Under30CEO » danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com Sat, 19 Apr 2014 15:00:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 Under30CEO interviews successful young entrepreneurs to hear about their story and journey while starting their company. These young founders have over a million dollars a year in revenues and have been through many ups and downs to get there. These stories are meant to inspire, educate and motivate more young people to take a leap and do what they are passionate about. Under30CEO clean Under30CEO jared@under30ceo.com jared@under30ceo.com (Under30CEO) Under30CEO Interviews with Young Entrepreneurs on Starting Businesses entrepreneur, business, interview, young entrepreneur, business advice, startup advice, founder interview, ceo Under30CEO » danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/u30logo300x250.png http://under30ceo.com What To Do When You Fall Out Of Love http://under30ceo.com/fall-love/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fall-love http://under30ceo.com/fall-love/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:00:12 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=39456 I can still remember what it felt like to tell my first girlfriend, “I don’t love you anymore.” I’d just gotten back from traveling through Greece and the Middle East (read my adventures) and I thought I was such a worldly, cultured man now. I thought I needed to explore the world and see if […]

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I can still remember what it felt like to tell my first girlfriend, “I don’t love you anymore.”

I’d just gotten back from traveling through Greece and the Middle East (read my adventures) and I thought I was such a worldly, cultured man now.

I thought I needed to explore the world and see if there was anyone “better” out there. But the truth was pretty simple: I’d known before I left that we were going to break up. That’s why I filled an empty iPhone 3G case full of Trojans.

Because…you know…what if they didn’t sell condoms in Greece? That was a scumbag move, I know.

Incidentally, Greece actually has one of the highest abortion rates in the world and an entire spring festival devoted to the phallus - so I may have been on to something inadvertently.

199_543885477031_6314_n

It’s not actually that color. But the size is more or less accurate.

See, about 6-8 months before that trip, I’d just stopped feeling that “spark” for her. I couldn’t really place a reason on why.

But as soon as I realized it, my subconscious mind started looking for a solution to my “problem.” And, out of the clear blue sky, I got the genius idea to study abroad. It was classic psychological avoidance — and it was a way for me to blame the problems in our relationship on something other than my lack of attention to her needs.

5 years later, the situation feels a lot cleaner in my mind and my decisions seem much more deliberate in retrospect.

As I look back on my choices, starting with the roots of how I arrived at my decisions, I can see the fatal flaw:

I thought that I’d “fallen out of love.” I WAS WRONG.

In reality, my mind was just going through the natural transitions that EVERYBODY goes through when they do ANYTHING for an extended period of time. It’s evolution, disguised as boredom.

This idea of evolution-as-boredom came rushing back to me tonight — while I was at the gym bench pressing…of all places.

WHY?

Because I fucking hate the gym now — AND THIS IS A BIG DEAL SINCE I USED TO BE MARRIED TO THE IRON.

DSCN1475

Most of you don’t know that I very nearly became a pro natural bodybuilder at 19. In college, I even filmed a 10-minute documentary called Skin Deep on the psychological aspects of the sport — and how bodybuilding had affected my relationships. I think it has over 1,400 views now.

But now, I don’t get nearly the same thrill out of the gym that I used to.

I’d been feeling like this for a while, and honestly, it bothered me.

“Have I fallen out of love with the gym, too?”

FOCK! Shit shit shit. DAMMIT! I need this body. It’s my ultimate backup if all my businesses fail. I’ll just call my mom, have her shave my inner thighs again (see above pic) and I should be back in business at Swinging Richard’s.

I need to stay in shape. But at the same time, I just don’t care about being “jacked” like I used to. So every day (or 4-5x/week), I’d force myself to go in there, I’d do some stuff and I get out. I still stayed in great shape because of the foundation I’ve built over the years — but it didn’t feel the same anymore — and I was pretty sure that at the earliest opportunity, I’d find some excuse to cut corners.

In 2-3 years I’d be the hairy guy on the bosu ball saying things like “tone” and “core”.

JUSTKILLMENOW.

Luckily, none of that has happened. And it won’t — because I’ve taken proactive measures.

The secret: Months ago, I hired a personal trainer.

Now, I realize that my feelings towards the gym weren’t boredom. Just like my first relationship, I was going through an evolution.

And that’s the insight: After several years of doing something — it won’t feel the same anymore. No matter how intense the feeling was in the beginning, inevitably, that feeling will transform.

When that happens, you’ll think you’ve “fallen out of love.”

So what how do you get the intense feelings back and encourage yourself to push forward? Here are 2 strategies to get you moving again:

Strategy 1:  Get someone to help you push

Rather than assume that the gym will never be as exciting as it used to be and get complacent with lower levels of performance — I hired a trainer to add that spark back. It was a bit of an ego blow at first because I feel like I’m supposed to have the gym thing “under control.” But the truth is, for the first time in quite a while, I’m actually able to work out with the blistering intensity I used to. And it’s ONLY because I’ve acknowledged that I can’t do it alone anymore. Now I feel the intensity again. I’m back in love.

What if you could find someone to help you get your most important tasks done?

  • Someone to remind you to write every day
  • Someone to run with you or check in with you about your eating
  • Someone to ask you “have you practiced your programming today?”

It makes a BIG difference having someone on your team, pushing you forward.

(Side note: My friend Maneesh wrote a great article on exactly how to find an accountability buddy here.)

Strategy 2:  Realize that even the best things change

How many of us have been disappointed when our relationships stopped feeling “fresh”?

We met somebody and the chemistry was undeniable. We thought it would always feel like the first date.

So how do we deal when it doesn’t anymore?

In my current relationship, rather than “falling out of love” when that “new-new” feeling wears off, I continually find fun, interesting ways to explore the relationship on a deeper level that’s only possible because of how close we’ve grown. I’ve come to realize that as we grow, the way we see each other will continually change. And this is ok. This is normal. When that happens, it’s your responsibility to find new, exciting ways to look at your relationship.

(BTW – as corny as it sounds, the 5 Love Languages is a great book for figuring this type of stuff out.)

This isn’t just about romantic relationships. It also applies to other relationships with things you love.

Maybe you used to love playing the guitar — but it doesn’t interest you like it used to anymore. Have you tried learning a different style or getting a new guitar? Have you tried learning to read sheet music instead of tab, or performing for people?

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These are just a few examples from my life — I hope they resonated with you.

Can you think of a time when you “fell out of love” with something you used to be passionate about?

What did you do to get the passion back? Or did you just let it slowly slip away…

Let me know in the comments.

*******

PS – I share all my best insights/strategies on building online businesses and living a better life with my Tribe. Have you joined yet? It’s free – click here to join.

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

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The Narnia Effect: Invisible Tactics Marketers Use To Get Your Money http://under30ceo.com/narnia-effect-invisible-tactics-marketers-use-get-money/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=narnia-effect-invisible-tactics-marketers-use-get-money http://under30ceo.com/narnia-effect-invisible-tactics-marketers-use-get-money/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:00:52 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=39298 Let’s face it: Nobody likes to be “marketed” to. In fact, the word “marketer” has gained a slimy reputation from being batted around by unscrupulous salesmen for the last 20 years, and now the good ones are left trying to dig themselves out of the used car lot. As a result, companies have had to […]

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Let’s face it: Nobody likes to be “marketed” to.

In fact, the word “marketer” has gained a slimy reputation from being batted around by unscrupulous salesmen for the last 20 years, and now the good ones are left trying to dig themselves out of the used car lot.

As a result, companies have had to become much more creative to get your attention, keep it, and ultimately, guide you to follow through with their intended action.

But here’s the kicker: We don’t mind being sold something if we LIKE the message.

Companies like Old Spice have MASTERED the use of creative messaging to make us love their brand and buy into it over and over again. Practically every piece of content they’ve produced for the last 5 years has been Super Bowl worthy.

The Old Spice “Mom Song”… I can’t watch this without gasping for air.

The secret to why these commercials resonate so well is because they include all of the elements that make us feel trigger our “pleasure centers”:

  • Short, snappy formats that are easy to memorize (and go viral)
  • Super focused target audience (clearly for young men)
  • Comedy…I mean, come on. So funny.
  • Sexuality

Commercials like these are awesome, and they are very compelling.

But at the end of the day, it takes effort to watch a commercial, get in your car and go buy a deodorant stick.

Old Spice knows that, and they’re playing the “long game.” Just like Nike, Coca-Cola and Disney, they are in the business of brand ubiquity at this point. It’s in their best interests to be on your mind 24/7, regardless of whether you’re in buying mode — and if all their efforts result in you buying one product, one time, it was worth it. Their market is huge, and they want to be top dog.

But what about DIRECT sales? How do brands get you to take out your credit card and purchase something right now?

The process is a little different than slapping up a funny commercial and hoping the phone rings. It takes a much more nuanced approach.

