Today I had the opportunity to Arie Tom today on the impact of lead generation in the eyewear industry.
How did you get into the industry?
My experience with online marketing began 11 years ago while working at what was at the time a traditional advertising firm, McCann. That is when I first started to notice the shift of customers and budgets towards new emerging online channels, and my interest also shifted in that direction.
Back then, in 2008, the iPhone was only 1 year old and Facebook was 3 years old… The marketing landscape had completely changed and created new and exciting opportunities.
Soon after, I joined Google and managed large scale advertisers in eComm, Health and Gaming industries. My years at Google really boosted my expertise in the online industry and how to leverage analytical, data-driven insights with creatives to scale up sales and lead gen campaigns.
Today I lead the marketing team at GlassesUSA.com, the largest online eyewear department store in the US. GlassesUSA.com was built on the belief that purchasing eyewear shouldn’t break the bank. We offer a variety of eyewear options for every style and price – from $19 for a complete pair of glasses to top brands including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Gucci and many more.
Best tip for online lead generation in 2019?
Expand beyond just email lead capture. Users have shifted in the way they consume media nowadays, and their preferred channels to communicate with brands have changed as well. This creates an opportunity to grow user registration rates by offering additional, and more personalized ways to connect. Such channels include: Web push notifications, FB messenger bots, SMS and others.
How can a business set itself out to be a stand-alone brand over the next 5 years?
I am a big believer in user experience. Not just from the design POV, but as a general business value. Companies need to ‘delight’ customers with a great product, service and information. Be unique and authentic in how you serve your customers. Only businesses that offer a unique experience to their customers will survive the competition against Amazon and other, more direct competitors. Creating a personalized experience or product, building a community or establishing your business as an expert in your field are just some examples. These things take time to build and create, but will guarantee businesses more stability in the ever-changing ecosystem.
Would you say lead generation in the eyewear industry differs from other industries, e.g. apparel?
I would say that the eyewear industry, with an emphasis on prescription eyewear, is different from other industries in lead generation, mostly since buying prescription eyewear online requires higher engagement from the customer – choosing the right size, fit, color, shape and filling a personal eye prescription. It’s usually not a spontaneous purchase and that’s why keeping a close contact with your prospects and nurturing them until they are ready to complete a purchase is key to success.
Which developments have there been in lead generation in the past 5 years and how have they impacted the industries you’ve worked with?
The biggest advances in lead generation over the past few years were in the areas of personalization and automation. While email open rates are dropping steadily, it becomes more and more important to segment your customers and deliver a more personalized and relevant experience. This process of personalization starts from first stages of lead capturing to the last of email workflows. It’s also important to secure a healthy account and reputation.
Automation enables businesses to make the most of their customer databases, effectively managing lists of millions of subscribers with real time responses and consistent work flows. Automation made email marketing 10X more effective and scalable to manage.
Leaders aren’t born, they’re made. Whether it’s coaching, taking professional development courses or made through experiences, leaders should take plenty of opportunities to strengthen their skills. Leaders need to continue on a path of growth as individuals and professionals. One of the most effective ways to become a stronger leader is by reading management and leadership blogs from the people who have the experience and knowledge to become influential teachers and practitioners.
When you’re under 30, not just any leadership blog will do.
You need blogs that can relate to your specific challenges. Whether that’s defining your exact leadership style, handling distinct daily challenges, or determining your “why,” here are 13 leadership blogs that everyone under 30 should read.
Founded in 2008, the mission of Under30CEO is to help every young entrepreneur on the planet by helping them find their passion and start businesses that are both lucrative and have a social consciousness. If that sounds, ambitious, it is. But, thanks to daily blog posts that discuss career and leadership advice, cutting-edge news for young leaders, and advice from successful twenty-somethings, that mission seems more attainable. There’s also an accompanying podcast and advice for leaders who are in their 30s and older.
Jon Mertz and his colleagues use their blog to not only strengthen and inspire leaders, but also by bringing together various generations by sharing experiences, practices, and insights. The blog also welcomes civil and diverse conversations to help solve common problems that leaders at any age are dealing with.
Whether you’re a frontline or senior leader, you can find ideas and insights from a variety of members of Harvard Business School’s faculty, along with some of the most accomplished authors from the Harvard Business Review. Don’t forget to sign-up for their Management Tip of the Day so that you’ll receive one actionable way to become a better manager directly to your inbox.
