Tag Archives: self-help

From Kickstarter Rejection to the Indiegogo Homepage

1 Aug

10 Lessons Learned from Running a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

We made the Indiegogo homepage!

Just like James Franco, we made the Indiegogo homepage!

This past month has been incredibly inspiring (and exhausting).  Over the past four weeks, I ran an Indiegogo campaign for my first book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, a handbook for twenty- (and thirty-) somethings looking for meaningful work. The campaign raised $12,790 (140% of our goal) from 518 funders, received 1,200 likes on Facebook, and was featured in Fast Company, GOOD Magazine, Everest Journal, and on the Indiegogo homepage.

The campaign was an overwhelming success, and I could not be more grateful for my friends, family, and backers for supporting this project—which, as you’ll soon find out, twice came close to not happening. So, while the dust is still settling, here are 10 lessons learned to help you launch your crowdfunding campaign in the coming weeks or months.

1. Disconnect to reconnect

A week before I planned to launch, I woke up in my sleeping bag, in a tent, under the redwoods of Anderson Valley, California. I was wearing shiny purple tights, a pink shirt, a whistle around my neck, and a yellow bandanna on my forehead with a huge frog on it. It was the last day of Camp Grounded—I had just been a counselor at a Digital Detox adult summer camp, and had not checked my email or Facebook for four days.

As I woke up that morning, my body exhausted but my eyes surprisingly rested from not staring at a screen for over 100 hours, I thought: there is no way in hell I can launch this thing next week, I spent the last four days hanging out with people named Topless, Kitten Little, and Honey Bear—I haven’t even heard a person’s actual real name in four days—let alone written my form emails, or invited friends to like my Facebook page, or planned my launch party! I started to freak out, and nearly flinched. “I’ll launch in August or September when the book is closer to being finished,” I said out loud in the tent.

Yet, on the drive home from camp through the redwoods and rolling vineyards of Mendocino, a surprising calm came over me. I said to my friend Ducky, who was driving, “Fuck it, I can do this. It’s gonna be nuts, but I got this.” “Yep,” Ducky answered, “You got this, Smiley.” 

Running a crowdfunding campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. Take time a week or two before you launch to disconnect, to step away from your email contact lists and Facebook. The break will remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place, and you’ll come back to your work fresh and inspired, ready to go. The last thing you want to do is cram for two weeks straight before the launch, and feel like you are already wiped on launch day.   

2. Don’t flinch, be flexible

My plan was to launch on June 27, two days before my 30th birthday, so that I’d already have some traction before the big day. On Thursday, June 27, I woke up giddy with excitement, and checked my email, anticipating that Kickstarter would (obviously) have approved my project. 

Instead, I received a message from Kickstarter that said: “Your project, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, has been declined.”  I figured I probably just needed to change one of the perks, or change some language on my page. But, when I read the email again, my heart slumped. I learned that, as of two days earlier, Kickstarter no longer accepted self-help projects (for good reason, assuming this was in response to Kickstarter’s  failure to pull an abhorrent “seduction” guide from their site).

I had wanted to use Kickstarter because I felt like it had the best brand recognition of any crowdfunding site (even my parents knew what it was), and numerous authors I respected had used Kickstarter to self-publish their books (it had a proven cachet). 

After pacing back and forth in my apartment for twenty minutes, freaking out, and again contemplating postponing my launch for a month or two, I took a deep breath, chugged a cup of coffee, and went to indiegogo.com.  Within four hours, I had the majority of my project uploaded on Indiegogo. I asked my videographer to edit out the parts of my video where I said, “Please support my Kickstarter!”

Because I was flexible and willing to adapt, I went from receiving the Kickstarter rejection email to pacing back and forth in my apartment to launching my project on Indiegogo, all within about six hours. Four days later, I was halfway to my goal, and had already raised over $5000. By the second week, I had been in the Indiegogo blog, the Indiegogo newsletter, and on the Indiegogo homepage.