To figure that out, I’ll have to bring you back to 4th grade.

Welcome to Narnia

I think we all know where this door leads

The coolest part about a sophisticated marketing campaign is that if it’s executed correctly, you won’t even know it’s happening. You may see an email or to pop in your inbox, but for all you know, they’re just random messages that happened to make it past your spam filter.

You couldn’t be more incorrect.

It’s all an illusion. I call this “The Narnia Effect”, because so much more is happening behind the door than you’d ever expect. It’s INVISIBLE.

Let me show you what I mean…

About a month ago, I bought tickets for my girlfriend and I to fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a Skrillex concert. Super excited! It was our first time there!

I used Expedia. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

Let’s be honest: I don’t have any particular affiliation to different airline ticket brokers. I’m pretty much a free agent, and at the end of the day, I’m looking for the cheapest price. Period.

Expedia knows that price is a big factor in my buying decision — although sometimes they won’t have the cheapest price. But they want my money.

So what are they willing to do to get my business over other (possibly cheaper) competitors.

They’re willing to hit me at home. It’s a little bit like a drive by shooting.

First, you should know what a basic sales funnel looks like.

I’ll cover what all of these levels are doing in a minute:

A simple sales funnel with 6 levels.

The concept here is pretty simple:

  • Run some sort of campaign

  • Get people interested in your cause/service/product

  • Show them the opportunity and benefit they’ll receive by buying

  • Give them the opportunity to buy

  • They become clients

  • Sell to them again and again with different offers

GOAL: To move the prospect as quickly as possible from one end of the funnel to the other and turn them from:

A prospect >> to a lead >> to a client as quickly as possible

Of course, all of this has to be part of a seamless, invisible process that coincides with what the customer wants already.

The absolute BEST place for Expedia to do this is to pop up in a place where my guard is down — preferably in a place where I’ve already purchased a product. That way, the feeling of trust is passed from the company I’m already doing business with to Expedia.

(Side note: You can also do this type of “piggybacking” to start a business RAPIDLY as a freelancer. I’ve outlined the entire concept in a framework I call The Marsupial Method.)

Expedia’s sophisticated funnel started completely off-site, and hit me right in my soft spot: Spotify.

I was in a great mood listening to my man Skrillex, so I pulled up his artist page on the app. Here’s what I found:

A seemingly innocuous notification that the Skrillex concert was coming up

Hmm…along with his albums and other song info, there was a notification of live events happening in my area.

GAME ON.

I’d just entered the funnel for several different companies, including Expedia, without even knowing it.

“Skrillex, on tour?!” I thought. Excellent.

Of course, I wanted to know more. Here’s the next step in the process:

Check out that juicy, green button for me to press. Notice that it says “tickets” and not “buy now.” Why? Because now wouldn’t be the right moment to present me with a sales offer.

There’s actually been quite a lot of research done on what makes certain button text convert better than others. Check out this case study by Lead Pages.

So now, I have to qualify myself by clicking “tickets.”

Here’s that that means: Essentially I’m saying, “Yes, tell me more about these tickets you’re offering.”

That’s akin to me raising my hand in class and asking to be called on. It’s a huge interest indicator disguised as an innocuous button.

Next, TWO important things happen:

  1. I’m transported OFF-SITE for the offer to begin

  2. I’m presented with a direct Call to Action, and I have a decision to make

The direct CTA to buy

I’m already several steps into the sales process, and now, I’m going to be presented with the offer.

I saw tickets were only $20-$50 and decided to buy. Awesome price, and I only ended up spending $70 for two tickets. I felt good about the purchase.

NOTE: I was ONLY presented with this information because I asked for it — so I didn’t feel sold-to, I didn’t feel marketed or schemed. I legitimately wanted to learn more about the Skrillex concert, I clicked through and the offer progressed in line with the natural order of my desires.

At this point, you may be wondering where Expedia came into play.

As it turns out, they were waiting in the wings to hit me with the good ol’ 1-2-3 (“wings…heh, no pun intended).

Suddenly, an inline popup appeared and asked, “Need a flight to Las Vegas?”

I’ll harp over and over again about presenting customers only with offers that you know they want, or that they specifically ask for. If someone says, “Man, I really love Thin Mints” and a freaking Girl Scout shows up at the door, they are buying at least 3 boxes.

Expedia is the Girl Scout in this scenario. Well played, friends. Well played.

Knock, knock. Your drug dealer is at the door.

 

The link in the popup transported me to the mobile version of Expedia.com and guess what I found?

The perfectly-timed offer from Expedia

Awww hell no!

Nope, you’re not hallucinating. That’s a perfectly curated selection for the exact flight I need to Las Vegas. Already sorted for best price and travel time. Holy shit.

Let me run that by you one more time…in case you missed it.

I listen to a song that I enjoy (emotional tie) in a trusted application, Spotify (established history) >> Spotify knows I like Skrillex, offers me tickets (logical) >> I buy, they know I need a flight (GPS) >> I’m offered a flight

I can’t be the only nerd on earth that’s completely fascinated by this. I can’t be the only one who realizes how brilliant

Obviously, I clicked through to learn more info about the flight, and I found the price was only $150 per flight.

A scary bonus that helped remove even more objections:

In the shopping cart field, Google Wallet had already filled in all my information, including my credit card info…(no idea how this happened). All I had to do was click “BUY.”

Literally, that’s it.

I just went ahead and bought the flights. It was a little impulsive, but since they had removed absolutely all barriers to me making the choice, I felt like I barely had a chance to reconsider.

This entire funnel from listening to music to buying concert and plane tickets happened in about 7 minutes or less, and I ended up spending about $400. But I didn’t feel “marketed” to, and I got exactly what I wanted.

Oh, ye of little faith. Many of you still may not see the totality of what’s happening here.

You may take this type of transaction for granted, but that’s only because you’re so USED to these things happening, you don’t even realize how advanced the psychology, technology and strategy is anymore.

What you’re saying in your head:

“Big deal, I was listening to Skrillex and decided to buy some concert/plane tix.”

The reality of what actually happened is far more complex. Remember, the Narnia Effect is invisible, when deployed correctly.

Here’s how you fall into the funnel without even knowing it (refer to funnel diagram in section 2):

  1. You begin on Spotify, innocently listening to music you like. Little do you know, companies are strategically placing offers in all the places you’re most likely to pay attention (Level #1: Campaign)

  2. You find a particular artist you like, and see they have a concert coming up (Level #2: Leads)

  3. You demonstrate interest by clicking “Tickets” to learn more about possible dates (Level: #3 Opportunities)

  4. You’re presented with an intelligent offer to buy the tickets you’ve already said you were interested in a second ago (Level #4: Sales)

  5. You purchase and become a client — and are primed to buy more things. It’s psychologically easier to make more purchases after you’ve already made one. Even if the first purchase is just $1

  6. You see an ad for the exact plane tickets you need. Since you’ve already been qualified, you skip steps 1-3 and head straight to Level #4 (Sales), but this time in Expedia’s funnel.

  7. You buy from Expedia because they present you exactly what you want with as little friction as possible. They even fill out all your information for you

  8. You’re now in the retention (Level #5) phase of 3 companies: Spotify, Flavorus (the concert ticket broker) and Expedia. They will continue to send you highly relevant opportunities to buy, like this:

The inevitable upsell

Will I end up getting a concierge service? Probably not this time. But somebody will. It doesn’t need to work every time for Expedia to make a ton of money.

Going Even Deeper

Finally, all of this goes even one level DEEPER… all the companies involved in this sale were getting a piece of the pie

Spotify

Spotify was getting my membership money and money from the concert ticket vendors for permission to advertise on their platform. They will continue to get money from me monthly, which will continually expose me to these offers.

The Ticket Vendor (Flavorus)

Flavorus was getting money from me for the concert ticket sales, and most likely paying Spotify some sort of small affiliate commission, like a little “kickback.” Since they pulled my contact info from Facebook at sign up, they’ll email me later with more concert info, and if I buy from them, they’ll keep 100% of that money.

Expedia

Expedia  gets money from me for the airline booking, but pays money to Flavorus for the opportunity to advertise on their site AND to the airlines they booked me with for providing the actual flight.

Airlines, Rental Car Companies and Hotels

Expedia will email me later with other offers (hotels, rental cars, etc), the profits from which they will share with other service providers. Remember, Expedia just books things, doesn’t actually fulfill the service.

Lots of money changing hands here, but to the consumer, all we see is one or two transactions and it’s over.

And this is the magic of a well-orchestrated, million-dollar funnel: It’s nearly invisible. But it’s extremely powerful.

Imagine that the exact same process that happened to me from Spotify>>to concert tickets>>to plane tickets, happened to just 0.005% of Spotify’s 24 million active users on a daily basis.