This is the personal blog of the New York Times bestseller “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” and former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Hyatt focuses primarily on topics ranging from productivity to personal development to leadership. He also hosts a weekly podcast called “Lead to Win.”
Started by Alison Green while she was the chief of staff at a nonprofit, Ask a Manager isn’t your run-of-the-mill blog. Instead just simply writing about her experiences or offering advice, Alison invites readers to ask her questions regarding anything from how to ask for a raise to dealing with an unruly co-worker. She also answers real-world questions for anyone who is having difficulty being a boss.
Jen is a creative coach from the U.K. who specializes in helping people make space to become who they’re meant to be. She helps you identify your strengths and values, tap into your best ideas, and find clarity and focus. On top of her blog, Jen also has a podcast, mini books, and classes to run a big-hearted business and live a creative life.
This site, which was founded in 2013 by Nicole Booz and Gina Oursler, is specifically geared towards helping twenty-somethings define their goals, find their passion, and learn how to “adult” through the real-world experiences of twenty-somethings. It’s definitely more than just a leadership blog that covers a wide range of topics that are essential for twenty-somethings to be aware of.
Back in 2009, Simon Sinek delivered his first TED Talk that popularized his mantra, Start With Why. That TED Talk became the third most watched video on TED.com and Simon is now a best-selling author known for Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last. He also has an entire site dedicated to optimistic leaders helping individuals and organizations find their why.
While not a blog, Simon’s site contains videos, tools, and discovery courses to become inspired and change the world.
Launched in 2010 by Dan Rockwell, who has appeared on the Inc.com list of the Top Fifty Leadership and Management Experts, Leadership Freak contains blog posts that are short and to-the-point. Most of these posts are around 300 words, hence the site’s slogan, “empowering leaders 300 words at a time.”
The Center for Creative Leadership is known for invaluable resources like tools for assessing job candidates and leadership development courses. The CCL also has a blog that tackles topics on how you can personally grow as a leader to how you can improve your organization based on the research that they’ve conducted.
Founded in 1980 by Michael McKinney to study what he “was learning about leadership, management, and personal development.” LeadershipNow is now the go-to resource for leaders in all stages and fields. The blog contains everything from leadership advice to thought-provoking exercises, to book reviews.
Lolly Daskal is a renowned coach, consultant, and top thought leader best-known for her mantra “Lead From Within.” Thanks to Lolly, leaders have been able to achieve and prosper through service and integrity. Daskal also encourages leaders to develop fresh ideas and stresses the importance of teamwork.
Tanveer Naseer is an award-winning and prolific leadership writer and keynote speaker. His well-designed blog features leadership advice and guidance, along with book reviews and news. Naseer primarily focuses on how to improve communication processes so that you can listen to what others are saying and be able to motivate your employees.
Tony founded Coach.me based on the simple idea that coaching is the secret weapon of elite performers.
Having coached CEOs, as well as being a CEO himself…Tony knows what he’s talking about. He is the master of managing performance and personality.
Here’s what I learned from him about being a great CEO:
Hire a “peer” (aka get a coach).
There’s nothing wrong with failing, but there’s also nothing wrong with NOT failing. “There’s no need to purposely fail, or get yourself into some crisis, just so you can learn from it,” says Tony.
That’s why a great CEO will hire what Tony calls a “peer” (otherwise known as a coach).
The job of a CEO can be a lonely job. Suddenly, you have no peers. Everybody else in the company has peers, but there’s only room for one at the top. Paradoxically, that can be pretty damn isolating.
That’s why Tony recommends you hire a “peer.” Peers support you. Peers give you feedback. Peers are just there for you when you need to rant about something.
But what’s even better, a hired peer (aka a great coach) will help you avoid failures and achieve results. Enlisting someone to take responsibility for your progress and success is THE secret weapon of all top performers.
The most successful people across all domains have coaches. Sports, business, health. Even Tony Robbins has a coach! I can speak from experience: hiring a coach changed my life.
Don’t wait until you keep failing, until you’re in some crisis before you hire a coach. Be proactive. Do as a CEO should do.
Be the CEO that YOU are supposed to be.
