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We’re going to talk about money today. We’ll be covering the product spectrum, starting with the problem, not the passion, becoming passionate about the problem, and the one thing you lack that’s keeping you broke.
You can’t just do what you want all day and expect that to lead to making money. Yes, it is possible to reach a point where the way you make money involves doing things you enjoy, but you don’t get there haphazardly. You get there purposefully.
Time is money. People will give up their money if you give them time. To give them time, you need to do work for them or solve a problem for them.
You need to be good at doing work that someone else doesn’t want to do or can’t do. If you’re fortunate, that thing is something you happen to like doing.
There are two ways to reliably make a living doing what you love:
1. Become passionate about the problem. Get good at solving the problem. When you’re good at something that makes you money, this can turn into something you’re passionate about.
2. Become passionate about a thing. Get good at doing that thing. Find ways to solve problems that other people are willing to pay for by doing that thing.
Everything else is an exception and an edge case. Those edge cases are like winning the lottery. It’s not impossible, it’s just not probable—which makes suggesting that you play the lottery bad advice for someone looking to make money.
We’re going to talk about the one thing you lack that’s keeping you broke.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Money is an enabler of purpose.
- Being able to do what you’re passionate about is a luxury. It has to be built on practicalities.
- Don’t overlook what you need to survive.
- Your scarcity situation won’t fix itself when you reach $10,000, $500,000, or $1 million—you have to fix it.
- Nobody but you cares about your income—you have to care about your income.
- You can’t afford not to sell premium products.
- The one thing that you lack is a willingness to solve problems.
- Do things that make money for people who have money.
- Focus on solving a problem and getting to a place where you have the freedom and ability to make choices.
- If you want people to give you their money, you need to give them time.
- The only way you can truly know if you’re passionate about something is if you do it, you encounter resistance, and you don’t give up.
- Money is oxygen to do the things that you love. You have to focus on it first.
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- 12:32 Ben: Money is important to some people.
- 12:35 Sean: It’s important to all people, but some people don’t know it. We’ve gotten some feedback from people who have said, “You’re just all business now, talking about money and forgetting about the artists, designers, and talking about your passion.” I haven’t forgotten about those people. I really deeply care about those people, and that’s really why I’m doing this series.
Being able to do what you’re passionate about is a luxury many people wish they had, but it has to be built on practicalities.
- 13:10 You have to be purposeful about getting there—it’s not something that happens accidentally. Money is a big part of that. I didn’t focus on my money, and I ran into a bunch of problems. We started this podcast with me sharing what I learned as I was going. I was talking about passion, finding what you love to do, being fulfilled in that, inspiring creativity, getting ideas, sharing those things, and building an audience. Those are all great things, but the reason I started there is because that was my entrance point. My entrance point into doing what I loved was doing it because I was passionate about it, and it took many years before anyone noticed and many more years before it was something that sustained me.
- 14:09 Even after that, people know about my success with Learn Lettering. I’ve had several launches with six figures in revenue. That’s all really good, but especially when you start to hire a team, that money goes quick. It’s not even like I’m blowing it on a bunch of fun stuff. Okay, so you made $100,000. First of all, that’s really good. Most people launching courses aren’t doing that, but even if you did do $100,000, let’s say that you spend $50,000 of it in a year. You don’t have kids, you don’t live in an expensive place, so you spend $50,000 of it in a year. You used the camera that you had, and it was alright, but it wasn’t that great.
- 15:01 You really feel like people deserve something better, so you think, “I’m going to get myself a nice camera, a nice DSLR and a nice lens.” You just spent $5,000 on the camera. You spend money on the microphones. The money goes so fast, and you can’t have just one blip and expect to be good forever.
- 15:22 Ben: That’s not to mention all of the ongoing expenses of keeping the courses going, paying for the bandwidth, the hosting, and all of that stuff.
