Everyone wants to have money. Lots of it. Who doesn’t? Admit it, it’s part of human nature. It’s because everyone wants to afford a certain lifestyle. Sure, it’s wonderful to have beautiful things such as cars, houses, and other luxuries. Let’s say you do become successful in your startup. Your bank accounts are looking nice. If the numbers keep increasing, that’s great for you! You might be making a higher income than most people. The problem may lie after having plenty of it. The next question is, how do we manage it? If we don’t know how to manage money, we may lose it in the quickest way possible. Poor management can have catastrophic outcomes. The final resort would be filing for bankruptcy. Of course, that’s the last thing we want to happen. Believe it or not, it happens to people like celebrities, millionaires, and the list goes on. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you!

The real questions we must ask ourselves are these. Must we succumb to the endless cycle of debt? Is there a need to get things that are out of our reach? Is it normal to live from paycheck-to-paycheck? Whether you like it or not, many people fall into the same trap over and over again. After reading this article, you’ll realize it doesn’t have to be that way. With knowledge in handling personal finances, we can arise better than that. Be the change in this generation so that you too can afford that lifestyle you’ve always wanted. Settle your priorities first and realize what’s more important. 

“Academic qualifications are important and so is financial education. They’re both important and schools are forgetting one of them.” -Robert Kiyosaki

The transition from being a student to a worker is not an easy one. We cannot apply everything we learned in school in real life. There are a lot of realizations that we’ll encounter. From that, we have to adjust ourselves. We have to unlearn the things we learned in school to relearn. This is the harsh reality that everyone will have to deal with. This is the stuff that we don’t learn in school. It doesn’t make our lives easier. If we learn a few essentials now, it will be easier to deal with later on. We must put on a brave face and never stop learning no matter at what age we’re in. 

There are many things you’ll learn on this journey. First, it starts with acquiring knowledge by reading this article. These are the things they don’t teach you in any school. To be honest, education systems need to be changed badly. As a result, fewer people become trapped in their worse nightmare. Having a basic subject on Financial Literacy or Financial Management will do wonders. It would have prevented or alleviated these problems in the first place. Most schools train us to become employees, instead of being entrepreneurs. Training should start with thinking outside of the box. Being an employee is great but only to a certain degree. Being an entrepreneur gives much more freedom when it comes to time and effort. 

1. Not All Schools Offer Basic Education Courses

Aside from technology, the education system of man schools hasn’t changed much. It prioritizes other subjects like English, Mathematics, and others. Any student can be knowledgeable in these subjects. It’s upsetting that not everyone knows how to handle personal finances. Why aren’t schools more focused on practical life skills? Isn’t that what’s causing problems in real life? 

Schools shouldn’t focus on grades and assessments. Once you graduate into the world, they won’t matter as much. This might sound familiar. Our parents told us that if we excel in school, we will get offers from reputable companies. This is not the solution. Welcome to the 21st century, folks! This is a lie for us to stay focus in school. We know much better now. Companies are more interested in your potential and ability. And how you can be of use to achieve their vision. In return, you’ll receive compensation with monetary benefits and rewards. 

Once a student graduates from school, reality will slap in hard. Once we get a job, we won’t be assessed on grades. It’s more about ability and performance. No one tells us how difficult it is to manage personal finances. The most practical tip is to save more, spend less, and invest more. The irony after graduating from college is that we shell out more money to take up more courses. There’s nothing wrong with doing this especially if you want to excel in your chosen career. The real question is this. Wouldn’t it be more practical to have more subjects that simulate real-life in school? Personal finance, for example. It would make more sense you have some kind of idea on what to do after graduating from school.

The findings of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Investor Education Foundation are promising. High school students who took up personal finance subjects scored better credit scores. They also had lower debt delinquency rates later on. Personal finance subjects should be introduced during high school. Now, students will be able to handle their money better. It will prepare them for college and university life. It will still be applicable for the rest of your life. 

2. Consumerism Equals Temptation

Whether you are working or receiving money through university, budgeting is a concern. Freedom is still there but it’s still limited. Once you start working, receiving that first paycheck is the best feeling in the world. You feel invincible more than ever. Chances are you’ll want to spend your money on the things that you’ve longed for. Why? Because you’ll feel it’s the right thing to do. It’s a reward for yourself and that you deserve it. But that’s okay. As long as you don’t trap yourself in that cycle, living from paycheck to paycheck.

Every day we are bombarded with media advertisements. They are telling us to buy new cars. Banks are telling us to sign up loans with them. Technology companies are telling us to buy the latest phone or laptop. We can’t lie, it’s nice to have all these things. We may or may not choose to respond. The problem is if we have money in our bank accounts, there’s a reason not to spend it. That’s where the problem lies. If everyone else out there is telling us to buy, why isn’t there anyone who is telling us to save? Is there anyone out there knocking sense into us by saying, isn’t saving is the better option?

Everyone who learned the basics of financial education earlier is lucky. It would have a tremendous impact later on. It will teach us to think twice before spending. In this time and age, we have to make important decisions with money. It’s not about spending all to make others green with envy. The best decision would be to save it for future investments so that you can make more money from it. Wouldn’t that make more sense? 

3. Trapped in a Vicious Cycle

Any relationship with finance normally starts at home. We witness how our parents dealt with it. If your parents had no idea how to deal with finance, chances are you’ll adopt this. Why? Because it’s the only knowledge you picked up. Based on experience, there are a lot of problems. Especially when it comes to poor spending habits and debts that are piling high. Break the vicious cycle. With you, it doesn’t have to be this way since you know better. Ask yourself which is more important? Should we maintain a luxurious lifestyle by having no money in the bank? Or become debt-free but having more than enough in the bank? You know the answer to this question.

Some people think it’s part of life living from paycheck to paycheck. It might work out for some people but with those who plan, it won’t do. Living this way is rather reckless. What if something bad happens to you? Will you have emergency funds to help you recover? If your answer to this question is no, you have to start thinking and planning for your future. No one wants to be trapped in this vicious cycle forever, right? Good, you can start right now.

That’s why it’s important to invest yourself in the basics of financial education. We don’t want to be that generation trapped in student loans or car mortgages forever. That’s why we have to be financially prepared by taking calculated risks. We have to curb our spending habits and cut unnecessary splurges. Our spending habits will determine our saving habits. 

4. Never Stop Learning

Where do I start? Hey, if they haven’t reformed the education system based on the current trends, that’s out of our reach. It doesn’t matter where you are right now. If you are starting life after graduation or already on your way. Don’t lose hope. There is hope for everyone. Change can start right now. We can find solutions to the problems we created in the first place. What do we do if we want to be more financially prepared? We can research, learn more, and even enroll in basic personal finance courses online. 

The first step is getting started. Believe it or not, there are so many resources online that are waiting to be discovered by someone like you. The best thing you can do today is to steer in the right direction. Develop the right kind of habits. Most importantly, be practical and consistent in everything you do. One day, you too will be able to reap what you sow and enjoy life’s rewards. 

We are sure that everyone is interested when money is involved. It’s a matter of developing good habits now because it will help us later on. We want to influence the younger generation and even one day, our children. We don’t want to see anyone struggle and be trapped in the same vicious cycle. We want everyone to take life into their own hands so that they can enjoy the most out of it. We will be able to shape our future better and achieve our dreams in the fastest route possible. Wouldn’t that be wonderful for everyone?

These are some of the things that you should be able to help you out. No matter where you are in life. We are still thankful that we are or were able to go to school. Many of us are pursuing our careers and passions. But, there are a lot of things that schools can improve on. They need to consider the trends that are happening right now. These education systems need to produce financially capable students as well. We can spark change and inspire the future generation. After all, they will be the ones needing it the most. 

It’s impossible to revolutionize the entire education system. It will be a slow process, depending on which country. We have to start with ourselves. It would be nice to wake up with this. You are glad that the next generation won’t encounter the same financial problems. A smarter generation won’t fall into the same money trap that the previous ones fell into. We must have better saving and spending habits when it comes to money. We can learn to stay focused on our goals. If that includes being financially independent of debts, at least we know where to start.

“The single biggest difference between financial success and financial failure is how well you manage your money. It’s simple: to master money, you must manage money.” – T. Harv Eker

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Fresh from your teenage years, the 20s are the best period. It’s the time where you have gained true independence. It’s a time of change as well. You might have moved out of your parents’ house and starting on your own. Without realizing it now, it will become the most turbulent period in your life. Sometimes, you’ll buy unnecessary material things based on unexplainable whims. Or the latest purchases are to show off to others. You want to tell the entire world that you can afford nice things and impress your circle of friends. For others, it could be something nice to post on social media. You might spend more time socializing more than anything else. You will meet all kinds of people from all walks of life. This is the perfect time to start networking as you’ll never know you’ll be needing them later on. You’ll realize that you’ll need to surround yourself with the right people. Hang out with a crowd who shares common long-term goals other than impressing others.

Most people agree to be in your 20s is about “having the time of your life”. This period is about having fun and enjoying yourself. On a serious note, you are most likely on the path to finishing a bachelor’s degree. Others plan to take up their master’s degree. This stage is discovering who you are, learning new things, and finding out which things work for you. Now, you are starting to work or pursuing a career you’re very much interested in. For many, it will be the first time earning X amount of dollars. It will be a big accomplishment earning for yourself. It means you’re not asking for money anymore from your parents. This means you can look after yourself, buy nice things, and do the things that you’ve always wanted. Everyone will be in their place in life but more or less, you know what the 20s are about, right?

Aside from everything you’ve experienced, it’s normal to make mistakes along the way. Everyone does and it shows that no one is perfect. The best thing about these failures is that you can overcome them. You will become a much better person afterward. But, there are readers like you. Most of you are interested in using this time to build and accumulate wealth. But where to start? Being clueless stops right here. In this article, we’ll discover how to make the best purchases in your 20s. Use them to your advantage as you will need them to assist you in building your wealth. This will be a real eye-opener for everyone. It will be for people who want to secure one’s wealth and learn how to build it from there. You’d like that very much, right?

“I think your 20s are the hardest part of life. I mean, everyone goes on about how hard it is to be a teenager, but actually I think it’s tougher to be in your 20s because you’re expected to be a grownup and expected to earn your own living and be successful and I think you feel like a kid still.” – Nigel Cole

 

Best Purchase #1: Invest in Your Education and Career

If any of you are decided on what to do the rest of your life, the first best buy you can do is to invest in your education. It will determine the outcome of your career. The main reason behind this is that education will increase your worth and income. For example, if you commit to becoming the best lawyer there is out there. The first step would be to enroll yourself in law school. After getting your degree, you’ll need to spend money towards getting your license. This applies to other professions as well. To further advance your career, plan on getting into a specialization. It will help you propel in your chosen career. One small choice can affect the outcome of your entire life. It would be safe to say that investing in your education will get you further in life. Especially if you know what to do with your knowledge. 

If you still aren’t sure what to do when it comes to your career, that’s okay too. Not everyone has a vision for themselves. Try to see what you enjoy doing, identify your strengths, and follow what your passions are. It should be something where you see yourself in the future as well. It should not be a temporary thing that will disappear tomorrow. Based on this assessment, you can see it from there and decide which career would best suit you. Later on, you’ll see what career opportunities will arise from that. There are plenty of online courses to explore so see which ones fit best.

Since you still have a lot of time on your hands, your 20s will focus on increasing income. Work hard and be smart about the investments where you put your money in. This is the time where you can solidify the foundation of your career. In other words, grow and maintain your career so that you can continue to make investments. The best time will come when you have made money from them and use it again to keep on investing to build your wealth. By investing, you won’t have to work as hard as you had to before. Again, the first investment should be on yourself and your career.

Best Purchase #2: Invest in a Reliable Secondhand Car

You can rely on public transportation to get around. If that’s not an option, considering buying a reliable secondhand car. It will be one of the best buys you can ever make in your 20s. If you are focused on building your wealth, it will save you a lot of money. Think about the functionality of a car. The main purpose is getting around in the fastest and most convenient way possible. Now for a fraction of a cost, you’ll be able to do this. Sure, it doesn’t look cool and doesn’t get everyone’s attention. If your real purpose is to build wealth, this will come later on. By the time you are stable, you will be able to buy any car that you want. This time will come without this major buy being a financial burden. 

Some of you might think otherwise. Start thinking about how much of your income will go to the expenses that come with it. This includes the car, gas, regular maintenance, insurance, and repairs (if any). If you add the total of the costs, you will see that it will eat away a large part of your income. The real question is this. Will there be anything left? You will have other expenses. Housing, groceries, credit card bills, to name a few. A brand new car depreciates the moment you buy it. A quality secondhand car rarely does. Find a car that has a low mileage and won’t break anytime soon.

Best Purchase #3: Quality Gadgets

Let’s face it. Today, everyone is dependent on 3 essentials: technology, the internet, and a laptop. Without having these things is like living backward especially in the Stone Age. It will be difficult to get through in life without these things. You will need it for school to read through modules and get assignments done. Even after graduation, your laptop will be one of the most important assets you’ll ever have. Everyone is going digital. Most businesses are relying on technology more than ever to survive. 

It will depend on the nature of your work. Most people will need high-speed internet and a high-quality laptop to get any job done. Make sure all the specifications are quite high. So that its performance is at its tiptop shape and running smoothly. Install the important software that will help you become more efficient. If necessary, make upgrades. Again, you don’t need to spend all your money getting the latest MacBook. Get the one that fits your budget. Most importantly, it gets the job done in the fastest and most efficient way possible. 

Best Purchase #4: Invest in a Roth IRA

In your 20s, you may or may not have come across something called a Roth IRA. It’s an individual retirement account. All the money you make in this account becomes tax-free at the age of 59 and a half years old. Think of it as a bank account where you put a part of your income to. Anything you put in this account is completely tax-free. For someone in their 20s, compound interest will help you out in this one. Allot a workable amount of money to put in your Roth IRA without thinking too much about it. Above all, be consistent in what you buy and hold for an amount of time (like 30 to 40 years).

Best Purchase #5: Real Estate Investments

One of the best investments that you can make in your 20s is real estate. Its value always increases especially if it’s in the right location. Don’t think about buying the most expensive and most luxurious house on the block. Rather, see it as an investment. You can start scanning for foreclosed properties and get some real deals from there. You will reap benefits if you use it as a rental property. You could be earning extra income on top of what you’re currently making. When you receive that monthly rental, it means that you didn’t have to work hard for it. If that didn’t make an impact, think about making more property purchases later on!

Another best investment you can make is to buy a 2-4 unit property. By doing so, you can live in one unit while having the other units rented out. In that way, it will save you a lot of money when it comes to housing. It will almost seem as if you are living in your place for free. It is all thanks to the flowing passive rental income that you can rely on every month. It will be one of the most rewarding purchases that you will ever make in your entire lifetime.

“You have to be prepared to give creative work 150%. I hear a lot of young people talking about life/work balance, which I think is great when you’re in your 30s. If you’re in your 20s and already talking about that, I don’t think you will achieve your goals. If you want to build a powerful career and make an impact, then you have to be prepared to put in blood, sweat, and tears.” Ellen Lupton

After going through this list of best purchases to make in your 20s, what are you going to do about it? Of course, we don’t expect you to do them right at this moment and follow them in order. At least now, you have a better understanding. You know why it’s important to make those purchases as early as now. It will teach you where to make the right investments. This is better than throwing away your hard-earned money. It starts with researching and exploring your options. At least with this article, you have a good idea of where to start. When you’ve done your research, you can already start formulating your goals. See to it that it works out only for you and not other people. Otherwise, you’d get lost along the way. There is no right or wrong formula so it’s up to you.

Think about making the right investments now especially if you are in your 20s. These are very minimal sacrifices and adjustments that will pay off in the end. By spending money on the essentials will leave you more room to save. By saving money, you will put them to good use. Secure them by putting money into well-researched and well-planned investments. Later on, there will be a greater chance that you will be more secured. You can afford that lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. If that’s where your true happiness lies, don’t be afraid to go for it. Looking back, you will be happy why you did it in the first place. Wishing you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

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Who doesn’t want to achieve financial freedom? Everyone does! We know for a fact that many of us want to retire as early as possible. Some of us want to achieve success early in this lifetime. We don’t want to have an 8-5 job until the golden age of retirement. Do we have to wait until we’re age 60 to enjoy our money in savings? It’s something that we don’t want. That was the dream 20 or 30 years ago for the generations before us. This was especially true for the baby boomers who have their reasons. But right now, our generation doesn’t see it as fit anymore. We want to work smart, make our money work for us, and live in the moment. In other words, we don’t want to spend our lives working forever! Who’s with us when we say we want to enjoy life? 

A huge mistake that many of us make is to work hard our entire life for money and not require money to work for us in return.” – Daniel Willey

Can you imagine if this concept was taught early in school? Or how important it was to have a frugal lifestyle? Many of us would’ve achieved financial independence as early as possible. If we were equipped with financial knowledge, it would steer us away from any heavy debt. Wouldn’t that be great? Saying ‘I want to live frugally’ and ‘I want to achieve financial independence’ is easy to say or write down in words. In reality, it’s one of those things that’s hard to apply. Believe it or not, these two go hand in hand with one another. The faster you learn about this, the faster you’ll achieve that financial independence. That’s why we’re here to help you out get started on the road to financial freedom. 