When Tony started Coach.me, he like most founders looked to investors to fund his vision. During his meetings, he remembers the investors saying that they saw something special in him…but it wasn’t the good kind of special. He was “soft,” they said, and they noticed that he’d fold when challenged.
Obviously, that’s not the impression he wanted to leave a bunch of investors with his fate in their hands! He began to wonder if he was the “CEO type.” Could he actually do this?
Rather than resist his nature, he learned to use his “softness” to his advantage.
Tony is a big meditator. He looked to meditation as the operating principle to conduct himself in the presence of others.
He wasn’t an aggressive person, so instead of trying to be the aggressive stereotype he imagined the investors wanted him to be, he chose himself. He chose calm.
Tony credits himself for having the ability to remain calm in any kind of situation, no matter the stakes. His perceived weakness became his strength. Now, instead of reacting, he absorbs. When challenged, he waits. He marshals from a position of clarity and objectivity, not emotion.
Tony became the kind of CEO he was supposed to become, not the kind he thought he should become.
Being CEO does NOT give you superhuman intelligence.
Tony says there are usually two types of CEOs:
CEOs with pure hubris: they don’t recognise how bad they are at their job, which can actually be a good thing at the start.
CEOs who have figured things out: they’re effective CEOs, and get to the top through thoughtfulness rather than arrogance.
Regardless of which type you are you, one thing remains the same…being CEO does not give you superhuman intelligence.
Unfortunately, a lot of CEOs think that they have to play the role of Superman once they take the position…someone who knows the solution to every problem and the answer to every question….someone who never needs help.
You can either keep believing this, and keep portraying arrogance and naivety, or you can admit to your employees that you don’t have the answers, and that you need their help.
Give your employees credit. They know when you’re faking it. Enlisting them to come up with solutions can generate camaraderie and a sense of purpose that’s crucial for your company’s health.
Empower your employees.
Piggybacking off of point 3, Tony says one of the best ways to judge a CEO is to see how good they are at telling people HOW to make decisions, rather than telling them what decisions to make.
Who doesn’t want to feel empowered? Who doesn’t feel infinitely more motivated when they’re empowered? Who doesn’t make better decisions when they’re empowered to make those decisions?
Don’t you want those kind of employees working for you? Be the CEO who gives your employees a purpose.
Most people have barely any real self-awareness. As a CEO – as a leader – you can’t be one of them.
You have to be self-aware enough to know when your energy is fluctuating, and you have to be self-aware enough to know why. Usually, it’s because you have too much going on. Ask yourself: Are you trying to play the Superman again? Are you really empowering your people, or are you trying to do everything yourself?
Speaking of your employees, they’re another reason you need to be self-aware. If your energy is low, and you’re not looking like your normal self… your employees might think that it’s about them. That they did something wrong. That they’re not working hard enough. That they’ve disappointed you.
Your attitude and disposition trickles down. CEO is a hard role but someone has to do it. You can.
Philosophy’s absence from the business world is a crucial mistake.
By and large ignored by popular culture and forgotten by the media, modern philosophy has been delegated strictly to the classrooms by its own doing. Rather than adapting to the times, modern philosophers have retreated into an ivory tower of abstract intellectualism and esoteric gloating.
Come on guys, you’re giving philosophy a bad name!
For those of us who live in the real world, there happens to be one branch of philosophy created just for us: Stoicism.
As Ryan Holiday popularized in The Obstacle is the Way, Stoicism doesn’t concern itself with complicated theories about the world, but with helping us overcome destructive emotions and act on what can be acted upon. Just like an entrepreneur, it’s built for action, not endless debate.
I’ve recently rebuilt my life and business under these seven guiding principles, or maxims as I like to call them. I consider each elemental in my growth as a man, entrepreneur and leader.
Consider this your introduction to Stoicism!
Principle #1: “I can always improve.”
As CEO of Rich20Something, I’ve learned that there’s always something you can do to be better. A better entrepreneur. A better son, sibling, friend or partner. There might be times where you are haunted by mistakes from your past, and you mistakenly equate yourself with your mistakes. It sounds corny, but every day that you wake up is an opportunity to change. And the decision to makes these changes start with a single decision.
Principle #2: “I persevere when I am frustrated.”