Even a very low conversion rate in a big sales funnel can mean HUGE profits

That’s 12,000 people per day. At $400 per person, that’s $4.8 million dollars per day.

That’s 144,000,000 per month.

That’s $1.72 BILLION PER YEAR spread across Spotify, Flavorus, Expedia and the airline.

And I’m probably being conservative.

I woke up that morning with no intent of buying concert tickets or plane tickets.

But these companies found me in a place where I was already hanging out (Spotify), then worked together to use well placed ads, advanced psychology, compelling design and fluid technology to create an experience that made me WANT to open my wallet and do their bidding…THEN, think that the entire transaction was my idea from the beginning.

Now are you beginning to understand what’s really going on here?

There’s so much more to explore in the areas of sales funnels, psychology and persuasion.

Does this type of stuff interest you guys?

Leave me a comment and tell me if you like this type of material :)

 

*******

Free for Under30CEO Readers: The Startup Series.

If you liked learning about The Narnia Effect, this is for you.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just enter your email here and I’ll send it right away — completely free :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

 

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

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How To Balance Ambitious Career Goals With Your Love Life http://under30ceo.com/balance-ambitious-career-goals-love-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=balance-ambitious-career-goals-love-life http://under30ceo.com/balance-ambitious-career-goals-love-life/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:00:51 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=39284 Today, I wanted to write about something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but haven’t had a chance to discuss with anybody outside of my “inner circle.” I want to talk to you about how I’ve learned to balance the increasing demands of my career — writing, consulting, building products, flying places, […]

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Today, I wanted to write about something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but haven’t had a chance to discuss with anybody outside of my “inner circle.”

I want to talk to you about how I’ve learned to balance the increasing demands of my career — writing, consulting, building products, flying places, etc — with the real life responsibilities involved in maintaining a happy long-term romantic relationship.

To be clear: I’m not an expert. I’m not going to write about the 5 Love Languages or tell you that everything is always perfect. I don’t claim to have figured everything out. Not by a long shot.

But over the past year, I’ve definitely gotten better.

In fact, my girlfriend Sara would agree:

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 12.51.46 AM

This is written proof I’ve gotten better. If I ever need it later.

I think the unique challenges that come with having a girlfriend/boyfriend while still trying to hustle hard are worth talking about — and although this is an issue many of my ambitious friends struggle with, I don’t hear people making any good suggestions to improve their results beyond “try harder.”

So I’ll shed a little light on what’s working for me. I hope you find it helpful!

Please leave a comment at the end if you find this info useful — and if you know somebody who could use this type of material, please pass it on.

*******

On Monday, I showed you some of the pictures and video from a mini-vacation that Sara and I took to Vegas last weekend. I got a lot of sweet feedback via email. Thanks guys :)

This year (November) will mark our 4 year anniversary and I’m really happy in the relationship right now. We’ve been through a LOT of ups and downs, but for the past year, definitely more “ups.”

Coincidentally, the past year has also been my busiest year ever.

This is a topic for an entirely different post (or maybe even a book!), but what I’ve experienced in career growth, earning power and opportunity over the past 12 months has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Many people would call this type of exponential improvement a “discontinuous leap” — meaning that improvement skyrockets in a wildly unpredictable, positive growth.

4 years ago, I was a server making $2.13/hr + tips— and many of my previous co-workers are still at that restaurant!

 

I started a series called “The Server Chronicles” to document my struggle at the restaurant

These days, I’m flying all over the world, averaging about 2 trips per month, working on interesting projects and having a lot of fun doing it.

 

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With my friends Rishi and Cesar in Nicaragua on an Under30Experiences trip

1476213_10100872075280943_965940682_n

In Boston, getting tattoos with my friends Maneesh and Nicole for our new startup, Pavlok

I’m having a GREAT time. But damn, sometimes I’m getting 3 hrs of sleep/night. It’s the hustle!

 

Why am I telling you about me? Isn’t this post supposed to be about relationships?

I’m making these points not to highlight my own achievement, but to pose a question: If I’m doing so much traveling/working/creating these days…how can I afford to spend time building a meaningful relationship with someone else?

Well, let me start by telling you what DOESN’T WORK.

I used to think of time in business vs my relationship in a 1:1 manner.

I’d desperately struggle to spend equal amounts of time with both. 80 hours of work meant 80 hours with Sara.

This was a benchmark that I’d set for myself, and I could never hit it.

I always felt guilty.

On one hand, I knew that the only way I’d be able to grow my business was to work at it tirelessly.

But on the other hand, working at it tirelessly left me with nothing to contribute to the relationship — and as understanding as she is — you can’t check out for 2 weeks to work on a big project and expect there not to be any consequences.

I always felts like I was playing catch up with my relationship — and I never felt like she was truly satisfied with my attention, even when I was there.

 

Then, I started to play with the “formula”…

One day, it occurred to me…

I’d been so stressed about trying to divide my time 50/50 — but what if I’d gotten the formula all wrong?

What if it wasn’t about quantity, or spending as much time with my girlfriend as I did on my business?

What if it was all about quality?

Over the past 12 months, I haven’t had as much physical time to spend on my relationship as I’d have liked.

But what I have realized is that the ratio doesn’t have to be 1:1 if when you do spend time with someone, you’re completely present.

Think about it. How many times have you been with someone you care about, but at the same time you’re:

  • Scrolling endlessly through your Facebook newsfeed
  • Thinking about what you have to do tomorrow
  • Half listening to them
  • Talking incessantly about your projects, and neglecting to ask them about their day

We’re all guilty of it.

Try this: Next time you’re with your boyfriend/girlfriend, be completely there. Completely.

If you’ve worked for 10 hours, and you only have 3 hours to give them before you pass out, really give them those 3 hours.

And be transparent about it. Say, “Hey, I’m working on a zillion things right now, but I really want to give you my undivided attention now for a few hours.”

Make sure they KNOW that they’re getting all of you (so that you get credit :p)

Then, make a genuine effort to show you’re serious about your time together.

For instance, leave the laptop or cellphone at home when you go out.

I left my computer at home when we went to Vegas. It was terrifying and weird, but I felt free.

And Sara knew I wasn’t there to work. I was there to have fun with her.

It’s not always easy to balance a relationship with a hustle — whether it’s your own business, a demanding job, or school.

But it can be done if you emphasize the quality of your together time, and make it clear on both sides what the focus is.

Am I always perfect with this philosophy?

Hell no.

But this outlook has helped me immensely over the past year. I hope it’s useful to you, too. :)

 

*******

Free for Under30CEO Readers: The Startup Series.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just enter your email here and I’ll send it right away — completely free :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

The post How To Balance Ambitious Career Goals With Your Love Life appeared first on Under30CEO.

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How To Master Your Inbox, Crush Your ADHD And Win At Life Using Workflows http://under30ceo.com/master-inbox-crush-adhd-win-life-using-workflows/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=master-inbox-crush-adhd-win-life-using-workflows http://under30ceo.com/master-inbox-crush-adhd-win-life-using-workflows/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=39079 Getting a good idea is the easy part. Execution is the hard part. Think about what happens when you get a good idea. The lightbulb goes off and your mind makes that little microwave *ding*. What paralyzes us often is the work that we know will come after the idea. Oftentimes, it’s simply a bandwidth […]

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Getting a good idea is the easy part. Execution is the hard part.

Think about what happens when you get a good idea. The lightbulb goes off and your mind makes that little microwave *ding*.

What paralyzes us often is the work that we know will come after the idea.

Oftentimes, it’s simply a bandwidth issue.

We already have a fixed number of responsibilities each day:

  • Job
  • Family
  • Significant Other
  • Kids (??)
  • Social obligations

And we have enough trouble dealing with these.

We still want to create meaningful habits and work on projects that we’re passionate about — but WHEN? When do we actually have time to do any of this stuff? When we see others who are getting a massive amount done, honestly, it’s confusing and frustrating. What do they have that we don’t?

Last year I talked to you about a framework called the Seinfeld Solution, which is a fantastic way to look at your time and break it down into tiny, manageable blocks.

The value in this system is building consistency. If you do something over and over again, you can ingrain a habit and make yourself much more likely to follow through over long periods of time.

You can use an app like Lift to track your streaks, and you can even use frameworks like the Pomodoro Technique to block off your time into little micro-sets. In fact, I’m using a combination of all those things to get this article done.

I use a little timer called Chromadoro at the top of my browser (Google Chrome) to break my work into focused 25 minute intervals, followed by a 10 minute break. I’ve tested so many different approaches and this is what works for me.

As you can see, I have 16 minutes left in this writing block.

I don’t focus well at an extremely high level for much longer than 25 minutes before I need a break. I don’t think I have ADHD, but I’ve just paid attention to how my mind works, and I’ve found that this seems to get me into a good groove for prolonged, high-intensity mental work.