- 15:32 Sean: I found myself in a tough spot several years after these launches. I thought, “Oh, cool, everything’s great. It’s all going to be fine. I’m doing what I love. I’m passionate about it. Let’s get some passionate people together. Let’s hire them. Let’s build a team.” Suddenly, we had $30,000 a month in expenses, payroll and everything. The money goes pretty fast. What are we doing about our money? The problem was, we didn’t start with money. We started with passion, and we thought that everything else would figure itself out.
- 16:09 It’s just not how it works, and it’s just not responsible to do. I had to learn the hard way. I was talking with Cory about this yesterday. I said, “I’m 27. I’m super glad I learned this lesson. I have the rest of my life to do it right, but I wish that I knew it sooner.” It’s good. I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of my life, but I want other people to get their money situation right. This is why I’ve been doing this series. The past several episodes on the seanwes podcast have been really focused on getting your money situation right, and I want you to know where I’m coming from.
- 16:49 As always, I’m talking to my past self. I want you to avoid the same mistakes, and I care about you being able to enjoy your work and actually make a living from it.
A Million Dollars Is Not a Lot of Money
- 17:05 Sean: Here’s the problem—if you were going to say something else about a million dollars, it’s my fault, because I have not done a good job of communicating. Not only do you need to understand that a million dollars is not a lot of money, everyone in your life, everyone in your family, all of your coworkers, all of your friends, and everyone around you needs to understand this, because they need to be helping you get to this goal. If they’re not helping you get to it, they’re holding you back.
- 17:53 You’ve got to let the people in your life know that a million dollars is not a lot of money. I’ve talked about this. I talk about it on Snapchat. I put up this video, and within a short amount of time, someone already disliked it. They wrote this big long comment about how “if everyone in the world was focused on money…” like it was a bad thing. One of the phrases in that comment was, “Not everyone is driven by the money.” I wanted to dive into this a little bit. Not everyone is driven by the money? I’m not talking about being driven by money or pursuing money for its own sake. I’m talking about being realistic about money and why you need it.
Try paying your rent with passion, spirit, and empathy—you’ll get laughed out of the office.
No matter what you want to do in life, you’re going to need money.
- 18:59 You have to have money to survive. Everything in life is going to require money to operate. People right now are thinking, “No, that’s ridiculous. The best things in life are free. A lovely stroll with your partner in the park is a wonderful thing and it costs no money. The best things in life are free.” No, that lovely stroll in the park cost you. It’s not free. Nothing is free. It could have been the gas in your car that drove you to the park. People will say, “Nope, Sean, I rode my bike!” Where did you get the bike? “I bought it.” How are you going to replace the tires when you ride to the park every day?
- 19:43 “I’ll walk!” Okay. You walk. How are you going to replace your shoes after you walk everywhere every day for the rest of your life? Everything costs money, even the free things. It costs money to operate, to survive. You have to focus on the money at some point, because everything takes money. Someone’s like, “I’m about something bigger than money. Not everyone is driven by the money. I have a greater purpose.” I’m talking about that. I want you to fulfill that purpose. I want you to find that purpose and fulfill it to the best of your abilities. All of us have a purpose, goals, visions, dreams, and desires. I’m not talking about pursuing money for it’s own sake. I’m actually talking about that purpose that you want.
- 20:35 You can’t think in terms of, “I’m about something bigger than the money.” Yes, it’s true that you are, and that’s a good thing, but you don’t want to remove money from the equation.
Money is an enabler of purpose.
- 20:50 No matter what you want in life or what you care about, whether it’s charity, helping people, giving to causes you believe in, community service, getting your parents a house, writing a book and giving it away for free to help people, all of it takes money. Everything requires money in one way or another, directly or indirectly, even service. You want to drive to a place where people need your help and serve them? There are costs wrapped up in that. If you want to help people, you have to have money. If you’re not focused on your money, you do not care about your purpose. It’s irresponsible not to focus on money. If you care about purpose, you’re going to get serious about money, so you can see that purpose through.
- 21:44 You don’t have to be driven by money. It’s about having respect for money and not getting emotional about it. Money is just leverage. That’s all it is. It’s an indicator of the value you’ve created for the world.