Resilience is in short supply these days. I blame the internet. Because everything promised is easy. Because everybody wants things now. The world has been around for over 4 billion years. Modern civilization has only been here for about 6,000. Don’t rush the process. Things necessarily, and without exception, take time. While that time is elapsing, don’t give up because you’re frustrated. Persevere. Consistency compounds like interest over time. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
Principle #3: “I don’t run from mistakes, I learn from them.”
You are supposed to make mistakes. Every single piece of human knowledge is the result of an initial failure. Every book that’s been written, every idea that’s been thought, every invention that’s been made, has been to solve a problem because somebody, somewhere, made a mistake.
Mistakes push us forward. If you’re categorically avoiding them, you’re not risking enough to reap big rewards. Rather than being afraid of making mistakes, look at them as necessary rites of passage, discard the anguish and retain the lesson. Be courageous. Then help other people to avoid the same traps.
Principle #4: “I am inspired by people who succeed.”
I think we all have a subtle tendency to conflate admiration with a bit of hater-ism and self-doubt. At least I know I did this for a while. If we see somebody (especially a friend/family member) who is doing better than us, we come up with subtle reasons to passive-aggressively tear them down in order to bolster ourselves in our own minds. It’s a defense mechanism to protect ourselves from feeling bad for not having the same results in our own lives — and it works wonderfully for a time.
For example, if an entrepreneur friend of mine had an epic product launch and I was jealous, I’d think to myself, “Yeah, that’s really good. I’m so happy for them! They just spend so much time working, though. I really prefer to be more balanced in life.” See what I did there? It’s very subtle.
Instead of looking for subtle reasons to invalidate the accomplishments of others, we should be inspired by their success. In fact, of all the emotions in the human spectrum, I think jealousy is the most useless. When somebody accomplishes something that you’d also like to accomplish, the question you should be asking is not “why are they better than me?” is should be “how can I do the same?” Once you have that mental shift, you’ll be able to focus much more clearly on growth, and you’ll eliminate a ton of subconscious negativity in your life.
Principle #5: “I can learn anything that I want to.”
I was watching the movie Divergent the other day. I can’t remember who’s in it except Zoe Kravitz (for obvious reasons…Zoe, call me!) or what the movie was even about. But I do remember one interesting point: every person in their society had a particular, predesignated role. Some people were selected to be warriors. Some to be intellectuals. Some to be farmers. On and on it went. And there was no opting out. Whatever you were designated to be, that’s what you were stuck with. I can’t help but feeling like our educational system is the same way.
From a very early age, we are told by our parents, friends and teachers that we are good at some things and not at others. Sometimes blatantly, sometimes much more subtly. But the indications are very clear — over we start to believe this and identify with it. I was always a reading/writing kind of guy. I excelled at anything literary very early, and because of that, those traits were reinforced. My teachers would cater to my strengths. My parents would reinforce it by saying things like, “this family doesn’t really do well at math.” And for a time, I thought there was something truly different in my brain that made it harder to me to understand more left-brained, mathematical concepts. Thus, I became what the evidence supported. My test scores were always crazy good with anything involving reading or writing, while my math scores and science scores were mediocre at best.
Once upon a time, I was even a pre-med student. After failing chemistry, I thought to myself — “you know what, this is something that I’ll just never be good at.” Now, I know that is complete horseshit. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do chemistry. It’s simply that I didn’t care about it. It didn’t inspire me. Nothing in the medical field did. Deep interest is the key to acquiring elite level skill. Think about it: when you were really interested in something, didn’t that make it easier to learn? Your brain is incredible and anything that you want to become good at is within your realm of natural abilities. Nothing you need to learn will ever require a genius-level IQ. From rocket science to starting a business. You just need the right approach, patience and above all, confidence in yourself.
Principle #6: “I can make a difference with my effort and my attitude.”
My high school guidance counselor, Mr. Garcia, had one of those awesomely cliche motivational posters in his office with an eagle soaring high in the sky that said, “Your attitude determines your altitude!” And despite the fact that Instagram has almost completely destroyed the meaning behind inspirational quotes, this one still rings true.
The way you perceive things influences the way that they turn out, and those results in turn influence the way that your beliefs. It all starts with you and your attitude. This is similar to what’s called the Observer Effect in physics, whereby the very instruments used to measure a phenomenon alter the phenomenon itself. You are the instrument! This means that you must guard your thoughts accordingly. If you continually focus on why something will be too hard, the task will seem that much harder because you are magnifying the hard stuff. If you focus on why something is possible, why you’ll succeed, why a task will be enjoyable, you’ll experience those effects much more profoundly. After a short time doing this, you’ll come to realize that in many cases, events are just events — and the impact they have on our lives is almost entirely chained to how we understand and perceive them.
