Monthly Archives: August 2013

How Do I Identify My Passion?

Identifying your passion is one of the first and most important steps in creating a plan for your future.

Too many people brush this question aside when planning their future vocation. They think it is trivial. They instead look at “grown-up” things like, what industries are showing the highest growth rate right now, or what do others expect me to do. Some choose careers that are safe, guaranteed, or respectable. Many people even make decisions based solely on what they are good at or what others have told them they are good at.

Most of these are actually pretty smart ideas.Trust Me 2

But passion isn’t all about making smart, logical, and intellectually sound decisions. This is where your heart comes in. For just a moment turn off the logic part of your brain and give your heart some freedom.

You don’t want to wake up every morning, roll out of bed, and have to give yourself a pep talk just to get out the door and go to work. Way too many people do this every morning. They go to work because they have to. They live for the weekends.

This is normal.

But trust me; you don’t want to be normal. Normal is unhappy, unmotivated, unproductive, uninspired, and passionless.

Wouldn’t you rather wake up in the morning and be ready to work because you’ve had a million exciting ideas going through your head all night long? Wouldn’t you rather be in a place where your work and your personal life are not at war with each other but complement each other and blend together like a beautiful watercolor?

Figuring out your passion requires looking inward.

What are the things that you talk about the most with your close friends?

What do you do with an unexpected free day when school is canceled?

What books are you reading that are not required?

What do you think about when you find your mind drifting?

What movies do you enjoy?

What extracurricular activities do you find most enjoyable and why?

What do you look for in new friends and what qualities do you value most in your close friends?

What do your friends and family say you talk about all the time? What can they not get you to shut-up about?

 magazineOne simple trick to discovering your passion is to go to your local book store, walk over to the magazine section, and pick up the first three magazines that you find interesting. Take them to a table or a reading area and glance through them. What is it about those magazines that you like? Is it the artwork, the photography, the articles, the advertisements? Did you grab those magazines so that you can learn something new and share it with your friends? Did you pick something that will help you better yourself? Did you grab them because you want to stay up on the latest trends? Try to spend at least 30 to 45 minutes (or until the staff scowls and tells you “this isn’t a library!”) with these magazines and try to figure out what it is that draws you to them.

Getting an outside perspective can also help. Ask your best friend, a family member, or a mentor what he or she thinks you are passionate about. Sometimes what is obvious to others is difficult for us to see in ourselves.

It’s good to take advice from others but it is so very important to listen to your own voice during this process. A lot of well-meaning family members, guidance counselors, teachers, and mentors have or will try to give good conservative advice to you. They will generally err on the side of caution and discourage any plans that seem to be outside of the norm. They may encourage you to take a career path that is safe and makes sense but just isn’t something that inspires you.

This step takes some time. That’s okay.

A fulfilling and profitable vocation is made up of three things: passion, ability, and an economic model.

Your passion is one part of a three legged stool. If you don’t spend the time needed to figure this one out the other two won’t hold you up.

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So You’re a Senior…

You’ve got a lot going on to say the least. In addition to school, friends, sports, volunteering, your job, church, and any other extra-curricular activities you may having going on, you have to find some time to plan your future.

By this point I’m sure your Aunt Martha, Uncle Bob, and most of your family and friends have said something like this:

“So Timmy have you have decide to college?”

Or maybe your Aunt Martha is more direct:

 “Timmy of course you’re going to college, right… right!? So what are you going to study honey?”

 These are usually some of the first questions most juniors and seniors are forced to answer: should I go to college and if so where? What should I major in? But honestly, I think that this question is asked way too early in the planning process. College is a vehicle not a destination. Long before you decide if you want to go to college or not, you need to have an image in your mind of where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. Let’s be honest with ourselves here; ask yourself the concrete things as well as the abstract.

What kind of car do I want to drive? (This isn’t shallow, be honest with yourself.)

What kind of house do I want to live in?

What do I want my typical day to look like?

Do I want to work for a large company, a small business, or go into business for myself?

What do I want my family life to be like?

How do I want to impact the world around me?

Who do I want to work with? What type of clients do I want to serve? (Every working adult serves somebody- choose wisely.)

How much do I want to be earning in 5 years?

When you ask yourself these things it helps you to get a better picture of what type of industry you might enjoy, what kind of salary requirements you have, and what path you need to be on to get the outcomes that you want.

