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I want to help you make a living with your passion. This is why I started working on a book in early 2014 called The Overlap Technique: it’s a down-to-earth, practical guide to becoming an expert and making more money than your day job before you even quit.
I got about 20,000 words into it, and then had to put it on the back-burner. I continued teaching a lot of the principles in the podcast, but I put the writing on hold to work on my website and building the Community.
During the time that elapsed between starting the book and returning to it later in the year, I’d received hundreds of emails from people telling me their biggest struggles with pursuing their passions.
I decided to throw out the first 20,000 words and start from scratch.
The book will launch in 2015, but in the mean time, the tremendous feedback I’ve received has really shaped the book into being a direct answer to your most pressing questions. Giving the material some breathing room has really allowed me to refine the message.
It’s been more than 80 episodes since I’ve last dedicated an episode to talking about The Overlap Technique and making the difficult transition from soul-sucking day job to doing what you love and sustaining yourself. In this episode, I give you a crash course on the refined concepts and the four core pillars of being able to keep your passion and have it sustain you long term.
It’s the perfect episode for a first-time listener!
Long-time listeners: trust me, you’re going to get a WHOLE ton out of this too, but (finally!) you have a great first episode to point your friend to if they haven’t listened before.
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- 04:49 Sean: The Overlap Technique is a method that enables you to make a living with your passion. People might be thinking, “Oh cool. Make a living from my passion, awesome. So it’s like 10 easy steps to waking up late and never having to worry about paying bills.” It’s more like 4 hard steps.
- 06:24 I’m going to tell you the hard way, but the way that is sure to work. First a few questions. Is this you:
- Are you unhappy with the clients you’re working with?
- Are you doing what you love but just feel uninspired?
- Do you dislike your job?
- Is your job stressful?
- Do you have a lack of fulfillment?
- Are you in a job that pays super well but you hate it (Golden Handcuffs)?
- 06:44 That’s where Kim is. Kim wrote in:
- “I’m lucky that my passion is my career, but sometimes I have a hard time staying inspired. Or, I find client work uninspiring, and am still working to get to a point where all my jobs are ones I actually care about.”
- 07:14 This is what my book, The Overlap Technique, is about: helping you find your passion, become an expert, and make more money than your day job before you even quit. When it launches, it will be free to newsletter subscribers. In the meantime, I want to give you a crash course version of the Overlap Technique.
- 07:55 Ben: “Another scenario is, maybe you’re doing the kind of work that you love and a lot of it, but you’re not getting paid enough to cover your bills. That stresses you out and makes the work not quite as enjoyable.”
- 08:18 Sean: This applies to that person too. I’ve talked about the Overlap Technique in past episodes before, but I’ve refined the concept a lot since we last discussed it. There’s four parts to the Overlap Technique: find, protect, invest, monetize.
- 09:02 Sean: When it comes to finding your passion, it can’t be the idea of doing something (Related: e101 How To Find Your Passion). You have to love the act of doing it. Finding something takes time. It takes discovery. You have to pick something and do it for a while.
- 09:43 That’s the difficult part. People want to know what their passion is for sure, right now, and they want to know it’s the right thing if they’re going to try it. They want to know they aren’t going to waste any time. The reality is, you have to do it. You could find out that in doing it, you don’t actually like the act of doing it. It’s the difference between the idea of being a best-selling author or an accomplished musician vs. the act of writing every single day or the act of practicing every single day.
- 10:17 Ben: “I want to get Cory in on this one because I was asking him how he started in filmmaking and he told me he had originally started with woodworking.”
- 10:42 Cory: “A while back, I told Sean that there were a lot of things I was legitimately interested in that I could do as a passion.
- 11:01 “I did that and it took going through a couple of my interests to realize that filmmaking was my #1 passion. If I never started, I wouldn’t have known.”
- 11:11 Ben: “The thing that really struck me when you were describing the process is that you got involved in woodworking. You had actually purchased equipment and put out some projects. That wasn’t just dipping your toe in, you really gave it a shot. That’s what people are afraid of. It’s easier to wrestle with the idea of something than it is to act on it because it’s scary.
- What if I Don’t Like It?
- 11:55 “Cory told me that he wished he hadn’t spent all that money on equipment. But I think it really gave him an opportunity to see what it was like to produce the results he had in your mind before he ultimately decided it wasn’t his main passion. That’s a big investment but I’m starting to believe that’s the only way you can find out.”