- 21:59 Ben: It’s a tool. I like to think about it that way. If you think about tools in general, for whatever kind of job you’re doing, if you’re changing a knob on a door, that requires some pretty basic tools. If you’re doing some major plumbing job on a commercial building, that requires a really heavy set of tools. Think about the size of the vision, the goal that you have. The tool you need, money being part of your tool belt, should be in proportion to the size of the vision that you have. When people say, “Money’s not important. My big dream/goal is…” they’re really saying that they’re going to try fitting these pipes together without the proper tools.
Money Keeps You Alive
- 23:04 Sean: Kyle Adams said, “I’ve been operating at high levels of output, tremendous levels of action, and a highly curated focus, but I had to take another job because I didn’t focus any of those things on making money. My efforts have been displaced, focusing more on acquiring an audience, establishing myself as a professional, and building a portfolio rather than producing income. I can’t sustain myself with my own business, not because I’m lazy or bad at what I do or lacking an audience. Don’t overlook what you need to survive.”
- 23:42 That’s the place I got to. We’re making half a million dollars a year, and we’re in Scarcity Mindset. I’ve said it before—it scales. Go back to episode 256 and listen to it, because it will tell you how to get out of Scarcity Mindset. It’s not easy. We’re in the process of it right now. I recognized a year ago, end of May and beginning of June 2015, that we’re in scarcity. I didn’t actually want to launch Learn Lettering 2.0. I was moving on from Lettering and doing a lot of other things, and the reason we did it was because we had to.
The best way to make money is to do more of the thing that has worked well for you in the past.
- 24:37 What is something that has worked well for you in the past? Why have you stopped doing it? Do more of that thing. I thought, “The launch did well,” so we decided to reproduce it. We had to do a ridiculous amount of work. I had to work 1,000 hours in 50 days. I didn’t want to do that, but we had to to survive.
- 24:57 Ben: Kyle just said something else in the chat that was fantastic. He said, “People will cheer you on if you seem to have it all together. It’s a false sense of accomplishment. Nobody but you cares about your income. Everyone wants something for free and will assume you have plenty of money.”
- 25:16 Sean: Oh yeah. The number of upset people getting mad at me for not giving more things away for free… Some of them we knew and may have had respect for, but they’ve said very unkind things to me over email based on things I do in my business that have resulted in them getting less for free when they never planned to compensate me. They were a freeloader. That’s the definition of a freeloader. They don’t care about me. They don’t care about my income. They care about their free stuff. The people you’re dealing with out there are exactly the same.
- 25:52 You can’t blame them. They have their own problems to deal with. Right now, you’re thinking about your problems more than mine, and that’s okay. This show is for you. I want to help you in your situation, but you have to realize that’s how people are. They’re thinking about their situation. They’re not thinking that even though everything looks great for you on your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or email newsletter, maybe you’re actually struggling. That’s spot on, Kyle. Nobody but you cares about your income—you have to care about your income. You have to get your money situation right.
- 26:24 Sean: A year ago, I recognized that we were in Scarcity Mindset, and for the first six or eight months, we were doing everything we could to make money and survive. Three months ago, I took a step back and said, “Wow, we need to think more about money. We need to start with our money.” So we started doing things that make money. Then I realized that I needed to take another step back. Are we even doing the right things to make money? Then we changed up what we were doing to make money. I kept doing this. It was months in between. I’m frustrating my team, because they’re like, “Why do you keep changing everything on us? We’re trying to work on stuff, and you come back and say, ‘Everything’s changed! I just went on a retreat. I just had a call with Aaron.'”
- 27:14 They’re getting upset, and I understand, because it’s frustrating. I was taking a step back, taking a step back, and what I should have done was taken 12 steps back in the first place. I should have asked, “What are we doing? Who are we? What do we stand for? What is our goal? What is our mission? Who are the people we’re trying to serve? Are we doing things that will serve those people in the best possible way?” When you start asking questions like that, it changes everything about what you’re doing.