You can’t say to yourself “I love working with kids, so I want to be a kindergarten teacher!” and then expect to live in a fabulous house with a BMW in the driveway (at least not without massive debt). It’s just not going to happen.

Likewise, if you say “I really want to be a stay at home mom or dad in five or six years” is it necessary to invest tens of thousands of dollars in a degree in Modern European Literature?

On the flip side of that coin, if you have a passion to serve cancer victims as an oncologist, you had better be figuring out which schools best suit your needs and start getting applications ready for a few different universities.

It seems pretty simple right?

Enter the gray area.


Let’s say you know without a shadow of a doubt that you were wired and created to make music, this is your passion. Should you go to college? These types of career paths and situations are actually more common than not. Here you need to decide what exactly you want to do in the music field. Don’t go to college to figure that out.  I repeat; do not go to college to figure out what you want to be when you grow up! You need to figure that out now. You need to develop an economic model: what are you selling and who are you selling it to. Once you have that figured out, then you can determine if a college degree is necessary to get you to that point. College can often help in these types of situations but it is not always necessary and of course you have to plan for opportunity costs.

Let’s stick with the music illustration.

Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan, and Jon Bon Jovi have all done pretty well in the music industry despite not having a degree. That’s right no degree at all. Now let’s look at Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney. They both have degrees in advertising, not music. Advertising was the path and part of the foundation that helped get these two country music sensations get to where they are today. Rapper Ludacris chose a degree in business. All of these individuals took very different paths to become the music superstars they are.

Do the planning now. Look inward. Best-selling author and one of today’s leading vocational thinkers, Dan Miller, states in his book 48Days to the Work You Love, “…that 85 percent of the process of having the confidence of proper direction is to look inward. Fifteen percent is the application…”

Figure out where you want to be, who you want to be, and how you are going to get there.

Then you can answer Aunt Martha about going to college.

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The Future of Online Education: Part 2


I recently listened in on a teleseminar between Dan Miller and Dinesh Thiru of about the future of online education. Here are some things that I got out of it that I thought you might be interested in.


Online education is coming. Actually it’s here and it’s transforming rapidly. A lot of colleges offer online courses and even entire degrees, but typically taking those courses require you becoming a student, handing over a big chunk of money and getting an entire degree complete with a bunch of courses you may or may not really care about.

Enter the new guys. is different type of online education. They offer specific courses that are fairly inexpensive or even free.  Their self-proclaimed goals are to democratize education and dramatically lower the price of receiving a high quality education from the world’s top experts in all types of industries.

Udemy Screenshot

Udemy allows you to choose specific skills that you want to learn. The site has courses on a variety of subjects ranging from graphic design to project management. It allows you to choose what you want to learn without having to take a bunch of classes that you don’t really want or need. Udemy has a few classes that offer certification but the majority of them only offer certificates of completions. The goal of these courses is not to give you a piece of paper in which to place your confidence but to give you actual knowledge in which to place your confidence.

The fact is, more industries are placing value on your real world work experience, the projects you’ve led, and if you can show continual growth and an improving skill set.

Dinesh Thiru of Udemy gave the scenario of an employer looking at two potential candidates applying for an entry level marketing position:

Candidate 1: A traditional college graduate with a degree from a well-known university.

Candidate 2: A person who did not graduate college but who has taken several online courses in marketing and who has created an innovative website that has gotten a couple thousand visitors.

He states that his company and employers in general are shifting away from hiring the more traditional college graduate to the one who is self-driven and has developed marketable skills and can demonstrate those skills through specific projects.

Having a degree will remain a must for certain jobs such as nursing and other medical fields where employees have to know that you proficient in certain areas. But in a lot of other fields employers are starting to care less and less about the letters behind your name. They want to know what you can do to add value to their company.

I find this shift very exciting.

It opens up even greater possibilities to you; if you have the drive and motivation to succeed.

What do you think? Have you ever taken an online course? Did you like it? Do you think it will become the new normal? Share your thoughts on the future of education.

As a side note, I am not getting paid in any way to advertise for Udemy. I just really like and support the idea of taking your education into your own hands.

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The Future of Online Education: Part 1

Online classes are changing the game in the world of education.  They are opening up opportunities and providing pathways to success for a lot of people.  The days of students listening to a professor in an enormous lecture hall may be less and less common as online education continues to evolve and improve.