- 12:50 Sean: Some people struggle to find what they’re passionate about and have absolutely no idea, while others have the opposite problem: they have multiple passions and they don’t know which one to pick. The same answer goes for both types of people:
- 13:20 Having a list of 6 ideas you think you’re passion about is easy. It’s just a list. It’s just an idea. It doesn’t take effort. In order to know if you love to do something, you have to discover if you like the act of doing it—the actual process.
- Tell a Story With Content, Not Gear
- 13:37 Ben: “In addition to that, I think you need to get the equipment necessary to allow you to have a real experience with the process. It’s the difference between purchasing a good camera, a good lens, good lighting equipment, and going through the process of writing a story and shooting the film vs. shooting a couple of things on an iPhone and seeing how it turns out.”
- 14:18 Sean: I only agree with part of that. What is filmmaking about? Is it about the lenses you get, the DSLR you use, or the rig for the gear that you have? Or is it about storytelling? Does the gear help the storytelling? Yes, it absolutely can. But it still involves the same creative process: writing a script, casting people, and showing up at the shoot.
- 15:02 I don’t want people to think they have to spend $5,000 or $10,000 on camera equipment to find out if they love to do something. If you’re doing this with equipment you have right now and you’re showing up regularly, that’s a way you can find out if you even like the act of doing it.
- 15:37 Ben: “What is the minimum you need to invest?”
- 15:46 Sean: I would recommend spending 90% of what you can afford (Related: tv035 How Much Should You Spend on Podcasting Or Video Gear?). If you can afford $1,000 worth of gear, I would recommend spending $900 of it to give yourself a buffer. This way, you won’t completely deplete the amount that you have and it helps you focus on not just the gear, but the content.
- 16:32 If you’ve determined for your business, your brand, or your industry, that 90% of what you can afford does not surpass the minimum quality threshold, then you probably need to wait and save your money. If it does pass that minimum quality threshold, and you determine it’s good enough for your brand or your industry, then go ahead and get what you can afford. Maybe your 90% is an iPhone for video. Maybe your 90% is a DSLR. Go with whatever 90% is for you. Start with what you have and emphasize the content and the message.
- 17:17 Ben: “That principle not only applies to when you’ve chosen something and you’re producing content, but it also applies to when you’re still exploring and trying to figure out what your passions are.”
- 17:32 Sean: Absolutely. That way you’re not spending all you have on trying out every single passion. Pick one at a time of course, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on any potential passion.
Sean said, “Find one and start with it.”
You don’t know what you love to do until you do it.
You have to do it for an extended period of time. It’s the idea of doing something vs. the act of doing it.
You don’t need nice equipment to try out every single thing that could potentially be a passion.
- 18:10 Sean: I talked about protecting your passion before (Related: e102 Why It May Be the Wrong Time to Pursue Your Passion and tv019 Day Job as Foundation). People have been hearing me talk about this a lot but I think they still don’t quite get it. They’re still trying to make this thing happen and they’re still compromising their passion by using it to pay bills.
- 18:53 Your passion should be supported by your day job—it’s the foundation. You have to protect the passion with a day job. The day job needs to cover 100% of your bills and it needs to be in a different industry. Here’s why: you’re working with clients all day and it’s exhausting. Maybe you’re in an unprofessional environment and you’re having to make arbitrary changes for your boss, then you come home and try to act like a professional by taking on the right type of clients.
- 19:27 First of all, it’s almost impossible to be unprofessional in a same-industry day job, and come home to being professional with your own clients. It’s a conflict. Secondly, you deplete the kind of energy you need to pursue your passions at home. If you’re doing the same kind of work in your day job, you’re going to be using the creative energy you need when you come home to grow your passion. You’re not going to find the motivation, energy, or creative fuel to do it.
- Your Day Job Needs to Be in a Different Industry
- 20:22 When you come home from your day job, if you feel charged for your passion, then you’re in the right day job.
- 20:54 Ben: “Before you got to that, I was thinking to myself, ‘What if it’s in a completely different field but it’s so monotonous, boring, and tiresome that you end up coming home still feeling exhausted or worn-out?’ If you put too much focus on trying to follow some rule on how close, how far away, or what type of work it is, you miss out on the really important question: ‘When I’m done with work, do I still have the creative energy to do this?’