3. Focus on the project, not the platform

There are numerous crowdfunding platforms available, but which one works best for your project? Kickstarter seems to be favored by well-known artists (Spike Lee, Zack Braff, Seth Godin, Amanda Palmer…), as well as technology and product designers, while Indiegogo caters more to non-profits, cause campaigns, and projects with international scope (and, apparently, self-help books).

You can set-up your Indiegogo project almost instantly (a nice asset)—with Kickstarter, it takes 3-5 days for your bank account to be confirmed, and then another 2-3 days for Kickstarter to approve the project. Also, Indiegogo allows for flexible funding campaigns, so you can keep all of the money you raise, even if you don’t hit your funding goal.

Ultimately though, it’s all about whether your story and your project resonates with others; are you giving people something they actually want? If so, you’ll be successful regardless of which platform you choose.

4. Video = $

When I asked friends why they liked my campaign, they often answered, “I loved your video, the outtakes were really funny!” Spend time producing an engaging high-quality video for your project. Make it unique, funny, dramatic, and inspiring. My talented videographer, Kara Brodgesell, and I, spent several days refining the script and shot listing, figuring out the most powerful way to tell my story on camera. It’s worth spending some money to pay a professional videographer who has made crowdfunding or short web videos before. Use the video to show your story, show people why you’re passionate about your project.

5. Make your project about the funder, not about you

I made it explicitly clear in my campaign that this book wasn’t about me writing a book, it was for others to achieve their own breakthroughs. I think this went a long way towards engaging supporters. The less you’re project says: “Help me do this project, I really want to do this,” and the more it shows: “This is why this project will help you,” the more successful you’ll be.

Per the advice of my friend Sydney Malawer, a crowdfunding expert who worked on campaigns for GoldieBlox ($285,000) and Kuli Kuli ($52,000), I also tried to involve the funder in the campaign perks through virtual hangouts and in-person coaching services. The more a potential funder feels agency and participation with your project, the more likely they will contribute.

6. Be very clear about where the money is going

On the campaign page, I specified exactly why my goal was $9,000, and listed my estimated costs for editing, cover art, book design, photography, and illustrations, book marketing and publicity, campaign video and promotion, campaign shipping and fulfillment, and printing costs for the first run of the book. When I reached my goal, I set a stretch goal of $12,000, and detailed where the additional funds would go.

The clearer you can be about why you need the money, the more likely others will want to support you.

7. Artists should prototype too

As artists we are particularly harsh on ourselves; we tend to wait until the last moment, until our work is 100% “perfect,” to share it with the world. Unlike product or software developers who revel in frequent beta testing and user experience research, we often treat our manuscripts, canvasses, and studios as caves, and rarely emerge to ask the public if they even like what we’re working on.

With my project, I decided to be less a writer and more a product entrepreneur; using the Indiegogo campaign as a soft launch for the book, a practice run to prepare for a future formal book launch. By treating the campaign as a beta launch and testing my product before it was finished, I learned two invaluable lessons:

 1) YES! People want the book. The idea resonated, there was demand for my product. People I didn’t know were sharing it on Facebook. At least 50% of my 518 funders were people I had never met before—they were from Lincoln, Nebraska, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Calgary, Alberta, and Portugal, India, and Iceland. People wrote comments on the Indiegogo page like, “This project lifted my spirits today,” and “I need this book right now, can’t wait to read it.”

2) NO! People don’t want the current version of the book. People were asking for more of a self-help book, and less a personal memoir. In all my conversations, my funders wanted something different than my first pass at the book. Knowing this now, while my book is still in development, allows me to make essential changes in my second draft that will end up increasing the book’s impact (and sales) six months from now. 

I would encourage other artists to use crowdfunding as a proof of concept and to prototype their ideas in development. Testing a work-in-progress is an excellent way to find out whether your audience wants what you’re working on, or something different. If you’re curious about when to launch your crowdfunding project, check out this insightful post by Nelson de Witt, author of A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter.

