest, in a way that is damaging and stressful to your well-being.

Tools for Getting Quiet

Exercise, talking to friends, and writing have always helped me, but the biggest difference in truly hearing my gut (not just my neurotic monkey mind) came from starting a meditation practice. I know, I know—I used to roll my eyes every time I read something like that too. But it really can be as simple as sitting with your eyes closed for five minutes before you start your day.

Check out the Lucent App I co-founded for help facilitating self-awareness and focus each morning—very simple meditation might just be the game-changer for you that it has been for me.

I wrote in a newsletter earlier this year that chaos is a doorway to opportunity. My dad often reminds me that's where the best art, music, and writing comes from anyway! Let the message be your muse. 

I'd love to hear from you in the comments:

How about you: how do you "hear" your gut? When do you know it's time to act on the information you pick up?


About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the bestselling author of Life After College, a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business.

Today you can find her here on this blog (in it's seventh year!) and at, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

How to Crush Fear

Written by Paul Angone "Go put this bridle on that horse," my boss said to me. "And don't touch his ears this time."

Here are some facts that led up to this statement:

  • I was working as a wrangler at the amazing Deer Valley Ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
  • I started working there, somewhat inexperienced with horses (I was mainly hired for my rugged good-looks and possibly because I lied a little on my application) so I was learning on the fly every day. Most times, very afraid.
  • The horse I was supposed to put a bridle on had just ripped an 8ft, fifty pound rail from a fence, and swung it around on a rope like it was a piece of licorice just because another wrangler moments before had touched his ears while trying to put it on.
  • As I grabbed that bridle and slowly walked towards that horse, a small amount of pee pre-maturely escaping in my jeans, what happened next taught me an important lesson about fear.

How to Crush Fear

I slowly walked up to the horse I would've rather not touched with a 100ft pole. Quickly did what my boss had just taught me. And got the bridle on with no problem. Simple as that.

I then walked away a little taller and prouder, forgetting about the pee soaking my pants.

If I would sum up my boss's leadership style, whom I respected very much, that's what it would be.

If you're afraid, do it anyway.

It never mattered to our boss who had the most experience or who was the best on paper for a certain task.

If you were there, you did the job.

You ease fear by doing it afraid. Then the next time, the fear is a little less frightening. 

For the rest of the summer whenever I began to avoid a job because I was afraid, I would turn back around and do it.

You learned by doing. You grew by doing it scared.

He didn't sit you down and teach you a class on proper riding. He put you on a horse and told you to get going!

Get On and Get Going!

As a generation we've become paralyzed by over-analyzing.

With so much information at our fingertips, we want to research and remove all risk of embarrassment before we'll even put our toe in the water.

When sometimes the best way to learn how to swim, is by being thrown in the deep end naked and blindfolded.

Doing something big is scary! Not doing something big because you're afraid is even scarier! 

If there's something you know you need to do, but have been too nervous to take that first step, do it right now.

Don't wait for it to feel right. Do it. Then feel right about it after it's done.

If you're scared to speak in public, join a Toastmasters and give a talk.

If you're scared to network, email five people right now you'd like to meet with and ask them to coffee.

Walk into the office you want to be hired at and see if the hiring manager is available. Shake their hand with confidence, even if inside there is none.

Go up to the girl or guy you've been texting with and ask him or her out on a date. In person!

Volunteer to head up that big project at work even if you feel it's over your pay grade

Do it. Then figure out how to get it done.

You learn the most by doing the things that you fear you're the least capable of doing.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments section on this article: 

What's one thing that terrifies you that you can tackle today? 

Paul-Angone-All-Groan-UpAbout Paul

Paul Angone is the author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator of, a place for those asking "what now?" Snag free chapters from his book and follow him at @PaulAngone.

Love Yourself & Catch those Gremlins, for Nothing Changes Until You Do (+Giveaway!)

Written by Marisol Dahl


Today we are so excited to celebrate the official launch of Mike Robbins’s new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way.

A keynote speaker on teamwork, emotional intelligence and the importance and impact of authenticity, Mike Robbins is on a mission to help people better connect to each other and to themselves.

Mike's third book, Nothing Changes Until You Do is a collection of 40 stories and reflections from Robbins’s own life and from the lives of those who have most inspired him. Each essay has its own bit of wisdom to impart, everything from why it is important (and courageous!) to embrace powerlessness to the value of owning up to your accomplishments and letting your light shine.

I was fortunate enough to interview Mike and get a peek into his book-writing process, how to battle the inner gremlin (that nagging inner-critic), and his top tip for recent college grads.

Interview with Mike Robbins

As you mention in the introduction, this is the first book you've written in five years. Your other two books were written within three years, with two new babies, and lots of ups and downs. How has writing Nothing Changes Until You Do been different? What's been the best part?

Writing this book was very different. First of all, I’m a few years older now (and hopefully a little wiser). Second of all, we didn’t have a baby associated with this book directly – when I wrote my first one we had a new baby at home and when I wrote my second one, we had a 2-year old and a baby on the way. My girls are now 8 and 5, which is a very different phase of parenting. And, finally, I decided to write this book in a different way (short essay style), which made it even more fun and easy for me to write. I also used speech recognition software to write much of it, which worked really well for me.