- 22:40 “It’s a lot of work trying to get the day job in place. Especially when you’ve got things to factor in like kids. It can’t just be any job. For my circumstances, if it meets my criteria but it doesn’t leave me with creative energy, then I need to look around again. You need to give yourself permission to be picky about your day job if your passion is at stake.”
- How Do I Know if My Day Job Is in a Different Enough Industry?
- 24:21 Sean: Here’s the litmus test: when I come home, is this charging me for my passion or is it depleting me of the right kind of energy? It’s different for everyone. That’s why there’s no hard rule about how different the industry of your day job needs to be. People are in different places: there’s people who need to find a day job, and there’s people who are already in a day job and wondering if they should leave.
- 24:47 If you’re charged, you’re good. If you’re looking for a new day job and considering getting one in the industry of your passion, I would recommend against it. It’s too risky. Yes, you could find a job that’s happens to be parallel with your passion, but more than likely that’s going to deplete the right kind of energy. Once you get a day job, use that litmus test.
- Remember: You’re a Cog in the Machine
- 25:39 Ben: “If you do find yourself depleted from your day job, you don’t have to apologize to somebody for being picky about what you want in finding the right place. When you work for somebody else, you’re part of the plan to further their business. You might believe in what they’re doing and see the honor in being a part of that, but ultimately you are a part of building somebody else’s dream.
- 26:26 “They may have done a great job of making you feel irreplaceable and giving you the ability to pursue your passions on the side, but if you find yourself not able to do that then you need to give your yourself permission to leave.”
- 26:54 Sean: That’s so true. Even if they make you feel invaluable and even if things are going to be hard for them if you leave, they’re going to find someone, I promise you. They’re a business. They have to move on and you are a part of that—you’re a part of that machine. It has to work. If you’re gone, you will be replaced. The business has to move forward, it’s nothing personal.
- 27:30 Don’t feel bad for leaving if it’s the wrong place for you. Even if they encourage the work you do on the side, you have to decide for yourself: are you coming home drained or are you coming home charged?
- 28:05 The day job is the foundation. It needs to covers 100% of your bills. This keeps you from using your passion prematurely to try to make money. That leads you to compromise on your rates. It leads you to compromise on the right type of client, and it leads to potentially compromising on your morals. If it’s someone you don’t want to work with, you shouldn’t take them on.
- The Day Job Allows You to Be Selective
- 28:35 When you have a day job covering your bills, it allows you to be selective with clients because you don’t need the money you make with them. You’re covering your bills so you can continue to grow your passion organically, take on the right type of clients, charge what your worth, and stick to your guns. If they don’t want to pay what you’re worth, you say, “Here’s the door. Take a letterpress coaster on your way out.”
- 28:59 Ben: “Yeah. I’ve got to emphasize that it’s not just about the rate. You may have clients lining up to pay you what you’re worth, but if you’re dependent on that income to pay your bills, it’s still possible that you’ll bend on your process. That’s still not going to lead you to your best work and in the long-term can be detrimental. It can’t just be about getting paid the full value. You have to ask yourself if these clients are willing to 100% adhere to your process. It’s about being able to operate within your professionalism.”
- 29:53 Sean: The question I like to ask is: Do you love this thing enough to not do it right now? Some people want to say, “I love it so much, I’m going to do it right now, no matter what! I’ve got to do this because I’m so passionate about it.” That’s easy! I’m asking the hard questions here. Do you love it enough to not do it right now? If now is not the right time, do you love it enough to set the foundation first?
- 30:30 People don’t get this. They think you’ve got to start by taking what you can get. Everyone says this is and it’s terrible advice. That doesn’t lead to better clients, it leads to the same kind of clients you’re taking on now. The only way you get to the next level is by flipping a mental switch.
- 30:51 The people who are doing well did not get there by working with bad clients. If that’s the way they started out, then there was a switch at some point.
- Scarcity Mindset
- 31:32 What is Scarcity Mindset (Related: e056 Eliminating Scarcity Mindset & Recalibrating Your Perspective)? It’s born out of survival instinct. If you’re down to your last morsel of food, you’re understandably going to take whatever food someone hands you—it doesn’t matter if it’s healthy for you or not—you’re going to take it. The survival instinct aspect of this has an element of practicality to it—you’re trying to stay alive.
- 32:26 The problem is, it starts to become a habit. It starts to become a way of thinking. Once you’re in Scarcity Mindset, it becomes a vicious cycle. It’s the way you think and live, and it’s dangerous if it’s left unchecked. Something has to change while you’re in that place, You can’t wait for the circumstances to change. You have to change your mindset first.