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I GOT THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE WITH SUCH A SHORT ATTENTION SPAN.

JESUS.

Techniques like these are helpful and effective for increased productivity…but they are just that.

Techniques.

They are one-off tactics. They aren’t strategies.

The biggest problem with tactics is that if you become dependent on them or don’t understand why they work, you’ll never be able to operate without them. And you’ll never be able to adapt them to fit your needs.

A perfect example:

When I was in highschool, I used to read a lot of David DeAngelo in hopes that I’d become a slick mack daddy with the ladies.

This was one of my favorite approaches. I call it STTG or “Show Them The Goods”.

But I was always pissed off when I read his dating books and he didn’t get right to the pickup lines. WHY WOULDN’T HE JUST TELL ME EXACTLY WHAT TO SAY TO THE GIRLS?

OMG. SO ANNOYING.

He always waited until the absolute end to tell me a 2-3 cool things I could say.

So like any 16 year-old, I would go out trolling at the mall, approach with the confidence of an abused house pet and spit the line I read in the book. It was probably something creative like:

“Hey girl, I noticed you noticing me, and I just wanted to put you on notice that you can get with this.”

I usually followed that up with some weird sound or involuntary movement.

And here’s the killer: Even when I tried a line and it DID work…I had absolutely no idea how to follow it up with a coherent, interesting conversation — which was the goal in the first place, right? Useless.

But I didn’t care about the psychology behind why women were interested in men. Give me the shiny trinket. Just tell me what to do.

As a result, I very nearly named this blog Celibate20Something.

WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL THIS?

WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH WORKFLOWS?

Workflows are built on psychology and the idea that to get more done in less time requires not harder work, but smarter work with an emphasis on creating systems.

I was really impacted by the idea that I too could get MUCH more done with my time if I learned how to streamline my focus and work on the right things, in the right order, with the right process.

So I took concepts of systems and dove several levels deeper by creating detailed workflows for my digital life.

Here’s the first workflow I’m going to share with you this week: Email

The Psychology Of Email & How To Dominate It With Workflows

Email can run your life. It’s your girlfriend. It’s the first person you see in the morning. You kiss it goodnight by the bright LED backdrop of your smartphone.

Touching.

But email is a needy girl. Always has something to say, always in your face.

Want my advice? I’d say break up.

But how? She’s got you by the balls.

There are tools to help.

But before we get to tools, let’s talk about processes and mindset going into the inbox.

First rule of thumb: Not every email is essential. In fact, 97% of correspondence you receive probably doesn’t require a response.

Once you accept the fact that it’s OK to completely trash/archive THE LARGE MAJORITY of your mail…we can begin to start the healing process.

Some of the mail you get is a one-way streets, trying to attract your attention.

Others are looping you into group discussions you already know about, don’t care about or don’t even need to be a part of.

Others still are redundant notifications.

So the first thing we need is a process for cutting through the clutter. We need to be able to take a quick visual scan and within a matter of seconds, know exactly where everything goes.

NOTE: If you don’t have gmail, all of this still applies. You just need to find out how to implement the exact steps with your email service provider.

The workflow I use use to do this has 3 components:

  1. My “Star System” and embedded archiving
  2. The Centralized Inbox and color coding
  3. Sanebox and Boomerang

Here’s how it all works together…

The “Star System”

Gmail has tried different segmentations to make your inbox more clutter free…but it’s still very easy to have hundreds of emails in your inbox that you don’t know what to do with any given time.

So I decided to “tweak” the native settings on Gmail.

The idea here is to create segmented buckets where you only pay attention the the emails with stars and the rest go away forever.

You do this by using a quick-glance approach and moving mail from the “big” bucket (main inbox) to the “small bucket” (star list).

First, go to “Settings” in the gearbox to the right.

Then, select “inbox” >>> “starred messages first”

Now your inbox will have two “buckets”. One for all the mail that comes in, and one for everything that you highlight with the little gold star on the side.

First, take a look at your inbox and make a quick visual scan of which messages are important. Don’t read them. The only decision to make is, “Am I going to need to respond to this later?”

If the answer is yes, then star it. Now your inbox will segment itself like this…

Anything that doesn’t have a star gets left on the bottom. Now it’s time to take out the trash…

Go to the top of the browser, select “unstarred” and click archive (the folder directly to the right with the down arrow)

Instantly, you’ll be left with only a few emails on the top of the inbox that you’ve pre-selected as being valuable. No need to read everything. And all the clutter gets archived, out of sight. (It’s in All Mail if you ever need it.)

As you get better and better, this process takes you less and less time. Now, it takes me about 3 minutes to scan what’s important, star it and archive the rest.

After you separate all the important emails out, the key is not to let them sit there. Process immediately with binary efficiency. Either read it and reply, or read it and archive. Get it out of the inbox.

My inbox is empty most days using this system. And it literally takes me minutes.

Pro tip: activate the “Send & Archive” function in your settings. Go to the settings gearbox in the top right corner. Then, “Settings” >>> “General”.

This feature will allow you to get an email IMMEDIATELY out of your inbox. As soon as you reply to someone and hit send, the conversation archives itself and unclutters your inbox. The new button for sending an email will look like this:

No fear, though. If/when that person emails you back, it will pop back into your inbox.

Again, remember, this is all about PSYCHOLOGY. Having a clutter-free inbox creates mental space where there was none before, and sets you up to do 3X the amount of work.

Leveraging The Centralized Inbox

One of the BIGGEST challenges I ran into as I started working with more clients, on more projects or starting new ventures, wasn’t just the sheer number of emails coming at me.

It was the number of email accounts I had.

At one point, I had more than 10 accounts — all of which served some function. I didn’t need to monitor every one all the time…but I was always nervous that something would come in and I’d miss it.

This resulted in me constantly having at least 4 different gmail accounts open at once, on “stand by” in case something important came in. And even with this approach, I was still missing emails because I just didn’t check every account every day.

So I decided to develop a system for centralizing every piece of mail that was sent my way.

This process starts with simply forwarding your mail from the account that you want to check on, to the email address that you want to be the “central account” for everything to pass through.

Pretty simple to do this. Just go into the account whose mail you want forwarded, click on “Settings” and then to “Forwarding”. Add the address you want everything to go to.

Once you do this, you should get a confirmation message in both accounts. Confirm those, and you’re good to go.

Go to every account you’d like to forward, and forward every account to the central inbox.

Do this over and over again until your accounts look like this:

centralized email

Now, it’s great to get everything forwarded to one location. But the real power from this workflow comes when you can REPLY to everything you received, from one location, with DIFFERENT email addresses.

You can do this easily as well. Just take the list of accounts you just forwarded to your inbox, go to “Accounts” and authorize yourself to send mail as every one of them. Make sure to select

“Reply from the same address the message was sent to.”

Now, when someone emails any one of your accounts, it will go straight to your Centralized Inbox and you can reply from right there with the correct account. The other person will never know that all your mail is being filtered to one location.

Your new workflow will look like this:

Color Coding For A Quick Heuristic Scan

Now remember, the goal is to be able to look at your inbox and make decisions quickly.

What deserves to get starred and looked at later?

What should get immediately discarded?

Where is each piece of mail coming from?

The easiest way to do this is to set up a framework that allows you to take a “heuristic” scan — which essentially means a mental shortcut or the ability to look at large amounts of information and make rapid decisions based on experience.

For this, we’ll set up color coding so that you can mentally organize every piece of mail that filters through your new Centralized Inbox.

The process is simple. Every time you get a piece of mail from a different account, you’ll simply “tag” it by clicking “move to”. Then, create a new folder.

You’ll see these new folder categories appear on the left side of your inbox. From there, select what color you want to mark them with (just click on the little colored squares). Mine looks like this:

From there, everything that comes into your inbox will be labeled with a color for easy scanning and rapid action. You’ll know exactly what account every piece of mail is coming from, because it will have a colored block next to it.

And, when you archive all your mail, it will be neatly organized in all these folders to the left.

Two Power Tools That Saved My Life

Last, but not least: My secret weapons.

I don’t like to use a lot of fancy widgets or plugins to get my work done. I rarely even download apps on my phone. I find that more often than not, they end up being more of a distraction than a benefit.

But these tools are amazing: Boomerang and Sanebox.

I’m going to use affiliate links because I TRULY believe in the products and use them every day. I don’t even think I’ll get money back…I think I’ll just get credits or something.

Boomerang

Boomerang is an amazing tool that allows you to do several powerful things with your inbox.

You can write emails ahead of time and schedule them to send in the future.

Think about how useful that would be if you wanted to hit someone up first thing in the morning, but didn’t want to forget.

I use that feature to send email reminders to myself in the future, then watch the reminder float magically to the top of my inbox.