This slightly dispassionate worldview is a core component of stoic philosophy, which I’ve deeply integrated into my life. This isn’t to say that emotions don’t sometimes take control — but rather, when they do take control, you must learn to step outside of the fray and look at what’s happening to you objectively and make an active decision to change your behavior, despite how you might be feeling. When you change your behavior and your attitude, you will greatly influence the outcome of whatever obstacle you are dealing with.
Principle #7: “I like to challenge myself.”
Just like our tendency to avoid mistakes, we often avoid challenges…because, in our brain, “challenge” usually leads to error, or psychological strain, which is painful and unpleasant. But avoiding challenge is trading long term fulfillment for short term safety.
By and large, the very nature of challenges is that they start off difficult and become progressively easier. Along that path, you learn both the skills you need to succeed at your discipline and the person you need to become to rise to the occasion. I’ve learned this in nearly everything challenging I’ve ever done — from jiu jitsu to learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Through continuous challenge and with relentless persistence, frustration always gives way to understanding. And then competence. And finally, mastery.
So my prescription for you is to intentionally, actively seek things that will challenge you. If you understand everything in your life, you’re doing it wrong. There should be at least one element of your day that frustrates you enough to constantly seek a solution. It could be something like a complex business problem, or something simple like reading a book that’s above your comprehension. Begin to see challenge and confusion as an indicator that you are on the right path, rather than a sign that you should turn back and head towards more familiar territory.
A mind once stretched will never return to it’s original shape.
When I think about strategies for better living, I consider the rule of E: efficiency, effectiveness, and essentialism. Recently, I’ve been on a kick about cultivating deep focus. In the age of social media and modern technology, we’ve lost the ability to focus. Which is why I’ve made it my aim to be more mindful.
“Mindfulness” is a hot topic these days, and while more and more people are reading about it, it’s popularity has paradoxically rendered it devoid of meaning. Tim Ferriss defines “mindfulness” as a present-state awareness that helps you to be non-reactive. That’s a good definition, so let’s go with it. Being non-reactive is essential for deep focus in a world in which we’re constantly beleaguered by inputs that distract us, sap our mental energy, and decrease our intellectual output.
Speaking of focus and intellectual output, I’ve also been on a pretty big reading kick recently. A world class expert will work for 30 years to figure something out, completely devoting her entire life to one particular question — and you can get all of her knowledge on that subject in a 200 page book that can be read in a weekend. And all for $10-$15. Pretty good deal.
That is, of course, IF you can focus! Which brings us full circle back to mindfulness. If you want to read a lot, you have to cultivate “a present state awareness that helps you be non-reactive” so that you can actually pay attention to the lines on the page and not your iPhone.
I do not view reading as a leisure activity. It’s serious work—deep work crucial to the success of my business—and it takes effort.
Recently, I’ve committed to two practices that have synergistically helped me focus more deeply (effective), read more efficiently, and be more mindful (essential).
Short-Term Skill: How to 2x your reading speed
Here’s how you get a LOT of reading done very quickly.
Buy the regular book (hardcover or paperback) and then get the unabridged audio version on Audible. Sit down, open the physical book and simultaneously crank the speed up to 2x or even 2.5x on Audible.
Follow along the words with your finger or a pen. You’ll sap up all the critical information without missing a beat because it’s like force-feeding your brain — AND you’ll finish the book in half the time or less. Highly efficient, if you ask me!
I usually start with 1.5x for a few chapters to train my mind and eyes to keep up with the quick pace. It’s the same as using a treadmill: high-intensity interval training for the mind. Start slow, get fast gradually, then do “sprints.” I’ll do 15 minute chunks at a very fast pace, then reduce the speed for a while to give myself a cognitive break before getting back to it.
This is especially useful for times when you just need to “get through” a book because it has vital info, like business/marketing/money book. It’s how I got through Tony Robbins’ new behemoth in 3 days, for example.
Another ancillary benefit is that it gets you SUPER focused on what’s being said because you’re using not just one, but two senses (sight and sound) to absorb the material as you follow along. There’s no room for distraction! That’s what we call hyper-focused. It’s awesome.