- 32:57 Ben: “It comes back to the idea of the mindset being this muscle that you exercise. The more you think that way, the deeper that groove in your brain goes and it becomes difficult to get yourself out of that groove. The only way out of that groove is to create a new one. The more you exercise that muscle, not only do you find yourself being able to think that way more easily, but it starts to manifest itself in the things you see around you.”
- 34:33 Sean: You mentioned things around you and that’s a really important part of this. You need to ask yourself:
- Who are you allowing to influence your thinking?
- Who are you positioning yourself around?
- Who are you hanging out with?
- Who do you spend time with?
- 35:07 The people you’re around will influence your way of thinking. There are 3 groups of people:
- Driven people: Learners, doers, teachers, etc.
- People who want to be driven: People who want to learn and are willing to be teachable.
- People who don’t want to know what they don’t know and don’t care.
- 35:34 Sean: If you hang around group 3 people, they will give you Scarcity Mindset-driven advice. You might think, “I hang around them, but I don’t allow them to influence my thinking.” No. You’re allowing them to influence your thinking by hanging around them. That’s something you have to choose. How are you going to create distance between yourself and Scarcity Mindset if you’re hanging around those kinds of people? You’re never going to get ahead of it. Scarcity Mindset only breeds more of the same.
- 36:14 The mindset will get you out of the circumstances. That’s the order: mindset, then the circumstances change. You can’t wait for the circumstances to change before you change the way you’re thinking. The amount of money you have in your bank does not determine whether you have Scarcity Mindset. You can have hardly any money in the bank and you can still have an abundant mindset—a Success Mindset.
- Success Mindset
- 36:39 Ben: “It’s so difficult to see that and believe in it, because you have to exercise a lot of faith.”
- 36:55 Sean: Let’s make it easier for people. There are 2 ways you can change it:
If you feel depleted of the kind of energy you need to pursue your passion, you’re in the wrong day job.
The day job prevents compromise.
There’s no magic point where you’re able to be selective with clients.
You’re only able to be selective by practicing selectivity.
The people you are around determine how you think.
You can’t choose to allow someone to influence your mindset or not.
You choose that by being around those people.
You can’t let your circumstances affect your decisions. You have to start by changing the way you think.
- Changing the people you position yourself around.
- Cutting things out of your life.
Actions and behavior are where you start, the attitude and mindset follow suit.
If you want to get somewhere, you have to acquire the mindset that allows it to happen.
The extent to which you allow people to be a part of your life is the extent to which they will influence your thinking.
- 42:57 You need Deliberate Practice (Related: e051 Getting Better on Purpose with Deliberate Practice and e019 4-Step Formula to Deliberate Practice). Deliberate Practice is different from regular practice. It’s the difference between playing a game of one-on-one basketball with a friend, and shooting 1,000 free throws. It’s intentional practice.
- 44:12 If you play a game of one-on-one, you might get better slowly. But if you’ve identified that your weak spot is at the free-throw line and you shoot 1,000 free-throws instead, that’s Deliberate Practice. It’s not just playing the whole piano piece that you want to master, it’s practicing the part you stumble on, over and over until it’s seamless.
- 44:42 Ben: “Sean, do you remember when we were in a band together? We used to be in a band together and would stop in the middle of a rehearsing a song and go over a part over and over until we got it right. Then we would go through the whole song again and still mess up on the same part, so we’d go back over it again and again.”
- Practice In Context
- 45:17 Sean: I like that, because you loop it over and over on the part you need to work on and then you do in context. In practicing lettering, you have to individually trace letters, copy from reference, do it from memory, compare, look at the discrepancies, improve those, revise, and do it over again. After all that, you apply it in context by doing a full piece and writing all of those letters from memory.
- 46:27 Ben: “I liked what you were saying about context. With the lettering example, it’s not just about making each individual letter look good, it’s about making the letters fit well together. The way you draw a letter by itself might need to change in order for it to fit with another letter, or within the whole composition based on the kind of styling your using. If you don’t know that one single letter intimately, it can be difficult to change it in a way that makes sense for the composition.”
- 47:13 Sean: No one wants to hire a pianist who can only play a minor scale. You have to apply it in context, but that’s the easy part for most people. Once they actually get the mindset of Deliberate Practice, they want to play it in context. All most people do is the context part. They don’t want to shoot free throws. They don’t want to play scales. They don’t want to just draw letters. They don’t want to learn functions and looping—they just want to make a cool program.