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau

Being independent can open more doors for you. It gives you stability and fewer migraines to deal with. Having that independence will improve your entire well-being. It will lead you to live the lifestyle that you want without having to make big sacrifices. Like everything else, it can be achieved by taking baby steps. If you’re ready to get started, here are 4 easy steps if you want to achieve financial independence now: 

1. Start Saving

First, it would be a good idea to check on how long it will take you to achieve that. If you aim to retire early, then that would mean you would have to start as early as now. Today, you can start living below your means. Many of us realize that we are living from paycheck to paycheck. We are spending on things that we don’t need. You won’t reach your goals if you keep on spending 100% of your income. Everyone will tell you it’s easy to get rich. It all boils down to that the amount you are saving must be greater than the amount you are spending. Try to calculate your income and expenses monthly. It will give you an idea of how much you’re saving and spending. The reality is the more you save, the faster you’ll be able to retire. Wouldn’t that be great for everyone? Again, having a frugal lifestyle will help. It is the easiest way to reach your goal of becoming independent. It will teach you to live on the essentials and cut back or throw out on unnecessary spending. If you don’t, start today and make it a habit. This means you don’t need to spend on lavish things you don’t need or use. The main reason behind saving is to invest.

“If you’re saving, you’re succeeding.” – Steve Burkholder

2. Cut Back on Spending

The perfect dream would consist of having an unlimited income. This would mean we will be able to buy whatever we want. The reality is that our expenses keep us from saving money. Many of us fall into a bad habit of spending 100% of our income. Others tend to overspend on things that they don’t need. Is it necessary to buy everything so that we can show it off to others? This shouldn’t be a priority. Having a credit card is tempting to spend on lavish things that you don’t need. If you keep up this poor habit, it will keep you away from achieving true financial independence. But hey, we’re all here to learn that. Here are some of the things we should consider cutting back when it comes to these income killers: 

Income Killer #1: Housing

In general, housing eats away 20-30% of your income. It will depend on which area you’re living in. If you think 20-30% of your income has to go to housing, it doesn’t have to be that way. What you can do is save 10-20% of your income until you can pay for the downpayment. It would be smart to buy a property like a multi-family home like a duplex or triplex. That way, you can live in one and have the other units rented out. This action will reduce the costs. When it is done right, it will cover the entire ownership cost. You’ll be living in your own home for free until it is fully paid for. Once it has been paid, the next step is having that rental income. It will act as passive income and it will be perfect if you plan to invest later on. By that time, you’ll have extra money to buy other properties as well but of course, that decision is up to you.

If you don’t have the downpayment yet, that’s okay too. You can start by renting a house then rent out the other rooms of the house to cover the cost. Another great idea is that you can live with roommates to cut back on rent. Either doing any of these things will cut back on your housing expense. This means you’ll have more money to save, right?

Income Killer #2: Car

You don’t have to sacrifice your entire lifestyle to accommodate your needs. You can still have the same lifestyle but. It’s about cutting back on certain things. Another item that kills your income is the car. Of course, it’s important to get around when you need to or when you need to travel to work. If you haven’t purchased your car yet, consider getting a quality second-hand car. Think twice about getting one at full price. Consider getting a Toyota or a Honda. The value of a 5 to 8-year-old Toyota or Honda rarely depreciates. It doesn’t seem reasonable to spend a fortune on a brand new car. If you still want to get the car of your dreams, you can always sell it later on if you need to. But for now, it will cut down on car costs.

Income Killer #3: Entertainment

Most of you have a social life, right? Again, you don’t need to sacrifice your lifestyle or miss out on experiences. It doesn’t mean you have to seclude yourself from the rest of the world. You can still have fun but you don’t need to spend a fortune when you’re out. Be conscious about the amount you’re spending or keep to a certain limit. An example of this instead of spending X amount on individual drinks at the bar, why not buy an entire bottle? Or do some pre-drinking before at someone’s place so that you are not tempted to spend a lot when you’re outside.

Income Killer #4: Food

Many of us love to eat in a restaurant, right? Who doesn’t? Yet, it doesn’t reasonable if you’re eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner outside all the time. If you calculate the total, most of your income will be spent on food. Don’t spend a ridiculous amount of money on food deliveries. You’ll save a great deal if you prepare food at home and bring it to the office. If you’re going out for dinner with friends, you can eat something to make you somewhat full before you go out. You can do that or order an appetizer instead of an entree. Again, you’ll have the same experience for a fraction of the cost!

Income Killer #5: Travel

A lot of us share the same passion for traveling. Who doesn’t enjoy exploring new places once in a while, right? Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune. You can start maximizing your credit card right now. Sign up for one that gives you the most benefits. Each time you use your credit card gives you reward points. When you have enough, you can redeem them for free travel. It will encourage you to use your credit card. It’s okay as long as you pay it in full when the billing statement comes to load up on reward points. Be mindful not to overspend.

Income Killer #6: Clothing

Everyone wants to look good when they’re out. Yet, think about the amount you’re spending on clothes. No one can tell the exact amount you spent on clothes. If you aren’t bothered by that, start buying clothes on sales or clearances. Opt for classic looks as they never go out of style. If you keep following the trend, it will be the fastest way to spend your income. If you buy classic clothes, no one will also know how long they’ve been in your closet. Sticking to the latest trends will make you a slave to fashion. Don’t buy new clothes or things because you can. You should spend money that matters most to you. If gaining financial freedom means most to you, that should be your main focus.

All these expenses eat away a big chunk of our income. That’s why it’s important to stick to a budget. Keeping this habit is a healthy way to keep your spending in check. Bonus points go to anyone who can underspend. The less you spend, the more you save! 

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” – Steve Jobs

3. Avoid High-Interest Debt

Locking yourself to high-interest debt is a big no-no. It will set you back years or decades from achieving financial independence. No one wants this to happen. If you must, don’t settle for anything except low-interest and fixed-rate mortgages. If we cannot avoid using a credit card, the most important rule is to never carry a credit card balance. Every billing statement that you receive should be paid in full. Otherwise, we’ll have to deal with the extra interest that comes along with it if it’s not paid in full. In other words, don’t finance anything that you cannot afford. If you find yourself in one of the following, don’t freak out. Find ways to pay it off quickly and you’ll be back on your journey to financial freedom.

“The goal isn’t more money. The goal is living life on your terms.” – Chris Brogan

4. Start Investing

Now that you’ve managed to save your income by spending fewer on expenses, you can start investing. First, start contributing to tax-advantaged accounts and invest consistently. As for the market forecast, don’t wait for the “right moment”. You can start buying stocks at their lowest and see things from there. Invest in a low-fee index fund. While keeping these things in mind, sit back, relax and leave it up to the market. If you have no idea what you’re doing, consider consulting a financial advisor or planner to help you out. Stay consistent in what you do. When you are financially independent, your portfolio value is 25x annual expenses. It is easy to calculate this. If you are spending X amount per year, just multiply it by 25. That’s the amount wherein you are considered financially independent.

“Financial freedom is available to those who learn about it and work for it.” – Robert Kiyosaki

As you see, there is no magic involved. This article teaches you to have a more practical approach to life. Changing the way you think today will inspire and influence tomorrow’s actions. It all boils down to you and your saving habits. Be consistent when it comes to two things – spending and saving. Don’t go overboard when it comes to spending as it will become your downfall. Everyone has different success stories. Work out something that only works out for you. Please don’t compare yourself with billionaires out there. They have different and unique approaches. Keep in mind they all had to go through this to achieve their wealth today. Most importantly, realize what’s the most important thing for you. Then, start cutting back on unnecessary things. Save money by cutting back on expenses so that you can invest and retire early. 

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In the present times, it’s so easy to get lost in the world of distractions. There is a lot of digital noise everywhere. This is rather difficult especially if we have a distinct goal or vision in mind. Let’s face it, there’s no perfect equation that will bring us there. We have to rely on our personal knowledge and experiences to get to the destination. We can’t rely on other people to work their magic for our dreams to appear right in front of us when we want to. No, it doesn’t work that way. Instead, we have to be responsible for our thoughts and actions. Somehow, we have to take the initiative and discipline to endure through it all. That moment starts right now. Thanks to us, reading this listicle will point you in the right direction. These are 7 useful skills you’ll be needing to survive in the entrepreneurial world.
 

1. Be Confident and Speak Up

 
There is no easy way to say this. But, one of the most important skills you can ever pick up in this lifetime is to build up your confidence. Trust us when we say this. That’s because you need someone to tell you to believe in yourself. You will need this to convince others into believing your business or startup. We’re not saying that you have to become a natural extrovert in that sense. Being confident becomes natural once you are comfortable in your skin. Your abilities will follow as well. Developing and having power will get you to your ultimate goal or vision. If you want to go after what you want, you have to keep the fire burning within. This means you can’t obsess with or be caught up with the tiniest details. You can’t go out there copying business strategies that may have worked with others. You have to pave your route to success. You will be able to tell apart people who have a lot of confidence. Confident people view problems as opportunities. With these opportunities, they try to find the best solutions to any problem. Developing your confidence will become a habit. As you can do this, you will be able to move forward and achieve more in life.
 
By being confident and comfortable in your skin, speak up by voicing out your ideas. As you do this, you are making a statement and getting your ideas across. For many, it’s a common fear to speak in public. Speak slow and clear in a concise manner. Overcome this fear by looking at the person you are talking to right in the eye. Don’t let your eyes wander somewhere else if you’re talking to someone. If you’re talking to a sea of people, focus your attention and speak to different sections of the crowd. As you do this more often, you’ll become more comfortable with public speaking. Of course, don’t forget to speak at an appropriate volume. Observe popular vloggers on how they engage with their audience. They look straight into the camera. It’s as if they are communicating with their viewer. They can make the viewer’s presence known.

2. Be Honest

 
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to lie to yourself. You can make all kinds of excuses but pretending to be something that you’re not is not worth it. Be true to yourself. Few people can do this because they tend to lie or believe in lies that will make them feel better. It will mean a lot if you can recognize your strengths and admit your weaknesses. Doing it this way means there’s always time and ways to improve weaknesses. That way, your weaknesses will transform becoming your strengths! If you are honest to yourself as well to others, this is a real big step to making it big. Let’s face it, no one should know your startup better than yourself
 

3. Listen & Have Empathy

 
If you look up to some of the greatest leaders, you’ll learn that they share this common trait. That is they have mastered the skill of observing and listening. The next time you are in a board meeting, practice being the last to speak. Before you speak out your opinions first, it’s better to wait. Hear from everyone else first before you allow them to hear yours. This practice allows others to be heard and that their opinions matter. By speaking last, you have the benefit of hearing from each person in the room before you spill your opinion. Don’t be afraid to take it all in first. Then, you can start asking questions. You will understand why they have that opinion and where they’re speaking and coming from.
 
Another quality that you can develop is empathy. This is recognizing the presence of other people’s emotions other than your own. If you put yourself in the shoes of others, you should be able to see it from their point of view. The thing about emotions is that they are fleeting so when they come around, don’t be afraid to feel them. Suppressing emotions won’t help. It makes us weak whether it’s physical or emotional. Having empathy doesn’t make us weak. It is the very essence that makes us human and it powers the best in us.
 

4. Consistency & Time Management

 
You may have heard this phrase plenty of times but it’s true. Success is not a destination but it’s a journey. Everything that has happened in your life happens for a reason. It could be positive or negative. Yet, never let your failures determine who you are. Stop mourning over failures because it’s a waste of time. If you have achieved success right now, you will know it’s one rollercoaster ride – it’s full of ups and downs. Success cannot be achieved overnight. Be consistent in what you do and success will unfold. Continue to work smart, persevere, and see what the results will be.
 
In this age and time, there are way too many distractions. We can agree it’s too much chaos. We are bombarded with too many elements that prevent us from doing what we want. This is the busiest yet most ineffective generation. It’s because we spend too much time dilly-dallying on things that don’t have value. 80% of the time, we are surrounded by distractions. 20% of the time is spent on what we are passionate about. Changing this habit will turn your life around. Ask yourself, ‘Are you effective today? What have I done to bring myself closer to my vision? What’s preventing you from being your best self?’. Time is irreplaceable so value your time by managing it well. Use your time by putting it into something that will bring you closer to your goal.
 

5. Stop Whining

 
Have you found yourself saying, “I can’t do this!” or “There goes the traffic!”? If you say something like this anytime of the day, you’re already dealing with too much negativity. Whining won’t get you anywhere. It’s a waste of time and energy. Stop complaining, whining, or criticizing. Don’t complain about what’s happening around you. Also, don’t blame others for your misfortunes. If you only complain about what wasn’t done or why is this happening to you, then do something about it! The beauty of it all is that you can start today.
 

6. Live in the Moment

 
Sometimes, we forget to live in the moment. Living in the past will only make you feel depressed. It’s because you are reliving those moments and likely, they won’t happen again. Living in the future will make you feel anxious. That’s because you’re anticipating things that haven’t happened to you yet. The only thing that you have control of is the present. Living in the moment or being present is where the real action is. You have more control right now than before. Once you realize this, you will become happy and comfortable. That’s because the present will determine the future. 40% of personal happiness levels are determined by genetics. It is something you can’t control. You are in control of 60% of what’s happening to you! That’s right! Happiness is a choice. In reality, there’s a connection between living in the moment and happiness. It doesn’t matter what happened to you in the past. What is more important is what you choose to do about it.
 
Happiness is a mindset and it all boils down to your thoughts, attitude, and thinking. People can go through the most horrific experiences. Yet, they emerge stronger than ever. Even if you cannot control what you are feeling at the moment, you are 100% in control of your thinking. Control the way you think. You will be able to control the way you feel because your thoughts determine your feelings. Sharpen your thinking skills of being present and you will have more control. You will gain a sense of power over your life. This particular skill needs to be repeated many times over. Catch yourself being distracted and being worried or drifting in and out of the past or future. Go and refocus your attention on the present!
 
Try to appreciate and savor the moment you are feeling and thinking right now. A great example of this is eating. When you sit down and eat, you are savoring and absorbing all those wonderful flavors. It makes you slow down and savor the food you are eating. You appreciate the company you’re with and how you feel about them. These are the special moments you can’t miss. Take it a step further by saying “Hey, this food tastes delicious!” or “I’m glad we’re sharing this beautiful meal”. Everyone involved deserves to be acknowledged. Once you are able to, you’ll feel a sense of gratitude. You’re expanding that internal happiness right at the moment. It’s something that can’t be replaced with anything else. Keep practicing this useful skill. The moment you catch yourself thinking of the past or future. Think of savoring something at present and acknowledge gratitude. Take control of your life by seeking the information that you need. Better yet, collect the information that you need to be a step closer to your vision.
 

7. Get Enough Sleep

 
Our parents were right ever since we were children. They would tell us to go to bed early. Sleep early and you wake up feeling better. Get proper rest to reenergize your body. It will do wonders for your mental and physical state. As you grow older, you should keep prioritizing sleep. Say no to things that take away time that can be spent resting. Lack of sleep and being tired will keep you from doing things that you want to do. Nobody wants to work with someone who woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
 
These are the most essential and practical skills you’ll ever need in this lifetime. One day you’ll master these qualities. There no stopping you from becoming the best version you can be. Be you, believe in yourself and your goals. Trust your gut and everything else will follow. The only thing standing between you and your vision is one incredible journey. This journey you are about to encounter will be a beautiful one. Expect small bumps (good or bad, that’s all normal) along the way. This is all part of the process. Believe us when we say that you can do it and you’ll get there no matter how long it will take. Now that you’ve read these important skills that can be applied anywhere, what are you going to do about it today? Whatever it is, we hope that your life will change for the best. We wish you the very best of luck in all your future endeavors!
 

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The book “The 7 habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey is a must-read for everyone who is into self-development.

Stephen Covey was born on the 24th October 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and died in 2012. His works are known globally and mainly target the mindset, management with regard to efficiency, and even religious pieces. Next to being a bestseller author, he was a sought-after speaker and a university teacher at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business of Utah. Now his legacy is carried on by his nine children and wife Sandra.

The principles and values conveyed are clearly structured and form a deep meaning about life. They are as he states himself universal and timeless. After 30 years this book is praised continually and seems to give his statement validity.

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The structure is kept simple:

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3 principles for independence

  • be proactive
  • begin with the end in mind
  • first things first

3 principles for interdependence

  • think win-win
  • seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • synergize

1 last principle for continual improvement

  • sharpen the saw/growth

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In the following blog post, we will focus on three of the seven principles. The foundation forms “be proactive” from independence, which is followed by the interdependence principle “think win-win” and forming the ending comes “sharpen the saw/growth”, the continual improvement aspect. These will receive more recent perspectives and support the timelessness of the principles.

INDEPENDENCE

In the book, it is noted that one should move from dependence to independence. This movement is called “self-mastery”.

According to the Cambridge dictionary independence is

the ability to live your life without being helped or influenced by other people

Nowadays, we often find this term in connection with women, by either being financially independent or in a relationship. Women have struggled for centuries to be as independent as men. Although women have progressed a lot in the field of independence, by having in most countries the same rights or by being able to attain the same education, there are still many differences to be found, some of which are very subliminal.

 

“I am a strong independent woman”

 

Be proactive

One such move towards independence would be proactivity.

Proactivity means that one takes initiatives to improve ones surrounding instead of getting overwhelmed by it and remaining passively. Taking full responsibility for one’s actions and bearing the consequences is part of that as well. Therefore it is suggested to be present in the moment and active when one sees a chance to enhance the standard of one’s life.