Many of our readers are 20-somethings and recent college grads. We're entering the working world, forging new relationships, navigating unchartered territory. What is one thing we can do right now to better embrace our vulnerabilities?

Give yourself permission to feel scared and own it. One of the scariest times in life is when you graduate from college. Of course it can be fun and exciting, but even the most confident, successful, and focused person gets scared when entering a new phase of life. The rules of life in the “real world” are much different than the rules of life in school and it takes some time to figure it out.

A common mistake that most of us make in our early 20s is we spend and waste a lot of time and energy pretending we know what we’re doing, when oftentimes we don’t. This is true throughout life, but especially in our 20s. Embrace your age and exactly where you are. And, remember that it’s okay to feel scared and, at times, completely overwhelmed – everyone else does, they just pretend that they don’t.

What is the first thing you do when you feel your gremlin sneaking up on you?

First of all, it’s important to recognize the gremlin (that negative voice in our head). The most dangerous aspects of the gremlin are the ones we aren’t aware of (i.e. we think it’s the “truth.”)  Once we recognize that it is our gremlin, not us, who is talking or leading the way, we can gently take back our power by having compassion for ourselves and reminding ourselves that the critical voice in our head does not have the final say.

When my gremlin shows up in an intense way, it’s often important for me to reach out to people I know and trust and to let them know some of the negative thoughts and judgments I am experiencing about myself. Talking about it often helps loosen the grip and helps me take back my power from my gremlin.

In one of your later chapters you mentioned that "being bold, while scary and challenging at times, is essential to living an authentic and fulfilling life" and that it's important to "swing hard, just in case you hit it." Can you tell us about a time when you may not have swung hard enough? What would you have done differently?

I have many examples of “not swinging hard enough.” Most of the times I’ve failed – back when I was playing baseball all of those years and in my business now – it is a function of not swinging hard enough (as opposed to swinging too hard).

One recent example is related to a speech I gave at a big conference for one of my clients. It was a huge event and I had a relatively short time I was scheduled to speak on stage. Instead of doing what I normally do – trust my gut, speak from my heart, and allow myself to create in the moment, I got scared and didn’t want to mess up, so I over prepared, rehearsed my speech, and it ended up falling flat, one of the worst ones I’ve given in a long time. It felt like I missed the moment, got overwhelmed by the situation, and didn’t allow myself to trust and risk in the way I know how…in other words, I didn’t swing hard enough. It was painful, but a great learning experience.

I loved your chapter on gratitude, and I find this to be so true: "The way gratitude works is that the more we focus on feeling grateful, the more we have to feel grateful for." In this moment, right now, what are you grateful for?

Such a great question – thank you for asking it. I don’t think we can ever ask or answer this question enough. Right in this moment, I’m grateful for my wife Michelle and our two amazing girls Samantha and Rosie. I’m grateful to be doing work that I love and to have people (like you) asking for my perspective and advice.

I’m grateful that I had the courage and commitment to write another book, even though it can be scary to put myself out there. I’m grateful for the enormous amount of support I have in my life and with my business. I’m grateful for the ability to express myself authentically and to learn each and every day. And…so much more!


We’re excited to be giving away two copies of Nothing Changes Until You Doby Mike Robbins. To enter to win, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, May 16. We will pick a winner via and email to let you know!

Comment to be Entered to Win: What is one blessing-in-disguise that you are grateful for?

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Introducing The Acorn Project: A Two-Week Course to Reflect, Dream and Scheme

What a week. Considering some of the Sandy aftermath on the East Coast, I'm one of the lucky ones -- but didn't get away scot-free either. My area lost power from Monday night to Friday night -- which meant no running water or cell phone service, and 40-block walks just to use the bathroom in the morning. Urban camping at it's finest? The candlelight was cute until I hadn't showered for three days...

It's a humbling experience to realize how much we rely on gadgets, electricity, running water (and how fortunate we are to have them so readily available most of the time) -- and how much effort it takes just to go through a day without easy access to those things.

My sincerest thanks to everyone who reached out, checked-in, asked if they could help or offered a place to stay -- I'm deeply touched by the generosity of community in times like these. And sending my thoughts to all those more seriously impacted as well.

During the days that I did eventually find Internet (huge thanks to Ryan Paugh for arranging workspace at The YEC's accounting firm, Presti & Naegele!) I was hard-at-work on an exciting new course for all of you . . .

Introducing The Acorn Project

"Observe any squirrel during nutting time and see how busy he is laying a stock of provisions for Winter. Bushels and bushels of acorns and nuts are gathered by the little fellows and stored in the hollows of trees and in other accessible nooks. When these are filled the squirrel buries his treasures in the ground. Busily, like a streak of gray lightning, he whisks about under oaks picking acorns and burying them in the ground in a thousand and one spots. From sunrise to sunset he and his mates are busy storing away the Winter supply.

...Doubtless many of the acorns buried by the little planter are forgotten. Others are covered under snow before he has a chance to dig them out. In either case, an acorn has been planted as delicately as if by hand of man, and only the thaw of the ground and the warm Spring sunshine are needed to coax forth the oak. 

...It is a wonderful thing when you come to consider what part the tiny, bushy tailed animals may have played in the history of our country. Perhaps the majestic ships that plow the seas -- maybe even the old, famous men-of-war owe their existence primarily to the little paws of the soft-furred, soft-eyed little animals."