I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about the future of education, particularly online education, to sit in on this free teleseminar hosted by and

You can listen in here: on Thursday August 22 @ 7:00 pm Central. The teleseminar is will only be about one hour long so take advantage of this opportunity to learn and grow. If you take part in this event, share you thoughts here, I would love to hear from you.

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Four Benefits of Listening to Podcasts

Head phones

Once you’ve seen something it can’t be unseen. Once you’ve heard something it can’t be unheard. As I write this I’m inadvertently thinking of that song from the 90’s, Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down) by the group Chumbawamba.  It’s one of those songs that I heard in middle school and no matter how hard I try I cannot forget the lyrics and melody. Every so often that song will get in my head and I cringe.  It’s a terrible song, but I heard it once and now it’s in my skull… apparently for life.

Up until fairly recently I was a big time radio listener. I would typically listen to over an hour of radio a day, going to and from work and on the weekends when doing yard work.  I would listen to talk radio 75% of the time and music 25%. I thought that I was engaging in self-development by staying on top of the local and national news. I was well versed on all of the political talking points on basically every issue going on in the media. During commercial breaks I would switch over to a few different music stations and try and see what was new in the world of music.

To be honest the news made me cynical and the music made me dumb. Neither of these activities were causing me to become more productive, more caring, more influential, or more knowledgeable.  Basically they were stealing an hour or more each day of my time and giving me nothing in return.

Then I got turned on to podcasts.

I subscribed to few podcasts that I heard about from friends or authors whose books I have read in the past. What a difference!

I’ve made a list of some reasons that I would encourage you to include listening to podcasts in your daily routine. At the end of this post I’ll share some of my favorites. Here are my top four reasons:

  1. Podcasts put you in control of your influences– Like it or not you are influenced greatly by what you hear. Choose to be influenced by people who are already at the level of success you want to be at. Success is contagious.
  2. Podcasts are free and convenient – I’ve never paid a dime for any of the podcasts I listen to and they are available to me whenever and wherever I want to hear them.
  3. Podcasts can be educational – In college I took several classes that only met an hour or two a week. In those classes I learned a lot of great things in a relatively small amount of time. An hour or two a week over the course of a semester can add up. You see where I’m going with this don’t you. An hour or two driving each day to and from work or school can really add up. Fill that time with educational activities that you are passionate about or interested in. Learn a little Spanish, learn about personal finance, or learn about formal dining etiquette. Learn about whatever you like but use that time to learn.
  4. Podcasts can promote self-development – Similar to reason number 1, a lot of my self-development activities originated with ideas learned through the podcasts I listen to. I love listening to successful people share their tips on how they became successful and how they are continuing in their success.

That’s it. There are many other great reasons to include podcasts in your daily routine but those are my top four reasons. I enjoy music a lot and often have Spotify or Pandora up when I’m writing or working on projects that require my full attention. But when doing monotonous or mind numbing activities I usually have a podcast going.

Like I said earlier, here are some of the podcasts I am currently listening to and would recommend:

  • This is your Life with Michael Hyatt
  • The EntreLeadership Podcast
  • Motley Fool Money
  • The Dave Ramsey Show
  • 48Days Podcast
  • TEDTalks (Audio)

If you do listen to podcasts share some of your favorites and why you listen to them. If you don’t listen to podcasts let me know why not.  I would love to hear from you.

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Control your College Experience

I’ve already addressed the fact that starting your college career undeclared can be hazardous to your wealth (see Let’s Make a Deal).  College is just too expensive of an endeavor to be taken lightly. Taking a year of non-degree specific courses can set you behind once you do chose a major, often adding an additional year of college expenses.

Taking general education courses will not reveal to you your passions and plans for the future. Very few people have ever been inspired sitting in an introductory math 101 course. But all too often as undeclared students find themselves coming to the end of their freshman year of college they realize that they HAVE to choose something.

You can’t major in indecisiveness. You panic. You pick something that you may have a passing interest in or that you think you will be moderately good at. The bottom line is that you still have no idea what you really want to be when you grow up.

Don’t put yourself in that position. You wouldn’t get on a plane without making sure you knew where it was going and that its destination is where you want to be.  Likewise, don’t head off to college without a plan. You control your college experience, don’t let it control you.

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Dan Miller on 100% College Admission

Please check out this link: Here’s a Sad Goal – 100% College Admission

I stumbled across this post by Dan Miller, Author of 48 Days to the Work You Love. I couldn’t agree more with what he says. College is not for everyone. But so many people are pressured into going at the risk of looking like a second class citizen. In the “real world” people are valued based on what they can bring to a company or what they can produce not what degree they have.