Long-Term Skill: How to quiet your mind (and be more mindful)
Meditation is the practice to be more mindful. On a practical level, I like to explain meditating as taking a dedicated amount of time to focus on your breath and acknowledge thoughts as they come. Instead of being like ‘BOOM! BLANK MIND! YES!’ the mission is to channel your focus on connecting with the breath as it fills and empties from the lungs. When a thought comes by (and trust me, you’ll have MANY thoughts while meditating), simply say “hmph. I just had that thought. Interesting. I’m now going to go back to focusing on my breath.”
Just as we’re bombarded with a million texts, pings, and stimulations coming at us—giving attention to distractions we had no intention of ever consuming—we’re equally consumed by our own thoughts. We often give each of them equal attention and consideration, which breathes life into an endless wave of new and often unconstructive thoughts. And the cycle repeats.
Meditation allows you to see each thought for what it is—a make believe object—and gives you the perspective and training to look beyond it.
Moments of blank mind and pure bliss just start to happen and the frequency will increase over time with more practice. Most importantly, you slow down your mind, connect with self, and improve overall self-awareness.
Here’s how I started: Find a relaxing chair or couch and sit at its edge. Close your eyes and commit to taking 100 breaths. Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Count them aloud in your head. The numbers will be mesmerizing in a way and will help anchor your thoughts from going all over the place. It will take about 10 minutes to get through one session. That’s it.
Believe me, it’s hard to just sit and do “nothing.” Simple relaxation can cause anxiety. There is a trigger in the human brain that goes off when it feels like we’re not “doing” enough. After all, the brain is designed to solve problems, first and foremost.
When the brain has nothing to solve, that absence itself becomes the problem.
So in a sense, meditation is solving the biggest problem of all: just teaching us how to be. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and it’s also the simplest thing in the world.
Meditation is the eternal retreat. Even when things get tough, you can always find that “space within” as Michael Neill would call it. But just like driving to a physical location, you have to make many trips there before you can find your way without a map. And if you don’t go there often enough, you’ll forget the route. Thus the value of consistency in the practice.
The easiest way to waste decades of your life is to mistake pleasure for fulfillment.
Pleasure lives in the realm of now. It’s made of feeling and emotion, which are both very important, but predictably unstable. It’s impossible to base a meaningful life solely on the pursuit of pleasure.
At the extreme end of pleasure: over-eating, over-sleeping, chronic masturbation and sex addiction, television, benders, cocaine and ice cream (the verdict is still out here). Push the button, get the stimulus. Constant stimulation to dull the pain, anxiety and existential uncertainty of being a human in society.
It feels good to feel good. So why not try to feel good all the time? Pass the mint chocolate chip, please.
Fulfillment is concerned with your highest vision for the future. It doesn’t equate pain or discomfort today with pain or discomfort tomorrow. It assumes that the best is always yet to come. Those looking for fulfillment out of life will do things that aren’t fun now, to reap massive rewards later.
In his book “Autobiography of a Yogi,” Indian spiritual guru Paramahansa Yogananda recalls a conversation between a sage and his student:
The student exclaimed, “Master, you are wonderful….You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom.”
To which the wise sage replied:
“You are reversing the case! I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciates! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys!”
This irony captures the essence of seeking pleasure over fulfillment.
The other way toward fulfillment: Training for a triathlon, starting a business, writing a book, recording an album. All of these things can bring pleasure in the short term. But more often than not, they do not. They are not fun. They are a constant struggle. They take years to master. They are never urgent and the easiest things to postpone.
(Especially if a new season of Walking Dead is on.)
But these are also the types of activities that, done day after day, lead to the highest quality of life and most pleasure long term. Not the acute, “OMG this is so fun” type of pleasure — but the more subtle, albeit equally exhilarating feeling of overarching satisfaction with one’s life.
These types of activities make you feel like you’re worth a damn. And that’s important. Because you are.
Pleasure versus fulfillment is the difference between spending your time and investing it. Or the difference between consuming and creating.
The time will pass anyway — but at the end of a lifetime, what will you have to show for it?
Some of us will have 100,000 hours of television, a leased Mercedes and a bunch of clothes we got sick of last year as evidence that we were here.