—The New York Times (Published March 15, 1903)

What do squirrels, acorns and oak trees have to do with you?

The Acorn ProjectWith just two months left in the year, it's a time for many people to wrap things up, reflect, and spend time with family. It's a time where many of us are starting to hunker down and set ourselves up for modern-day hibernation. It's also a time for us to start nurturing ideas for what's next and where we want to focus our effort in the coming year.

The Acorn Project is a two-week course that will help you reflect and start gathering fuel -- ideas, dreams and goals -- for the new year. After all, today's acorn stash could turn into tomorrow's big, beautiful oak tree.

This mini-course doesn't share the same intensity as Make Sh*t Happen, nor is it supposed to -- it is about collecting and mapping out your desires, values, ideas and goals so that you can see what wants to emerge in the New Year.

The Acorn Project kicks off a bigger course series called called Kickstart Your Change from Ruzuku, the online learning company I work with to host Make Sh*t Happen.

Sign me up, Scotty! (And FAQ)

What topics will we cover?

  • Day 1: Lay the Foundation: Mindset + Current State
  • Day 2: Create Your Compass (Values)
  • Day 3: Dream Big (Brainstorm and life map)
  • Day 4: Beyond the Trapeze (Navigating transition)
  • Day 5: Maintain Your Momentum (how to Make Sh*t Happen!)

How does the course work?

The course is facilitated through an online-learning platform called Ruzuku. You will get an email each day notifying you that the next set of content is ready. As you move through the course, you’ll check activities off that you complete, and you can return to the course any time after it is finished to revisit the material.

Who should sign-up? Is it just for college grads?

Nope. The course is for you if you are looking for guidance and inspiration to help assess where you are now and where you want to go.

This course is for anyone who:

  • Feels stuck or stagnant, wants to make a change but isn't sure where to start
  • Wants help determining what’s most important, and how to go after it
  • Is looking for some direction and structure to help reflect on this year and plan for 2013

I look forward to seeing many of you in the course

The Acorn Project - Click here to enroll now!

On Seasons

Fall Leaves There's been a distinct shift in the New York City weather this week -- as dresses and flip-flops retired with the humidity of summer, they made way for the boots and beanies that signal the crisp, brisk and decidedly here-to-stay Fall.

Maybe it's the Californian in me, not yet fully adjusted to having actual seasons, or the simple fact of being a living, breathing animal on this planet -- but I'm noticing a distinct shift in myself as well.

I turn 29 today and have been finding myself in a reflective mood (common theme this year . . . don't say I didn't warn you!). As I've talked about in the past, birthdays are a my personal New Year's -- they are a time for reflecting on the year prior and setting intentions for what's to come.

So today as I enter the last year of a very full decade, for which I have much to be thankful for, I'm letting a few others' wise words take the floor. (And a quick aside to say THANK YOU to everyone who has left such wonderful Facebook notes, tweets, texts, emails and messages today!) 

Nevine Michaan - On Seasons

I went to a yoga workshop this weekend by Nevine Michaan, an incredible woman and teacher who has been studying Taoist theory and sacred geometry for the last 25+ years, and she reminded us that we do best to live, move, and practice yoga by the seasons.

As the Tao says:

"Ten thousand beings carry yin on their backs and embrace yang in their front, Blending these two vital breaths to attain harmony."

According to Michaan, we attain our own harmony by honoring and becoming the master of our own universe; moving energy through our internal nature while being aware of the changes in the outer world around us.

As the seasons go, Michaan says that Spring represents our vision and potential, Summer is for setting goals and seeing them to fruition, Autumn is for patience and reflection, and Winter is for hibernation, substantiation, and making effort.

In this video from 2009, I talked about birthdays and transitions being a time of shedding our old skin (just as snakes do) so that we can make room for what's next. But -- there's a time of being naked in the middle of it -- as we let go of the old and explore what's next. (See one of my favorite related articles on transition, The Parable of the Trapeze.)

The nakedness is our vulnerability, our rawness, our core -- without the protection of the ego or our outer world -- and what's next comes with time, patience, reflection and intentional action (sprinkled with a little crazy too). :)

Khalil Gibran - On Time 

Excerpted from The Collected Works of Khalil Gibran, one of my favorite books of poetry (particularly The Prophet, which you can read online here).

You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable. You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons. Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness, And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream. And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space. Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless? And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds? And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?

But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons, And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

Cheryl Strayed - On Stretching

This quote is excerpted from an incredible book I just finished called Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar -- a compilation of poignant, wise, moving essays from Cheryl Strayed's Dear Sugar column on Full credit to Grace Boyle for this book recommendation, from her beautiful blog post Matters of the Heart.

When asked about advice for people in their twenties: "Be as magnanimous as you can be . . . because it's harder to be magnanimous when you're in your twenties, I think, so I'd like to remind you of it. You're generally less humble in that decade than you'll ever be and this lack of humility is oddly mixed with insecurity and uncertainty and fear. You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love."