By the way, If you don’t know who Dan Miller is I highly recommend subscribing to his weekly podcasts. If you aren’t listening to podcasts you should be.  I’ll be writing about their countless advantages in an upcoming post.

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A Better Option


Ever heard this advice, “If you don’t know what major you want, go as an undeclared student. You can decide on your major after a few basic courses.”? Sounds like an “okay” idea doesn’t it? It seems like a pretty harmless plan and I suppose if you are going for an “okay” plan then it will suffice.

But you don’t want an “okay” plan. You want a remarkable plan.  You want a clear and intentional plan and being undeclared has no place in your plan.  The idea that you can take a few 101 courses and suddenly “find yourself” is just plain dumb and it is unnecessarily expensive.

If you are absolutely certain that college is a part of your plan, then a better option is to audit a college course while you are still in high school. A lot of high schools have dual enrollment with colleges.  Earning college credits while still in high school is an excellent way to go. If you are closer to graduation or don’t have the previous options available, you could also attend a community college and take a few courses without living on campus or accruing big expenses from a larger university.  Sometimes it is a good idea to take a gap year as well. Taking a year off after high school can often help you realize what you like, and often more importantly, what you don’t like. Of course when I say “taking a year off” I do not mean staying at home and bumming off of mom and dad. Taking a year off involves working, volunteering, and engaging in serious self-development.

Going to college undeclared is an option, but in my opinion it is rarely the best one.

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Let’s Make a Deal

Let’s make a deal. For only $25,000.00 I can help you choose a career path and find something of interest for you to study. I can also help you make some new friends and take you to some really cool parties. I guarantee you that for the low cost of only $25,000.00 I can help you achieve self-actualization.  Are you interested?

Of course you’re not.

The reason you’re not interested is because you have at least two brain cells in your head to rub together. You can do all of those things on your own. You don’t need to pay someone $25,000.00 to do that. But that’s basically what going to college undeclared is.  “Here, you take my money while I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”

By the way, if you were in fact interested in my initial deal I accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards.

Opportunity Costs for Going to College


Going to College is expensive. I know, everybody is yelling “well duh!” in unison. But it’s even more expensive than you might think. Opportunity costs are very important to consider when planning whether or not to go to college.

Let me quickly define what I mean by opportunity costs for the purposes of this article. An opportunity cost is simply a choice between two possible options where you judge the benefits of one choice over the other.  You can choose to do this or you can choose to do that. You can buy a 1998 Chevy Cavalier or you can buy a new 2012 Toyota Prius. You can have cereal for breakfast or you can have oatmeal. You can choose to go straight to the work force after high school or you can choose to go to college.

Let’s look at the workforce or college example in more detail.

A lot of people when taking into account the financial implications of going to college only consider the debt they accrue while attending college; room and board, books, fees, tuition, etc.  They often don’t consider one of the biggest financial factors in the whole equation which is the cost of giving up four years of income to attend college. Four years of income will often add up to more than the total cost of tuition and all the related expenses. Four years income is a big chunk of money.

For example; we have two students who are graduating high school. One decides that he will go straight to the work force and the other decides to go to a four year college.  The student who chose to go to college will pay, or more likely owe, $71,440 when starting his or her career. But not only that, they will also be out an additional $120,000 in lost income. The $120,000 sounds like a lot but it is really pretty conservative, just take $30,000 a year multiplied by four years.  So college for that student came at a $191,440 cost of opportunity. At 22 years old after graduating college that student is down $191,440; let that sink in for a minute.

Now we move on to our student who chose to go straight to work after high school. Let’s say he or she chose to become an auto mechanic. The average salary for that job is $36,180. Multiply that by four years and at 22 years old that student is in the positive $144,720. That is a difference of $336,160 between the two. That’s a lot of money!

I want to be clear that I am not discouraging going to college at all. In general, college graduates earn more than high school graduates do. The unemployment rate is lower for college graduates than it is for high school graduates. Going to college is a must for a lot of career paths and it tends to provide more flexibility.  However, as I mentioned earlier, it is important to understand the opportunity costs. Make the decision from a position of knowledge and confidence.

Ask yourself; “Is accepting that cost necessary to get me to the place I want to be?” or more simply put, “is it worth it?”

As a side note, $71,440 is the average cost of a four year in state college based on data from College Board located here Check it out.

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