In connection with women, this could be as mentioned before important if it comes to finances. Empirical observations on financial investing show a clear trend: Women tend to invest up to 40% less than men (see Why women invest 40 percent less than men (and how we can change it) (nbcnews.com) ). This could be due to the fact that women are hesitant to start trading and investing in the stock market. This hesitation might be due to subliminal factors. These factors are for instance that society still sees men as the main income contributor for a family or that in films wealthy men are more often depicted than wealthy women. Therefore we might subconsciously associate wealth more with men than with women, making women being less curious about earning additional money in total. Additionally, until this date, women also tend to earn less, exacerbating the financial situation of many women.

A proactivity approach would be that women start to educate themselves about investing to close the gap. One Youtuber who wants to support women in investing is:

Further, proactive decisions would be to track one’s incomes and spending and to regularly set financial goals. These goals could be about gaining education via courses, but also about salary expectations and/ or diversified income streams.

The only solution to your problems is action

INTERDEPENDENCE

Many people encounter the word independence. But interdependence is not often used.

Interdependence is the state of being dependent upon one another.

And yes, this is in sharp contrast to the statement we just made before. The reason is the following: In life, there has to be a balance of independence and interdependence. We can live only by ourselves, but most people prefer otherwise. We live in cities because life is easier that way. We work together in teams because we are more productive. We live in families because we feel safer and loved. We depend on each other in many complex ways and often forget about it. The chair we are sitting on was never produced by us, but by someone, we don’t know. The food we have in the fridge was never cultivated by us, but again by a stranger. And we depend on them in a materialistic way. However, with family, friends, and colleagues we depend on them in a more emotional way, and here lies the contradiction with the first aspect Covey drew in his book.

Drawing this line between independence and interdependence is not always easy and individuals have very different perspectives about that. Taking the example of women, they tend to be more emotionally attached to people than most men would be. This could result in the following issue:

Think win-win

When people are too attached to one another, they often sacrifice their goals and needs in order to keep the relationship with the other one. Their win-win is actually a lose-win but blurred by the perception that “keeping the relation” is a win. This can not be a sustainable relationship and brings a lot of suffering and pain with it. Often one side feels neglected and not appreciated, although ironically the person him/-herself caused the situation.

A true win-win includes mutual solutions that respect each person’s position. These solutions ensure successful long-term relations and are necessary for building trust and openness. With win-win outcomes, every person feels worshiped, valued, and understood. An example of a win-win solution is a classical compromise that could take the form of dividing tasks such as cooking food or cleaning the house within families. In business, these could turn into deals of acquisitions or partnerships.

CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT

This continual improvement process should take place in both the personal and interpersonal environment. It can be seen as a recharge and reflection on the progress that has been done and is crucial for a successful journey.

Sharpen the saw/growth

Maybe you know the following situation: In between studies, one has holidays. And I personally feel often that I learn in these holidays life-changing things about myself and the way I see the world because that is normally the time where I have time to think and reflect. Or it is the time where I read books or watch documentaries. It is also the time where I meet more friends and exchange stories about what has happened and what is coming. The point is, taking a break frees the mind and opens up new ways of seeing one’s environment.

In the book these “recharge” times are often associated with sports, meditation, reading books, or services for society.

“If you neglect to recharge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race.”
― Oprah Winfrey

Next to these principles in life, there are other four that form a wonderful balance as you can see in the list at the beginning. They aim to create mindsets of abundance and fulfillment with clear guidelines. Life is not about zero-sum games, where one’s success is another’s loss. Covey emphasizes that everything is a give and receive relation and with these principles, the right balance is being achieved. Further, the goal is to build high self-worth and inner peace, confidence to share profits with others and support them in their journey because that is according to Covey the most fulfilling task in life. Helping each other grow.

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Every one of us has specific milestones in life. Might it be to achieve a degree, to get the dream job, or build a business from scratch. To achieve these targets we often think of studying the material that underlines the discipline thoroughly will be enough. Think of Bill Gates or Elon Musk, who just know everything they need to know about their business, and if not they keep on studying.

But, what many people do not realize in time is the requirement for an assertive mindset.

Assertiveness can have negative associations such as being arrogant or selfish and of course, no one wants that. However, most individuals are far from being assertive and then wonder why it takes so long for them to achieve their goals although they do plenty of steps that should contribute to their progress.

For instance, I have a friend who was brilliant in school. She studied hard, she scored high. She wanted to be liked and played it always safe with people. And that was fatal to her success. People exploited her kindness, they used her and she won little or nothing by interacting with her colleagues. Until this day she has issues with setting clear borders and all her work might be brilliant, but it is not she who shines.

In order to prevent that and to nurture my mindset, I read a lot of books on these topics such as “Nice girls still don’t get the corner office” by Dr. Louis Franklin or “Don’t split the difference” by Chris Voss. I was astonished by the simple but profound mistakes people do. These mistakes as we call them are sometimes even habits. Habits that we developed without realizing. Habits that come from our environment such as parents and friends or books and series that we read and watch.

The combination of the 5-second rule from Mel Robbins with the views the authors give tackle four of the most important mistakes people make in business and life concerning the lack of assertiveness that I found.

 

Waiting to be given what you want

In the old saying: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” lies a relevant and more than ever temporal truth.

Only when one expresses one’s desires and needs can other people react to them and bring you closer to these. But, for some people the process falls apart at the first step: Expressing what they want.

There are several reasons for that:

Often people feel that they demand too much. They feel insecure about the right of this authorization. They feel that they would not be successful in the request anyway and just annoy others and therefore leave it finally. They don’t even attempt to raise the issue in any way. A concrete example could be asking for support to accomplish a task, a salary increase, or even a promotion. They wait it out in hope that whatever they wanted to ask for is being seen by e.g. superior managers or family members with luck and time.

Of course, sometimes hesitations of such claims are justified. However, when the potential gain of such an expression of desire is very high and the caused negative effects small then go for it by 5-4-3-2-1!

Don’t think too much of it, just do it. That is the 5-second rule by Mel Robbins:

 

 

Another reason why the expression of the request fails is the expression itself. Instead of making it clear what they want, they become nervous, speak a lot with vague words such as “maybe”, “one day” or start to mumble altogether. Another crucial feature is the transformation of statements into questions. With these characteristics, the speaker hopes to avoid any confrontation but puts the situation obviously on the path of failure.

The intensity of the wanted objective is not clear:

 

  • “When do I receive a salary increase?” is the start of a delay.
  • “I haven’t seen my salary increase, although I have accomplished XXX” is an observation and the start of a claim that is being heard.

 

 

Letting people waste your time

 

“Would you mind asking me a question about a process? Mirella is busy now.”

Like, I am not?

 

Your time is the most valuable asset you possess and if you have a very tight deadline, you have to protect your time to accomplish your priorities. That doesn’t mean that you should not help others or isolate yourself from the world. It means that you choose to do these tasks at another time. You have the right and the power to do so.

However, many people try to avoid conflict and confrontation. They don’t want to be seen as impolite. And many people, therefore, give in. It just takes 5 min, doesn’t it?

Having the habit of giving in or doing those small tasks in-between, distorts your focus on more crucial tasks, but also conditionalizes you of being a “crisis-manager”. Every small interruption is being seen as something very big and important, even if that is not the case. Your skill of assessing the priorities in your life or job is being contorted and blurred.

Although these kinds of acts can be returned by others and help to foster relationships, often people pay a high price for that by not negotiating the timing of the act.

Here, one has to set clear boundaries and learn how to convey to others one owns current position brief and direct, without coming off too sharp. Easy to say, but it takes a matter of practice and awareness. Some tips and tricks could include:

 

  • Distinguish the urgency of the need: Do they want to talk to you or do they really need to do so?
  • A short phrase to extend your leeway: “My apologies, I would like to talk further, however, I am on a tight deadline. How about we continue this conversation at XX.”
  • If you are waiting for more than 20min for a person – just leave. Your time is worth more than being filled up with nothing and a feeling of disappointment.
  • Communicate to others time slots where you are definitely not available or use a “Don’t disturb sign” at the door
  • If people walk into your office, don’t set down the pencil. Don’t stop what you were doing.

 

Here the book recommendation: Nice girls still don’t get the corner office

 

Taking full responsibility

In life, whatever it might be, you don’t get star stickers for running a project alone, but for getting the project done. Whatever this project might entail. It could be a task at work or something you have to do for your family like planning a vacation, but also a goal you have set for yourself. Usually, people just accept the task and “work it off”, like they learned to do it in school with exercises. One by one. In contrast to back then, some tasks are just more complex. They require time and energy, two of the most important resources you have, due to them not being recuperable. So, instead of doing everything and being overwhelmed with it, stop for a minute and think.

Can you somehow delegate these tasks, maybe even to a person who can get the job done more efficiently?

What are your resources available in the sense of in your network?

Who could help or knows someone who could help?

Do I have to reinvent the wheel? In most cases, NO. So, find these people and ask for their expertise.

For instance, at work, it is a usual phenomenon to be put into groups to accomplish something. But, if you are assigned a task alone by your boss, that does not translate into only you doing the work. If you require more resources, that is ok and natural. You can’t know everything. So, just look for your resources in your surroundings and you will be surprised by the abundance of possibilities.

The same could be with personal goals. Let’s assume you want to eat healthier and you live with a spouse together. Ask them to work with you on this goal. If they go shopping, they could buy the salad and not the chips, because maybe their willpower is stronger in that sense. You kind of delegate the responsibility of having more vegetables at home to them, because you know they are potentially more resistant to spontaneous purchases of sweets.

There are plenty of possibilities, just learn to seek them.

 

 

Reluctance to negotiate

 

 

As Chris Voss points out: negotiation is mission-crucial in life.

I can recommend anyone to read at least one book or engage in a course of negotiation because it determines an abundance of life’s outcomes, such as your salary/ position in a company, the satisfaction derived of relations to others, and therefore even your own well-being and happiness.

But, what is not mentioned in the video is the avoidance of negotiation by the majority of people. As in the example before, it is uncomfortable for most to confront others. Well and that is what it is about in negotiations in the broadest sense, right? First, it is about realizing the other’s point of view, seeing a difference in the opinions, and letting the two worlds clash. At least, that is what most people think. Maybe, people should start perceiving negotiations as less dramatic. While negotiating, one shows what one thinks to be entitled to. Sometimes, one shows clear values and principles underlying the subjective. One wants just to convey one’s thoughts and concerns and wants to be understood.

By being reluctant to negotiate, these important aspects of your life are being lost. It could be your salary, your feelings in a relationship, or a piece you wanted to buy on a market.

Negotiation is a learnable skill, therefore the following measure can be undertaken:

 

 

  • Gather information about the other side
  • Know your standpoint and your limits
  • Anticipate pushbacks from your counter partner
  • Have a plan B and know the other’s plan B
  • What is your best alternative if the agreement is not reached?
  • What is their best alternative?
  • Compare the two and see who has more leverage in the negotiation.

 

Practice the negotiation with a colleague or a friend and get their point of view.

 

 

Here the book recommendation: “Never split the difference” by Chris Voss

 

 

To receive the most out of this blog post, I recommend you to take one out of the four points where you felt the most guilty off and work on it. Set yourself a goal, create a plan, and execute!

Just one little improvement in your life could have an accumulated domino effect that could potentially lead to a better and more successful self. Being more assertive could be one of these small but leveraging changes you implement.

All the best with the goal that you set!

 

 

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Billionaire. Investor. Philanthropist. Those three defining words shed light on Jack Ma. Today, he is getting attention for the wrong reasons but let’s take a step back and focus on his road to success. Not everyone could pull what he did and become one of the richest men in China. Many can say that he made the largest impact on China’s economy. He forever changed the country’s internet industry. For those who are not familiar with his name, he is the founder of Alibaba. It is the biggest e-commerce platform in China. According to Forbes, his real-time net worth is $61.6 billion. You’d think the journey to a billionaire for Jack was simple. Was it handed over to him? Not really. Luck? Maybe.

In 1964, Jack Ma was born as “Ma Yun” to poor parents whose professions were musicians and storytellers. He lived in Hangzhou and it was a time when China was still in its communist era. Like most Chinese families, they did not have much and were not exposed to the rest of the world. His favorite subject was English and one of his first jobs was to give out free city tours to foreigners. His inspiration for doing so came after Richard Nixon visited Hangzhou. Tourism trickled into this south-eastern city. This gave him the chance to practice and improve his English speaking skills. Eventually, he graduated with an English degree at Hangzhou’s Teacher’s Institute. His first pay as an English teacher was a meager sum of $12 per month.

Jack Ma happened to be at the right place at the right time. It happened in the mid-90s. The internet was gaining popularity among households. After a business visit to the United States, he was exposed to the internet for the very first time. There, he recognized that the internet possessed a lot of potential for business. While doing some research, he recognized that China was nowhere to be seen. He did something that no one thought of doing at that time. He decided to put China on the map by creating a website with the help of a friend. The internet would know more about China with a little bit of its information.

This certainly caught the eye of Chinese investors. They pursued what he was doing. Starting with $USD 20,000, this company was known to the public as ‘Chinese pages’. They focused on assisting companies when it came to website creation. Three years later, the same company made $USD800,000. Things seem to fall into place when he made the head of an information technology company. Moving on, he quit his job. With the help of his friends, they founded a startup in his apartment. It would grow into a household name of Alibaba. It served as China’s very first business-to-business marketplace website. Here, exporters were able to post their product listings. Customers who showed interest reached out to them and made the necessary purchases.

Before that success happened, he experienced a lot of obstacles along the way. You could say that he was the king of rejections.

1. Rejections Make Us Stronger

  • He failed a total of 8 examinations in his elementary (2), middle (3), and university (3)
  • He applied for 30 jobs including KFC, hotel, and the police force – and got rejected by all
  • He was rejected 10 times by Harvard
  • 2 of his business ventures failed

You would never imagine that these occurrences happened. Or it paved the way to becoming a billionaire. An ordinary person would have simply given up. Many would have said he was a loser. Others wouldn’t expect much of him. There’s one thing we can learn from this extraordinary man himself. It’s to never be afraid of rejection. He never stopped trying. As a teacher by profession, he never stopped learning. Because of his resilience, he recognized a business opportunity. He preyed on it.

Aside from Alibaba, he founded Alipay (one of the digital payments used in Alibaba. Think PayPal!) in 2003. When it hadn’t materialized yet, many people thought it was the most ridiculous idea. His persistence paid off. That’s because he pushed through. Alipay now has more than 500 million users! If he had listened to them, Alipay would not have come into existence. Otherwise, someone else would’ve beaten him with the same idea.

We should learn to accept rejections, not as obstacles. Rather, it’s an opportunity to improve ourselves even further. If our business ideas get rejected, it’s a chance to improve them even further. Or we just need to recognize there must be a better opportunity out there. We just haven’t seen it yet.

The biggest failure is to give up. Whether you achieve your goal in the end, you will pick up valuable information and skills along the way. You, as a person, will learn so much. The best way you can learn is to overcome challenges and obstacles.

2. Attitude + Skills + Passion = Success

Instead of learning everything on his own, he’s the kind of guy who hires people for their skills. Especially the ones that he doesn’t have. He hires employees who have far better skills than him. He knows for a fact that they can get the job done and better than anyone else. With the right kind of employees, you can achieve and towards a shared vision. He believes workers should have the right attitude and driven passion.

Would you believe this billionaire found Alibaba at the age of 31 years old? He achieved success without having to sell something to someone or writing a single code. Yet, his e-commerce company is worth much more than Facebook. You may or may not know that Alibaba processes more goods than eBay and Amazon combined! With global sales, they are second behind Walmart. Not bad for a company that started in Jack Ma’s apartment in China, right?

This man believes that all leaders should own foresight, intuition, and tenacity. When someone has all these qualities, they can always be one step ahead of everyone else. They should be able to weigh out their decisions and foresee what the consequences are. By doing so, they can have a better advantage.

When a true leader sticks to a clear vision, there is simply no stopping him or her. They will not take no for an answer. Instead, they will find creative ways to work around any problem. United by a common goal, it will inspire others to do the same.

If there is one takeaway we can absorb from Jack Ma, it would be this:

“On the MBAs at a lot of business schools they teach people a lot of skills on how to run business and make money. I want to tell people that if you want to run a business, you have to run the value first. Serve the others, help the others, that’s the key. This is the way to run business in the 21st Century.”

Many people look up to Jack Ma because of his practicality when it comes to business. He truly believes in helping other people and their businesses, allowing them to stand on their own. If he focused on accumulating wealth, he would not have retired from his position as CEO at Alibaba Group. At the moment, he is proud of Jack Ma Foundation, a fruit of his labors. This philanthropic organization focuses on four core pillars:

  • Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Medical and Environmental Protection
  • Women’s Leadership

3. Stop Complaining

“We keep fighting. We keep changing ourselves. We don’t complain.”

Jack Ma learned a lot from people’s complaints. He observed that some complaint a lot but never do anything about it. However, the game changers are those who try to do something about it. Once there’s a complaint, the best way to overcome this is to change the existing situation so that you can move on. Once it has been fixed, they pick up something meaningful from the experience. Like, “Oh, it was that simple!” or “Hey, I can start getting the hang of this!” which will lead to satisfactory results. Jack advises everyone to stop complaining and look for opportunities instead. They can be found anywhere if you just know where to look.

“If we want to change the world, we change ourselves. Changing ourselves is more important, and easier.”

Are we guilty of complaining? If you answered yes, then this is the right time to stop and start doing something about them. It’s a skill if we can listen and observe. It’s because these complaints can be disguised as real opportunities. Once you recognize them, don’t be afraid to take charge. After all, this could lead you to something bigger, bolder, and better!