Bonus: Yoga on the Rocks

Speaking of yoga -- below are a few recent pictures from a visit to Joshua Tree National Park in CA. Thank you to The Man -- who has been one of my greatest gifts this past year -- for the vision, talent and creative genius to make these happen :)

Yoga at Joshua Tree

Yoga on the Rocks! Jenny at Joshua Tree (Grasshopper Pose)

Yoga on the Rocks - Reach for it! Jenny Blake @ Joshua Tree

Finding Pillars of Certainty Amidst the Walls of the Unknown

One of my big fears around quitting my job (I gave notice this exact time last year) was the fear of boredom or burn-out. What if I tire of the very things that bring in money . . . then what? The paychecks won't keep rolling in if I suddenly just stop. doing. the. work. At the time, I remember reconciling that fear by saying, "So what? I probably WILL outgrow my business. In fact, surely that will happen, as it is a natural part of evolution. So I will cross that bridge when I get to it."

In a way, that bridge is here.

But it is showing up a little differently. It is not boredom, it is uncertainty (see Jonathan Fields' must-read book on this topic).

It's a big fat question mark around the topic of What's Next ←inter-capitalized followed by "dunh dunh dunnnnh" since this is one of the questions I get most often -- and maybe you too (especially if you're a recent grad or in any sort of career transition). 

The Man and I were talking this weekend about career change and relationships. Oftentimes we pin our hopes and dreams on one specific person or one dream company, and we Declare ClarityI am CLEAR! I know what I want! I want THIS job or THIS person . . . and we narrow our focus into a tiny dot on the map of our lives, oftentimes even becoming obsessed with it.

But as the popular saying goes, "The Universe doesn't give you want you want, it gives you what you need."

How many times have we lusted after The Hot Guy (or Girl) or The Hot Company, only to realize that what we actually need is completely different?

Perhaps what we really need is more depth, more opportunity, more flexibility, more meaning. Almost always, the new surprise is that which will best facilitate our own personal growth. Besides, that new job or person might be perfectly sexy in their own right! See Tara Gentile's related post on finding your passion today, The Danger of Searching for your One True Love

Expand your view

As my dad once wisely pointed out to me, by pinning our expectations -- our "clarity" -- on one fixed star in the sky, we miss the universe of opportunity that surrounds it. We miss the beauty of discovering what it is that we actually need.

For some reason (for which I am very grateful!), the "keeper" emails, tweetsbook reviews, and even coaching inquiries have really been rolling in since I returned from my trip.

I'm humbled and incredibly grateful . . . and curious.

I know without a doubt that my purpose is serve you (all of you -- not just twenty-somethings!) and yet I'm not sure exactly how to define it, beyond sitting in the middle of this uncertainty and telling you about it when I can find the words.

In a way, my fear of not knowing what's next for my business is here.

I'm finding it hard to commit to much of anything that isn't directly tied to what I love (like coaching and Make Sh*t Happen).

But you know what? I'm loving it. Most of the time, save for a few sporadic breakdowns here or there :)

Sure, sometimes sitting in the dusty pit of uncertainty sucks. But if you can be with your uncertainty from a place of feeling grounded in your most important guiding values and principles, you can keep the faith that it will all turn out okay.

Finding comfort in pillars of certainty

Even though I don't know exactly what the next year will bring in terms of my overall message, products, services, etc -- I know that I wouldn't change a damn thing.

I haven't regretted, even for a minute, my decision to quit my "dream job" at Google, as much as I love and greatly respect the company.

In the past year, I have built -- and am now standing within -- a few key pillars of certainty that are providing the space for me to sit with the questions and the unknown of this present moment.

Those pillars are my values and my highest ideals for my life and business: freedom and autonomy, flexibility and travel, meaning and growth, health (mind, body, spirit), fun and service.

Because I am clear on those pillars, the uncertainty within the walls is okay -- it's manageable, interesting, and even enjoyable as I'm starting to say no to anything that doesn't feel like "essential bliss."

How does this apply to other areas?

  • A job search: what are your must-haves for your next job? What principles must the company, location and responsibilities adhere to, even if you don't yet know the specifics of the role you want? You may even still end up with The Hot One, but hopefully with a greater sense of clarity on what it is you want and need -- not just because that's what what would generate the most external approval for your ego. Check out the Plan Your Next Career Move template to help articulate your thoughts in this area.
  • In a relationship: what are your must-haves for your significant other? What type of person would light you up and add to your life? What qualities of the relationship (e.g. honesty, trust, deep conversation, chemistry) must be present? Relationships are as complex as the people in them -- surely your partner will not be perfect. So what bigger pillars will make the bumps in the road, the slow reveal of their imperfections and those of the relationship, manageable and even catalysts for growth?
  • Overall values: Check-out the Wheel of Life and Wheel of Aliveness tempaltes to gain clarity on the environment, people and circumstances that bring the most joy, growth and fulfillment to your life.

One more thing: expect disappointment . . . and welcome it

So you broaden your view from one star to the entire constellation. You expand your search from THE HOT ONE to a range of potential jobs or mates that are best suited to your values and goals. Then what?

Expect to be disappointed.

Expect to get the job and have it not live up to your ideal. Expect your new job (or mate) to drudge up your insecurities, weaknesses, resistance, and self-doubt.

Expect to meet someone, start a relationship glittered with gold dust, and soon realize you are both flawed (shocker!) and that your relationship will ask you to walk right through the valley of your deepest fears.

