You, Inc. (Prep Week Day 5 of 5)

Today is all about mindset. We’ve spent this #IntentionalPrep week clearing out everything that had our attention last year, and planning our time for the year ahead. Today we’re going to tie this together with a critical concept:

You are a small business owner.

We’ve all heard that the days of the “company man” are over: no one spends a 40-year career moving up the ladder at the same company anymore. The typical person entering the workforce today will have 8-12 jobs, meaning you’ll be changing positions every 3-5 years.

This is a good thing!

You’ll get a chance to see new problems, new people, new perspectives. If you play your cards right, every move will include a raise that an internal promotion could never compete with. Let’s do that.

My attitude is that I am a small business owner. Tony, Inc. currently has one customer (the university that I am a professor at).

Why is this mindset crucial?

Because the things that successful small businesses do are exactly what you should be doing to win. Here’s how Dan Miller suggests a small business owner spends a 45-hour work week:

  • 9 hours reading studying listening gathering new knowledge (getting better at the job, keeping up to date with the market)
  • 15 hours creating content (packaging your work in a way that people can understand what you do, presentations, reports, etc.)
  • 12 hours working directly with clients (doing the actual job)
  • 9 hours marketing building brand and reputation (doing things that gain positive attention, favors for bosses and coworkers, practicing your elevator pitch, resume building, professional networking, social media)

Bottom Line:

You’re not just in the business of completing todo items. Leave out any of these areas and you’ll limit yourself. You’re in the business of growing yourself into success. That takes effort across all of the categories above.

You want to be doing good work, learning how to do even better work, and making sure that your reputation is growing.

Spend some time today online learning about starting a business. Even if you have no interest, you’d be surprised how much you can learn about building a successful life! Finally, map the tasks above to your situation.

Example for a student:

  • Reading studying listening gathering new knowledge = learning how to learn, manage time, plan projects, work in groups
  • Creating content = doing assignments
  • Working directly with clients = finding a way to use what you’re learning to work for someone, internship, tutor, research
  • Marketing building brand and reputation = networking, writing cover letters and resumes, blogging, forming meaningful relationships on social media

Need help getting started? Send me a DM and we can chat!

Welcome Back! (Prep Week Day 1 of 5)

If your life is driven by the academic calendar, then today begins Prep Week, the week before classes begin. Even if you’re not on an academic calendar, this is the first full work week of 2018. Let’s make it count by spending a few minutes each day setting ourselves up for the best year of our lives.

This week I’ll be posting daily todo items for you to set up the systems that will cause you to WIN in 2018.

I’ll be doing them too! You can follow me on this journey on Twitter and Instagram, @TheTonyFerrar, and join the conversation using #IntentionalPrep. Share your experience, ask me questions, and leave a comment!

Crash Landing

If you’re anything like me, then the end of every semester feels like a mad race to the finish line. We’re juggling so many balls, carrying such a load, (or whatever metaphor you like for having too much on our plates). We buckle up and hope we don’t give out before the end.

I usually feel like Wilbur, everyone’s favorite Albatross from the Rescuers (watch here if you don’t know what I’m talking about http://video.disney.com/watch/big-landing-4c5987a6046a3366de4d0871).

Fresh Start

As we begin 2018, I have a goal: do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t. As @GregoryMcKeown puts it, “Less, but better.” I want to make massive progress in all of the areas of my life that matter most. This is going to take discipline and focus, which is what #IntentionalPrep is all about.

Let’s get the systems in place that will cause us to WIN in 2018.

Today’s Tasks

  1. Design a Morning Routine. My morning routine is one of the most important parts of my day. I leave the house fresh, stress-free, focused, and celebrating the fact that I already made progress on my most important thing. Studies show that high-income earners wake up an average of 2 hours before they need to leave the house. Let’s follow best practices. Waking up at the same time every day, starting with the same ritual, these things get your mind and body in a place of focus and energy. My routine, in 30-minute increments is: coffee and Scripture, read a non-fiction book, breakfast/get dressed, write for Intentional Academy. Need help engineering your routine? Read more here: https://www.tonyferrar.com/2017/08/22/why-i-love-my-morning-routine/ and https://michaelhyatt.com/tag/morning-routine/ If you think this isn’t for you, try it first. Give it one week and let me know how it goes!
  2. Clean out your workspace. How can we hope to make progress if we don’t make any room for it? Spend some time today cleaning out your desk, backpack, briefcase, email, and computer file system. Don’t let the open loops from last year continue to haunt your mind. Let go of 90% of them (straight to trash), do 10% of them, and start tomorrow with a clean slate!!

2018 is going to be incredible! Need help? Leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter/Instagram #IntentionalPrep.

Stop. Whining. Now.

I hear so much whining about student loans. There are only two ways to go into debt for school:

  1. Voluntarily
  2. Fraud

If someone took out loans in your name without your permission, you’re a victim of fraud and need to deal with that through the legal system.