This video is his advice for young people:

4. Customer is King

“Customer, number one; employee, number two; shareholder, number three.”

Jack Ma stuck to this philosophy which he believes made his company successful. He truly emphasizes that customers are the number one priority. That’s because they are the ones bringing revenue to the company. Next on the list are the employees who are bringing innovation. As for shareholders, they were the first ones to sell when times came tough. It can be best summarized in Jack Ma’s quote:

“When the crisis came they run away. My people stayed. Customers stayed.”

In reality, you will never be able to please every person you encounter in life. You also won’t be able to convince everyone to invest in you. Jack Ma says that’s okay. If tradition tells you to quit, he’ll tell you that anyone can change their approach.

5. Enjoy Life

“My religion is helping small businesses. It is an honor. We would focus on helping people, helping others, and then people would help us.”

After achieving so much success in his life, it is time for him to enjoy life. He finds contentment in helping others to succeed. Just like a teacher, he acts as a guide and facilitator in aiding others to achieve success as well.

He also reveals that one of his biggest secrets is that culture is his core competency:

“My core competence is culture. Working hard on the vision, mission, and values of our company. We believe in helping others rather than just making money.”

According to Jack Ma, success comes when culture becomes the main focus. When everyone sticks to a company’s mission and values, it will lead you to the right path. Once this has been achieved, the money will follow afterward.

Others may be obsessed with making more and more money, but not him. Money was never his ultimate goal in life even if he came from a simple background. He was interested in business opportunities that helped others making business others. He turned down plenty of offers that promised him a lot of money.

 

We can learn so much from this billionaire who came from humble beginnings. Jack Ma went through so many failures in his life yet he persevered until the very end. He became resourceful and made the most out of what he had. If he hadn’t gone through what he went through, things would be different. He might not have been standing tall today as one of the richest Chinese billionaires. If it weren’t for him, it would’ve been someone else walking in those shoes. We would not have learned who Jack Ma was.

There came a time when no one believed in him. That’s why you need to believe in yourself, your vision, and your goals. If you don’t believe in them, no one else will do. Don’t start with something small. Dream big. It will be your dream that will keep you alive. Are you ready to make your vision, goals, and dreams a reality? Make it into reality by starting today with small steps.

“Go big or go home.”

Share with us what you think about Jack Ma’s story and the components that made him successful. What can you change today to reach out to tomorrow’s goals?

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To work from home, with a flexible schedule, autonomy, and career development! Thanks to the gig economy. At first stance, these expressions appeal to workers seeking a job. But in reality, how do workers experience work in the digital world compared to the physical world?

The gig economy can bring flexibility, autonomy, and career development, but also precarity and inequality. The gig economy is constantly growing nowadays. This trend is due to the competitive environment and rapid technological growth. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us to think about the gig economy as a replacement for physical work. In such a context, gig economy businesses are becoming commonplace. In other words, we are facing the new normal of work, and this new form is not a choice but a necessity.

The gig economy is the economic system that workers and clients come together in the virtual world (Meijerink & Keegan, 2019).

The gig economy can create equality. It means it can offer digital space to individuals regardless of demographics. It yet seems to exclude individuals due to technological infrastructure.

In the following paragraphs, we first review the positive impacts and the adverse outcomes of the gig economy. Next, we come to know how to thrive in the gig economy.

Positive Impacts of Gig Economy

In the digital world, freelancers and entrepreneurs can show their skills and knowledge in the gig economy. They can also compete with large businesses regardless of demographics. From this perspective, the gig economy provides opportunities for inclusion. Digital platforms such as Upwork.com or freelancer.com enable individuals to work, regardless of age, gender, race, disability, or experiences. Thus, the gig economy allows entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds to be present in the new market.

Are the provided opportunities equal among all entrepreneurs? Or other drivers such as social, technological, and political factors can influence this inclusion? These factors are beyond the power of platforms, clients, and workers as the three main actors of such an economy.

Anytime, Anywhere, Any client?

Flexibility is a distinctive characteristic of the gig economy. Gig economy work can bring flexibility for gig workers in terms of time and location. In other words, workers can adjust the time and place to work based on their preferences. It gives them more autonomy and freedom.

Yet, flexibility at work might raise some consequences. One issue is whether flexibility allows workers to decide where and when to work. Or can they freely choose clients? If they are not flexible in selecting the clients, they have to accept the available circumstances. Otherwise, they may encounter unavailability of work.

Flexibility can also bring procrastination and lack of motivation for workers. It means we, as humans, are more structured and organized in the physical workplace as we have a fixed timeframe to follow.

Adverse Outcomes of Gig Economy

The gig economy can bring both precarity and structural inequality. Precarity refers to the health vulnerabilities of the gig workers. It means the gig workers face a lack of health insurance and income insecurity. But structural inequality means the challenges of design and operation in digital platforms.

According to Heeks (2017), structural inequality includes power and information asymmetry. The gig economy can bring a new form of insecurity for workers and inequality of structures.

Power and information asymmetry as the adverse outcomes of the gig economy will discuss as follows:

Power asymmetry means power is not equally distributed among platforms, clients, and workers. Additionally, the power asymmetry exists not only between workers and clients but also among the workers.

For instance, some workers depend on the platform’s income for their living costs. They may experience precarity and dissatisfaction. Yet, some consider income from digital platforms as supplemental income. They have more power to negotiate their rights. Thus, the good economic condition of workers can empower them to bargain for their rights.

Information asymmetry is another negative outcome of the gig economy. To be more specific, information is not equally shared among actors. For instance, in creating an account, workers need to present all personal information. While they do not even know the name of the client they seek to work.

Workers should have the right to know about the company they want to invest their time in. In other words, sharing information should be reciprocal between workers and clients.

It can raise an issue of whether the personal data of workers are just for creating an account. Or the data are collected for other commercial purposes. Privacy issues in the gig economy need significant consideration. Particularly in developing countries due to the absence of the GDPR.

Thriving the Gig Economy

There are many opportunities and challenges in the gig economy among various actors. To improve the nature of the gig economy, we should recognize the key actors. By understanding their responsibilities and powers, we can thrive in such an economy.

We will look at the roles of platforms, clients, workers, and governments as main actors in the gig economy. By considering their powers and challenges, we realize how to improve the future of the gig economy.

Platform Role: Inclusion or Isolation?

Platforms bridge workers and clients. There are structural inequalities in the platforms such as workers and clients not being well treated there. The structural and technological design of the gig economy platforms can isolate workers.

Many studies show that a new form of exploitation is emerging in the gig economy. For instance, gig workers compete against each other on price. In other words, exploitation is not just from the client. But gig workers exploit themselves through competing to succeed in their bid. It seems it is due to the structure of the platforms. This self-exploitation could aggravate during economic crises such as Convid-19. At the time that competition among gig workers exists due to economic conditions and the lockdown of businesses.

What does the Algorithm Say?

Algorithmic control can also bring advantages and disadvantages to the platform. To be more specific, algorithmic control can bring task variety and flexibility to workers. Yet, those with low skills and reputation have less chance to be selected due to the algorithmic mechanism. In general, platforms can benefit workers with inclusion and flexibility. Yet, we need to consider if those can compensate for inequality emerging from the gig economy. We should direct the future of the gig economy toward taking advantage of inclusion and flexibility. Yet, minimizing structural inequality on the gig economy platforms should seriously be considered.

Platforms can reduce inequality by introducing and implementing regulations among workers and clients. A concern is how platforms can harmonize these regulations around the globe. In other words, implementing rules in developed and developing countries could be challenging because they differ based on the norm, culture, politics, and economy of the target labor market.

There is competition among different platforms. Thus, we could expect they equally protect the rights of both clients and workers for the sake of their sustainable success.

Workers as the main vulnerable Actor in the Gig Economy

Workers constitute the vulnerable segment of digital platforms. So, why is the gig economy rapidly growing despite the low trust nature of it among workers? There is a host of unawareness about the regulation and its implementation among workers. The digital divide is a factor contributing to the unawareness among workers, mainly in developing countries.

Raising awareness among workers can protect their rights. One way is to form an informal group. The informal group can contribute to raising awareness and mobility among gig workers.

Informal groups and networking allow workers to communicate with each other and avoid isolation in the gig economy. It can cause social cohesion among workers. By sharing information and personal experience through informal groups, workers can feel secure. It can also raise consciousness about their rights.

Freedom and flexibility in the gig economy do not necessarily bring better working conditions. These factors can create precarity that can cause a lack of sleep and stress among workers. Flexibility and autonomy can also cause procrastination and lack of motivation among workers. It is because of the lack of a structured timeframe.

Clients with the Bargaining Power

Clients enjoy the gig economy through lying in a pool of workers willing to work with low wages. It can provide bargaining power for clients. To be more specific, with more power, clients can exploit workers. It means clients compensate workers’ efforts with low wages. Moreover, the power asymmetry is more significant during crises such as Covid-19. Intense competition exists due to financial conditions and the lockdown of businesses.

There is a communications gap between workers and clients in the gig economy. Clients should also be accountable to workers. In other words, workers should have the same rights as in the physical world.

Additionally, clients should give all related information to the workers on the onboarding phase. Through agreement, workers can get familiar with their roles, responsibility, rights, and guidelines. This transparency builds trust among workers and secures both workers and clients.

Are labor agreements well respected by employers and governments in the physical world? If not, how can we expect its implementation in the virtual platforms, particularly in developing countries?

Quality or Quantity: Which One Matters?

The gig economy can improve employment. Thus, governments welcome the gig economy because it can bring economic growth. Government hospitality to the gig economy is more tangible during the pandemic and with the lockdown of businesses. Hence, Governments intend to accept this economy to increase the number of jobs to solve the unemployment problems.

The question posed here is whether governments think about the quality of work while seeking the quantity of created jobs. It means the quality of work among the gig workers needs more scrutiny as well.

Studies have shown that the quality of work depends on autonomy, income, and other social and environmental factors. These factors include education, healthcare, and regulation. Thus, applying decent work depends on the broader social, political, and economic context. Yet, these factors are not under the control of platforms, workers, or clients.

Considering the quality of work, governments should introduce new labor regulations. These regulations should cover wages and working conditions to reduce inequality in the gig economy.

Stewart and Stanford (2017) provide practical recommendations for regulating the gig economy. Revising the existing laws and introducing new regulations are some of the interventions.

The issue raised here is whether all governments across the world can implement these regulations. Yet, shortages in conforming to existing regulations still exist in some countries.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that people who are unwilling to embrace digital change may experience exclusion. With technological advancement, we are transitioning to a new form of work. We should manage this transition to happen in an inclusive, fair, and sustainable manner. In other words, power should equalize among all actors. The potential benefits of the gig economy are indisputable. Providing a safe ecosystem needs amending existing legislation and introducing new regulations. Yet, it is too simplistic to think applying these regulations can happen overnight and without effort.

Will the future of the gig economy reduce precarity and structural inequality? Will the trend still maintain inclusion, flexibility, and autonomy?

 

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Transcript:

Welcome to another episode of the podcast. Today we have Alex Clark with us, game creator and YouTuber. Alex, tell us where you’re from, what you do, and for what people might know you from.

Hey, I’m in Los Angeles, in the United States, and in addition to making that card game we were just talking about, I’m also a big YouTuber. I’ve got four million subscribers on there and I’ve been growing that for the past 10 years.

I noticed that you started your channel in 2009. Can you tell me a little bit about it? Well, actually, I noticed you started your channel on the second of December. Was it? 

Yeah, that sounds right.

You uploaded five days later. Is there any reason why there was that five-day gap?

Uh, I wish I could remember. These are going to be some detailed questions I can tell already.

I usually notice when I upload things or when I start something, I already have something prepped or sometimes when I start something, it’s like: “Oh, I want to start!” And then you start it, and then you realize you don’t actually have content to upload. So I just kind of wanted to go back to when you first started, how it went through your mind.

Yeah, I’m of the mindset like, just get it. Just start doing it. The first time you do something, it’s going to be awful. So who cares if you’re ready or not? Just give yourself a deadline, hit the deadline and then learn from it, improve the next time around.

Nice. So probably that’s what I have. So how was it when you first started in 2009? Obviously with completely different… How was it back then?

Oh, it was the glory days. I feel like an old man, but there was no one online like you could. It was a lot easier to stick out and the market wasn’t as competitive, so it was easier to get ahead. That said, I did not get ahead quickly at all and I wish I knew everything I knew now because I would have skyrocketed right away if I knew now what I knew, if I knew then what I know now.

What do you know? Obviously will probably cover things a bit later, but just a couple of bullet points?

You know, just I’m better at producing content. I know to make stuff more relatable and talk specifically to the person on the other side of the screen. I’m better at editing and animating. I’m just better overall at everything.

And when you first started, what was the process like? Where were you mindset wise? Like also, were you just starting out? Did you come from a career? What was happening in your life?

So, I’m in addition to making that game and being a YouTuber, I’m also a comedian, which is why I started the YouTube channel. I was performing a lot at like small corporate events and little clubs. And I was like: “There has to be a way to reach a wider audience.” And so I started posting videos as a way for when people saw me, they’d be like: “This is great, but we can only see it right now. How can we see you every day?” And so I posted videos as a way to stay in touch with the audience every day of the year.

And was it just stand up comedy in clubs and kind of all we can imagine now if you see a Netflix special or…but smaller?

Say that again?

Was it like what we see now with the Netflix specials, like people on stage, just talking, except the size of the audience would be probably smaller? Was it kind of like that?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what it was. I also came from a circus background. I also did like some juggling acts and stuff too, because when you’re starting out, that pays way better than being a comedian. So, I did a bit of that as well.

But so OK, so let’s kind of go way back because there’s a big background before you started YouTube, which I think would be probably necessary to know to see the terms and yet twists that you had during your YouTube career, being a comedian and animator kind of probably comes from somewhere. So where did you study? How did you start your journey or…?

Fair. I got picked on like crazy in school and so I was always a loner. And then…

Where was school? Was that in L.A. or…?

No, it was in Massachusetts. There’s a lot more bullies. So I was there. And then, I used to watch Aladdin and I loved Robin Williams. So it was like: “Oh, he’s really funny. I want to get into stand up.” And then around the same time I found out that there was a performing arts school near me. And so, I actually made a couple of videos about that. So, I got into the art school, which was very exciting. And then I found out that one of my English teachers had been a comedic juggler. And, I was like: “Oh, you got to teach a juggling class so I can learn to do that, if that’s what you do to make it.” And so, that’s where the juggling came in.

How old were you when you started?

17, 18?

So you learned juggling in high school?

Yeah.

When you enter an arts program like that, how does your day look like? Is it all arts or do you also study math and…?

So, that school was run by hippies, which was a blessing because we didn’t have grades. Instead we had…

How did that work with the government?

So, they had a written evaluation. So, at the end of every semester, you would get like a three paragraph summary of how you were doing in that class. And then…Yeah, so that’s how that worked. And then the day was… It was a longer day. So the first six or seven hours of the day was just regular academics. And then the last two hours of the day was an extended period performing arts class.

So…what kind of things were you doing throughout the week in those extra things, obviously juggling, but can you give a few more examples?

A lot of improv theater. I remember we also, uh, we have this thing called Piedea, where you could in between first and second semester, you had two weeks to create your own curriculum. And so, a friend of mine took that and submitted a proposal to make our own game. And I think that’s probably one of the first games we made.

What kind of game was it?

That was… It wasn’t a card game like. There was a point and click adventure game about surviving and… (I’m having a brain fart right now) Oh, about the Underground Railroad. And it was trying to get through the Underground Railroad successfully.

So is that kind of where you started to stand up, uh, part of your journey or…?

Yeah, at that high school we were… We started like the first comedy after curricular, after school activity curriculum.

You start it or somebody of your teachers started it or…?

Um, the school had only been open for a couple of years. And a friend of mine and I, we started like the first comedy club at the school called “Headgear”. I actually went back a couple weeks ago… a couple of years ago to give like a speech with, like with other alumni. And I wasn’t expecting this, but there was a bunch of kids that were still in that group and they’re like: “Oh, my God, you’re one of the founding members.”And it’s like, I feel so old. I feel like like the first president of the United States or something.

But, I mean, that’s pretty cool. I think it still shows like an entrepreneurial spirit starting something during school. That’s kind of how it starts.

Yeah.

I mean…You just told me you were kind of a loner, which, you know, when I was growing up, kind of similar introvert here. But, I was quite scared during my school time to start some things. So, what was happening in your mind that you were like, no, we need… I mean, unless you were extremely passionate about comedy, why found something? Why not just follow your normal classes?

Um, I think at the time we just wanted an outlet to perform. We were like, this doesn’t exist, so let’s create it. And I’ve always had that mentality.

And so it was just…How did that club go? You would literally just do stand up in there, or was it more than just stand up?

Uh, there was maybe… So we held auditions and cast all our friends as that’s how everything works. And, then we spent a couple of months writing a show and it’s on tape. If anyone wants to watch it, you can. It’s awful. Uh, but, uh, yeah. So it was a combination of sketches and stand up and improv games, if I remember correctly.

You can find it on your YouTube channel or somewhere else?

Uh, I think that was pretty YouTube. You’d have to break into my house and get the VHS, I think.

You can also upload it. Cool! So we kind of now understand where it started all, so now high school finished for you around eighteen years old, right? So what, what then? What was the next?

I went to Emerson College in Boston which is a great film school.

Why film school?

