Self-Directed Living

The Secret to Becoming a Master in the Art of Living

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Total Reading Time: 4 minutes.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love in his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.
James A. Michener


What Is a Master in the Art of Living?

This quote changed my life. It doesn’t have to change your life, but I think that there’s something we can all learn from this concept. What is a master in the art of living? At the end of the day, that’s what the most of us are looking for. We want to master this process, this journey of what we’re all here to do, right?

We want money. Many of you want fame. Many of you want great relationships. You want a sense of fulfillment.

There are so many drivers we all have, right? But really what we’re looking for is to create a level of mastery.

The reason I love this quote so much is that he ends it with “to leave others to decide whether he is working or playing.” We’re talking about playing for a living. What a beautiful concept, right?

What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?

That doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in one field for your entire life. What it does mean is that you have this opportunity to really go deep and become a master at one thing.
An example would be the way a doctor becomes a master of medicine or master of the body or whatever their specialty is. You have that opportunity as a solopreneur to do the same thing. Instead of jumping from idea to idea, opportunity to opportunity, shiny object to a shiny object, why not play for a living? Why not be a master in the art of living?
Why not choose a field or focus in which you can develop mastery?

The reason I think it’s important is simple: if you’re not growing, you’re dying. This is nature at the end of the day, right? Anything that is not blossoming and growing in this world is dying.
So you — as a human being — if your brain is not growing and expanding you’re dying.

Be a Lifelong Learner

And so what you need to be focused on is being a lifelong learning. This idea of education never ends. You never stop learning, you never stop growing, and you need to be committed to that.

You need to get addicted to the idea of learning within your craft because the more expertise you develop, the better you get at what you do, the bigger of a fee you can charge for your products and services. You can be the best when it comes to something, and then you can really blossom in your career and with your craft.

Find a resource that really goes deep that takes someone’s work of five to 10 years and goes deep into this topic. This is the reason why books are so valuable. Think about it. It takes years to write a book for most people. It takes a decade of life experience to even feel you’re ready to write a book for most people.

You’re condensing someone’s life experience into two hundred pages. In one or two sittings, you can absorb all this information and the best of what this person knows.
Let’s say you really want to get into neuroscience and you want to do this without going to school. Why not pick up a great neuroscience book by a great author and dive in. What’s going to happen is, within this book you’re going to be led to other books because you’re going to see who the inspiration and role models are for that person because they’re going to mention them as resources within the book.

It’s like a tree. They’re going to mention people that they’ve learned from and who their mentors are.
That’s going to lead to your second book, and your third book, and your fourth book. We’re going to go down an endless rabbit hole of lifelong education.
And that is exactly what you should do to become a master in the art of living.
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This Is What the Latest Science Says About Empathy

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Total Reading Time: 3 minutes.

Being Empathetic is More Than Just Putting Ourselves in Another’s Shoes

There were some really interesting findings recently published in the journal of cognitive enhancement about empathy. Now empathy, of course, is the ability to understand someone else’s world. To feel and understand why they feel the way they feel. To take our feet and put them in their shoes. To put ourselves in their body, in their mind, and understand how they feel — right?
Well, you would assume the way to do that is to just get really good at cultivating the skill of placing ourselves in someone else’s personal situation. To better understand who they are and why they suffer and why they have these shortcomings.
Well, that’s not exactly the case…

Here Are The Results

Something very counter-intuitive happened in this latest study. These 161 participants aged 20 to 55 were put through a process of self-awareness. They were asked to take a look at the various parts of their mind.
Now as you may know we have various parts of our mind like the inner child or the conscious mind, but also the subconscious and the unconscious parts of our mind.
The more these participants were able to unravel and look beyond just the conscious parts of their mind and better understand why they do what they do, who they are, why they develop the habits that they did, the deeper they went into self-awareness and self-knowledge.
The deeper that they went was directly correlated to how much they could empathize with other people’s life situation.

Why is That?

What is empathy, really?
It’s the ability to say if I was that person, if I had that life, if I had those parents, if I went through that situation, all the positive and negative combined together create a person’s life. This results in the decisions and the things that they do in their life.
If we could better understand that, we would realize that we would do the exact same thing if we had that life. If we had those parents, if we had that upbringing we would do the exact same thing.
In a nutshell, that’s empathy.
I think this is a beautiful study and a beautiful understanding because by being able to simply take time to understand ourselves, we can make the world a better place by empathizing and understanding other people — and it’s not that hard to do.
So why not get started? Here’s a great example of how empathy can change your life.