8. If you build it, they (might) come

Running a successful crowdfunding campaign is incredibly challenging. You can have a good idea and a good video and great perks, but you still have to get people to come to your page, and get them to contribute.

Anyone preparing to launch a crowdfunding campaign should read this post by Mike Del Ponte of Soma on 4-Hour Workweek Blog, which provides successful strategies and email templates for how best to increase traffic, contact press, and reach backers.

For The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, after direct email, Facebook was by far the largest referral of traffic (and sales generator), and Twitter was a distant third. This makes sense: whenever I support a crowdfunding campaign, it’s usually because I’ve seen it on a friend’s Facebook wall.

Even though I was fairly relentless about posting on Facebook during the campaign (I don’t think I could have physically done much more self-promotion), if I were to run the campaign again, I would hire a social media manager to help increase visibility on Facebook and come up with more creative ways of engaging the Facebook community.

Now that the campaign is over, I’m still exploring ways to best engage this community of people who refuse to settle for mediocrity—if you have creative ideas for how I can do this through online platforms or in-person discussion groups/events, please contact me!

9. Passionate press is the best press

Press was another area where I learned a valuable lesson: don’t necessarily go for the large publications, instead find blogs that have a passionate following about the particular area you’re working in. Getting featured in the Indiegogo newsletter led to hundreds of dollars in contributions, because the Indiegogo community is so passionate about supporting creative crowdfunding projects.

Likewise, I wrote a piece in GOOD Magazine about my project that generated loads of traffic and contributions, because the GOOD community is so passionate about taking action on social issues. The post sparked an online hangout about finding meaningful work, which 100 people signed up for.

If I were to run the campaign again, I would focus more energy on getting featured in twentysomething blogs, career and lifestyle blogs, with a smaller reach, but a more avid readership than large, mainstream business sites.

10. 518 reasons to be grateful

A little over a month ago, I was in the woods, cursing Facebook-induced FOMO, and celebrating taking a break from digital technology. Today, I actually want to thank Indiegogo and social media—not simply for being effective fundraising tools—but for making me believe in myself. Crowdfunding is an exercise in community-building; your project no longer is about you, it’s about the people who support you, and believe in what you’re creating.   

Since the campaign ended, I’ve been avoiding the one place I know I need to go: the library—to work on my second draft, and finish writing the book. But yesterday morning, I finally looked at the list of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough’s 518 supporters, printed the list, stuck it in my backpack, and brought it with me to the library. Now, every day I try to avoid writing (which is to say, every day), I have a list which stares back at me with fierce, hungry, eager eyes: “I need this book right now, can’t wait to read it.”

And I will sit down, with 518 reasons to write.  

-Smiley Poswolsky 

Follow The Quarter-Life Breakthrough on Facebook and Twitter, and sign-up for updates at thequarterlifebreakthrough.com

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Reaches 500 Funders

26 Jul

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 1.28.53 PM             Good-magazine-logo1

As our Indiegogo campaign comes to an end tomorrow, I want to thank you for making the past 30 days the most inspiring of my life. This week, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough surpassed our stretch goal, and was featured in GOOD Magazine

Together, we’ve raised over $12,500 from 500 contributors! That’s 139% of our funding goal!

Yesterday, I hosted a live video hangout with members of the GOOD community–“The Purpose Generation,” who were really excited about having quarter-life breakthroughs instead of quarter-life crises.

You have provided the support and the inspiration needed to finish this book, and build a movement of people who want to align their work with their values. 

I could not be more grateful for your support. It’s because of you that this book will be shared with the world.

Thank you for your support,

-Smiley Poswolsky

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Surpasses Goal on Indiegogo

18 Jul
We made the Indiegogo homepage!

James Franco isn’t the only one who made the Indiegogo homepage.

Thanks to you, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough met its funding goal two weeks early. We’ve raised over $11,000 from more than 425 contributors with 10 days to go! This week, we were featured in the Indiegogo newsletter and on the Indiegogo homepage; which means thousands of people all over the world learned about this project. The book was also profiled in the Everest Journal

More and more people are learning about the book and the growing movement we’re building of people who refuse to settle. Needless to say, I am full of gratitude for your overwhelming support.