You can set up recurring emails to send at the same time (or different times) every day.

Maybe you want to check in on someone/something a few times a month – but you can never seem to remember. Use this, set it and forget it.

You can have emails “boomerang” back to you when you don’t have time to read them.

By far, the most powerful feature. We all get several emails every day that need immediate attention — but we just can’t give it our undivided focus.

With Boomerang, you can set your inbox to take an email and return it to your attention when you know that you’ll have more time to deal with it. And it will go right to the top of your inbox again.

This is extremely useful when something requires a response, but you’re still waiting on more information, or aren’t ready to answer yet.

Sanebox

Nothing to say about Sanebox except that it’s the best email filter I’ve ever used.

Unlike the spam filter, which just catches weird Russian Bride offers, Sanbox is intelligent.

There are plenty of things that you’ve subscribed to, interacted with or communicated with in some way that you don’t want to go away forever…but you certainly don’t want crowding your inbox every day.

Sanebox makes intelligent, accurate guesses about which mail is important to you, then only keeps that email in your main inbox.

At the end of the day, you’re sent a daily digest where you can see all the mail Sanebox filtered away and if you see something that shouldn’t have been filtered, you can “train” the program to send it to your main inbox next time.

The scary part: Sanebox is about 97% accurate guessing which emails are important to you.

I have no idea how they do it.

All I know is that my email has been cut in HALF now, and I’m happier than ever.

*******

Learn More Workflow “Hacks”. Grab The Startup Series.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just enter your email here and I’ll send it right away — completely free :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

 

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

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Why It’s Ok To Suck In The Beginning http://under30ceo.com/ok-suck-beginning/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ok-suck-beginning http://under30ceo.com/ok-suck-beginning/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:00:35 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=39074   When I was 15, my aunt got me a guitar for Christmas — and to this day, it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Shout out to Suzy! The parking lot of King High School. I think you get the same response from women just holding a guitar as you do […]

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When I was 15, my aunt got me a guitar for Christmas — and to this day, it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Shout out to Suzy!

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The parking lot of King High School.

I think you get the same response from women just holding a guitar as you do playing it.

The great thing about guitar (besides the fact that it’s an amazing way to pick up girls…I’ve heard) is that it’s pretty straightforward to learn, and you can get to a nice intermediate level quickly — which is what 99% of guys want. We can find a song, learn it in a day and take the guitar to a party that night. Unlike other instruments you may have played in middle school or high school (I played viola), guitar has this shorthand notation called TAB (short for tablature) which basically replaces all the sheet music with numbers.

So, instead of this:

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 11.45.36 AM

How does this translate to guitar…???

You see this:

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 11.52.40 AM

Yes. Numbers. I can work with numbers.

Look at these two examples. The sheet music in example one is very obscure. To the novice musician, it’s literally like reading hieroglyphics. It doesn’t really make any sense at first:

“Wait, there are 4 lines on the staff….but there are 6 strings on the guitar?”

“Ok…so there are multiple strings that play the same note on the guitar? Well how do I tell the difference on the staff?”

“What finger should I use to play the notes?

Confusing.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that option two, TAB, is much easier. Basically, all the strings of the guitar are labeled from bottom to top. In this case, the bottom “D” is the “thick” string (it’s actually supposed to be “E”…but for the example, it doesn’t matter.) The “E” at the top is the thinnest string. All those little numbers — those are the notes you play. If it says “5″ on the “E” string, just hold down the 5th fret on the E string and pluck it. If it says “0″, play the string without holding anything down.

Congratulations, you can now play about 90% of guitar songs — because almost every song known to man has been transcribed for TAB. And you didn’t even learn to read any music whatsoever.

The drawback here is that without knowing how to read sheet music, or understanding the basics of musical theory, you can PLAY almost anything — but you don’t know why you’re playing it. It’s like being able to pronounce Spanish words well, even though you can’t speak the language. You might sound fluent, but you have no idea what you’re saying — so you have no idea how to communicate a thought. Basically, you’re faking it.

I played using TAB for years. I made it to a “high-intermediate” level, and I could play lots of songs that you’d recognize…but then I got bored and stopped practicing. I liked guitar, but it just didn’t excite me anymore. I think the reason was because deep down, I knew that I couldn’t really play music. I was just mimicking numbers on a page. I had no idea what notes went together, why they worked, or how to play anything outside of my narrow understanding. This frustrated me, so I stopped playing until I could devote the time to learn music for real.

I’d put a “bookmark” in the musical area of my life for the past 5 years, and now, I finally have the time to hire an instructor. His name is Alex – he’s incredible. We do everything via Skype, so I have no reason not to show up. And guess what…I’m learning to read music. Without the crutch of TAB to make me feel like a virtuoso, I’m back to square one with an instrument that I used to be very familiar with.

The beginning of every journey sucks…

This is me, painfully playing George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” — from the sheet music. You can hear that it’s choppy, not very fluid and I make mistakes. For me, this is very frustrating.

But slowly, I’m getting better.

Learning to read music is really like learning a foreign language. Sometimes, after an hour or so of playing and studying scales…I get a “breakthrough” that connects everything I’d done for the past few days together and erases all the questions I had in one fell swoop. The giant “aha” moment.

It’s a slow trek, though — and often, I want to give up. Of course, I wouldn’t SAY that I was quitting. I’d probably let it slip away gently, and hope nobody noticed I wasn’t playing anymore. The key to quitting is to do it quietly, so that nobody challenges you!

But I haven’t quit. And I won’t. Somehow, I keep pushing.

Here’s the truth: Everything sucks in the beginning.

 

Embracing the possibility spiral

My friend Sibyl at The Possibility of Today would refer to the beginning of any journey as the bottom of your “Possibility Spiral.”

PossSpir_Infographic_r1

The road to success is seldom a linear path

I really vibe with Sibyl’s diagram. Let’s take a deeper look at what’s going on here:

  1. Everyone starts at their version of the bottom — wherever that is. It’s exciting at first, but there’s also a tremendous amount of work to be done.
  2. As you progress up the spiral, your challenge seems increasingly difficult as you go around the back end of the spiral. You may be moving so slowly at first that you can’t even see you’re making progress.
  3. If you continue to stick with it, momentum builds and the spiral gets tighter. This means that every subsequent turn actually moves you faster and faster up the spiral.
  4. The top of the spiral requires only a fraction of the work and heavy lifting to maintain compared to the bottom of the spiral.

It’s so easy to get discouraged when you try something new, and SUCK.

Next time you try something new, and you find yourself discouraged because you’re not good yet, I want you to reframe your beliefs.

Instead of focusing on how bad you suck, view your progress as the correct place in the your “possibility spiral” — and a level that’s sure to be surpassed with consistent effort and some time in the game.

Everybody sucks in the beginning. Deal with it.

I’ll meet you on the other side.

*******

Abolish Suck. Grab The Startup Series.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just give me your email here and I’ll send it right away — completely free  :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

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Inside The Mind Of A $100M Mogul: How Lori Greiner Created A Product Empire (HD Video) http://under30ceo.com/inside-mind-100m-mogul-lori-greiner-created-product-empire-hd-video/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=inside-mind-100m-mogul-lori-greiner-created-product-empire-hd-video http://under30ceo.com/inside-mind-100m-mogul-lori-greiner-created-product-empire-hd-video/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:00:31 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=38856 Take a look around your world. Does it ever feel like some people have an inordinate share of success in business and life? Superstars like this are: Launching successful startups and making millions Starting projects/hobbies…and actually getting good at them In great relationships with the perfect partner Always going to the coolest events Meanwhile, mere […]

The post Inside The Mind Of A $100M Mogul: How Lori Greiner Created A Product Empire (HD Video) appeared first on Under30CEO.

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Take a look around your world.

Does it ever feel like some people have an inordinate share of success in business and life?

Superstars like this are:

  • Launching successful startups and making millions
  • Starting projects/hobbies…and actually getting good at them
  • In great relationships with the perfect partner
  • Always going to the coolest events

Meanwhile, mere mortals like us struggle with basic things like:

  • Just having enough money to pay bills on time
  • Weeding through pages of creeps to find one acceptable date on OKCupid
  • Wishing we had a better social life, but resigning ourselves to Fritos and BBT (Big Bang Theory…duh) on Friday nights instead

Hmm…

Ok, something’s off here.

Is there some secret that these superstars know that we don’t?
Is it possible for US to become one of them?

These are questions that I’ve wondered for a LOOOONNNNG time — and unfortunately, they are really hard to answer unless you’re able to TALK to one of these superstars.

Luckily for you, I was able to speak to one and bring her wisdom back to the masses.

Call me Prometheus DiPiazza.

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Lori Greiner.

Lori-G

You may be familiar with Lori, as you see her face every Friday night on ABC’s Emmy-nominated show Shark Tank.