On this subject, John Welwood, author of Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, is my new guru -- again thanks to The Man for the heads up on Welwood's brilliant work - you can read some free articles here.

Before you write me off as a total curmudgeon:

I'm only saying this to help you -- all of us -- remember that hitting the dip, feeling that bubble burst a little bit -- is not only okay, it's not only perfectly normal, but that it is INHERENT TO THE GROWTH PROCESS.

So, when we reach disappointment in a new job, uncertainty at a crossroads in our career or business, divergent views within a relationship -- GOOD! Celebrate! That information is just as valid as the hopes and dreams that preceded it.

As my dad put it in response to Martha Beck's fantastic article, Enjoyment in the Waiting, "When your dreams get crushed - make dream wine! And get dream drunk and create some marvel from outta the wreckage."

While all-consuming disappointment would surely be a red flag, a taste of it is a sign that we're doing something right:

We're living, we're growing, and we're asking the big questions.


Life After College goes Korean

In exciting news, the first copies of the Random House Korea edition of my book arrived this week! Here's a picture of the interior….now if only I could read it :)

Life After College Book in Korean!

I'm back! And I don't know what to write...

Getting ready to teach a yoga class at Wild Rose in Chiang Mai

Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth." Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path." For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.

—Kahlil Gibran

As many of you know, I spent the last month traveling in Southeast Asia. The first stop was Bali for a week and a half to hang out with Elisa in Seminyak and Ubud (my magical new soul city), traipse around temples with cheeky monkeys, and practically live at The Yoga Barn.

Next up was two and a half weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I became certified in Thai Massage, had the great honor of teaching a yoga workshop at Wild Rose Yoga (owned by an amazing woman, Rosemary Bolivar), and ate enough mangoes to feed a small village.

The month was relaxing, powerful, healing, introspective, and yes, life changing.

Now, just shy of a week into my return home, I find myself at a loss for words.

I also find myself a bit reclusive. The first few days I was home I didn't tell any of my friends or Facebook comrades; I still haven't made any major announcement, and I'm hopelessly behind on email and social media.

In lieu of actually re-integrating into my "normal" life and work, I cleaned out and meticulously re-arranged every single surface and crevice of my apartment -- right down to color-organizing, neatly rolling and sorting every item my underwear drawer. COLOR. ORGANIZING. MY. UNDERWEAR. DRAWER. Hey, better than sitting in bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry's. (Or is it?!)

I feel a sense of (admittedly self-imposed) pressure to share something BIG and enlightening with all of you. Ten things I learned from a month abroad! Five mind-blowing insights about spirituality! I look at my Google Reader backlog of 750+ posts, and they are all offering something. What do I have to offer in this very moment?

Radical honesty.

During our 30-hour drive to SXSW earlier this year, my good friend Mike and I committed to living from a place of radical honesty this year -- at least to the best of our ability. It's tough, but damn does it feel better than hiding from or sugar-coating our truth.

So, my dear friends and blog readers, I am letting you know that I don't know what to write.

 Here's what I do know:

  • I'm exactly one year into solopreneurship. I am loving my life and my decision to quit and move to New York now more than ever . . . AND I am at a bit of an impasse with my business. I am head-over-heels in love with my coaching clients and the Make Sh*t Happen crew, but I don't know what my next big idea is, or if there even needs to be one for a while. I'm turning 29 in October of this year, then 30…and I'm not sure what the bigger umbrella over Life After College will be -- but I know there is one slowly peeking over the horizon. I am swinging between business trapeze bars . . . just trying to be quiet enough to get curious and hear what my gut has to say.
  • I have met an incredible man who has cracked my heart wide open, and who has been a constant source of inspiration since the day I met him. I don't know what it will become or how long he will be in my life (do we ever know these things?)…but I love what it already is. With him in the picture I've felt radiant, blissful joy; deep soulful connection; and tremendous growth through the challenge and possibility of relationship. Out of respect for him, and out of a desire to keep this delicate area of my life private, that's all I'd like to share for now. To The Man: thank you from the bottom of my heart. For everything. I am in your corner for as long as you'll have me there.
  • One of the most powerful moments of my trip was a numerology life reading that I had in Chiang Mai with Neil Beechwood, an incredibly intuitive, warm man (huge thanks to The Man for setting this up). Our session provided impeccable clarity; it gave me a map for my own self and put words to who I have always known that I am. It was comforting, enlightening, and deeply insightful, and I know that the session is already a pivotal milestone in my own lifelong personal development journey. For any of you looking for insight about your own personality, innate desires and big life picture (past and present), I cannot recommend a session with Neil highly enough. He lives in Chiang Mai but does sessions over Skype for £50.
  • I've been spending a lot of time with Khalil Gibran, Lao Tzu, and Sharon Salzberg's book Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (again, credit to The Man for that one...can you see why he's completely stolen my heart?!). Now more than ever, I am practicing the idea of divine surrender;  letting the universe work her magic without trying to force her in any one direction. Getting quiet enough that I can allow life, decisions and ideas to unfold as they are ready, not a minute sooner. Staying present with what is in front of me TODAY, loving and accepting myself as I am TODAY, and trusting that I will receive the wisdom I need TODAY to prepare me for whatever tomorrow brings. Finally, I am working on constantly coming back to a place of humble gratitude for what ALREADY is.