Uh I really, I was like I don’t need to go to school to be a comedian or be an actor. I’m already talented. I need a backup plan. So I went to school for film, and I also got a degree in Web design because those are things I felt more like you would need a degree to help you succeed.

Do you still think so?

No.

Why not? I get this question a lot, so I want to hear from you.

Which question do you get?

If people should go to film school?

Oh, um, I feel like that it’s more I mean, there’s certain things you definitely… Oh, this is weird because it also depends on the person. Like if you’re self-motivated and you start projects on your own and you outreach to people, I don’t think you need to go to college for film school. But if you’re the type of person that needs time to learn and you need to be, um, that time to grow, then I would recommend it. But for me, I kind of feel like it’s more about networking and meeting people and being a good example and learning from your mistakes. So,  for film school, for me, I think it would have been better just to move out here and grow as an artist. But then, I’m I also now that I live here, I also hear from people all the time that they move here and they don’t know anyone and they end up leaving because they’re all alone, whereas with my school, I came out with a network of like dozens of friends and we all still live here and support each other.

Really? All the friends went with together?

Yeah, yeah. All my closest friends, I would say… seventy five percent of my school moves from Boston to Los Angeles at the end of school.

How come? Just because the industry is there or…?

Yeah definitely, because I’m here! No, because of the industry for sure.

But it’s, I mean we’ve actually been looking to scale, I mean companies, video agencies and we’ve been starting to look… We kind of wanted to go to New York from Amsterdam. It’s a bit closer, but it just kind of seems like everything that is film related is happening in L.A.. So, if you compare…

Well, I think it’s. I think it’s different now for sure.

Yeah, the East Coast and West Coast, like, how is it different now?

I would say there’s just more in L.A. than in New York, but there’s still plenty in New York. I mean, I would definitely say go there. If you’re just looking to expand, you’ll still get a lot out of that.

And then… Cool! Then for you after. Well, actually, still film school. How long was film school and what were the biggest lessons that you got out of film school?

Uh, film school. Yeah. Again, I’m more of a do it yourself guy. So freshman year when everyone was still in orientation, some kids I met in my hallway, we started… This was before Internet, TV and stuff. So we started a half an hour sketch comedy show that we talked to the station manager of the college TV station and we started airing that within two weeks of starting school.

Where were you airing it?

On the local college TV station. So as a half hour sketch comedy show and we produced an episode, this was when you had to, like, digitize tapes, like let the tape playback and record onto the computer. So we were digitizing tapes, editing it all and producing a half an hour episode every week for like the first six months of college.

Wow!

Um. Yeah, and then at the end of the college, same thing, self starter, we took like our final: “Let’s make a film class film three or whatever it is called” and we were like: “Sweet, this is our chance to make a movie.” And so, we wrote this like very Indiana Jones inspired thing with like a plot and a Mayan temple that rises out of the park and this guy dies in a pit of lava. And then, we showed it and our teacher was like: “Is this really what we’re going to do?” I’m like: “Yeah, why else would you take a movie-making class?” And so, we brought our project in on the last day. And there was like… the first guys did like a man eating a sandwich on the bench. The next one was like a guy roller skating. And then, ours was like this 20 minute action adventure film. And we’re like, oh, we overdid it.

How were you able to film that?

I have no idea.

Or did you partially animated?

No, the whole thing was filmed. We built sets. I can probably give you a link. I think there’s a trailer up somewhere on YouTube that you can include in the notes of the podcast. But yeah, we we built an actual physical model for the temple rising out and we composited it on the footage to make it look like it was rising up. Then we built a set out of Styrofoam and wood and paint from Home Depot that looked like the inside of a temple.

So you really went the extra mile.

At the time, we had no idea. We’re just like, we got to get this done.

But it kind of also shows what you meant then with: “Are you self-motivated?” Because it seems to me like the other time, you know, people you were with in class, they kind of just did their assignment. But you guys were doing the sketch. You were doing this movie, that nobody had. And so, do you feel like the film school opened up doors for you outside of the friends? Obviously, the network is valuable, but do you feel like film school opened doors to put your creativity to something, or do you feel like you would have done it anyways if you weren’t in film school?

That’s a good question, I’m not sure. I don’t know on that one, I plead the Fifth.

No worry. It’s always tricky because you never know. Obviously, the environment is a big stimulus. I noticed when I’m not in the office, I just work a little bit different. But OK, let’s move on then from film school. So you got a degree and then you continued with your life, but obviously you just finished film school, and then how do you end up going? Like do you still continue doing your sketches where the stand up comedy come in or juggling?

My college has a satellite office or a satellite school in Los Angeles. So, the last semester I moved to Los Angeles and I got an internship on a on, uh, a show on the TV station Comedy Central. So after that, I just ended up staying in L.A. and got an apartment and struggled for several years like everybody.

What do you mean you struggled? What was happening?

You know, just trying to find a job and figure out, like, what direction you want to go. And like, when I was growing up, I was like, oh, yeah, you do everything you ate at the movies, you write the movies, you starred in the movies. And then as you get older, you’re like, oh, there’s one person that edits it and is really good at editing. There’s one person that writes it and they all like work together. So it’s like, which one of those things do you want to do and how can you make money at the one that you’re the best at?

I mean, technically now you also still manage all of it.

Yeah. YouTube didn’t exist yet. So that happened, I was like, this is my destiny.

So let’s go back to Comedy Central. You got an internship at Comedy Central, like a six month internship or one year…?

Yeah, I would say I was about six months, those for the semester.

Was the internship worth it? What did you learn there?

Uh, yeah. I wish that there was one spot where I wish I was more outgoing. I wish I had asked more questions to people and, um, been more nosy about what everyone was doing. But when I got there, they’re like, you’re going to help the writers. And so basically, I would just scrub the news to try and find headlines for them to think about what they could write about. And I would just go in and leave at the end of the day. But I wish I’d been more nosy and proactive there for sure.

How come you weren’t? Because obviously so far you’re telling me how your high school went. And obviously, if you’re telling me ‘hippie’, then I’m assuming, you know…connecting with people, that’s probably something that is…

I think it was, uh, I was probably a little nervous. Uh, I was like a young kid and every one else there in my eyes was like this big working fancy professional. But now that I’m older, I’m like, oh, we’re all the same. We’re all we’re all the same dipshits that came out of some school somewhere and got picked on.

For the people who are getting internships, let’s say they get in like a big company like Comedy Central or a Disney or whatever. So what would you tell them that they should do?

Uh, just constantly find ways to support the people that you work for and go above and beyond because they’ll remember that forever.

Do you recommend doing more hours as well and putting in more?

Uh, I don’t think you have, like, more than are required. I don’t think you have to do that. I think you just actually have to take the time to think about the person you’re working for beyond what they’re asking you to do and figure out extra ways you can deliver to them something that’s useful to them.

Cool. I mean, I would maybe add to that as well from my experience to walk around and connect also with other people a lot, because you never know down the line if you see them. Do you feel like you’ve met some people that helped you down the line there or…?

No, I don’t know anyone from that job at all.

Sad.

I wish I did, yeah.

But so, uh, sorry, I forgot it was a six month or one year internship?

It was about six months.

After the six months you said you stayed a bit in L.A., but you, I assume, didn’t get a job with Comedy Central?

No. After that, I got a job at Fancy Film. It was like a really small post house editing videos. Um, and this was like the beginning of my slow transition to being like a, uh, self-employed performer.

I would that job was really flexible. So they’d like me take time off whenever I had gigs. And there’d be times where I’d take like two month stints off because I’d have a slew of gigs. And so they’d let me take that off to perform and come back and. I owe them a lot.

In the job they allowed you to do that?

I was just like a post PE an assistant editor, I’d edit projects when they needed them and help out around the office and that was a really small company. It was like maybe five people.

So then you get out of the internship and you got that job. But you just said that you were doing stand up act or something like that.

I was doing a lot of performing.

Why was it an itch that you were trying to scratch or was it more like you needed the money because it was L.A.?

Why was I performing?

Yeah. Why were you putting in the hours in something else?

Just because I loved it. One hundred percent, I was like, this is what I like the most. I just have to figure out how to make money at it. And so I just kept doing that whenever I could.

So can you tell me more about that journey when you first started in L.A., the first acts that you did, how did they go? Why do you feel you wanted to continue?

Uh, and that is all a blur.

Do you remember your first one maybe?

I’m trying to remember. One thing I do remember is I was like, even though I wanted it so badly, I was still petrified to go on stage. And so for the first while I had a partner that I do all my acts with just because being on stage alone petrified me. And so we’ve been working together for a couple of years and he was kind of giving me this look like he wasn’t going to make it much longer. I was like, OK, I got to figure out how to do this by myself. So after, like, five or six years of performing professionally with a partner, I remember the first time out on stage by myself. I was like shaking and was holding back tears in my eyes because I was so nervous of it failing and coming from that. Like last year, we sold out a tour in twenty three cities. And it’s like crazy to think that even with all that experience, I was still nervous.

Was it really just because suddenly you were alone and then…?

Yeah.

How long did it take you to get used to it? Or did you get a coach or a mentor?

No, I didn’t have a mentor. I just kept making … I like pain, I guess. I just kept going. If I don’t feel a little fear, I, uh, I try to find a scary performance space, I guess, but, uh, yeah. I don’t know. I just, um. I wanted it for myself, so I kept pushing myself to do it.

How long did it take before you finally got: “OK, I’m really maybe not the best, but I’m kind of good at this. I should definitely keep doing this.” Because I know a lot of people that start, I mean, including me. There were many moments where I thought: “Uh, I don’t think I’m good enough” with the impostor syndrome is so famous. So, for you, you say you really wanted it and the struggle is real, like I can feel like obviously you really… You went through a struggle, but some people give up in the middle. So, for you…I can imagine you were feeling that impostor syndrome. When was it slowly, finally getting away? When did you feel like this is really…?

I think when you start you’re like one day I’ll feel good enough and I need to work to that point and then when you when you’re finally a pro at it, you’re like, ‘Oh, you never get to that point.’ You always feel like you’re not good enough and you just keep pushing. But yeah. And you just accept the fact that you always want to improve and I think that’s part of what, um, that’s what makes people succeed, is that they always want to improve and they see what they suck at and they’re like, how can I make this better? And they constantly go back to the drawing board and figure out how to, uh, make a better product, whether it’s being on stage or creating a company.

How long were you in that job, the flexible one, while you were doing the act?

I would say about a year and a half and then I had another job, uh, for about a year and a half. So I’d say about three years of, like, flexible jobs and then I went full time performing around like twenty three.

How much were you … Can ask maybe financially, like, how much were you earning before you said, I’m going to cut the cord and then work for myself?

I have no idea. I would imagine I would imagine, uh, thirty thousand dollars a year minimum, I would guess, but I honestly….

Pretty much your rent and your food and maybe and some other stuff covered and then you’re… So you were just like, that’s it. I’m done. I’ll just do this full time.

Yeah.

Weren’t you scared that some gigs would go away?

Uh, no, because I also, uh, I’ve got to be the most random person. I also learned how to street perform and so, there was a time when you could go outside with other people. And so, for me it was like, oh, at any point if I really need money, I can go out to a street corner and gather a crowd and continue to pay rent that way.

Wait, so OK, you were doing the act.

Just blow your mind out.

You know, you hit something really important because what you created for yourself was a mental backup, which is : “If I quit my job, I have something to fall back on. It’s not the main thing I’m doing, but it’s a backup.” But like I know for for instance, ourselves, like me… To create that backup, it took years to realize the product that you’re really good at that no matter what, it will always be there to cover rent, which is a huge step that most of the population doesn’t have because they’re in the job and they want to sometimes cut the cord, but they don’t have that backup. So how did you get to street performing? When was it even happening? Because obviously you’re doing the act. You’re doing the job. That’s flexible, of course. But like, when did this street performing happen and how did you get into it? How did it become something like a backup in your mind?

Um, well, in high school, I had that, uh, English teacher that I talked about. There was a comedian and juggler. And so that kind of put the idea of street performing into my mind. And then in Boston, uh uh… You are you’re in the Netherlands, right?

Yeah.

There’s a dam square that has all the street performers.

Yeah, well not right now, but I mean…

Right, right. Yeah. So, in the United States, pretty much there’s only like two or three places in all of the United States that has street performers like Dam Square does and one of them is in Boston, Massachusetts and Faneuil Hall. So during college, I would see those guys and I’d be like, oh, that’s that’s interesting. It looks like they’re making a good amount of money. Um, and so, in college, I was a bouncer at a comedy club. And then…

You were a bouncer, as in security.

Yeah, I’ve shrunk down since then.

OK, let’s back up. How did you end up as a bouncer at the…?

Right, so my good college buddy Adam Junior Visión, who is a big comedy agent right now, he started out there with me as well and he was he is like six and a half feet tall and bulky. And so he got a job as a bouncer and thank God for him. He said to his boss, I have another bulky friend that could bounce with me, but that’s how I got that job. Um, yeah.

Cool. So then, OK, so you have that in Boston. You see all these street performers. Are these like… Do you decide in Boston to already try it a little bit?

Yeah. It was the summer after my I want to say junior year we stay. We stayed in Boston for the summer and tried straight performing while I was working as a bouncer at the comedy club at night.

You tried to street performing with friends?

Yeah, that that partner I talked about with whom I performed with the first couple of years.

Were you then juggling or what were you doing? A street performer.

Yeah, I think we were juggling. Yeah.

OK, so you tried it in Boston and then you moved to L.A. Are the rules different in L.A. for street performer because I know city by city in Europe it’s…

Yeah. In L.A. it’s, um, not fun with it. There’s a lot more. Uh, what’s the best way to say this? Free spirited, uh, free spirited vagabonds to compete with, I guess. Yeah. So and then just in general, in the United States, I’d say street performing is more frowned upon than in Europe, so…There’s just not as many opportunities, like I feel like in Europe, the arts just in general are way more accepting. So, every street fair in my mind, every street fair in Europe is like, yeah, we have a street performer. He’s right there and it’s free, and here it’s like if you show up to a street fair to street performer, you’re going to get arrested for breaking and entering more or less.

And you still need permits here? It’s not everywhere like that but in some places, I mean, places like Amsterdam are pretty strict. Rotterdam was so, which is a second city. I know other countries like, you know, the UK, Germany, they’re a bit stricter. But I think if you have a permit, you can do those things. But so, you’re… OK, so right now you’re kind of saying something interesting because in L.A. was different and then how did you decide that that was going to be able to pay your rent? Like was your act preplanned? Did you know that if you do it this way roundabout, you would be earning this much even in a city like L.A.?

Uh, to move on from the street performing because for us, that was more like a starting point for the career and the backup plan. At some point we started booking gigs and got an agent that was really just wonderful, and they would get us … They were a reliable source of income with a lot of gigs that traveled across the US.

You got an agent! How did you get the… Like what was happening that you got an agent?

That, uh, that I was performing at an event in Wisconsin and I noticed that every single other act…. Oh! This is actually a great story for entrepreneurs. So, that gig was the Wisconsin State Fair, and they have… It’s one of the best performance fairs, I would say, in the country. They have, like I would say, over two hundred bands performing every day of the week for like twenty days, and then on top of that, they have all sorts of performers and comedians. But, that booking came because we had sent out a mass mailing like three years before, and never heard anything from any of them. And then one day the guy calls up and he was like, yeah, my boss said, we need it all new entertainment, and I’ve had your folders sitting on my desk for two years. Can we hire you?

Like, a mass real mailing? Not like email?!

Yeah, it was like a folder with like our pictures in it and a DVD. And we had spent thousands of dollars sending hundreds of these out all over and didn’t hear anything.

Really? Where were you sending it to, like … Agencies?

Agencies, fairs, colleges, performance venues, comedy festivals, just like anywhere we could think of, and we never heard anything until two years later when one guy said he’d had it sitting on his desk for years. And so he booked us, and then when we got to the gig, I noticed that every other act at the event that was in our genre had the same agent. So, I was like, all right, I’m going to start sucking up to all these people. So, they had put us in a separate trailer and every day I was like Dave, my partner, I was like: “Dave, we have to go hang out on that other trailer because they’re all represented by the same agent.” And then, so we started doing that, became friends with them all. And what I said about the internship, like be friends with people and over deliver, that’s what I did with all those people in that trailer, like every day I was being super friendly. And like, any time I felt like they needed something, I got it. Like, there was one day the trailer ran out of something simple. It was like it ran out of water. So the next that day during lunch, I ran to the store and got several gallons of water just so they’d have it and like huge change. And after the gig was over, like a week later, the agent called us and was like the people in charge of the fair were raving about how great you were. And then I checked with all our acts and they said you were so nice and easy to work with and like you just were like helpful all week long. So we want to represent you. Um, so that is something I learned probably during those internship days of like just over deliver with everybody.

Was it because of that internship that you were like, OK, I need to overcompensate because because I really want this? Or was it just something inside of you?

I’d say it was a subconscious thing that I probably learned from making mistakes.

Yeah. Cool! So the agent pretty much calls you from that, which is you got in touch with them by cold print mail and then the agent gets in touch with you a couple of years later.

Oh no. That was a… So I got in touch with the event with cold front mail. The event got in touch with me a couple of years later. And then I noticed doing the event that everyone had the same agent. So then, I sucked up to everyone that was from the agent who are now some of my best friends. And then after that, the agent reached out to us.