But what you probably don’t know about her is that outside of being fun to watch, she packs some SERIOUS credentials — including having over 500 inventions and 120 patents to her name.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Pick your jaw up off the floor. I’ll wait.

Now I want you to think about that for a minute.

Lori wasn’t born a successful inventor. Nobody taught her how to do this.

It all started 17 years ago with a simple idea for an interesting jewelry box.

Now, she has an estimated net worth over over $100 million from all of her creations. And she’s just getting started.

I invited Lori to my studio to break down her success — step-by-step. What she has to share is amazing, and some of the secrets she reveals are really surprising.

Here’s a sneak peak. You can download the full 30-minute interview for free at the bottom of the page:

In this incredible interview, you’ll learn:

  • How to determine if your business/product idea is a “hero” or a “zero” (1:30)
  • The key to becoming productive and creative — even when you’re feeling exhausted (3:16)
  • What to do if your launch an idea…and it fails (6:10)
  • How to determine when to outsource and when to do it yourself (7:00)
  • Which traits an entrepreneur MUST have to succeed (10:02)
  • Much more, including info about her new book “Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!”

    Click to download the 30-minute interview — free

Props for anyone that catches me ask her to patent my foot.

Enjoy this, guys — and apply these amazing lessons!

Parts of this article were originally published on Rich20Something.com

The post Inside The Mind Of A $100M Mogul: How Lori Greiner Created A Product Empire (HD Video) appeared first on Under30CEO.

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How To Raise $10,000 For A Project You Care About http://under30ceo.com/raise-10000-project-care/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=raise-10000-project-care http://under30ceo.com/raise-10000-project-care/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:00:22 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=38839 We have all these plans for projects, and dreams of things that we want to accomplish — but it’s SO hard to see them through to completion, isn’t it? How many of us have goals, and in our hearts, we’re just not sure if we’ll ever accomplish them? I know I’ve been there. However, there’s […]

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We have all these plans for projects, and dreams of things that we want to accomplish — but it’s SO hard to see them through to completion, isn’t it?

How many of us have goals, and in our hearts, we’re just not sure if we’ll ever accomplish them?

I know I’ve been there.

However, there’s also something very special and unique about our generation.

Check out this email that I got from a reader on my site, Rich20Something — she describes it perfectly:

The upside is that our generation is way more entrepreneurial than the generation before us. If we aren’t getting the jobs we want, we are creating them for ourselves through small companies and innovative projects. We are daring to step outside the box and make our dreams a reality. We need more of this, we need to see an hear more of this. There is a huge change taking place and we are at the fore-front, all kinds of paths should be recognized, not just the traditional routes. When we can all learn to encourage an be more accepting of these different ways of living, I think we can pull ourselves out of peer pressure and depression. You are already doing it with your blog :)

What do you think? I think she’s spot-on.

And that’s why I wanted to share the story with you today about how I raised money to do something that was really, really important to me — and how you can do the same.

NOTE: This article below is about how I rallied a community, raised almost $10,000 and made a film — but remember, the most important takeaway here is how I started with nothing, came up with an idea, defied the gatekeepers standing in my way and made the project a reality.

Would the ability to do that be useful in your life right now? If so, keep reading.

*******

When I graduated with my Bachelors degree at 20, I knew that I didn’t want to go back to school.

But I also knew that I didn’t want to jump into some lame corporate job that I hated just to bring home a paycheck.

I wanted to do something creative, self-directed and something with the unique possibility to make 7-figures or more.

So I chose…

Acting?

Hmmm, maybe it wasn’t the best move, considering the fact that actors generally take orders from producers and directors (they’re not “self-directed”).

And then there’s the fact that 99.997% of all “working” actors barely crack $1,000 per year. So there goes 7-figures.

But, on the plus side, it definitely fulfilled the creative criteria. And I had a lot of fun.

Florida and Georgia have a surprising amount of film work, and I got to work on some really fun, interesting projects.

Fotor030519132

Lots of fun roles. Although I seem to die or get beat up really badly in every one. Hmmm…

  • I got to jump out of a moving Blackhawk helicopter in full gear
  • I trained for months with pro fighters and filmed a professionally choreographed action movie
  • I ran around Tampa at 3am with a Glock, while police barricaded the streets
  • I died twice
  • I played a gay, homeless murder witness with AIDS

All childhood dreams, naturally.

But acting is definitely a grind of the highest order — and it’s a numbers game. For every role I booked, I got dozens of rejections. The rejections didn’t really bother me, though. What bothered me was the reason BEHIND the rejections.

 

The moment I said “f*** it”

I remember the moment with something “clicked”…(or was it snapped??)…inside of me.

I’d been called in to audition for a role on AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead. It wasn’t for any big role. It wasn’t even for a supporting role. It was for the role of…you guessed it…a zombie.

I got into the casting room, and a scene partner came with me. We both stared at the CDs (casting directors, for the uninitiated).

There weren’t any lines for us to read…because zombies kinda just moan, right?

So the casting director said:

“Alright guys…act like zombies.”

So we extended our arms, shuffled our feet and started moaning as painfully as possible.

“NO, NO, NO. Zombies would never act like THAT. Be more REALISTIC.”

Ok. Realistic zombie? That’s an oxymoron, and you’re a moron.

So we started doing different things — we tried the “undead” face, the “contorted” face and even the “on the verge of throwing up” face.

We tried more sounds. Less sounds. Different postures. Different mouth shapes.

The just didn’t like any of it…

“Ugh. This just wasn’t what we were looking for” (exasperated).

Ironically, I actually walked out of the room feeling a little more dead inside.

I know I’m supposed to take some lesson from every rejection…but all I got from that interaction was that some people don’t think I’m good enough to play an undead, infected freak with no lines or discernable facial features.

zombie gif

I totally think I could have pulled this off.

The worst part was…

I could be an AMAZING zombie, with a flawless audition, and not even realize that the producers had already filled the role I was auditioning for before I ever got there.

Most people don’t know that oftentimes, CDs continue the audition process, even after they’ve already made their decsion. It’s a politically correct move to make sure agents/actors don’t feel slighted or feel like they’ve wasted their time (this happens quite frequently — Ryan Gosling agrees).

After what I’m calling “The Zombie Episode,” I knew it was time to dive into something that I had a little more CONTROL over.

Acting was fun, but at the end of the day, it was all based on whether the casting director thought I had the “look.”

I didn’t have control over it. It wasn’t up to me, no matter how good I was.

And then I had an epiphany…

 

“Why don’t I just make my own films and cast myself?”

If I wrote my own material, I could be the star. I could have complete creative discretion, and I wouldn’t have to answer to anybody.

But even suggesting it made me feel dirty and unorthodox.

I liked the idea of having more control…but somewhere deep down, I didn’t know if I was “worthy.”

Immediately, all the doubts started popping up in my mind. The same type of doubts that make us the serial killers of our own dreams and leave us with dozens of half-finished or never-started projects.

Doubts like:

  • What if this doesn’t work..
  • I’ve never done anything like this before. I didn’t go to school for this…
  • I have no idea where to begin…
  • This is going to be expensive. I could never raise the money…

What I didn’t know at the time was that none of this stuff even MATTERS because you don’t need to be perfect to pull off an amazing project. In fact, there’s a HUGE margin for error.

Focusing on perfection is the absolute fastest route to Never-Started Land. It’s not a fun place to be.

Somehow, I gathered the courage to start. So many good things were in store.

 

Taking the first step

One of the most common frustrations with starting any new project is simply not knowing where to begin.

The paralysis of the unknown keeps us from moving. Don’t give in to that.

The solution to “where do I begin?” is to begin at the simplest, most obvious starting point. 

For me, that was just writing the movie. I had to write the damn thing, otherwise, everything else was just talk.

Honestly, of the entire production, this was my favorite part. Every day, I came home from work at the restaurant and sat in my dark apartment with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine…and just wrote whatever came to my mind.

I didn’t know what I wanted my film to be about, but I knew I needed to flex my creative muscles and become an idea machine (hat tip, J. Altucher) — so I also spent a lot of time surfing the web, specifically looking for things that inspired me.

And one day, I ran across this video. I can’t place my finger on why or how, but It changed me inside:

As if by osmosis (is that the right word?) the entire script just came to me. I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew the characters. I knew the plot. I knew how it would end.

In an instant, I had my movie. Now, I just had to write it. So for the next week, I poured into it. Here’s what the script looked like — I wrote it using a free program called Celtx.

[Download the Blossoms For Clara script]

(BTW, I think the script is really good. Read a few pages and see if you like it.)

Building the crew and getting the money

Once I had this script in hand, things became real. I knew I had something special and valuable. I was motivated to actually follow thorough because I wasn’t just “thinking about making a movie.” I had a movie in my hands, and it had to get made.