Where are we headed from here?

At some point my own thoughts around all of these things will start settling and I will tell you more, or at least share as much as I can about my process.

I have a feeling that this phase of processing may last a while (confirmed by my numerology reading)….so bear with me if I go through periods of being more quiet and introspective than usual. After almost five years of blogging, it seems that is also probably par for the course :)

I'm definitely in high spirits, but right now the truth is . . .

I don't know what else to write.

A moment of reflection in Gusti Garden, Ubud

Guest Post: Why Successful People Are Crazy -- and You Should Be Too -- by Eric Lunsford

Uluwatu Temple - Bali Uluwatu Monkeys - Bali

Greetings from the road! The pictures above were taken at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali, a magical place filled with monkeys who will give you (and your stuff) the side-eye, waiting to pounce to steal what they can in exchange for peanuts that you buy in order to get it all back. Thankfully my phone stayed with me, and I could upload these pictures for you! Next travel stop: The Yoga Barn in Ubud, then Chiang Mai on Sunday. Quick shout-out to the amazing Adam for sending me off with a killer music playlist and list of places to see.  

Eric Lunsford HeadshotToday's post is from one of my rock-star coaching clients Eric Lunsford. Eric writes at his blog Coffee & Warm Showers where he has one goal: "to help others wake their true self up and transform into the person they’ve always wanted to be."

My travels in Bali have been amazing so far and it's only just the start - hanging out with people like Dan (founder of The Tropical MBA), Tommy (professional travel photographer) and Elisa (blogging BFF and TMBA goddess) are proof of exactly what Eric talks about below: that the best way to live life is bat-shit crazy, baby :)

Why Successful People Are Crazy and You Should Be Too (Plus: The 5 Best Times To Go Crazy) -- by Eric Lunsford

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” –Mark Twain

It’s okay to be crazy. In fact, if you want to live the life you dream of, it’s required.

Take a minute to tap into your memory bank and think of a time when you were considered crazy for making a choice or taking action.

You may have been a child, you may have been a “naïve” teenager, hell, it may have been yesterday.

How did it feel? What was the result of you doing something that was viewed as “crazy” to others?

I’ve had my crazy moments.

Times where I’ve decided I’m going to make a big change to better my life. I was going to quit my cushy job and move without a real back-up plan. I was going to get rid of the majority of my “stuff.” I was going to jump out of an airplane at 12,000 feet.

I was a pre-determined failure in the eyes of my boss and even some family when I quit my job. I was looked at as a kook by my fiancé when I recommended we get rid of 98% of our stuff. I was told I was testing fate by my mom when I told her I would be skydiving (who, coincidentally BOUGHT those tickets to jump out of a plane. She gets my crazy. Thanks mom!)

But my life is better after making those decisions.

I’m one step closer to my dream life now.

I realized I didn’t need a secure job to make me happy or a bunch of crap around my house to fit in and experiences, by far, are the best things to spend your money on.

Crazy is different. Crazy makes a difference.

And that’s exactly why the people who truly succeed in life choose to be crazy. Those that don’t take chances are stuck. Stuck in a life they don’t enjoy – waiting for the day their dreams magically come true.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Not without crazy choices at least.

Take a minute to think:

  • If Ben Franklin didn’t have the “crazy” idea for Night Riders to deliver mail between colonies at night, the mail system we have now may not exist. In fact, the entire fate of the American Revolution may have been different.
  • If Richard Branson didn’t make the “crazy” choice to sign the (at the time) unwanted band the Sex Pistols, he may have never grown to the position he is at now with over 400 Virgin companies affecting the entire globe in more industries than you can count.
  • If Yvon Chouinard didn’t go on the “crazy” 6 month trip to Patagonia his friend recommended, we likely would not have the brand Patagonia or any of the environmental initiatives we have today created by him and his employees.

But don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated by these more famous successes.

Anyone can be crazy.

Anyone can make decisions that are so crazy it affects their lives in the most positive way.

  • Jenny quit her job at Google to move toward a life full of spontaneity, travel, independence and freedom. And she’s helping others do the same along the way (me included -- thanks again Jenny!).
  • Adam Baker and his wife got rid of over $18,000 of debt, sold everything but two backpacks and moved to Australia with no set plans. Oh yeah, with their 1 year old daughter! Now he’s making a living doing exactly what he loves.
  • Steve Kamb has combined fitness and…wait for it…nerds! Steve is a self-proclaimed nerd who is obsessed with fitness. He’s making “crazy” decisions almost daily including traveling the world, trying unheard of workouts, and inspiring people to do the same in some of the most unique ways.
  • Therese Schwenkler just recently made the “crazy” decision to quit her job and travel around the U.S. indefinitely. What I like most about her is her posts bring her “crazy” personality to life and inspire her readers to “go for it” just as she’s done.

So you see, in order to be successful, you must be crazy.