- Learn the Fundamentals
- 48:41 Ben: “That’s how it was for me when I first got into lettering. What I was seeing from the people I followed were completed compositions. Instead of thinking I needed to work on individual letters and hone my skills so I can make completed works with the same quality, I wanted to produce a completed piece right then. By doing that, I was bypassing the many tools I needed to sharpen for that piece to shine.”
- 50:08 Sean: That’s a problem for a lot of beginners. They want to jump to that completed stage as fast as they can. The quickest way to do that is to copy other people, but you can’t just copy the masters in your field. You need to learn the techniques. You’ll get better by copying people, but very slowly. You have to spend the time learning the fundamentals and the techniques of that pursuit.
- 50:37 This is not something that takes days or weeks, we’re talking years. This is the 4 hard steps—this is the hard stuff! You found the passion and that takes time. You have to do it to find out that you like the act of doing it. Then you have to support it with a day job that covers your bills. Then you have to deliberately practice.
- 51:13 That doesn’t get you anywhere. You’re not going to be able to re-create something or fabricate an idea that you have in your mind because all you know is how to copy. This whole thing is not just a magic formula. If you want to make money from what you love to do, you have to be good at it. You can’t follow some steps and trick people into giving you money, you’ve got to be good at it and you’ve got to practice.
If you don’t understand the fundamentals of what you’re doing, you can only copy others’ final results.
- 51:54 Monetizing is the the fun part and it’s the part that everyone loves and that everyone jumps to, but it only comes after a lot of preparation. We’ve done a lot before we even get to the part where we actually make money from it. If you’re wondering, “How can I afford to spend all this time practicing and investing when I need to make money?” it’s because you didn’t listen to part 2—the day job.
- 52:34 Ben: “It’s not something you’ll be able to start making money at in 4 to 6 weeks. We’re talking about months and years with the first 3 steps before you even get to monetizing. People need to get out from under the illusion that they can make a quick buck.”
- 53:39 Sean: It’s a quick way to kill a passion if it ever started as one. You’re right: you can do it the short way, you can use your passion as a tool to make money before you need to, you can skip to step 4 before doing 1, 2, or 3, but it’s going to be to the detriment of your long-term success. You’re stuck in Scarcity Mindset.
- 54:20 Scarcity Mindset says, “If I can trick someone into paying me, then I’m going to do it.” That’s not going to last you very long. The best kind of clients are going to come from word-of-mouth. Those referrals are gold. You want to have quality clients, so you need to invest in getting good at what you’re doing, and taking on the right ones.
- 54:40 Ben: “Think about the kind of confidence with which you can assert your professionalism when you’ve done steps 1 through 3. Think about the kind of confidence with which you can tell potential clients, ‘This is my process. This is how this is done, and if you don’t want to come under my process, then we don’t need to work together.'”
- You Have to Say No
- 55:23 Sean: I love the confidence thing. It’s not only making you feel good—it feels great to be confident in your abilities and your work— but it also makes the right type of client feel good. They love a professional who’s confident. Where else would they want to put their money?
- 55:45 They want someone who says, “I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this for a long time. This is what it costs. I’m going to solve this problem for you. We are going to make your business more successful.” In order to be in that kind of position, you have to get rid of Scarcity Mindset. You can’t be in a place where you take on whatever job you can get to make money.
- 56:17 That might mean going an entire month without client work. You can afford to do that because you already have a day job covering 100% of your bills, remember? You’re being selective because you’ve invested in this passion. You’ve gotten good at it. You’ve established your process, you now have a transition period. The 3 ways to monetize your passion are:
You have to say “no” 99 times to all the wrong clients to get that one great client.
- Client work (Related: e080 Making A Living With The Trifecta Part 1 of 3: Client Work)
- Products (Related: e081 Making A Living With the Trifecta Part 2 of 3: Products)
- Teaching (Related: e082 Making A Living With the Trifecta Part 3 of 3: Teaching)
- If the hours of your day job are flexible, you can ramp down the day job hours while you ramp up the hours you invest in your passion.
- If your day job hours are not flexible, you can save up the money you’ve been getting from client work. Whatever level you’re comfortable with—a lot of people like to say 6 months worth of income—save it up and quite the day job, cold turkey.