So I went to work raising money and building a crew.

The goal of this article is to give you actionable strategies so that you can complete whatever project you want — but I hate to disappoint you. The strategies aren’t that complex.

There are no magic tricks, but there are a handful of things that work pretty well.

Again, think about your dream project, and how you could use this to your benefit.

 

1.) Getting the crew together and creating the budget

At this point, I’d been acting for a few years, so I had a collection of friends who were actors, cinematographers, and producers. They were people that loved film, had skills and wanted to do fun, interesting projects.

The important point to note here is that I laid the groundwork early for my project by making friends and connections.

I got involved with projects that others were working on that had no direct benefit to me, knowing that later, having these friendships would be valuable.

I volunteered for dumb projects on Craigslist.

I worked at film festivals and participated in events like the 48 Hour Film Project.

I went out to coffee with people who were doing cool projects, just to let them talk about their work, with no agenda or ulterior motive in mind.

Are you doing selfless, fun things like this just to help other people and surround yourself with potential partners? This is simply the best way to meet people, make connections and get things done in the future.

I started recruiting my friends and putting together production team. If I needed a particular skill set, I asked friends of friends until I found the type of person I was looking for, and I pitched them the project.

The idea here was to spend most of our money on the making the film look great and keeping the actors comfortable. Our entire budget went to locations, actor salaries, film crew expenses and misc.

The producers didn’t make any money. I was the only actor who didn’t get paid.

But we were happy to work on something that we were passionate about. In effect, the production team was doing the same thing for me that I’d done for them in the past — getting involved in a project for a friend to build a relationship.

That’s powerful.

(So powerful, in fact, that one producer even bailed me out of jail years later. But that’s another story for another day. Ahem.)

After I assembled the production team, I leveraged my network of actor/producer/director friends to help me find a talented film crew. I needed the movie to look amazing. But I also knew that we basically wouldn’t have any money.

So I called up the director of a film I’d worked on the year before and asked him to connect me with, Brian Bourke, the one of the cameramen from that film.

Brian agreed to be DP (Director of Photography), and a few days later, I had an agreement to shoot my film which I can only classify as a GIFT. It was such a bare bones project, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

(See how that happens? Work on someone else’s project >> do great work >> build a relationship >> have them work on your project >> repay the favor by referring them more business. Why aren’t you doing this???)

Next, I had to put together the budget.

I really had no idea how much all of this would cost, but after reading some books about putting together film budgets, choosing some arbitrary numbers and adding them to what I knew the fixed costs were, I came up with $10,000.

(Here’s a look at the rough budget I drew up.)

I would need $10,000 to make this happen. All the other pieces were in place. Now I just had to find the money.

 

2.) Raising the money

Now, something you need to keep in mind here is that a project with momentum is inspiring. When you’ve told people about your project and you’ve already gotten the machine moving, there’s no turning back.

For that reason alone, I’d always recommend that you set other pieces in motion first before worrying about money. If you have enough people involved, money will come — often from unexpected places.

As Paulo Coelho says in The Alchemist, “When you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

To raise money I:

  1. Started an Indiegogo campaign: then shared it on FB, Twitter, etc. This didn’t raise the most money, but it brought awareness so that I could ask family and friends later.
  2. Asked friends and family: but not begging, and not spamming. I literally went down my entire Facebook friends list, and wrote personal messages to EVERY single person that I thought might donate, mentioning something specific about our relationship so that they knew I wasn’t spamming, and asked them to donate anything they could. Literally over 400 PERSONAL messages. This took me about 3 weeks. But it WORKED.
  3. Talked about the project passionately at gatherings, parties and events: the craziest things happened. One guy, who I’d never met in my life, took out his check book, wrote me a check for $500 and said “good luck.” He didn’t want anything in return.

So amazing.

As simple and stupid as it sounds…the money just came.

Little by little, the entire team came together, and we were able to do amazing things – like turn an old warehouse into a 40′s jazz club:

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I also try to put my parents in everything I work on. At least for one shot:

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It was no more complicated than that.

So you see, you can do this. It just takes guts, brains and the willingness to put yourself out there.

Can you do that? I know you can.

PS – here’s the final cut of the film Blossoms For Clara, (the best $714/minute I’ve ever spent):

 

Ready to launch your project? Grab the Startup Series.

I love the Under30CEO community, so I wanted to give you something special as a “thank you” for reading this article — and also give you some useful tools to help you get started on your dream projects TODAY.

Grab my free Startup Series.

It’s a 3-part “mini-course” that will show you how to become more productive with your time, avoid the most common mistakes, and learn to launch a business/project in record time. It’s free, so just give me your email here and I’ll send it right away :)

Click to get the Startup Series for free

Parts of this post were originally published by Daniel DiPiazza at Rich20Something.com

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Lori Greiner’s New Book “Invent It, Sell it, Bank it!” Teaches You How To Create A Product Step-By-Step http://under30ceo.com/lori-greiners-new-book-invent-sell-bank-teaches-create-product-step-step/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lori-greiners-new-book-invent-sell-bank-teaches-create-product-step-step http://under30ceo.com/lori-greiners-new-book-invent-sell-bank-teaches-create-product-step-step/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:42:49 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=38763 In a sea of fluffy inspirational books and motivational business monologues that carry name-brand weight, but lack substance, Lori Greiner’s new book Invent it, Sell it, Bank it!: Make Your Million-Dollar Idea Into A Reality, accomplishes something rare: It not only tells you what it takes to invent a product and bring it to market […]

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In a sea of fluffy inspirational books and motivational business monologues that carry name-brand weight, but lack substance, Lori Greiner’s new book Invent it, Sell it, Bank it!: Make Your Million-Dollar Idea Into A Reality, accomplishes something rare: It not only tells you what it takes to invent a product and bring it to market – it actually teaches you how to do it.

The actionable advice comes from someone who truly knows her way around the product world. Greiner, who is the star of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, has been creating products since 1996. She now has close to 500 inventions under her belt, and over 120 patents. As she astutely observes, there are two types of inventors: The Margaret Mitchells of the world, who create one “master work,” and the serial inventors, who relish the thrill of coming up with a new idea and breathing life into it. Obviously, Greiner is the latter.

Her books runs the gamut, providing everything that an aspiring Edison would need to succeed in today’s market, leaving out the unnecessary or outdated, but also adding a distinct touch of personality.

First, you’ll learn how to determine if your idea is a “hero” or a “zero” – a distinction that Greiner says can sink most entrepreneurs before they begin. Then, the step-by-step framework guides you through detailed market research, an in-depth tutorial on getting funding, and the truth about patents.

In her chapter on pitching, Greiner’s experience as the “warm-blooded” shark on Shark Tank really shines through as she removes the veil on one of the most mysterious elements of the invention process: The anatomy of a “perfect pitch.”

Have you ever wondered exactly why certain products successfully make it into the Shark Tank and get create a feeding frenzy, while others flail in the water? Invent it, Sell it, Bank it! removes the mystery.

But be warned, you may be surprised by the real reasons why some pitches are so successful. In her analysis of greatest hits, Greiner also reveals the word-for-word scripts she used to pitch some of her most successful products, along with instructions for you to do the same with your ideas.

One thing that sets her book apart is an ideology she calls “Extreme DIY.” The concept is obvious, but not always intuitive. Simply put, beginning inventors and entrepreneurs need to learn every facet of their craft and their business firsthand in order to make the pivotal decisions. Just wait until you read why even as her first product was seeing success, she had to create over 20,000 pieces of jewelry by hand for her in-store displays. There are no secrets here. You have to put in the hours.

Greiner goes into specific detail about everything that it takes to keep the business running after the idea phase, including packaging, manufacturing and retail distribution – including exactly how she overcame real-world challenges early in her career.

For beginning inventors or seasoned veterans alike, her insight is invaluable.

If you’ve always dreamed of creating a product and seeing it become a reality, or you’re looking for a competitive edge to take your product to the next level, this book will teach you how in a step-by-step format that’s easy to understand and fun to read.

Pick up Invent it, Sell it, Bank It!: Make Your Million-Dollar Idea Into A Reality at retailers nationwide, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and QVC.

*******

PS – I did an exclusive interview with Greiner that goes into some of her most in-depth strategies. Click here to get FREE access to the full HD video when it comes out.

 

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How To Get Past Fake “Gatekeepers” http://under30ceo.com/get-past-fake-gatekeepers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=get-past-fake-gatekeepers http://under30ceo.com/get-past-fake-gatekeepers/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:00:41 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=37486 The following scenario surprised, enraged and inspired me — so originally, I wrote this on my Facebook wall. I got some many comments from friends that I just had to turn it into a post. I’m super curious: What would you have done in my shoes? Leave a comment when you’re done reading and let […]

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The following scenario surprised, enraged and inspired me — so originally, I wrote this on my Facebook wall.