Nice. And then the agent reaches out. I mean, at this point you’re kind of like, well, not at the beginning, but also not really like jumping up or something like that. So how do you negotiate with an agent like that? Was he just like, “OK, yeah, we’ll do it.” And then they get a certain percentage and that’s it? Or was there a negotiation? What was happening?

They got a percentage and they are just… So that particular agency ‘GELBERG’ is just so this is how we do things and we do it in the fairest way possible and everything is out in the open to discuss. And I just found from working with them for so long and so many other agents that have they just seem the most genuine and literally care about every single person that they represent, like it’s a family member. And so I, a hundred percent trust them with anything.

They are L.A. based or…?

No, they’re in Minneapolis.

And so just for me to know, how does… Maybe you don’t want to mention their percentages, but in L.A. in general, what are the percentages for good or bad agents? And how can you spy or bad agent?

I don’t know enough about that to say.

And then maybe the tips on how would you know what to do? Because you said a couple of agents you’ve seen already and then this is a good one. What makes a good and what makes a bad one?

For me is I mean, it’s this the same thing, as I said about being an intern, like they go above and beyond and show that they actually care.

Um, how do you test that, though?

That’s something that I’ve tried to get better at when working with people is like… I said a couple of years ago to my wife, I was like from now on, whenever I work with anyone, make sure before I sign the contract to do whatever I make them prove themself. Like just give them some sort of simple test to see if they follow through. Because when you’re first in business, when you’re first working with someone, everything’s a promise, like, yeah, we can do that and this and it’s going to be amazing and we love you and everything is great about it. And then once you sign the dotted line, like they can totally screw you. So for me, it’s like, oh, you want to work together? Cool. Could you put together a list of like ten? I don’t know if it was my stand up. Could you put together a list of like ten events that you have in your roster that you think would be a good fit for? And give me a paragraph description of why I’d be a good fit for each one, like that is not something that would be hard to put together, but it is something that I think if I asked people to do it, a lot would fail at it. And so it’s just because they wouldn’t do it, you know?

So, by that small thing, you pretty much just qualify if they’re going to do big things as well?

Yeah, it’s just do they care enough to put in the effort to help? Because, uh, whenever I work with someone, I want to make sure it’s someone that I care enough to help with. And so I just try and find people like that but feel the same way.

I mean, that’s nice, though. Like we do something similar when we hire people, like a smaller recruitment where we test for the motivation is real because motivation tends to go after a week or two, and then you’re stuck in the company

A hundred percent!

But it’s fun. You kind of also do that with agents, which just shows that technically the agent becomes part of the family, like you said.

Yeah, I wouldn’t I don’t do that just with agents. That was just advice for working with anyone on anything.

True. You have multiple agents or how does that work? Or is there one agent?

Uh. Yeah, um, I would say… Can you ask the question one more time?

Yeah. Do you have multiple agents or do you advise maybe agents for everything, everything that you do, like stand up or YouTuber?

I would say that every agent has a special field, whether that stand up or commercial acting, or TV acting or book writing, whatever you want to do. There is an agent that specializes in that field. And so you should find an agent that does that, like there’s agents that specialize in live touring, but there’s agents that specialize in getting you Netflix specials, right? So, it’s like getting a plumber, right? Some plumbers are specialized in commercial plumbing for major real estate, and others are like more handymen. You want to find the one that specializes in the the field you’re looking to, um, move forward

I didn’t know that. OK, so then let’s move on to the next part. So the agent finally gets on board. Does your life change a lot after that, or what’s the difference before and after?

Yeah, they got us gigs non-stop all the time, and I was just full on performing, traveling all over the US, getting sick of airports and having it be worth it once you got on stage with like a good audience and then from there, I was like, how do we expand this audience? And so, that’s when I started getting into YouTube and posting videos regularly.

So when does it (year wise) when does the agent get onboarded?

Let’s see…I’m going to say, around 2012.

But YouTube started in 2009.

OK, so that maybe it was like 20… I don’t know, it’s all a blur.

No worries, but in your mind, was the YouTube first or the agent first?

I would say it was all around the same time, but I would say that the agent took off way before the YouTube channel.

Cool. So OK, so then you’re doing… OK now I get it. So you’re doing the gigs, and then obviously…It’s not obvious actually, because what you’re saying right now is you were doing the gigs, which is by the way, you said your dream and you’re performing and doing something you love, but then something in your mind goes just, well, if I’m assuming right now, kind of like during high school, something in your mind goes off and it’s like, let’s found this this club. And then suddenly you’re saying like, let’s scale this audience. Why? Was it people approaching you just saying :”Hey, I want to see more of you or what?

That was it. It was like years of people being like: “Oh, we come to see you every year, but we can only see you one day of the year. Like, how do we see more of you?” And I was like, how can I give…? And as I thought about that more, I was like, that’s true, like even if I did a show every hour of every day, I’m still performing for like one small group, whereas on the Internet you can reach the entire world in one click. And so, I was like, I have to scale this audience, and that is why I started posting on YouTube.

It sounds to me like it was a gradual mindset shift, like it wasn’t happening right away. What happened for you to know? How was your reaction at the beginning? Because YouTube existed already.

I always watched YouTube from like the day it started and I think similar to like how I was afraid to be on stage by myself I was probably afraid to post a video. And so I think, um, eventually I was just like, screw it. I’m just going to do it and I’d say I posted videos for like five or six years before one took off.

And how does the animation tie into it? Because for the people just listening and not on computer or something like that, you obviously make animations, and as well you produce and film yourself sometimes. Where do you did you learn that skill from film school and why?

My first job I wanted as a kid was to be an animator, and that’s because I was really good at drawing. That was like the first thing I remember being good at, and, uh, then I started taking some animation and drawing classes and realized how long and arduous and boring being an animator was. And I was like, oh, maybe I don’t like art. Like I said earlier, maybe I don’t like the art of Aladin, maybe I like Robin Williams. And so I transitioned to comedy, and then after doing my YouTube channel for a while, I was like, I used to draw as a kid. Maybe if I try switching to animation, um, that’s closer to comedy. Maybe that’s the move I need to make. And so I tried making one animated video after posting live action videos for a couple of years. And the animated one, I went from getting like a thousand views, a video to like fifty thousand overnight. And I was like, oh, I got to make the switch. And so, I think that was in 2012, December 2012. And then from that point on I was like, I got to go all animation and I learned to draw again.

So it’s pretty much the audience telling you this is what we want to see and then you just make the switch. But isn’t it…? So we actually do some animation as well. Corporate work. It takes a while, like it’s not easy. And what you do is very custom work.

Yeah.

How long does it take you to then make a video or something like that? You can’t just whip it up or…?

Yeah. So I’m like a very analytical problem solver person. And so for me, I’m like… I’m more interested in the back end of animation, which sounds really weird, especially since I just said I hated how analytical and boring it was. But, um, so for me, like, I’ve perfected, like, reusing assets. And so we have like a super organized library of backgrounds that are like categories categorized by like location and type. So like if we need a scene in a bedroom, I can go in a folder and there’s like every angle of a bedroom possible with like our backgrounds are like everything is a separate layer. So they’re completely customizable and reusable. Our characters are super rigged puppets that are like two hundred layers. So the main character that represents me, Alex, is like one hundred and fifty layer puppet about… And we can even drag and drop animations on to him to make him walk or talk or act like all that stuff was animated once and now it’s just urías like as easy as like searching for a gif online.

Right. So you animated it. How did you animated it? Which software did you use?

We use Tune Boom which if you’re interested in animation, I would be impressed if you could show me software that was better suited for it, because what what Tune Boom does is just to me, mind blowing.

What does it do then?

It has, um, it’s hard to explain it with just words, but it just has so many feat. Custom features and its feature-rich that as far as I can see, there’s no other software that has as many features in it as Tune Boom does. Like it has 3D character, 3D camera, which gives you depth, it gives you character rigging, which lets you bend into form drawings in an easy way. It has, um, I mean I could talk endlessly about it, if I could remember the words, but, uh, I would say the most basic explanation is that the amount of features it has is uncomparable.

I mean, you can go pretty technical on this one, but so all the features in there but that’s when you animate new assets, right?

Yeah.

Once you’ve animated them, I can imagine the software that you’re using is pretty intense. You’re switching to a different software. That’s less…

No, we just, uh, we do all the animation in that software.

Really?

Yep.

And can I ask like how… What kind of computers you can use because the expert time must be pretty long?

Um, we, uh, just do it all on like base model or not based model. The whatever the like mid tier IMAX are.

Really?

Yeah. What I would say we do have one PC because we had a PC master race person work here for a while and I would say that’s the route to go just because it uh, the graphics card and those are way more affordable and um, that renders are a lot faster on that.

Really? Do you …Did you try an external graphics card as well? You can buy them online.

Uh, no, we haven’t tried that yet. No

You should definitely try. You can get a lot faster in those things. It’d be interesting to hear maybe later also: what’s faster? A PC or a Mac with an external graphics card? Because you can buy one for, I think three hundred bucks on Amazon, and then you can exchange the actual so you can buy the rig and then exchange the graphics card from Nvidio or Reagan, and then that’s good, because you can upgrade it. So, it’d be interesting to hear because I know for software that is strictly strictly Apple, you definitely need a Mac. But then if you use graphics, I’ve always heard Windows. So you kind of saying the same thing right now.

Oh, I totally say the same thing. Um, yeah.

So the graphics card would be the most important part and that’s rig?

Yeah, for sure. I think for anyone just starting out like any computer you have is going to be fine. Don’t worry about having the most powerful computer, but we’re so into the program with the compositing and how taking it to a super advanced level that I think we need more power.

How come it’s different now? Is it just because there are so many layers?

Uh, yeah. We require more power just because we use, um, so many more layers and the puppets we use have so many deformers on them. Um, I would say a puppet probably has like 10 to 20 deformers that can bend and move the puppet around, and so and you have that many deformers on a puppet and then there’s three or four puppets in a scene. It just starts to become taxing on the computer.

Correct. So can I ask then you have a video like, let’s say a five minute video. How long does that take you?

If we were starting from scratch, it would probably take us a month, I would say, if we had absolutely nothing.

But with the library that you have right now?

With the library we have right now, we can…One or two people can pump that out in about a week.

Wow! How do you get…? Because you publish more than once a week, so how do you..?

No, we’re publishing once a week right now.

OK, that explains it, because I saw that you were…But you usually also post live videos. I just saw you posted that as well.

Yeah. The live video we just posted was because we’re launching that card game on Kickstarter, which we’re getting a great response on, and I just wanted to quickly answer some people’s questions. So I did that live video as well.

Tell me about the card game. So…wait, maybe let’s keep that for a second. So you got the agent, the YouTube is kicking off. You made the switch to animation because it gets more audience. So now you’re doing this card game, but you did a card game before and in high school, you said or in…

That was like a point and click adventure game on the computer.

But the game-making has been kind of in you for a while. Have you done any other games since then or is this your first one since that old one?

I would say the love of games has been there forever. And this was the first one that we we actually made. My friend Zack, that I went to college with, his wife and my wife, we’d always play games together and be like: “we’re going to make one, we’re going to make one.” And then he had his twins. And I was like, uh, if we don’t do this now, we’re never going to do it. And so that’s that was what inspired us to make the game.

So this is the first game since pretty much last time.

Yeah.

And then when you’re doing this game, so you’re doing with a friend, which is always nicer. How does that work? And maybe also the dynamic of doing it with a friend, because obviously I have a best friend and we laugh about things and doing a YouTube channel together, but then you actually do it. Is there a difference in your collaboration? And you know, how you work together… Does it help?

Uh, uh, the friend that I did it with, um, or remember earlier when I was talking about starting that TV show in college?

Right.

That was the guy I did that with. And then when we made that ridiculous action adventure movie, it was that guy as well. So like we’ve always collaborated together on projects. So, I think we just like each other and respect each other a bunch so that working together, it’s like… It’s very easy for us to throw responsibilities at each other and know who’s in charge of what.

So how did it start? OK, so you’re playing the games. That’s how it started. But when did it really get to the nitty gritty: “You’re doing this. You’re doing that…?”

I would say about a year and a half ago is when we started taking it really seriously and just getting together every week and playing the game over and over again to find out how terrible we could make it. Just like with performing or starting a company or anything, it was like, let’s be really bad at this and keep making it better until it’s at a point that we can share it with everyone. And then I would say maybe six months ago, we’re like, all right, we have something that’s cool. It’s time to start doing the artwork and getting the balls in motion and sharing this with the world.

So it’s pretty much one year and every week on like a Saturday you would get together and play would became this, uh, card game…?

“Sugarheist”, yeah.

And then how is it at the beginning? Like was it really bad or something? Or how did you even come up with the first try?

Right. So, uh, for the mechanics of the game, we looked at all the games that we’d play all the time, like, what do we like about this? And like, well, we like trading cards and we like wreaking havoc on other players, like instigating arguments. Basically, I love card games that instigate arguments, so we are like we have to make a game that instigates people getting upset with each other in a fun way. And so that, uh, was how we started. And then we set up a bunch of rules and played at once and were like, oh, this is not fun. This is fun. This sucks, this doesn’t suck. And then we just did that over and over again until we had more “doesn’t sucks than does sucks.”

How long how long were those games initially?

What do you mean?

So you started in the beginning a year and a half ago. Every week you sat down and then you were playing these kind of beta games. How long were you playing it… For 20 minutes together or..?

Yeah, I would say games would last anywhere from a half an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes we’d play it all the way through. Sometimes it would be so bad that after ten minutes we’re like, we have to stop. This is awful.

OK, so half a year ago it becomes something fun. Do you then get your life together? Like who’s the first person who actually saw it outside of you two?

I would say, uh, my animators are probably the very first people to play the game. Um, that wasn’t the core group. Um, one day they stayed after work and we all played the game, um, and they gave some feedback and we went back and improved it again.

Why the animators?

Uh, just because they were here already. And I know that… And they play games all the time, like they have, uh, game groups where they go out and play cards and board games with their friends.

Nice. And then, uh, OK, so then the animators… Then you actually design it professionally and then you start printing it. I saw in the video that you also had… You printed it in the printer first?

Yeah, I have some of those right here, actually.

Those look actually pretty good! Why not create like a digital experience where people can just print the card? Well, probably bad for copyright.

What was the question?

Why not just create a digital experience, like they just download the cards and can print it themselves?

We are going to have that but this is more meant to be… We wanted people to have like something that could last a while. So there is going to be a print in play available where they can print it out. But it also requires a ton of cards. There’s one hundred and eighty cards in the game, so I can’t imagine someone wanting to sit there and cut out one hundred and eighty cards.

Cool. So, OK, so then you have that the animators take over. How does the process work, like, you know, to to print something like that to you, go to a printing shop?

I’m in the US. There’s a couple… We’ve been I mean, as everyone has like, uh, made it more difficult to make this all happen with Covid-19. But because the one print shop we were going to use, uh, like, they just aren’t in operation right now. So it took some researching to find one. But there are a couple of when you’re prototyping a game, there’s a couple of great websites that will do. It’s hard to tell, but these are not as high quality as something you’d buy in the stores. They’re pretty close, but it’s not an exact match. But there are companies that will like do basically print on demand games for you and that can include games with like little miniature figures, games with cards, games, boards, like all of that stuff. There’s a couple of great websites that can put together mockups for you.

And then you just Google that or…?

Yeah. The one the one we used if people don’t play games is the one we used for these and I’d recommend them. It’s good quality and fast turn-around. And then the other major one is the game crafter, and those both offer great resources for building prototypes.

Cool. So then, you know, you started kind of in your friends circle and then they gave you the green light. How do you scale that? When it’s the light bulb going on? Okay, this needs to go to the world like… Do you first test it out, try to sell it to your friends and family, or do you right away go to the Kickstarter?

Um, well, uh, the goal was always to share it with my YouTube audience. Um, I’m in a lucky position that I already have, uh, a fan base to that will help bring it to that next level of letting everyone know about it. So, um. The goal was like: “let’s get the fan base excited about it” and hopefully that is enough of a push that it can get it more into the mainstream of other games on Kickstarter.

Do you have a proper strategy in place, as in obviously the strategies in videos? Who are you going to do paid advertising and stuff like that to get it to people that don’t know you yet?

Yeah, we’re going to see how the first day of funding goes. And then based on that, we’ll possibly invest in like Facebook and Instagram ads.

Nice. And the whole infrastructure is done by the providers. So then you don’t have to worry about the whole logistical part, right?

We have a separate company that’s in charge of all that stuff. So the ones I mentioned, uh, print and play games and game crafter, those are more just to print mockups. But we have a separate company that’s helping us with the logistical stuff.

OK, is there like a number you have in mind of…OK, if we achieve this number, then you know, it’s worth it for us to take this to the world. Or if we don’t achieve that number, it’ll just stick with my friends.

Um, I personally I mean, I hope it’s super successful because the game is awesome and I know when people play it, they’re going to love it. But personally, I… It doesn’t matter to me how well it does. Like, it would be a dream if it made lots of money. But me, I’m more excited about just the people that want it get it. Um, just because it’s it’s fun. And I would love to give them something fun to share with their family and friends.

I saw in your last video that you uploaded just before the call. There you said it’d be a dream that if it’s in the stores, um, I think your wife has your dad and then. But don’t you have I mean, you’re doing it with a with a friend. So there’s a partner involved. Don’t you have a strategy to get it into stores or is that something for after you get feedback from the Kickstarter campaign?