Otherwise, you signed up voluntarily. Even if you went to a predatory school that lied about some future guaranteed success. You borrowed money to buy a bad product. Learn from that.

We don’t have a student loan crisis. We have a personal responsibility crisis.

When I graduated, I owed more than my HOUSEHOLD income. Not just my income, but my wife’s too. The minimum payment was bigger than our rent! Two and a half years later? We’re within a few months of being completely debt free.

We paid every penny.

How?

Magic: we lived on less than we made. You can too. You might not like what that means for your standard of living, but don’t mistake your preferences for an inability to make your payment. You are not a victim. You have power in your life. Excercise that power and earn the life you dream of!!

A list of things you should know:

  • I haven’t purchased new shoes since 2011 (other than my rock climbing shoes which I saved up for)
  • The newest tablets in our house are yellow and have lines printed on them. We do have an iPad 2 that I won in a raffle…
  • The most reliable computer we own is a $35 Rasperry Pi.
  • My wife, son, and I eat on $600/month. That includes any restaurants (lol), diapers and formula.
  • If we can’t drive to it and sleep in a tent, we don’t travel there.
  • We cook our own food on a portable stove when we travel.
  • I brew my own coffee (the horror!!). It costs me less for two weeks than a single cup from the ‘Bucks.
  • My family car (that’s right, we have ONE), was manufactured in 2005.

… the list goes on.

Even with these “radical” lifestyle decisions, we weren’t making enough progress.

So I took on extra PAID work. That’s the best place to go when you need money, to work! My current load is 1.5 times my colleagues’. Yep, I’m working half of a second full-time teaching job.

The point? You can do this too. You can do this too. You. Can. Do. This. Too.

It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. But you can do it.

The Two Meanings of “I’ll Do Better Next Time”

“I am an Intentional Learner. I know that I will perform as I practice, and so I practice well. I am not waiting for certification. My results are my certification.”

“I’ll do better next time.”

I have an image in my head of what it looks like to do an amazing job. If I did my homework with excellence it would look a certain way. If I studied for an exam with excellence I’d be able to do certain things with the material. If I completed this class project with excellence I’d be proud of the result.

But we don’t always work with excellence. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes we’re lazy. Sometimes life gets in the way. And so we chase the outcome (good grade) without focusing on the process (learning something new, mastering a skill).

It turns out that you won’t do any better next time.

You can’t just visualize doing amazing things, you have to practice doing them. I can visualize dodging Floyd Mayweather’s right hook and countering with an uppercut for the knock-out… but we know what would actually happen.

If you practice mediocre, you will perform mediocre.

Meaning 1 (for wimps): “I’ll do better next time because this time I didn’t give my best effort and I knew it.”

“I’ll do better next time.”

I did everything I could to execute this job according to the image of excellence in my head. I saw this assignment as an opportunity to practice the skills related to a course, as well as to practice the art of learning. I saw this exam as an opportunity to test my skill at using the material in a new situation. I saw this project as an opportunity to create something amazing that I would tell stories about during job interviews.

But it didn’t come out as amazing as I was picturing. I know what I hoped it would be. But after giving it my best I have discovered that I need to improve my technique. I see the difference between what I made and what I hoped to make, and I can make a plan to close that gap.

Meaning 2 (for winners): “I’ll do better next time because this time my best wasn’t good enough. I will improve my best.”

Your degree doesn’t certify you.

Your results do. And results don’t happen overnight. You don’t go to bed mediocre one day and wake up excellent the next. Go practice! Go get results!

If you practice with excellence, you will perform with excellence.

The Intentional Academy is here to help. We’re creating content that helps you focus on improving your practice. If it’s helping, let us know by leaving a comment and hitting those “like” and “share” buttons!

36,500 Days and $2 million

“I am an Intentional Learner. I own my time and my money. I realize that both are finite and I decide how I spend them. I do not allow either to limit my future.”

Time and money feel infinite. When we misuse them, it’s easy to say things like “there’s always tomorrow to get that done,” or “there’s always next week’s paycheck.” Time and money feel like rivers we can dip into when we need more. Which is only partly true.

“You’re going to die.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Money is finite. Spend it wisely.

Let’s work an example. Pretend you earn the national average income over your career. That’s $50,000 per year. The average working lifetime is about 40 years which means your job will produce a total of $2 million. You get to spend $2 million over your life and then you’re out.

Except for interest.

You can turn that $2 million into more if you invest it. Great. Maybe you’ll even reach a point where the interest from your investments replaces the $50,000 (you’d need about $800,000 invested at 6%). Sweet place to be, your money now works harder than you do!

But $800,000 is a sizable portion of your total lifetime income. So is sending your kid to college and paying off your student loans and buying a house. Are you SURE you want to pay interest on that $40,000 sports car loan?