I got some many comments from friends that I just had to turn it into a post.

I’m super curious: What would you have done in my shoes?

Leave a comment when you’re done reading and let me know.

*******

So I’m at Starbucks (I’ve been here for a few hours), and I’m in Atlanta…which is a music hub…so there are lots of singers and songwriters lurking around.

And there’s this young singer…maybe 20-21…with another guy who I suppose is his manager.

The manager wants the kid to sing in the middle of the cafe to get some feedback. So he goes around to the different tables to say, “Hey, we’re going to sing in a minute, just wanted to let you know.” Then he goes to the counter and he asks the Starbucks staff if it’s “OK”.

He doesn’t even as a manager, mind you… just a regular barista. And of course she says, “No, you can’t sing in here.”

Why? Is it because she doesn’t like music? Probably not.

It’s because she doesn’t want to get in trouble, do anything out of protocol or do anything that might possibly draw attention to herself. It’s not even about the kid singing. It’s about her.

And I’m thinking to myself two things:

First, the manager shouldn’t have asked for permission the kid to sing.

He should have just had the kid do it. People would have most likely broken into applause (we love surprises, flash mobs, etc) – then if the baristas or managers were still mad…he could have just asked for forgiveness later.

Ask for forgiveness…but never ask for permission to demonstrate your worth or power. 99% of the time people will say “no” to you, or reject you, because they are scared.

ask for forgiveness not permission

Second, this is a perfect example of how gatekeepers are often unqualified to evaluate us.

The people who reject book deals, venture funding and movie scripts are usually never the real decision makers. They are usually the interns and low-level employees just filtering through the crap for the boss. Even the bosses are just gatekeepers to the public. These people all have agendas of their own. It’s all about them. It’s never about you. Yet we let rejection from these people make us think that the world is rejecting us.

The world isn’t rejecting you. How can the world reject us if it hasn’t even SEEN us?

If we just skip the gatekeepers entirely and find our way to the decision makers, we have much better shots at getting what we want.

So fuck the gatekeepers. How can we figure out ways to get around them and go directly to the source?

Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to stop doing jobs that they hate and break free of 9 to 5 boredom by starting their own businesses. Click here to join his tribe of hungry young entrepreneurs and get inside strategies to launching your first digital business.

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The “Fat Friend Effect” And The Surprising Power of Negative Secondary Connections http://under30ceo.com/fat-friend-effect-surprising-power-negative-secondary-connections/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fat-friend-effect-surprising-power-negative-secondary-connections http://under30ceo.com/fat-friend-effect-surprising-power-negative-secondary-connections/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:00:20 +0000 danieldipiazza http://under30ceo.com/?p=37482 I’m 24 years old and I’m now realizing that, despite my tendency to feel like I have a pretty good handle on life, there were a lot of lessons I learned as a child that still ring true today. For one, I’ve found it exceedingly true that birds of a feather really DO flock together. […]

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I’m 24 years old and I’m now realizing that, despite my tendency to feel like I have a pretty good handle on life, there were a lot of lessons I learned as a child that still ring true today.

For one, I’ve found it exceedingly true that birds of a feather really DO flock together.

Birds of a Feather

I used to hate this saying growing up because I thought it was just…cliché

“Ok mom, I won’t hang out with any ‘trouble makers’. “

Blah, blah, blah. *picks up PS2 controller*

Turns out, it’s very true. Truer than I’d like to admit — but not for the overtly obvious reasons.

When you’re younger, things are more black and white.

Good vs. Evil.

Right vs. Wrong.

Playstation or Nintendo (COME’ON SON!).

Many decisions were easy to make because the immediate repercussions seemed pretty apparent. Figure out the result you want, then do the action that supports that result.

Now we’re older and things just aren’t that cut and dry.

We are presented with thousands of decsions weekly and sometimes the stress of potentially making the wrong decision overrides our ability to actually make the right one. Ain’t that a bitch!!!

Action halts. Paralysis ensues. No decisions get made.

How bad bad decisions (or no decisions) lead to bad friendships

I am a lazy sonofabitch. So are you.

No harm intended — but let’s face the facts: we avoid making hard decisions every day because hard decisions expend energy. We are energy conservationists by nature.

Friendships fall into this category. We don’t often take time to “prune” our friendships or consciously disassociate ourselves with people who affect us negatively. Especially if they’ve been our friends for a long time.

This is where the conventional wisdom comes in handy. We have to be very aware of who we share our time and space with. A close personal friend or even a more distant friendship with a depressing/unambitious/negative person can, over time, take a huge toll on us.

Mom warned us. This type of bad influence is called a negative primary connection.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon at it’s worst…

The popular social experiment Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon highlights the idea that most people are 6 or less social connections away from eachother.

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Pick anyone in the world. A celebrity, a stranger on another continent. Anybody. Odds are that through mutual friends and acquaintances, you two can be connected by six or less people. It’s a fascinating concept, but it’s also very scary when you consider the effect we can have on each other without even realizing it. That’s the digital world for you.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to find that there’s a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that your friends’ friends can wield tremendous power over you without you even knowing it.

In their 2009 work Connected, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler reminded us that the term “social network” doesn’t just refer to the half dozen websites we log into every day as part of our digital alter ego.

Social networks are the groups of real friends that we all share, intersect and interact with – and they’ve always been central to our developments.

Who we hang around, and who THOSE people hang around in turn, matters. A lot.

Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times book review.

Poring through the meticulous records of the Framingham Heart Study, conducted from 1948 to the present in a small Massachusetts city, Christakis and Fowler mapped out the relationship of 12,067 people with more than 50,000 ties (or connections between friends and relatives) among them. Analyzing the network, the authors noticed that obese people tend to be friends with other obese people, while thin people tend to be friends with other thin people. On one level, this is obvious and unsurprising; birds of a feather and all that. But based on their reading of the data (which some other researchers have questioned), the authors concluded that the relationship was causal: being associated with overweight people, even indirectly, is likely to make you overweight.

As Christakis and Fowler (along with other researchers) have found, obesity spreads by contagion. So if your friend’s friend’s friend — whom you’ve never met, and lives a thousand miles away — gains weight, you’re likely to gain weight, too. And if your friend’s friend’s friend loses weight, you’re likely to lose weight, too.

 

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Traditional wisdom and common sense dictate that one type of person likes to hang around others with similar characteristics.

It’s an entirely different scenario, however, to assume that one person in a social network can CAUSE another person several connections away to make definitive personal changes through indirect suggestion and modeling without even knowing the other person directly.

This is what I’ve coined the “fat friend effect”.

Simply put: if your friends are connected to people who aren’t of the caliber you aspire to be, ultimately you can be dragged down as well. Even if you don’t know the offending slackers. This is called a negative secondary connection and it’s often more dangerous than a negative primary connection because you typically won’t see it coming.

Think this is bullshit?

Imagine your social network as a team. How many times have you seen superstars stifled by a group of overwhelmingly mediocre players?

Sometimes, high performers have to completely disassociate themselves with mediocrity in order to thrive.

Before you run to Facebook to make sure you’re not being “socially polluted”, take a look at this Christaki’s TED talk on the concept:

How to eradicate negative secondary connections without losing all your friends

At this point you should be scared shitless that your friend’s stoner brother-in-law might cost you a promotion.

While that would make me laugh, it’s not entirely true.

There’s definitely something you can do to reduce the chances of a negative secondary connection affecting you:

Be amazing.

As I often tell my grandma (who gets mad when I don’t call enough), the phone works both ways.

Recall in the research that Christakis noted weight lost by a secondary connection can also result in you losing weight.

Positive effects can be spread just as easily as negative effects.

The goal then, should be to elevate your own game so high that others cannot help but take notice. Your positivity and drive must be so strong that not only are you impervious to negative secondary attacks, but both your primary and secondary connections begin to model themselves after you.

In other words, we must learn how to evolve past the victim mentality that says we are incapable beings, barely sentient, constantly affected by our environment in the tide of random choice.

We are not ships lost at sea. We are the sea.

Conversely, it is our duty as change-makers and Rich20Somethings to start affecting our environment, not merely accepting passive consequences.

Gandhi said it best:

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When you adopt this mindset, not only will you keep the friends that you have and safeguard yourself against the negative effects of poorly chosen primary and secondary connections — you will most likely make more positive connections than ever before.

The result will be a continuous upward spiral of growing friendships that support you in your journey to be the best damn you possible.

Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to stop doing jobs that they hate and break free of 9 to 5 boredom by starting their own businesses. Click here to join his tribe of hungry young entrepreneurs and get inside strategies to launching your first digital business.

 

Image Credits: chineseleafwrap.blogspot.com, blog.globalpatentsolutions.com, The New York Times, currybomb.com

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