After we reached our goal, we set a new stretch goal of $12,000, and we’re almost there! These additional funds will support the cost of printing more books, and a robust grassroots marketing campaign.

Here’s how you can spread the word about The Quarter-Life Breakthrough:

Share the link to the campaign:  http://igg.me/at/smiley/x/3563951

  1. Email: Share the Indiegogo campaign with one person who really needs to read this book today. Who is feeling stuck right now? Who is thinking about a job transition or career change?
  2. Facebook: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Facebook
  3. Twitter: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Twitter

Thank you for your ongoing love and support.

-Smiley Poswolsky

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Featured in Fast Company

11 Jul

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough in Fast Company Thanks to you, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough is 80% funded, and we’ve raised $7400 from 250 contributors in 13 days! This week we were featured in Fast Company, as well as Indiegogo’s Team Roundup, and on the Indiegogo blog.   I am inspired by your support, your comments, and your overwhelming excitement for this book. Together, we are going to build a world where everyone reaches their full potential.

We’re getting so close to reaching our goal! Please continue to spread the word about The Quarter-Life Breakthrough:

Here is the link to the campaign:  http://bit.ly/15LL4VU

  1. Email: Share the Indiegogo campaign with friends, co-workers, family. Think of one person who really needs to read this book today. Who is feeling stuck right now? Who is thinking about a job transition or career change?
  2. Facebook: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Facebook
  3. Twitter: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Twitter

Thank you for making all of this possible.

-Smiley Poswolsky

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Raises $5500 in 5 Days on Indiegogo

3 Jul
"I get by with a little help from my friends."

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

One word continues to be on mind over the last five days: gratitude.  

Because of you, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough is more than halfway towards its goal on Indiegogo. We’ve raised $5500 from 160 contributors in only 5 days! Yesterday, we were featured on Indiegogo’s homepage for Writing campaigns. This is a truly remarkable feat, and it’s all because of you

We still have 25 days to go, but this campaign has already demonstrated that there is a growing movement of people, especially young people, that wants to find work that aligns with who they are and what they believe in.  

50% of Americans are unsatisfied at work, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your support means The Quarter-Life Breakthrough is one step closer towards becoming a published book, so more and more people can take the leap towards doing what they love.

Please continue to spread the word about The Quarter-Life Breakthrough:

Here is the link to the campaign:  http://bit.ly/15LL4VU

  1. Email: Share the Indiegogo campaign with friends, co-workers, family. Who really needs to read this book? Who is feeling stuck right now? Who is thinking about a job transition or career change?
  2. Facebook: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Facebook
  3. Twitter: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Twitter

Thank you for your incredible love and support this past week, I am beyond grateful. Thank you for refusing to settle for mediocrity.

-Smiley Poswolsky

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Is On Indiegogo!

28 Jun
The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Cover Final

indiegogo-logo1

Dear Whatsupsmiley readers:

A little over a year ago, I finally overcame my fear of sharing my words with the world, went to wordpress.com, bought a domain name for $18, and started this blog to share the emotions I was feeling while leaving my job in D.C., and planning a move to San Francisco without another job lined up.  

The reaction from readers to several posts I wrote about my journey to find meaningful work inspired me to write my first book, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough. It’s a handbook for twentysomethings (and thirtysomethings).

I recently finished the first draft of the book, and the book went live today on Indiegogo for pre-order!

Check out my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign here:  http://bit.ly/15LL4VU

What’s the book about?
I’m writing a book about what has worked in my own search for meaningful work. It’s a book about finding a way to make a living, working hard, doing something you love. I believe it’s unacceptable that half of Americans are unsatisfied with their jobs, and this handbook is for everyone who feels the same way and for everyone who believes the quarter-life crisis shouldn’t be a crisis, but a breakthrough, a moment of empowerment and opportunity.