The company that’s handling all the logistical stuff does have relationships with stores, but that’s still like… Lots of people make card and board games, especially these days, where, like anyone can do it. So getting it into a store, there has to be enough of a demand for it. We have to prove ourselves basically because we’ve never had anything in a store before, right? So we have to say, look at how many people bought this game already. If you have it in your store, you’re going to have the same success. So, so…

So it’s super important to have your audience.

Yes. One hundred percent. Um, I think we have a huge advantage and I’m confident it will end up in the store. But at the end of the day, like, it’s not up to me, it’s up to everyone coming together and backing the Kickstarter to make it happen.

So, pretty much in short, your audience plus all of their friends, and then, yeah, if they just keep enjoying it, I mean the Kickstarter is thirty days, right?

Yeah, and I have a sizeable audience too, like I have four million subscribers on YouTube, so I’m not at a disadvantage by any means. But um,…

How do you how do you get in touch with your audience, because with YouTube after you hit a certain number, especially like above the millions, I can imagine, not everything pops up in their feed. So how do you interact with all? I’m imagining you’re trying to interact with almost all of them. So how do you get directly to them?

One thing, two things that I love are “Discord”, which for anyone that doesn’t know, um, is this great chat app where you can set up communities. And it just is it’s basically a chat room app, but it’s the current trend. And it’s been a great way for everyone that’s involved in my community to be able to talk to each other. So I’ve been loving that. And then as recently as this week, I just started using this thing called “Community.com”, which gives you a … Do you know what that is?

No, I’ve never heard of it.

Oh, it’s great. Community gives you a phone number that people can text message and then it’s still it’s not in beta, but it’s like slowly coming out of beta. Um, and it gives you just all the resources to be able to respond to people one on one, but in a way that can scale to thousands of people. So I get to have one-on-one conversations with people, but also be able to scale that and text people in a way where it still feels one-on-one, but I’m reaching a mass amount of people.

Because the interface of Community.com is on your laptop so you can message…?

It’s on the laptop and it’s on the phone. And it just gives you… I don’t know how to explain this, but it does give you a way to like respond to messages, uh, multiple messages at once, but still give it that one on one feel.

OK, so it’s just a little bit more organized, gives you a little bit more features and it’s not all over the place like a WhatsApp or an i-message?

Yeah, exactly. So like I can search for keywords and everyone that uses that keyword in a message, I can respond to them all at once, and they get it in their text message as in like an individual message just to them.

So how much does Community.com cost?

Um, I believe it’s one hundred dollars a month for the first thousand users. Um, but I think their pricing structure is still something they’re working on. So that could be totally off. But that’s just what I remember.

And then OK, so again, I’m assuming you’re not getting everybody on text. So what do you do that gets you the most amount of interaction with your audience?

Um, I would say…four million

Like, how do you hit all four million, I imagine you can’t hit all four million?

No, it’s impossible. It is literally impossible. I’ll make… I’m sure even though I’ve been talking about this game for months, um, there is still people that will be like, what do you mean you’re making a game? And it’s like or every single time I post a video, I would say there’s at least one hundred comments. They’re like, why don’t you post videos anymore? And it’s like, I’ve been posting a video every week for the past five years.What do you mean? Why don’t you post videos anymore? And so it’s just, uh, especially with all the competition for eyeballs these days, it’s just you have to accept that not everyone is going to know everything.

Do you have ideas on what the best practices are to actually get as much in touch with them?

I don’t know but if you figure it out, let me know first.

I will. We’re actually looking into it as well. That’s how I was interested, but I’ll let you know if I discover something. So OK, so to give me, like, a little bit numbers wise. So you have these numbers, community.com and stuff like that. Instagram I saw as well. Do you feel like your audience, like, it if let’s say you would start an Instagram today from zero and you would say, hey, audience, have new Instagram, how many of those four million do you think would convert onto an Instagram platform?

None. Yeah, yeah. For me, I mean, I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me, getting people to go from platform to platform is really hard. Like…

Really? Why?

I don’t I don’t know. I would say for me, like if I was like: “hey go follow this new Instagram!”, I wouldn’t get any traction. But if it if I was on YouTube and I was like, “hey, go follow this other YouTube!”, that will get a lot more traffic. That would get a ton of people because it’s within the platform. But to get people to switch, like, I don’t I don’t understand that at all. Yeah.

And have you ever tried, like, getting them from YouTube towards an email or something like that, something where they have a newsletter from you?

I would say the most recent conversion I’ve tried to make platform to platform is this card game. And so we announced that… And the card game got …I’m looking right now. Ten thousand sign ups about from reaching out to an audience of four million.

But at start you said in your last video, was like twenty thousand, but not all of them confirmed.

Yeah, yeah.

Why do you think that happens?

They didn’t know they had to confirm. It went to their spam, they didn’t see the email, it could be anything. I’ll send out emails. Like, for instance, last year, I went out on tour and I’ll get emails, and we sent out an email blast being like, hey, we’re going on tour and I’ll still get emails to the day. They’re like, hey, I just saw this email that you’re going out on tour. Sorry that I missed it. I’m like, who checks their email from eight months ago?

Yeah, I get that. So, how interesting, we’ve tried some stuff over the over the past couple of months because since MailChimp changed a lot of things which was made last year, I think, a lot of these emails don’t get into the inbox. And what we’ve noticed is if we build our landing pages a little bit different, warning them that there is going to be a confirmation link and they will arrive in the next one or two minutes, it seems to help a little bit. But we also have… Sometimes we just skip the double opt in and we go straight for the single opton. Have you ever tried that?

Um. Yeah, I do it for my personal email list, but for this, since we’re working with a company, we had to do the double up and…

What’s the difference between… If you noticed, like double opt in and single opt in. Do you notice the difference?

Um, personally, I don’t I don’t I don’t know why we need a double opt in. I know it’s the law sometimes, but for me, I’m just like if they put it in their email address, let me send them e-mails.

No, the double opt in is not for the law, I think. Well, now would you DPR might be a bit different, but before that, I think it was more of making sure that they put in the right email. Yeah, because if you’re sending to 10000 subscribers, but nine thousand of those are like Brian with two N’s or something like that. And you screwed up and suddenly you’re paying for a subscriber that doesn’t exist. Yeah. So that’s usually…

In that regard, I’d say the double opt in is worth it for sure.

Cool. OK, so a lot of the card game I’m probably going to add.

It’s so good. Get it guys. Yeah. Kickstarter 26. That’s going to be awesome.

I’m definitely getting it. I’ve been excited but I’m definitely going to ask a bit more later about it. But let’s go a little bit back again because I was super excited where we were going with the whole: “she got the agent thing and now you’re doing the YouTube thing.” So, your first couple of years you’re doing live videos, right? You’re not doing animation yet. So how many subscribers did you get before you made the switch to the…Well, yeah, before we made the switch to make an animation?

I don’t remember exactly, but I would say when I posted my first animation, so from 2007…When did I start the YouTube channel?

2009.

I’d say from 2009 to 2012, I had like ten thousand subscribers total. And then once I switched to animation, I jumped up to like, uh, maybe like one hundred thousand and then within a year or so, it just started getting into the millions.

You think it was because of the animation? So what were you doing that was so attracting them? That was so different even than the live videos.

I mean, at the time it was different. There was maybe two people posting animated videos on YouTube, um, and the similar format to me. And so at the time that stuck out as individual. Now there’s like there’s so many that I couldn’t even name them all. But at the time it was a very unique genre.

That’s fun. And then obviously, YouTube started growing outside of posting weekly. You were posting weekly, right? So outside of posting weekly and then switching over to the animation, were there any big things that you were doing that gave you a light like “Aha!” moment where you were like, OK, if I do this, they will give me more subscribers?

Um. I can’t think of anything now.

Because I saw I saw, for instance, you talk a lot about your life, but then I saw also that that one video about the gun policy with the cats.

Oh, yeah, that video exploded.

Yeah.

And I’ve tried to make other videos similar to that, and they just haven’t clicked as well. So for people tuning in, then I have no idea what we’re talking about. I did a video called “The Guns Explained with Cats”, which was just a little parody of like if having a cat lady on your street and how absurd she gets with cats, but that’s the way people are treating guns in America and that exploded. But I think that was also at a time when that was… It said what needed to be said and, uh, an appetizing way. So people that didn’t even care about the comedy of it just shared it because they’re like, this is the point I need to get across. And it’s getting it across in a way that is easy to consume.

But were are you always looking for trending topics? Like what got you to that first ten thousand and then what got you from ten to hundred? So, from ten to one hundred. I’m assuming it was the animation that you were unique and everything, but to ten thousand you were probably doing something that still… Were you talking about trending topics? Was it relatable subjects just because it was your life?

I would say the video that really blew up was I made this video called “My hot babysitter got me in trouble.” And it was about the story from school, um, in middle school. And I dated my babysitter and who is about the same age as me. Anyways, it’s a ridiculous topic, but I think that scratch the itch of like a relatable story. So people connect with it and see themselves in the shoes of me. It gave them excitement of like, “Oh my God, I wish this would happen to me.” And then the third thing was that it ended on a cliffhanger that was like, oh, I want to see more. And so when you make content online, like as much as you want to make something that’s good, like that matters very little. Unfortunately, what matters is you make content that people watch to the end, that they leave comments on, they watch another one. So when you make your content, those are the three most important things. So that video got a lot of people to leave comments. It got a lot of people to subscribe because they wanted to see more of the story, and it got them to click on other videos, which is as far as YouTube is concerned, that’s literally all the algorithm cares about. And it’s the same with Tik Tok or Twitter, Instagram, like as much as you like: “Oh, I want to make this a good thing.” It doesn’t matter. What matters is making stuff that turns on the buttons on YouTube that says I have to share this with more people.

So do you make then a series about the baby sit? Or like if you make content now, do you think out a series of content: part one babysitter, part two baby sitter and then to trigger those three things or…?

Yeah, that’s one… That’s been interesting. So the baby sitter thing we wrapped up in December with a movie, uh, which is crazy. We posted like an hour and a half long movie that…

I saw that.

Yeah. I can’t believe we did that still, but. So… They love like as far as the algorithm is concerned, it loves the continuation and like getting people to come back for more. But the audience in the comments, they like what’s with all these cliffhangers? So it’s been interesting figuring out an approach that makes them want to see what happens next, but doesn’t get them upset that the story isn’t finished. So the most recent one, as I’ve been telling the story of how I met my wife and, um, it’s we’re trying to scratch that itch of like I want to know what happens next, but also give them a conclusion that doesn’t leave them upset, which is weird because TV is so episodic and like the next episode.

So how do you do it then? Because with TV there are cliffhangers, which is why you keep watching the episodes. And obviously like for instance, I watch things like Suits and get super angry because it’s like “No! Why?!” Why now…?

Yeah. Yeah

But so YouTube you’re telling me is different and you don’t really want to do such cliffhangers because your audience will get upset, you’re telling me.

Well, I think I mean, it’s hard to say because, like, their reaction might be as trivial as the way you just were talking about Suits or whatever you’re talking about, like: “No, why now?!” All I can see is the text of the comment, which is why did you do that to me? which I can read many different ways.

Um, so, um, one thing I found that helps is instead of just ending it right on the cliffhanger, like leaving it up to the audience and, like having a conversation with them one-on-one at the end of the video, that’s like “we could end the story here”, or if you want me to continue it, let me know that and we can continue in the next one or like letting it become more of a “choose your own adventure” than a cliffhanger, right? So at the end of the video, being like, on the next one you could go in this direction or that direction. Which way… Which part of the story do you want me to tell? And we’ve seen success with that and, uh, pleasing people.

So it’s kind of like a new generation TV series where at Netflix you pretty much get your TV series with a cliffhanger. And here it’s more like you make a full rounded story with a conclusion. But then at the end, you have this question: do you want to explore more? If so, what do you want to explore?

Yeah.

Interesting. How did you come up with that or was it just naturally came up?

Lots of trial and error similar to… Yeah, I think my whole life is trial and error actually.

Sounds like it. But it sounds like you’re learning which is the most important part.

Yeah.

So… Sorry… So those first ten thousand was about those topics that you were just mentioning then? Do you think the ten thousand two hundred thousand was because you introduced animation on top of that?

Yeah, for sure.

Then what do you think got you from one hundred thousand to your first million?

Totally that babysitter video, that first babysitter video got me like a million subscribers and a couple of months or a couple of weeks, I’m sorry. It was the growth from that that was insane. It was unbelievable.

So… Is literally just you got lucky with a certain topic and then it just hit home?

Yeah.

Do you wish that sometimes you could produce more than once a week just so that… You know…?

Yeah. I wish I could produce every day of the week. It would be great. But it’s just especially the animation. It’s impossible. Even with a video a week. It’s a real… The animation part is challenging and as difficult as it is, that’s very like paint by number and so it’s easy for us to accomplish. The thing that is most draining for me is coming up with the scripts and interesting stories and topics, because with YouTube, they want personal personal experiences and personal stories. And so, to come up with something fresh and interesting every single week on top of directing and producing all these videos, that’s the most challenging part. So I don’t know how one person could do that.

And why have you never thought (just out of interest for me)…? Because, you know, we deal more corporate, so I get to see that part. Why have you never thought of it as a studio where you get, you know, a couple of screenwriters together, you think out your ideas for the next year and then you get like an editing team or even maybe outsource the editing? I don’t know.

So we did that for… I’ve hired writers before and trying to get people to match my voice has been very challenging. Um, I even went as far as to make a really detailed and thorough, like script Bible with like, this is the voice that needs to be in and this is how it needs to be written and this is what it needs to include and not include. And like, I don’t know if I just didn’t find the right people, but it was just… It was difficult to find people that wrote in the same tone as I am. And because YouTube is so personal, like I’d say, that’s the most important thing.

And what about mentoring somebody or?

What do you mean?

I don’t know. I’ve noticed that delegation is being one of the hardest things also for some of the team leaders in my team. And that, um…

Like they have a hard time telling people what to do?

Yeah, they have a hard time translating their voice, like you said. Yeah. And then I’ve noticed that it just is difficult when especially when it gets more personal when we do creative work. But when you get people like really as a blank slate in the beginning of their careers and they stay with you for like let’s say a year or something like that, um, suddenly it just becomes a little bit easier to… To explain these things to them, because they haven’t gotten outside perspectives or something like that to have a different voice. You know what I mean?Have you tried something like that, like interns?

I would say writing wise I haven’t, but animation wise I would say one of our best… I work with the animators all the time and I would say my best success story wasn’t someone that applied for a job, it was someone that kept sending in fan art. And I was like, hey, you’re really good at this. Do you want to come in an intern? And they came in an intern and they were great. And I was like, hey, do you want to possibly, uh, start out assistant animating? And then they did that and they totally killed it. And then I was like, hey, you’re really good at this. Do you want to be a full time animator? And that’s similar to what you’re saying, someone that like was mentored and grew up within the system of what we do here. And so they just get it. And I think that was our most successful person we’ve worked with, I would say. I mean, I work with so many great people, but that one was just like it was such a pleasant surprise for both her and I, I think.

What’s the… What’s the issue of doing that for writers?

Um, I just it’s hard to… Well, one thing with writers…

I mean, I’m struggling with the same thing. I have to say for writers specifically, it’s quite difficult. But, yeah, I’d love to hear from you. Like, why?

Um, well, writing is hard. I hate doing it myself. So I think that’s the first problem. But the second thing is it’s, um. A lot of the writers we hired would write it more in line with the traditional TV show with like, dialogue and scene changes and a story arc, which there is a story arc, but with YouTube, it’s more about personal antidotes and telling stories. And as many times that be like we have to take all this dialogue out and make it directed at the person listening, like it just wasn’t conveyed in the scripts. And so. Fine.

What if you what if you take like a retreat or something like that, you do retreat where you sit down with screenwriters and you literally plot out the next year of content?

I think, so we did do that when we were using writers a lot. I think the other thing is that I’ve also gotten way more efficient at writing scripts, and so I have less of a need for that. But the other thing, we did do that for a while, where we’d meet once a month and we talk about what their script would be about and then they’d go out and write it. Um, and like I said, I put together that really thorough, um, writer’s guide and Bible that like detailed how many lines of dialogue should be in a script and how it should be written. Um, and the perspective and voice and how each character should talk. Um, and again, like all my stories are based on real life. So it’s not like they’re making stuff up, but, um, it just still wasn’t it wasn’t in the right voice and in a way that worked for me. So I would love to try it again. It’s just something we’ve put on pause for a while.

Interesting. Cool,  so um. Yeah, so then one hundred thousand to a million was the babysitter. Obviously, you’re going now one million to 10 million or even five million because you’re close. Do you feel like there’s a different thing you’re doing now?

What do you mean?

Are you focusing on different things or maybe you’ve piled up everything you’ve learned and you just keep doing that, or have you introduced a new learning lesson to it?

Um, for the like, what is my next phase of my career? Is that what you’re asking?

For YouTube specifically. So the first ten thousand was about getting those three topics in order, something that they comment on, that they come back and stuff like that. Then afterwards, you introduced the animation and then afterwards you introduce these topics that are very clickable. So, now that you’re going into your next phase of YouTube, so to say, do you feel like there is another learning lesson that you’re doing? Are you doing more training?

Oh, yeah, totally. So, as I said earlier, like, the whole reason I started my channel was to scale my performance audience. And so, we did it last year for the first time, we did 20, 30 cities, and it did great. But we got lots of emails that were like, we didn’t know you did stand up. We didn’t know you were a comedian. What are you going to be like on stage? And then I’d finish the show and I’m like, that was really great, but that’s not what I was expecting. And so from that, we’re like, “oh my God.” The whole reason I started this is not clear to the audience. So now, it’s been all moving forward. I want to make sure that it’s very clear in every video that I’m a comedian and that what I build my persona on stage, because I guess it’s a little bit different than it is in the videos. And so originally, I was just going to start recording all of my sets and talk about similar topics that are in the videos and kind of interweave those with the stories that I tell, similar to how… Do you ever watch Seinfeld?