Here are the 5 best times to be crazy:

  1. Immediately after waking up – It’s early in the morning when your mind is the clearest. You have the most optimism at this time as well. Clarity + optimism = a perfect time to make a crazy decision. As an added bonus, it’s much easier to continue something when you start first thing in the morning before you let the everyday hustle and bustle bog you down.
  2. After being inspired – I’m sure you’ve had that moment. You watch an awesome documentary or read an inspiring book. You feel a fire inside you. You want to get out there and do something big! Capitalize on the inspiration and let the craziness begin right away!
  3. After “damaging” news – I use “damaging” because often things that happen to us unexpectedly are initially viewed as negative. However, there’s always a silver lining. Maybe you were just laid off from your job of 15 years. Well, now seems like the perfect time for you to take that severance, new found free-time and create something big!
  4. The status quo just isn’t good enough – This is one of the things I love to do most. Question why we do what we do. If you don’t like something or don’t understand why you do it, make a radical change. Ask questions, push the boundaries, and raise the bar.
  5. When you’ve got support – There’s nothing better than a crazy idea that at least one other person agrees with. For example, just the other night I told my buddy that I was planning on building a tiny home and traveling around the country for at least a year, snowboarding and surfing every chance I got. I asked if he wanted to come along and he lost it. As we talked about it, I was running around the house in excitement while he was texting, “I feel alive!!!” A crazy idea gets even crazier when someone else believes in it too.

We all have dreams. It’s just the crazy ones who see them come alive.

We'd love to hear in the comments:  What can you do to honor your crazy?


Video: Here's to the Crazy Ones

Note from Jenny: On the subject of embracing your crazy, here is one of my all-time favorite videos from Apple.

[youtube id="dX9GTUMh490"]

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Update: This Just in! 8 Free Kindle Books from Scott Ginsberg

Right after I hit publish on this post, I got a (totally unrelated) rebel-rousing email from my friend Scott Ginsberg, who is known as "The Nametag Guy" -- he has been wearing one for 4,205 days and even has one tattooed on his chest! I'm sharing it with all of you since Scott is a brilliant, well-known author -- and this is an awesome ballsy move on his part. From Scott:

Help me prove that thinkers don't need permission to do so. Help me show which of the mainstream hoops aren’t worth jumping through. Help me lead the charge to risk our faces and step across the lines of artistic safety. Help me reject the invisible jury who no longer needs to stamp our creative passport. Help me make a global statement about the state of the mainstream publishing industry. Help me end the shipping of easy, predictable safe work that appeases our corporate masters.

Tomorrow, I am releasing eight new books on Kindle. All digital. All daily devotionals. And the best part is, all books are $0.00 for the first five days, then $0.99 after that. Grab them here.

A Letter from my Future Self (#reverb10)

This month I am participating in the #Reverb10 project with 4,000+ other bloggers (read the archive of my entries on my Tumblr); a daily prompt to help people “reflect on this year and manifest what’s next.” I’m also incredibly honored to contribute as an author - today's post is a response to my own prompt:

Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

Dear Jenny,

I am so proud of you. You've worked really hard to get where you are, and I want you to relax now. You have so many good things coming, you don't have to work as hard as you think you do. Enjoy your life and watch things unfold, all in perfect time. Time to square your shoulders back, hold your head high, and keep moving through your life with grace and ease. And don't forget to smile!

From my perch five years from now, I can tell you that you will not remember all those little tasks, deadlines and emails you worry about. You've got the small stuff covered. You've accomplished every goal you've ever set and then some. I hope you are as proud of yourself as I am.

Amidst all the external definitions of success, please don't forget to look inward.

A few reminders:

  • Take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Get outside. Get plenty of sleep. Rest and remember to spend plenty of time alone. Put yourself first so that you can share your best gifts with the world.
  • Be nicer to yourself. Weighing ten pounds less does not make you a better or more interesting person. Weighing ten or twenty pounds more does not make you unloveable. For every day or every moment you criticize yourself, you are cheating yourself out of your fullest joy.
  • Face some hard truths. You will hit rough patches. You will have more "lowest moments of your life." Again you will find yourself feeling dark and depressed. Again you will find yourself going to sleep fully clothed because you cannot muster the emotional energy to get undressed. These moments always turn out to be your best teachers. These are the moments that will help you serve others in new, extraordinary ways.
  • Let people in. You will know when the time is right. When it is, let go. Let yourself love with abandon. You don't have to protect yourself so much. You will still be able to take care of yourself if and when these relationships end, and they will have given you new perspectives on life.
  • Forgive yourself. It's time to stop carrying all that guilt. That you could have been nicer, more accommodating, more supportive, more generous, more selfless; that you could have given more time and attention - or even more love. The past is in the past, and you are doing the very best you can. The very best does not mean perfect. It is okay if you aren't perfect -- none of us are.
  • Live your life on your own terms. Stop looking for everyone's approval. Stop living in fear that if you say or do the wrong thing, you will lose people forever. If that happens, it wasn't meant to be. Stop auditioning for other people's lives and embrace yourself, exactly as you are.
  • A note on judging others. It is so easy to do - we all do it. But be careful who you judge, what you turn your nose up to, and the opinions you rally behind without questioning. They almost always come back to teach you a lesson by giving you the very experience that you were so quick to judge. Treat others with respect, compassion and an open-mind at every possible moment.
  • You are capable of so much more than you even realize. We all are. You have infinite power at your fingertips and it's just waiting for you to engage it. Take those risks you are afraid of taking. Trust yourself. You've gotten yourself this far in your life -- keep going. Even more greatness lies ahead if you can just take the leap, even in those moments where you can't see the other side yet. Dream even bigger! Reach for the stars - they are waiting for you.
  • Soak it up, baby! Whew - this is heavy stuff. Remember not to take yourself too seriously! Lighten up, laugh, have fun, be young, sing and dance your heart out. Celebrate! Be thankful for all of your gifts and blessings. Honor them by letting yourself experience bliss at every opportunity. Let the bliss grow and expand. Sprinkle gold dust around everyone and everything you can see.

