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November 29 2010

The Quick, 12-Step Guide to Quitting That @#$%ing Job You Hate

Guess what, it’s Monday! And you’re still at that job you hate. Nice.

1. 9am. Get to the office. Go straight to the coffee machine. Hang out there for 10 minutes before heading to your desk. Dread the workweek.

2. 9:10am. Check Facebook and email, despite having just done so on your iPhone 15 minutes prior. Delay the inevitable start of an empty, energy-draining day which will leave you uninterested in social interaction, learning, and sex.

3. 10am. Look around at your co-workers. Realize that they are all either a) mindless drones, b) shriveled, pathetic versions of their former, bright selves, or c) social-climbing douchebag sociopaths. Question the purpose of your existence as you stare at your reflection in your computer monitor circa 1995.

4. 10:05am. Realize how much longer you’ve been at this job than what you intended, awakening in you a horrible, hateful anger which had until now remained dormant like a sleeping dragon for longer than you thought was possible.

5. 10:10am. Begin shaking in rage. Pop a blood vessel in your eyeball. Briefly choke the telephone as if it were some unknown person’s neck before regaining your composure.

6. 10:30am. Analyze options. Consider that, perhaps, you could ask for a transfer to another department or another city. With horror, become conscious that everytime you’ve spoken to them on the phone, they seemed even more brain-dead than the mouth-breathing sycophants in Human Resources.

7. 10:45am. Think back to the time you were offered the cool job with the startup downtown. Have dark thoughts about the we-need-you guilt-tripping that was done to prevent you from quitting. Attempt and fail to slit your wrists with a stapler. Finally acknowledge that you will have to either quit, or throw yourself off the roof, this week. It’s a toss-up.

8. 11am. Awaken to the reality that you may still have much to live for. Recall that time you wanted to work on that documentary or be in that punk band. Realize the guitar is still in the basement, and that no one has yet tried out the website idea you had that your girlfriend was excited about.

9. 11:10am. Start a list of the worst things that could happen if you quit right now. Finally acknowledge the possibility that it wouldn’t actually be that bad, despite how anxious you are about it. Picture yourself on your deathbed.

10. 11:20am. Ask yourself if you can live without your daily soy non-fat latté, your gourmet BLT with aioli mayo, or your 100% pure fruit 2pm snack bar. Ask yourself if starving for a few months is better or worse than being here and simply starving on the inside.

11. 11:30am. Realize that, fuck it, you’re better than that. Walk into your boss’ office and quit with dignity.

12. Noon. Emerge from boss’ office, possibly glowing. Go to lunch. Begin your new life.

November 06 2010

Every Business is a Machine

I hear a McDonald’s franchise costs over a million dollars to buy.

When you buy one, though, it basically starts to print money. They have the system down so well that you can plop a McDonald’s down anywhere and tell ahead of time how much money it will make. Likewise Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and all those places. A franchise is essentially a business in a box– a machine.

Other businesses, the unique ones, are machines too. As I sit here at my local coffee place by the canal, I realize suddenly that the gears beneath it are identical to the place I go to downtown. Different owners, different staff, different food– same business. It’s a formula, and that means that there’s a lot of it you can predict.

The only part you can’t predict is the human element. Can the staff upsell you their lattés, or make you show up more often? Once you’ve got it running, though, that too is mostly math. You know how much you make any day of the week under most circumstances.

If you’re a freelancer and you mostly work with clients, you may never understand this, because your business doesn’t work this way. You have low overhead because it’s basically you and your work, but it also can’t be automated. You can’t let your success work for you as much, unless you use existing infrastructure. (It’s why singers release perfumes.)

I bet if you run enough businesses, you start to see the machines inside every business. If you know real estate, you can walk into a building and see how everything is going to work 5 years from now, and tell the risk of the tenants from how they greet you.

By the way, we here online should be able to do the same thing with websites. Can you?

October 29 2010

Do Not Apologize

You have no choice but to be yourself– so you can do it reluctantly, or proudly.

Either apologize as you do it, or do it with all your heart and every faith in yourself you can muster. That’s the choice.

In learning to do this, you might transition from being awkward and uncomfortable to strong and certain. That’s natural. Take your time, and don’t expect to be perfect.

Small successes will lead to small confidence, which will lead to bigger successes. And so on.

No matter how you feel today, keep on going. You’ll get there.

August 12 2010

You Do Not Have an MBA

If you’re John Doe, there are a lot of hoops for you to jump through if you want to become Dr. John Doe.

Between Jane Doe and Jane the lawyer, there are hoops, too. In both cases they’re pretty important to go through a certain way.

This is not the case with an MBA. But they’d like it to be. It isn’t the case for almost any degree at all. But they keep offering them anyway.

There is no single institution in the world which will go away willingly. Even if they were 100% useless, you can bet they would stick around as long as they could siphon us of our money and let us whittle away our years in exchange for their continued existence.

There is no institution in the world that has the one true path to the Answer (or the Truth, or Salvation). But all of them will convince you they will, as will your parents and mentors.

You do not have an MBA, and you do not need one. No one needs to give you permission; you need to take it.

Unless enough of us do this, these same institutions will be around siphoning your children, and their children, and so on until eternity. They will convince you that you need to read their newspaper, or their buy overpriced textbook, or follow their useless path. But none of those things are necessary at all. Many never were.

Oh, by the way, who is it that goes through hoops? Not people, just animals… and clowns. Are you either of those?

May 16 2010

How To Price Your Services

What is your price point?

We used to have very few options: work a job, start a company, be unemployed. Now there are a million options in between, especially on the web. Choosing where to price yourself will show people what you’re worth.

I just bought Ev Bogue’s The Art of Being Minimalist for $17. By choosing that price, he shows me his work has value, but he could’ve priced it at twice that and I probably would’ve still bought it with no regrets. But would he sell as many copies? Would he have to work harder? Everyone needs to decide this for themselves.

I think of all of these value points as being a kind of filter. If you want to reach more people, you may want to bring the price down, but that will impact how seriously they treat your work. The barrier to entry (including price) impacts the value of your platform and show people how to treat you.

I learned this important lesson from a friend of mine a long time ago: You show people how to treat you by where you draw the line. If you let people walk all over you, they start to believe it’s ok to do that. If you show people high value and demand a high price, people will believe in that, too.

You decide what you’re worth. Once you believe it, others will too. It’s circular.

Anyway, this blog is free. That might give people the impression that it’s just like any other blog, and that it’s replaceable. That’s one reason to write a NYT bestselling book– to show your value.

But I suspect that many of you actually like this blog a lot. I feel this because I see your comments, but also because I’m really picky, and I’m very proud of the work that I do here. This thing holds some of my best work, stuff I’m very proud of.

So if you like what I do, please tweet it out, link to me, spread the word, or invite me out to speak.  I enjoy communicating my ideas and improving someone’s life a little every day. It’s a lot of fun, and I think I’m pretty good at it.

My price is low but the value, for me at least, is immeasurable. Let’s keep at this. We’re going to a good place.

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