Awesome, Smiley.  How can I help?
It would mean the world to me if you could spread the word about this project, far and wide.  Here are three simple ways you can help, that will only take a few clicks:

  1. Email: Please email the Indiegogo campaign to 10 friends (the more the better!), family, co-workers… anyone you think needs to read this book. 
  2. Facebook: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Facebook
  3. Twitter: Share the Indiegogo campaign on Twitter

Here is the link again:  http://bit.ly/15LL4VU

I cannot express how grateful I am to you for reading these words, and for making this project possible through your love and support over the past 30 years—thank for refusing to settle for mediocrity, thank you for being awesome.

-Smiley Poswolsky

Say No To Mediocrity, and Yes To Loving Your Life

25 Feb

10 Things I Learned at The Bold Academy

by Smiley Poswolsky, Bold Academy Director

I Will...  Bold Academy San Francisco.  Photo by Nate Bagley.

I Will…  Bold Academy.  Photo by Nate Bagley.

“Who you decide to be and whether you decide to stay true to yourself—is the only thing people can’t take from you—unless you let them.”

–Bold Academy San Francisco, February, 2013

Between February 8-18, 2013, 16 emerging leaders from three countries joined an inspiring team of entrepreneurs, coaches, mentors, do-gooders, and go-getters, and we all lived together in a house on Alamo Square Park for ten days, forming The Bold Academy San Francisco.  Together, we built a community of intention, engagement, passion, and love; with the mission of becoming our best selves, living the lives we were meant to live, and creating positive social change.

This post compiles a tiny portion of the wisdom I gained from the Bold community this February.  In sharing this, my ask is that you share it as well, and encourage others to do the same, ensuring more and more people unplug from The Matrix, as we support each other in living the lives we were meant to live. 

1.  Vulnerability is Power. 

At Bold Academy, every participant, mentor, and speaker has the opportunity to tell their story.  You’d think that bringing together a group of talented Bolders and world-class mentors—some of whom have started multi-million dollar companies—that most people would tell stories of achievement, excellence, and success.  This was not the case.  At Bold, we listened to story after story of failure, of fear, of humility, of embarrassment, of a project gone wrong, of an idea not turning out as planned or desired.  Yet, time after time, these so-called “failures” were in fact life-defining lessons, teachings that led to a transformative experience, a new life purpose, and hard-earned success.  It’s only when we expose our darkest fears and our greatest mistakes that true growth occurs. 

Impactful entrepreneurs, leaders, organizers, and artists, are similar in that they are at one with their own vulnerability; their dark side has been exposed, their dark side forms the core of their work or business, their dark side is what makes them powerful.  That which makes them weak, that which keeps them up at night, that which scares them, also energizes them, and fuels their passion and their desire to create.  Moreover, it’s what makes them relatable, and makes their story so powerful.  Nobody wants to work with someone who knows everything or doesn’t need help.  Why?  Because all of us, the CEO and the intern, have something to learn, and all of us need help.  All of us. 

Be true to your own story, who you are, and what you need, and your story will resonate with others.  The world will come to your aid.    

2.  The journey is the journey.  Embrace it. 

A lot of inspirational books or blogs tell you to “find your passion.”  It’s like, “No shit, if I knew what my passion was, I wouldn’t be reading your blog.”  Instead, at Bold Academy, we focus on creating a community of intention and collaboration, a supportive environment where multiple passions and interests can be explored and shared.  Rather than stressing about finding the elusive “passion,” embrace an attitude of experimentation, of being open to trying, open to failure, open to mistakes.  Focus on living in the present and embrace the journey to explore many passions (or interests, hobbies, instincts, and fears) and be ok with changing course, finding a new passion, or coming back to a passion you haven’t thought about for ten years. 

The journey is the journey.  There is no mountain top or finish line or final award (when you get that award, you’ll still have to go out and do something the next day), there is just this moment, so embrace it, live your life today, right now.  As Bold’s yoga teacher, Julia Winston, reminded us one morning, “We run forward, we push, we have goals, we dream, to get to the present.”