It’s not about the numbers. You could always increase your income, but you’d find ways to scale the outflow as well.

Time is even more finite.

There is no investment that earns interest to buy you more time. If you live to be 100 years old, you’ll have 36,500 days. 5,200 weekends. 100 Thanksgiving Holidays.

What are you doing today? 36,499. How about tomorrow? 36,498.

Is every day going to be the best day of your life? Hardly. But if most days aren’t good, what are you waiting for? Change!

  • If you’re in school, enjoy the fact that these are the only 1,460 days where it’s OK to not know everything. Find something to be curious about and study it because you want to, not because you’re required to earn a grade.
  • If you’re working, spend those precious days doing what matters to you. Take care of providing for your family. Invest, but also play.

I can’t tell you what matters. That’s for you to decide. But don’t spend your precious time and money reacting to everyone else’s agenda. Spend them on things that matter.

The Intentional Academy is here to help. We’re asking questions that will guide you to finding what matters and achieving it. We’re sharing tactics that will buy you more freedom to spend your time and money the way that you feel is most important. If it’s helping, let us know by leaving a comment and hitting those “like” and “share” buttons!

Participation Trophy

“I am an Intentional Learner. I believe that my life is my fault. I may have started from a different point than everyone else. My path may be easier or harder than everyone else’s. But I will not let my past dictate my future. I have the power to act and succeed, or to do nothing and fail.”

We’re obsessed with “fair.” And we should be. Any system that disproportionately favors one group over another is doomed to strife.

But.

“Fair” doesn’t mean “same.” We wish it did, because “same” is easy. Everyone gets the same trophy, regardless of whether they win or not. That’s “same.” But is it fair? What if one team sits at home eating potato chips and playing video games while the other is eating veggies and putting in hours of exercise and practice? Do they deserve the same reward?

“Fair” is insisting that both teams follow the same rules, and then giving the winners the trophy. “Same” isn’t “fair.”

That’s just a game.

In real life, we try to give everyone the same opportunity. We feel a sense of injustice when the current rules, or the results of past rules now defunct, make it harder for some to succeed than others.

I’m very thankful for the statesmen who are trying to figure this out.

But it won’t do much for you.

Your life is happening. Right now. You can look at the deck that’s stacked against you and complain that your starting point is different than everyone else’s. You can mistake “same” for “fair.” And you’ll end up fighting that battle your entire life. You can sit on your hands, doing nothing and fighting for “fairness.”

Or.

You can take charge. You can realize that in some room on Earth, YOU are the privileged one with the advantage. You can decide that even if it’s harder for you, you’re going to reach out and grab your dream.

And when you reach it, and you stand among others who made it, you’ll know the score. You’ll have the power to make the path easier for those who follow in your footsteps.

The Intentional Academy is here to help you overcome the odds. We’re posting content daily to guide your growth. If it’s helping, let us know by leaving a comment and hitting those “like” and “share” buttons!

Mind the Gap

“I am an Intentional Learner. I see a gap between what I learn in school and what I need to succeed. I don’t wait for the system to fix itself, I leverage its strengths and overcome its weaknesses.”

To succeed, you’ll need to develop skills in two categories: technical and professional.

Technical skills are those required to do a specific job:

CPA’s need to know how to run spreadsheets and navigate tax laws, engineers need to know how to predict the behavior of a system using the laws of physics.

Professional skills are those required to do ANY job:

Whether you’re a bar tender or a lawyer, you need to show up for work on time, with energy and focus, and know how to talk with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Leveraging Strengths

  • You will never be surrounded by as many technical subject matter experts as when you’re in school. They come to work every day hoping to help someone grow; give theme the opportunity by showing up for class and office hours.
  • The community of like-minded and motivated students is your most important asset. Jim Rohn tells us that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. In college, you have the chance to spend a lot of time with excellent people. Plug in!

Overcoming Weaknesses

  • Colleges focus on teaching technical skills. Sure, we force students to take general ed courses to complete their liberal education (look it up, it has nothing to do with politics). But these courses have been de-emphasized in students’ minds: the typical attitude is that they are a waste of time and should be given as little effort as possible. Be different by finding value in these courses.
  • Colleges expect students to be adept at many professional skills but offer no formal instruction. Did you take a class called “Time Management and Productivity”? Seek out training and mentorship in all of the professional skills areas that you can.

The Intentional Academy is here to help you bridge this gap. We’re posting content daily to guide your growth. If it’s helping, let us know by leaving a comment and hitting those “like” and “share” buttons!

Triple Down on What You’re Good At

I’m a magpie. I realize the reference is dated, but it fits perfectly. I’m a magpie. I see shiny things, I get excited, and I go after them. I don’t mean shiny things like fancy cars or watches or anything material at all. I mean ideas. Shiny, new ideas.