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What Made Us Human May Actually Cause Our Extinction

Total Reading Time: 2.5 minutes.

What Makes Us Human?

Is it our capacity to love, to laugh, to cry… to be self-aware? Some would say it’s the fact that we manage to put on clothes every day (and as you know many solopreneurs don’t even do that every day).
Others would say it’s our amazing brain or our ability to speak using the larynx (the voice box).
While all of these are true, we wouldn’t still be here today were it not for our innate desire to connect, collaborate, and be an accepted member of society. This amazing human trait is what allowed a small civilization to evolve into a machine with a population of over 7 billion people in just a few thousand years.
Do you ever notice how groups of friends dress, talk, and think alike?

At some level, we all do this because we’re hardwired to need human connection.
We have spent our entire lives trying to fit in and to live by the boundaries set by society — by ads, our parents, and our schools.
Well meaning people over multiple generations have created this structure — not to manipulate — but to provide a roadmap that reaffirms the system that helps us evolve. But, ultimately, what helped us thrive and flourish may lead to our demise.

But What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us There

The world is evolving at an exponential rate and technology is taking over most of what we do, which leads to fun (or scary, depending on who you’re asking) questions like, are we leading toward an era of transhumanism?
Here’s my current belief: individuality is what will save us. Being just like everyone else will result in stagnation. Do you want to make a real impact? Do you want to be remembered? Or perhaps you simply want to live a better life?
To do this we have to stop being afraid of being different. Identify your individuality. Step into what makes you unique, embrace who you are, and remember to have some fun with it.
Not only will this create a better world for all of us, but it will help you live a more fulfilled lifeOne of the greatest philosophers to ever live, Lao Tzu, once said:

When I let go of who I am, I become who I might be.

Let go. Step onto the ledge of your world of knowledge and gaze into the unknown. Listen to the stillness. Stay there and just listen.
Eventually, you may feel a pull and with that, you’ll have your compass. You don’t need a precise road map, you just need some direction and you simply need to keep moving forward.
More of the path reveals itself with each step you take — and it always starts with one tiny step. Only when you take this first step will the second one show up. This is the beauty of life.
And this is why only the bold get what they want in life. You don’t need to solve hunger, end poverty, or stop a war…
Do you know what the world really needs? For you to become who you really are, and be completely unapologetic about it.

Photo credit: Evolution — CC license

The Key to Identifying Your Vocation and Career Path

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Total Reading Time: 3 minutes
Vocation identification is something that I’m continually working on, and I’ve actually partnered with a couple of cognitive psychologists and data scientists to develop a test that helps people identify their unique craft.
The first email that automatically goes out to people that join my private email list addresses their biggest pain point: What’s something that you’re currently struggling with right now when it comes to finding your career path?
So many people say things to me like…”I don’t even know what my passions are. I don’t know what I care about. I don’t know. I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t have anything that I actually want to pursue my life.”
These are the common objections for a lot of people…and that is what has led me to this model.

The Confluence Model

The Confluence Model is the intersection between your passion, your unique genius, and what the world wants and needs. Before you judge words like passion and genius, because they can sound corny, let me explain…
First of all, when I say passion I’m not talking about the Huffington Post articles that say “just find your passion and you’ll be ok.” That’s an integral aspect of your career no doubt about it. It’s important to have passion and care about what you’re doing, but it’s just one piece.
The second piece is your unique genius. When I say genius to people they sometimes think, “Well, how am I a genius? Only Einstein is a genius, only Steve Jobs is a genius.” And yes, we’re not all the Steve Jobs type, but we each have a unique style.
For example, I’m not a data guy, I’m not an engineer. But if I was doing statistics all day long and I was modeling out different things like that, I would build a new skill.
But I would also immediately be incredibly unfulfilled. It’s one of those things that could only last a certain amount of time. We each have a sweet spot that we have to identify and have an area of our lives where we get into what’s called a flow state. We get into these modes where our prefrontal cortex just turns off and time flies by.

Why Is It So Transient?