3.  Fall in love with your life.

“How you spend your days is how you spend your life.”Annie Dillard

At Bold we encourage participants to find the daily rituals and habits that lead to fulfillment and success.  If yoga makes you feel strong, centered, and confident, and you love doing yoga, and yet your current job only allows you to do yoga once a week, then you don’t need to quit your job, but you definitely need to make more time for yoga.  If writing makes you happy, then write daily.  If you love teaching other people and working with kids, and your current job consists of listening to music in headphones and filling in an Excel sheet, you need to make a change. 

Take time to discover the things you personally love, the little things that make you smile, and the rituals that make you better, and incorporate them into your daily life.     

4.  Lean Into Fear.

Smash Fear talk by Ted Gonder at Bold Academy.  Visual storyboard by Whitney Flight.  Photo by Terri Simon

Smash Fear talk by Ted Gonder at Bold Academy. Visual storyboard by Whitney Flight. Photo by Terri Simon

“If I’m not afraid to do something, it’s probably not worth my time.”Ted Gonder

Ted Gonder, founder and CEO of Moneythink, a nonprofit that teaches financial life-skills and entrepreneurial thinking to high school students, which is an Echoing Green Fellowship semi-finalist, gave an inspiring talk at Bold on smashing fear.  Ted’s personal credo is one all of us can aspire to:  fear is a tool, fear is fuel, fear is to be partnered with, we can listen to our fears to point us in the direction we need to walk. 

Let me practice what I preach and get vulnerable for a moment.  There is not a single day that goes by that I am not scared shitless of the life I’ve embarked on; I do not know where I’ll be in five years career-wise, whether I’ll be making income from writing and inspiring others, or how I’m going to raise a family one day.  However, I do know that I must do those things, I will find a way, at all costs, precisely because it scares me shitless.  As my friend Ted says, “Flinching is not a luxury that excellence can afford.” 

5.  Take your ideas seriously.  Share them.

“A lot of people never use their initiative because no one told them to.”Banksy 

One of our Bold Mentors, George Zisiadis, led a life-changing session on taking your idea seriously, in which he implored us to use our initiative and tell our friends to use theirs.  If you have an idea, however big or small or crazy or epic or ridiculous, write it down, pursue it, and most importantly, share your idea with others

Why?  Well, take the story of one Bold mentor, social entrepreneur and engineer, Debbie Sterling.  Around three years ago, while eating brunch, she told some friends in San Francisco about an idea she had to make a toy company to get young girls interested in engineering, motivated by the fact that nearly every engineering toy at the toy store catered to the way boys learn.  Her friends loved the idea, and told her she had to pursue it. 

Eventually, she left her job and she started working full-time on building a business and prototyping the toy.  She told more people about her idea at the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation, and the enthusiasm in the room was palpable, so much so that other StartingBloc Fellows started working for her.  Within a year, GoldieBlox raised over $285,000 on Kickstarter and was a big hit at this year’s Toy Fair in New York City.  In short, Debbie was able to launch a business that is starting to inspire young girls all over the world, all because she got vulnerable, shared her idea, it resonated with others, and people came flocking to support her and her vision.    

6.  You can’t do this shit alone.  (Seriously, you can’t do this shit alone.)

As Debbie’s story illustrates, sharing your idea and asking for help can change everything.  At Bold Academy, we practice sharing our needs and gives.  One ask, one email, two minutes spent walking up to a random stranger and asking for help, can change everything.  You have to make the ask.  We can’t help you if we don’t know what you need.  Don’t be shy, this is your life.  Make your ask, and make it often.

Conversely; give, give, give.  Tell your friends and community what you’re unique value-add is, what skills you have, who you are connected to, and how you can help them achieve their goals.  Giving will empower others, who in return, will help you soar to new heights.    