Yeah, I did.

Do you know how like at the beginning or the end of Seinfeld, there’d be like a little clip of him doing standup?

Yeah.

I was going to do something similar to that, but animated. So that would be the animated story. And then there’d be like a little clip of animated standup that would be related to the topic. And so that was the plan. And then every comedy club in the entire world closed because of the pandemic. Uh, so that idea has been put on pause right now, but that is what we’re going to do as soon as we can.

But why not do an anime like you said yourself, just do the animated skits so you not being like just you like this and then just animate yourself doing your…

Because I think what’s because I mean, that’s what we were already doing. I feel like four years and they’re still not getting that. I’m a comedian. So I think actually having the feedback of a live audience and like seeing me at a microphone is what will, um, make that clear.

To pretty much making that sound fall. So, I guess the next part of your journey is making clear what you really do and getting your whole audience on board. And I guess the transition that you’re then making is getting your offline world connected with your online world, where before it was very much about growing your online world. And you’re off the world. But now it’s about bringing them together and connecting them.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s really cool. So outside of the card game…

And just to give you a heads up, I have to go in about 15 minutes…

Yeah, sounds great. We’re about to wrap up anyway, but I guess that’s partially what I wanted to wrap up with was going into the future. And the next thing that you want to do, your YouTube, it’s pretty clear. The card game that you’re doing right now, that’s kind of, again, bringing your offline and online together as well.

I’m so excited about it. It’s so good.

But outside of the card game and your YouTube, have you thought about a Netflix stand up on Netflix or something like that? I can imagine that could be interesting.

Yeah, I think that is the next kind of area I want to go to is, uh, a standup special or some live performance more and getting it back to that, because the past couple of years have been all about growing the online audience and like where my heart and like true passion is is and performing for people. So, I mean, all these other projects we’ve talked about are super fun and I love them and I put my heart into them. But I feel like the the most satisfying I ever feel is when I get off stage. And so I was like, that was the best thing I’ve ever seen, that just like it gives me life and it makes me feel like I did something good for a person to, like, give them that much joy. So that is what I want to share more of.

For people who would be looking and thinking that they have that, you know, live entertainment. But they would maybe like speaking or entertaining or something like that. But obviously now with Corona, YouTubers are a little bit better off than than…So, how would you tell this person to transition into digital and what tips would you give this person?

Do it and trial and error. Just do it over and over and over again. And good luck.  Cause it’s so oversaturated right now.

Any like practical things you should definitely be doing or not doing?

Um, be be ready for when it’s I would say, I mean I’m a very interesting person because I’m interested in both the YouTube, which is a very secluded life and the performing which is very in front of people. And I think most people don’t have both itches, both bugs. Um, but I would say if you are a live performer, like there’s so much you can be doing right now to be ready for when this is over. And I think when it is over, people are going to be so desperate and excited to see live entertainment that they’re just going to explode and you’re going to have so much work.

So how would you tell them to prepare already for that?

Update your promo material, reach out to people that are in your industry that are affected by this and just be like, I’m thinking about you and hoping you’re OK, just like the same story of like how at that fair I got water for all those people. Like, just because you can’t get money from someone doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them and be helpful to them, right? Uh, yeah.

Cool. I think that’s a really good one. Um, maybe the last question that I’ve been getting is a request a lot. Are you reading any books right now? Do you have something interesting to recommend that has helped?

There was …I just finished the Robin Williams biography, um, which was, uh, for a performer like it is a very sad book. Uh, but, uh, as a performer in major, I realized, like, why are we all trying so hard?

What do you mean?

The whole book, like he was my Robin Williams was my idol and like he is just like the most talented comedian on the face of the planet. And like half the book is him talking about how, like, critics hated him and he never felt like he was good enough and he felt like Jim Carrey was going to ruin his career because he was so talented and like people didn’t want to work with him because he wasn’t a good actor. And I’m like, you are like the most phenomenal actor comedian I can think of. How could you even be having these thoughts? And just to see that like someone and as phenomenal as him was also struggling with being accepted was just mind blowing to me.

How did it affect you? Were like, what did you get out of that learning?

Um. Well, it made me a little depressed. Uh, and then, uh, then I felt, uh, I was like, it’s good to be depressed, I guess, because he was he felt the same exact way. So, uh, yeah. It was just good to not feel alone.

Right. I guess that’s a good one to close with because… No, it’s a bit depressing, but hear me out. I think I think, you know, knowing that we’re not alone is partially why we’re doing this in the first place. I can tell you, like from our end, like the reason we did we did these events and doing the podcast, just realizing we’re not alone, no matter how big you’re becoming, everybody’s struggling, which is kind of also what I learned. But at the same time, maybe the conclusion wouldn’t be, oh, you know, everything’s bad and everybody’s going to hate us. But it’s more like, you know, we’re not alone. Everybody’s struggling. But at the same time, it’s trial and error. And if you keep just learning, then maybe we’ll have those learning lessons that you’ll have as well, going to your ten thousand subscribers and hundred thousand, a million. But also, at the same time with your audience and how you learned from Comedy Central compared to like that gig that you got and eventually ended up being your… Becoming an agent that came to you. I think it’s just I would add to that just to trial and error, you know. We’re not alone. It’s hard, everybody  is struggling. But as long as you do trial and error, you’ll kind of get ahead.

You know, one thing that is similar to that, the I think it might be a little bit inspiring. There was a series on Netflix. It was about… Like, I can’t recall what it was called, but it was about like, uh, movies and where they came from.

Oh yeah, I forgot it. Explain or something. No, I remember what you mean. They did one on ‘Home Alone.’

Yeah, that’s the one I’m thinking of.

If you type in ‘Home Alone’ in Netflix, you’ll find the series, um, ‘Director’s cut’ or something? Was it that one?

Home Alone Netflix….Oh, turn that off. Stop now. Where is that coming from? Stop talking. Uh, ‘The Movies that Made Us’!

‘The Movies that Made Us’, right.

Uh, ‘The Movies that Made Us’ is all about these huge blockbuster successful movies and how they became huge successes. And pretty much every single one of them at some point or another was a complete failure. And the people that worked on it, uh, were not expecting it to be even a success at all. Oh, and it just kind of reminded me of that Robin Williams book and how… It makes me feel like absolutely everything everyone makes sucks. Always. Everything everyone makes always sucks. And the only time something is successful is like winning the lottery. Like you get lucky with that one thing and the people that get lucky on it, capitalize it and try and get lucky again. But if you’re making something or working on something, it does suck because everything sucks and it’s just people that keep making sucky things cash out when they get the lucky one. So just keep working on whatever you’re working on and keep hoping you get lucky. Like, the more times you try something, the more chances you have to get lucky. So that’s kind of how I felt about everything I’ve ever worked on lately.

That is so that’s so true also in business that you’re going to do so many failures. And it’s usually that one then makes it worth it for all of the failures. With investment, same thing. So it’s just interesting that also in the creative arts, it’s pretty much the same thing.

Yeah, exactly. I think it’s the same for everything. Everything sucks, you guys.

But I think that’s a good… That’s a more positive one to to kind of close with. I really enjoyed this. I’m very happy that you came on. I really hope the Kickstarter goes really well, will definitely promote it. Well, I’m definitely going to be buying one. So…

Yay! You’re going to have a lot of fun with it. It’s a great game.

I’ll, uh, I’ll definitely give you a testimonial and see how it goes. But thank you so much for coming on. And I hope to invite you once again after the Kickstarter or something like that.

Yeah, that’d be great.

Good luck.

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Slave labor is very much real and part of our everyday life. Every time you go to the supermarket, there is a good chance that you bought a couple of products that are produced by what we call modern slavery. Modern slavery is the severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain. 

A good example is the chocolate industry. Tony’s Chocolonely explains this best: 

There is an unfair distribution of value and power in the chocolate supply chain. The chain starts with the millions of farmers that produce cocoa and ends with the billions of consumers that enjoy chocolate. But what about the bit in between? This section is dominated by a group of chocolate giants that profit from keeping the cocoa purchasing price as low as possible. As a result, farmers are forced to live in poverty.. leading to child labor and slavery.

While lots of people ask politicians and NGO’s to address this issue, the founders of Tony’s Chocolonely took this responsibility by making this problem their purpose. Their mission is to make 100% slave free the norm in the world of chocolate production. 

If you want to know more about Tony’s Chocolonely and how they want to eliminate slavery within the world of chocolate, we had Ynzo van Zanten as a guest on ‘Impact Talks’ telling their story. He is the Chief Evangelist at Tony’s Chocolonely. You can also read about it in our blog 10 Things I’ve Learned from a Chocolate Evangelist as a Social Entrepreneur.

Impact Talks is a podcast with influential speakers from all over the world. We are dedicated to encouraging growth and innovation within startups and scale-ups. 

Purpose-Driven Brands

While Tony’s brand purpose addresses a moral issue, not everyone can pursue one of this size. However, many great companies are purpose-led. Nike wants to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Google tries to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. 

A brand purpose allows brands to occupy a meaningful place in their customers’ minds. Even though profit and purpose aren’t mutually exclusive, a clear purpose can deliver commercial success. 

‘Companies that stand for something bigger than just what they sell are usually more successful, because of this meaningful place in their customers’ minds’. – Bill Theofilou, Managing Director at Accenture Strategy


So, What is Brand Purpose?

The definition of a brand purpose is “a higher-order reason for a brand to exist than just making a profit”. It connects with consumers on a more emotional level, such as values and norms. 

While a brand purpose is similar to a social purpose, there are differences. Take Coca-Cola’s brand purpose for example: “Refresh the world. Make a difference.”. It does not account for their social, cultural, or environmental goals. 

If we compare that to Tesla’s purpose: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport.”, we see a clear difference. Tesla has an environmental goal, while Coca-Cola does not clearly state it has one. If you ask me, the purpose statements including social, cultural, or environmental goals, are way better than those that do not. 

A perfect example is this Dutch article that states that if even Shell uses a purpose, then it must be another empty business jargon. While it’s often mixed with CSR, they are not the same. Therefore, Shell is perfectly capable of having and pursuing a purpose. However, the credibility and power of their purpose is a different story when it includes their environmental impact. 

One of the big misconceptions about a business’s purpose is that it’s about good initiatives, sustainability, or making the world a better place (it often does, however). A purpose should be visible in all elements of the business and manifest itself in everything a brand does. 

In contrast, CSR often runs parallel to the business. For example, a supermarket can give free gaming consoles to the local youth center as a token of goodwill. Or less related to their business, they can donate a ton of money to a good cause. 

Both cases, however, do not say anything meaningful about their product. Their purpose is probably something down the line of: “making fresh and healthy food available for everyone”. Giving away free products or donating money does not reflect their purpose. 

Differences Between a Brand Purpose and Business Mission/Vision/Values

It is easy to confuse a business’s purpose with mission, vision, or values. However, it differs greatly. Below here are the differences:

  • Purpose is WHY you exist: The reason for being for a brand or business than just ‘making a profit’ or ‘driving shareholder value’.
  • Vision is WHERE you want to get to: This is what you want the brand or business to be (e.g. ‘We want to be the world’s most sustainable provider of X by 2025′).
  • Mission is WHAT you do: This is what you do or the core of the business.
  • Values are HOW you want to behave to get there: What is the organizational culture of the company? Which types of behavior do we tolerate, and which do we not condone? 

It is imperative to get all of this right since they will help you make decisions. Tony’s Chocolonely for example, bases all of its decision on the question: “Will this decision help us make the chocolate industry 100% slave free?” 

It is easy to lose track of your long term goals. By asking yourself, “Will this decision help me achieve my purpose, vision, and mission?”, you are sure to work your way to whatever it is you’re chasing. 

Brand Purpose & Social Entrepreneurship

This is where brand purpose and social entrepreneurs meet. By developing, funding, and implementing solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues, you are sure to have followers. 

We, as humans, are currently living in a way that is far from sustainable, taking about 1.5 times as many resources than we can replenish. Luckily, the number of people that want a more sustainable and more ethical world is rising. It is not surprising that entrepreneurs addressing these issues are on the rise.

Social entrepreneurs focus beyond simply pursuing profit and mainly focus on the positive impact the business makes on society – whether social, cultural, or environmental. If you want to get started with social entrepreneurship, these lessons will get you a long way. 

Companies that follow sustainable business practices/principles are well on their way to making the world a better place for us. However, putting sustainable business practices at the heart of your business will maximize impact. Therefore, social entrepreneurs should take time to develop their purpose, which will help them grow their business. 

Get Free Marketing from a Social Brand Purpose

Tony’s Chocolonely does not do paid advertising. Their marketing is based on word-of-mouth communication. Moreover, their strategy is working so well they can slowly take over the American market. 

The beauty of it is that Tony’s Chocolonely did not enter the American market to make more money, but because it was the only way to disrupt the international chocolate industry and to pursue their purpose: “100% slave-free chocolate”. 

A message like this resonates with their customers, who, in turn will spread the message freely. This shows that having a social brand purpose can give you free marketing and help you pursue growth. 

Purpose Attracts Talent

According to research done by Deloitte, many millennials express little loyalty to their current employers and have one foot out the door. Meaning they are planning their near-term exits. This leaves us with the question: “How can we attract and keep talent in the organization?”

Millennials are less impressed by the sheer scale of a business, its age, or the general buzz that surrounds it. Based on a stereotypical view of Millennials, the profile or “positive energy” around a business might be thought of as being highly important to them.” ~ The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey


One part of this ‘positive energy’ is a company’s contribution to society. This and lots of other surveys show that millennials prioritize the sense of purpose rather than growth or profit maximization. 

Millenials look for work that fuels their sense of purpose and makes them feel important.” ~ The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

This Harvard Business Review article shows that not only millennials are purpose-hungry, but boomers and Gen X prefer to work for purpose-driven brands. 

 

This means that having a brand purpose that is bigger than pursuing growth or profit, will attract young talents. This will lead to more growth, profit, and above all, a better chance at achieving your business’s purpose. 

Developing Your Brand Purpose

There are two possibilities. You either want to start a company and are searching for a brand purpose, or you have an existing company in need of a brand purpose. 

If you are starting a company:

  • Firstly, you have to find your passion. I know this can be extremely difficult. Luckily, we have a blog that can help you find your passion
  • Secondly, you have to look at what you are good at. By doing something in line with your skills and expertise, you have a higher chance of succeeding. 
  • Third, think about what the world needs. If you are very passionate about something and extremely good at it, but nobody needs your product or service, it won’t be easy to find customers. 

 

The sweet spot lies within a combination of these 3. Combining these 3 will keep your motivation high because you are chasing your passion while offering a high-quality product or service to potential customers. 

Think of why your consumers want to support what you do and why you do what you do. This way, you will get consumers that follow not only your product or service but also your purpose.

Now that you have established your purpose, you are ready to start. This guide will help you on your journey. 

If you are an existing company:

It is extremely risky to stick a purpose on top of an already established brand. Especially if you do it for the sake of having one, people will see right through you!

However, with the help of a specialist or by following the steps described by Afdhel Aziz, existing brands can discover their purpose. 

  1. Dive-deep into the history of the company, how it was founded, and by whom, and its reason for coming to existence was in the first place. 
  2. Follow the same 3 steps as when starting a company described above. 
  3. Ask why employees are proud to work for you. This often reveals the real value they see in your company and their work.
  4. Ask why customers choose your brand. This can reveal why they choose to follow your purpose/brand and not someone else’s. 

Brand Purpose Examples

What’s better to give you inspiration than real-world examples? Here are 5 businesses with a purpose:

  1. Eliciting Joy (Coca-Cola) –  exists to inspire moments of happiness.
  2. Enabling Connection (Facebook) –  exists to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
  3. Inspiring Exploration (The North Face) – exists to provide the best gear for exploration and new experiences. 
  4. Evoking Pride (Mercedes-Benz) – exists to epitomize a lifetime of achievement.
  5. Impacting Society (Tony’s Chocolonely) – exists to create 100% slave-free chocolate. 


Changing the World With Your Brand Purpose

Starting an impact startup can change the world. Tony’s Chocolonely is only one of the many successful examples. There are countless possibilities to make the world a better place and make a dime while doing it. Just keep in mind what your purpose is. 

Your goal should not be to make as much profit or to reap in as many dividends for the stakeholders as possible. A true purpose-driven brand taps into the true needs of its consumers and fulfills a goal that is bigger than money!

One important thing to remember is that you can make money whilst also making the world a better place! You do not need to be an NGO or government to change the way we do things. 

If you are a startup with a social brand purpose, we, Startup Funding Event, are here to help. We organize events for impact startups, where we give you a stage and connect you with potential funders. 

As you join this event as a startup, you’ll have real opportunities to create a positive impact on human lives. At Startup Funding Event, we bring together our international volunteering team to run an inspiring event that can help other impactful startups and companies grow. Once you win, you’ll be part of this organization by sharing impact and innovation with the support of our entire community.

You can sign up on our website:

https://startupfundingevent.com/startup-application/

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Congratulations on reaching the end!

Check out our podcast Impact Talks, where you can listen to high-profile experts from various backgrounds!

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