Others will have created a legacy that leaves the world a better place and makes a difference for people we’ve never even met.
I love my parents. I really do. But when it comes to their thoughts on money and my life trajectory…
They warped me. Badly.
Sorry for being blunt, but they did.
I don’t hold any resentment. They weren’t trying to psychologically cripple their little four-year old when they made me pick between the doctor bag or the police hat. However, the very fact that I was prodded to make such a decision at a young age instantly shrunk my worldview. It left a huge impression.
Inevitably, all parents make permanent impressions on their kids. Not all of those impressions will be good.
Here are just a few of the lies we’re all led to believe:
“You have to choose a path for your career and stick to it. People who bounce around too much have no stability and always end up poor/unhappy. First choose… then worry about being fulfilled once you’re already there.”
“You need to go to school to get prepared for [insert x] career, and if you do decide to switch careers, you need school for that too. School is always a good investment.”
“Money isn’t everything.”
“A jack of all trades is a master of none.”
I know what you’re thinking.
“My parents never said any of this stuff verbatim.”
Well, they don’t have to come out and verbalize every single one of these. Many of these ideas are implied through actions, never said directly. That B.S. seeps into your subconscious and makes it hard to see the bigger picture.
Let’s break some of these lies down.
Lie #1: “You have to choose a path for your career and stick to it.”
Here’s my position: A career is just an occupation. That means it should keep you occupied until you find something else that you like better, pays better or interests you more. Like clothes, careers are disposable. They can temporarily dress us, but they will never define who we are as people. If you go into a career that you absolutely hate just for the money, you’re not going to like yourself just because of the money. You’ll only like the money, and every Monday you’ll dread getting up out of bed.
Depth is important, but it is only one factor to consider. Why not have experience in many fields over the course of a lifetime?
Lie #2: “You need to go to school and get prepared for said career.”
Straight up BS. I’ll tell you why:
The world is changing. Now, more than ever before, access to top-level education is available to anyone with a wifi connection and a desire. I’m talking Ivy League level stuff. No, we aren’t yet at the point where doctors and lawyers are being taught online. But, I think that if we first gather some self-awareness and realize that doctor/lawyer/engineer aren’t the only good career choices, most of us would probably want to do something different anyway.
One thing is certain: school is not indisputably a good investment, especially for entrepreneurs. The new economy demands a self-directed pursuit of knowledge. Take time to study and become passionate about things that you just can’t major in. Or take a mix of completely unrelated online courses and combine them with real world experience. That’s where the real ROI of educational synthesis comes into play.
Lie #3: “Money isn’t everything.”
This one is a whopper. Money isn’t everything. But it sure is a lot of things. It’s kind of like oxygen: we need it to make everything else work properly.
People who don’t have money talk down about it all the time. They try to pretend that they would be simply mortified if they had too much of it. They are lying to you. True, money itself is meaningless. Walking around with pictures of dead colonial slave owners doesn’t really light my fire. What lights my fire is freedom.
Money is a bartering tool that, used correctly, can be exchanged for freedom. It’s the power to have other people do the things for you that you don’t want to do or can’t do yourself. It’s the power to direct your focus where you choose by freeing up your time. This doesn’t mean that everyone with money is happy, or that everyone without money is unhappy. This also doesn’t mean that money cannot be abused. It frequently is by those who have a lot of it. In fact, money can actually end up trapping you and giving you less freedom than ever before.
For this reason, we shouldn’t be chasing money. We should be chasing freedom. Money is one tool to help us get closer to that pursuit, if we’re smart about it.
Lie #4: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
False. Being a “jack of all trades” is a mastery. Being experienced in multiple areas of the human experience makes for a more powerful existence. Think back to the Renaissance. Many of mankind’s greatest creators were well versed in several art forms and universally well-rounded. Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, mathematician, sculptor, philosopher and inventor. He did not approach a new subject that interested him and say “Gee, if I pursue this new study, I will never be a true master in any of my other studies. It’s too much for one brain to handle. Ahhhh! Better play it safe!”
Instead, he pursued multiple masteries and became great at several of them. Additionally, I don’t think you’ll ever find a true “master” that claims he or she has completely mastered their craft. A true master will tell you that their understanding is always evolving.
Satisfaction is derived from the constant reach for more. Reach should always exceed grasp. How else will you grow?