It’s very important that you identify what that moment was. What was that task? What was that work I was doing? And then finally, what does the world actually need?
So for entrepreneurs, it could be that they are deeply engaged with their audience.
They have a pulse on them. They know exactly what they need. They know exactly what their deepest fears are, their biggest desires. And if you’re going to work for a company, you better hope that the founders are very clear on that.
You better hope that they understand the marketplace so well, and are so deeply connected to their customers that they know exactly what the next move is before the customer even knows.
And that’s how you know you found a sweet spot…
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How to Stop Competing and Get Your Dream Job Today

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Total Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Question We All Ask

One of the questions we all often ask ourselves is, “What can I do to ensure I get my dream job?” And this applies to everybody, not just people that work in the corporate world, but even in the world of solopreneurship as well.
There is this idea that if you really want to be successful in your chosen field, you have to go and find the model. You have to emulate success.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to do that is to go and literally work for that person. The person that is doing exactly what you want to be doing five to ten years from now.
The goal is to apply this, but it’s also meant for someone who really wants to go get that dream job. Say they want to be a social media manager at Snapchat, or want to get that job at Facebook or Google.

Here’s What You Can Do

If you really want to go get your dream job, you have to do the work right now. You have to do the work upfront.
I want to give credit to Charlie Hoehn here for creating a strategy that has really worked for a lot of people. Charlie talks about this idea of literally doing the work for free for the company or person.
Let’s really think about this for a second…what does any company ultimately want? They want to make sure that the person coming into their company can actually do the work, right?
They’re not looking for a fancy resume. They’re not looking for a list of trophies and worthless accomplishments. They simply want to know that when you start that next day you can actually do the work. And if you can, can you actually produce results?
So the shortcut — or rather the hack — is to do the work up front.

Step-By-Step Process

Let’s say you were trying to get a sales job or a project management job at Facebook. If you can sit down and identify what it is that the project manager does on a daily basis for that role, simplu go ahead and do some of the work for them upfront and send it to them.
During your interview process, say:

“Hey John, you know I’m really excited about this role and actually went ahead and identified ten prospects that we can reach out to. I didn’t want to do anything further than that of course, but I’ve identified these ten prospects and laid out what would happen if we got a 20% conversion rate on these new prospects. As a project manager, I would make sure that the legal team would sign off on this and then I would make sure to delegate this over to the engineers…”

blah blah blah…
And then:

“Here you go. Here’s the plan. I did the work for you (without actually doing it because I didn’t want to actually do anything on behalf of the company before being hired).”

We show them that we can do it. We either hand it over to them or we can say:

“Do you mind if I actually work for you with no pay for two weeks and show you that I can do this job?”

There are very few people and very few companies that would say no to free work, and once you’re in there you just literally circumvented the entire interview process. There was a line of people waiting to interview and by offering the free work you were able to go around the whole system.
Once they see you can do it, what reason do they have to say no? You just eliminated all of the pain and struggle when it comes to hiring.
That’s exactly what they’re looking for anyway. So if you want your dream job, do the work.
Definitely check out the work of Charlie Hoehn. Make sure you follow his principles because he’s brilliant at breaking this down.


  1. Charlie Hoehn– Charlie is an American author, entrepreneur, and public speaker. His books, Play It Away and Recession-Proof Graduate, offer simple solutions that help people get on with their lives
  2. Dream Job Blueprint by Ramit Sethi – An in-depth resource full of useful tacticts. Also debunks a lot of conventional job search advice.

Photo credit: Perzonseo Webbyra — CC license

The Money Paradox Formula: An Odd Methodology That Teaches You How to Earn More Money

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Total Reading Time: 1 minute

What is the Money Paradox?

The money paradox is very simple. When I started my journey into solopreneurship and the freedom lifestyle, I struggled like many solopreneurs.
It’s a roller-coaster ride.
But I think the biggest reason I struggled was because I was only focused on making money.
I was so concerned with how I was going to make my next dollar, that I was not able to do something that’s so critical — deliver massive value to my audience, to my prospects, to my customers, to my future customers.
If you want to understand it in a more simple way, it’s like this — the moment I stopped concentrating on getting the money and concentrating on delivering the value, it was a paradox…the money started flowing in.
It’s very unconventional.
It doesn’t even make sense because you would logically assume, “Oh I need to focus on cash flow, focus on cash flow.”
But you can’t actually create good content, or good products, or good software, or great apps, etc. if you’re constantly thinking about how to get the edge and only get the next dollar.
Photo credit: Life’s ParadoxCC license