7.  Community is everything.  Find an intentional one. 

Anyone that’s built a thriving business or led a successful project knows this already; you need to surround yourself with people that make you fulfilled, that make you smarter, that support you when you succeed and love you when you fail, that constantly push you to be the best you can be.  This is as tough for me to write as it is for you to read, but if the people you are currently living with, hanging out with, or working with, are not making you better, then as soon as possible, you need to change living situations or find new friends and co-workers.  It’s sad, but I’m sorry, it’s true.    

Intentional communities like Bold Academy and StartingBloc provide a community of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, innovators, artists, teachers, mentors, and friends, united in the pursuit of self-potential and social impact.  Your community has your back, your community makes sure you’re following your dreams, and holds you accountable to your goals.  Your community looks at your goals and says, “I think you can do better.”  Your community, your tribe, talks about ideas and dreams.  Other people talk about bullshit.   People that make you have a good time, believe in you, give you soul talk, and inspire you to reach new heights; those are very special friends, hold onto them at all costs.  

8.  Fuck mediocrity.

“If you feel the need to justify what you are doing, you probably need to change what you are doing.”  –Teju Ravilochan, co-founder and CEO of The Unreasonable Institute

Life was not meant to be driven at cruise control, placing your dreams on hold until sometime in between age 60 and 75 when your back aches like hell, you can’t even remember what you did every day Monday through Friday for 40 years, and you have a nice 401k and a bag of golf clubs.  I’m not hating on having an office job—don’t get me wrong, I love office snacks, office crushes, and The Office—but I am hating on working a job you hate for a company or organization you don’t believe in.  I’m hating on living a mediocre life.    

Sometimes, yes, we need to work jobs we don’t love to support ourselves and our families, and much of the world’s population simply does not have a choice to pick what they do for a living.   Yet, I know plenty of people who have savings, who actually do have the special privilege to take a pay cut to work on something they believe in, but they don’t, because they are scared, scared of failure, scared of giving up their nice $2000/month apartment, scared of giving up fancy Sunday brunches, scared of admitting they are 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years-old and still finding out who they are.  My friends:  you are not alone.  All of us are still figuring it out.  That’s why we’re alive.  The journey is the journey.    

Your job and your lifestyle should reflect your personal interests, passions, and values.  If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s totally fine, explore internships and apprenticeships and activities and opportunities in areas that do interest you.  Above all, don’t settle for mediocrity in anything you do.  If you need help matching your skills with a meaningful job that has a social impact, check out the resources provided by ReWork, or email me and I’ll do my best to help. 

9.  Once you make an impact, you can’t go back.    

I cannot tell you the joy I experienced this past week knowing that the work we put into Bold Academy directly impacted the way participants (and myself, and other mentors and staff) see their lives and what they are capable of achieving in this world.  I cannot explain that sensation in words, that feeling of gratitude that the solar system has conspired for you to be in that exact moment doing that exact thing at that exact time, that you were actually born to do something in this ridiculous thing we call life, but that’s what it felt like. 

And now that I’ve felt that, and having known 1000% what it feels like day after day to NOT be making a direct impact in anyone’s life, I know that I cannot go back to a life without meaning.  I refuse to, I am physically unable to.  I don’t care if it means I make tens of thousands of dollars less than my friends, live with roommates till I’m 37, never own a car, and have sub-par health insurance until the United States becomes civilized, fuck it, I’d rather make a difference in someone else’s life than waste my time doing something I’m not passionate about.

10.  Life is precious. 

“Do not waste time.”Amit Gupta

You have a finite amount of time on this planet.  Make it worthwhile.  Do want you want to do, maximize your personal potential.  If you need to save up money before you do what you want to do, awesome, save up some money—use that time to experiment and plan your next move—and then take the leap.  But set a date and jump, the world is waiting.       

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The Bold Academy is a life accelerator program designed to maximize your performance and empower you to live the life you were meant to live.  The next Bold Academy will take place later this year in San Francisco.  For more information, check out boldacademy.com

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