I know you know this, because you've said it before -- you already have everything you need. Time to stop chasing and start embracing. I have no doubt you will do it with flying colors. You already have.

Oodles of love and cupcakes*, Jenny


*P.S. Yes. That is ACTUALLY a picture of a french-toast bacon cupcake.


P.P.S. Pictures and highlights from the recent trip to New York City:

I had the absolute time of my life in New York City last week, and plan on returning as often as I possibly can in 2011. Highlights: singing at the top of my lungs to "All I Want For Christmas is You" with my friend Julie in Toritilla Flats while watching Monday Night football, doing Yoga at 4am with a new friend in the Standard Gym, Wednesday's cupcake tweet-up (see below), meeting up with Gabrielle Bernstein at The SoHo House for coffee and her wise author wisdom, celebrating Ann's 40th with all of her wonderful friends and family at Cuba, and buying the 12-cupcake sampler pack from Crumbs for immediate consumption in The Standard Lounge one snowy afternoon.

Here are a few pictures that capture some of the fun:

Cupcake tweet-up at Eleni's in Chelsea Market with amazing blogger ladies (so fabulous that a random passer-by asked for my business card because we "were so inspiring!"). From left to right: Top row - Monique Johnson, Chloe Tashjian, Teresa Wu, Me, Sam Karol, ChaChanna Simpson; Bottom row - Lissy Carr, Allie Mahler, Ginny Becker and Diana Antholis.

The fabulous ladies of the cupcake tweet-up

Here's a picture of me and Ann (my NYC Angel) before her birthday party:

Me and Julie at Tortilla Flats:

Jenny Blake and Julie at Tortialla Flats

Can't wait to see what those of you participating in #reverb10 reply to today's prompt! And much love and gratitude to the #reverb10 team: Cali, Kaileen & Gwen.

10 Questions to Help You Stop Thinking and Start DOING (with template!)

Chimpanzee ThinkingThis post is going to be absolutely worthless to you if you don't actually take action (hence, the title). If you're busy or not interested in taking at least 10 minutes to reflect and answer some questions about something you care about, feel free to skip it, star it, or come back later. For those of you still with me: start by grabbing a pen and paper or use the handy template I created for this post.

Now for some context: this is a re-post from Elysa Rice's December’s Top Tens in 2010 Series. There are tons of great bloggers submitting posts on everything from de-stressing to reasons you don't need a new job. I highly recommend you give GenPink (and the series) a visit -- especially since Elysa is an all-around awesome person and GenY blogging pioneer.

10 Questions to help you stop thinking and start DOING

Close your eyes for a minute and think of a problem, a tough decision or a big question that you are weighing and would like an answer to. Set aside 15-30 minutes to reflect on the questions below, either in your head or on paper (I use Google Docs — and even created a template for you). You might also focus on one question each day or week – let each one ruminate over time, then jot down notes as various responses pop up.

Do you have a topic yet?

You might be tempted to just skim this post and pretend you have a topic, even though you know it’s fuzzy and you’re just sort of going through the motions (we all do it). Before you keep going, really think of something. Don’t keep reading until you have a topic or idea in mind that is so-big-it’s-scary (but also exciting).

Now for the fun part - let's get to work!

  1. When you think of [topic], what are you most excited about?
  2. How does this [topic] fit in with your vision of your highest self?
  3. What is your goal in this area? Now double it. What is the version of the goal that is so big you are afraid to admit (even to yourself) for fear of failure?
  4. What’s holding you back / What are you afraid of?
  5. What support do you need to move forward?
  6. What one next step would make the biggest impact to move your forward (or help with your decision)?
  7. What would achieving this get you?
  8. Close your eyes and ask each major decision-making system for advice: What does your head say? What does your heart say? What does your gut say? How can you reconcile the three? (Okay so I cheated and combined four questions in one)
  9. Dig even deeper. What do you really want?
  10. What are you waiting for?

After you’ve reflected on the questions above, take a minute to answer the bonus million dollar question:

Based on your answers above, what are you willing to take ACTION on in the next week? Leave your answer in the comments below!


The Anti-Resume - Career Development Video Interview:

Mike Krass is hosting a great interview series on his blog, The Anti Resume, in which I discuss career development tips and pitfalls. Some of the questions covered in the ~15 minute video (full transcript also available):

  • Given your work with the website and what you have done professionally at Google, what is your take on career development?
  • If you don’t have a team or are in between jobs, how can you guide the goals you want to set to help you take steps to get where you want to go career wise?
  • As to what you have done professionally and with your personal work, what is one piece of advice that you would give to positively influence someone’s career choices?
  • What is one piece of advice that would negatively influence someone’s career decisions?
  • What is one great tactic you would suggest to use to successfully build relationships?

Click here to watch and share your thoughts!