The problem with ideas is that I have a lot of them. Most of us do. And we don’t have time to pursue them all. You may not realize it, but you spend most of your life saying “no.” There are an infinite number of things you could be doing at this moment. You’re reading this post. Which means you’re not curing cancer, playing volleyball, or taking your future spouse on a first date.

Are you sure that you say “no” to the right things? More importantly, are you sure you’re saying “yes” to the most important ones?

I have a simple rule: triple down on what you’re good at. Fit the rest in if you can.

If you invest the majority of your effort focused on crushing the things you already win at, two things will happen: first, you’ll win. Second, you’ll get momentum to carry you through the learning process for the next thing you’re going to be good at.

Success breeds success. Get some!

This week has been full of exciting announcements for the Intentional Academy. Future goals for our content. Stories. VLOGS. But the most exciting one is this:

We’re working on a weekly Podcast.

Why? Because I’m really good at talking with students about life.

There’s a line out my office door of people looking for help with resumes, picking majors, finding internships, managing time, dealing with money and student loans, and getting on a solid career path. I’m not bragging, I’m recognizing a trend. And it’s no wonder I’m getting good at this: I spend an enormous amount of time reading, watching, listening, and practicing it.

But listening has always been key. I consume more content through podcast than all of the other forms combined. Why? Time. I can listen to a podcast in the car. On the train. At the gym. When I run an errand. Every time my wife asks me to run out and pick something up from the store, I come back a better person.

This is the first of the new projects the Intentional Academy is rolling out. We’ll keep you posted on the progress. We’ll teach you how to access the episodes when they are released. Most importantly, we’ll address the issues and questions that you have.

In the meanwhile, go all-in in the things you’re good at and enjoy the victories!

Do you have a question you’d like answered? Leave a comment or send an email to tony@tonyferrar.com.

Coming Soon. The Intentional Academy: VLOG

ave you ever had a ‘life changing’ experience? Maybe it was a religious retreat. Or a summer camp. Or a medical crisis. Maybe you experienced a disaster. In the blink of an eye, you know you’ll never be the same.

Your life changes in the days, maybe even weeks that follow. You do more of something you promised yourself you’d do more of. You do less of something you promised yourself you’d do less of. But it always seems to fade. A month later, your life looks like it did before.

Why? Momentum.

The amazing thing about being a person is that you can decide to change in an instant. Think of something that needs to change in your life. Are you tired of putting it off? Commit. Right now. Ready? Bang. You just decided to change.

But…

Your decision to change doesn’t actually change anything. That’s why you can find so many books, blogs, podcasts, courses, and coaches dedicated to “affirmations” and “habits.” You’ve got work to do, implementing a new behavior (or rooting out an old one).

The Intentional Academy wants to support as you do this.

We’re all about the follow through. One of the best ways to stay on fire, to keep yourself moving forward, is to see the dream in action. Regularly.

We’re shifting to a new format for these daily videos. We’re going to be capturing moments throughout the day, little experiences of intentional living, and assembling them into a daily vlog. The lessons are in there, but you’ll get to see them in action. You’ll get a behind the scenes view of what we’re all about.

Here’s a preview of where we’re headed:

(or just search for “YouTube Intentional Academy”)

Take look, go ahead and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’ll be posting regular content there soon. We’re learning: filming, editing, final production – all new skills for us. Have thoughts? Let us know. Want to help? We need it! Reach out.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

Coming Soon. The Intentional Academy: Stories.

Have you ever been completely lost during class? You’re in the room. You’re listening. But you find yourself just sitting there with no idea what the professor is talking about. Do you raise your hand and ask for help?

Usually, the answer is “no.”

Why not? Fear.

We are hard-wired to resist standing out. The lions eat the member of the herd that stands out. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been in the mood to be someone’s lunch.

So we put on our scholarly face, scribble down some notes that we hope will make sense later, and leave the room defeated. The second you’re in the hall, you and your classmates begin the discussion:

“Wow that was hard. I was totally lost.”

You know you’ve done this. Don’t deny it. Isn’t it funny how much braver we are in the hall?

Sometimes, an amazing thing happens in class. Someone stops the professor to ask a question. And this encourages someone else to ask. And someone else. And it snowballs into a useful discussion in which everyone (professor included) learns something.

When we struggle, we convince ourselves we are alone.

Wrong! There are over 7 billion people alive today. While the circumstances of every person’s life are unique, the problems we face aren’t. Yet we’re all sitting silently in class, wishing someone would ask the first question.

This is your invitation to raise your hand.

We’re expanding the Intentional Academy content to include real stories from real people. We want you to contribute. Reach out, right now to share your story. We’ll guide you through, we’ll do the hard work.

Tell your story, it may just change someone’s life.

Want to contribute? Send me a message! tony@tonyferrar.com, or DM on social.