- 27:45 It’s no longer taking everything at face value, which is what I was doing. “Oh, well, what do we do with the podcasts? Since we keep podcasting, how does that effect all of these things? Since we do a daily video show, how do we work around that?” Maybe you shouldn’t be doing a daily video show because it’s not sustainable. Maybe it’s not the right thing to focus on. I wiped the slate clean, zoomed way out, and we got a little more clarity on our situation. We’re still working on it.
Your scarcity situation won’t fix itself when you make your first $10,000, $500,000, or $1 million—you have to fix it.
You Weren’t Taught to Get Money
- 28:42 Sean: You have to start with fixing it. That’s why I’m talking about money so much, because it’s very important. You need to learn how to go get money. You weren’t taught how to get money. You didn’t hear this stuff in school. You were taught how to be a part of a system. You were taught to be a very compatible piece of an existing machine. You have to go out into the world, create value, and get money. Someone else has your money. You need to do something for them to get that money. You were taught that you’re special. You want to believe that you deserve to do what you love and be sustained by it. You don’t deserve anything. You’re not entitled to that.
What have you done for the world to be afforded the ability to do what you love and have people throw money at you?
- 30:07 Ben: The system is happy to tell you what the market needs in the context of you working in that system. I’m not trying to tell you what you should do with your life, but going to college, getting an education, and learning those skills is geared toward funneling you into the system. When people start rejecting the system, a lot of what they’re feeling is, “I just have to get out of that. I don’t want to be part of that system anymore,” but they’re not equipped with the tools to discover from the market what it needs so you can create something from value. Instead, you’re buying into this half-baked idea that you can do what you love and make a living at it. That’s true, but it’s only part of it.
- 31:12 Sean: It was a different world a generation ago, two generations ago. People were happy to have a job. You can argue other things, like, “They were practically handed one. The system was designed to give them one. It’s harder now.” Go back and listen to the responsibility episode (Related: e250 Own Your Life by Taking Responsibility for Everything). Right now, I don’t see the same kind of gratitude for a job. People used to be happy to have a job. Now, everyone feels entitled.
- 32:38 People feel like they deserve to do what they love and people should throw money at them. You don’t deserve it. You’re not entitled to it. Go out in the world, create value, and solve problems for people.
Making Money: The Product Spectrum
- 32:54 Sean: The one thing that you lack is a willingness to solve problems. That’s the reason you’re broke. That’s what’s keeping you broke. Cory and I were talking about this a day or two ago. People don’t have a desire to solve problems. They want to do what they want to do, and they want the world to throw money at them. That’s not how it works. You can absolutely get to a place where the things you do are creating value for people, solving problems for people, you get paid to do it, you like it, and you enjoy it. Getting there doesn’t happen automatically.
- 33:59 Cory: There’s a joy in problem-solving, especially when it’s helping people. The thing that comes to my mind is teaching. Someone needs to learn something, and maybe it’s in the industry that you’re passionate about. Right now, you can’t just make the thing and make money as well and be passionate… that’s not really how it works. You have to find the money-making problems.
- 34:28 Sean: I call this the Product Spectrum. We put up a whiteboard video on Youtube about this. You’ve got your product and you’ve got the customer, the person buying. There’s the thing you’re making and who you’re making it for. There are products that are money-makers and there are products that are nice-to-haves. There are people that have money and people that don’t have money, and there’s every combination. I drew this all out on the whiteboard. Here are the possible combinations of all of these things in descending order of ease, how easy it is for you to sell:
- Sell products that make money to people who have money.
- Selling products that are nice-to-haves to people who have money.
- Sell products that make money to people who don’t have money.
- Sell products that are nice-to-haves to people who don’t have money.
- 35:55 Are you seeing the trend? The first two are selling to people who have money. You want to be thinking about who you’re trying to reach. You don’t make money, because making money is illegal. You get money. Someone else has your money, and you need to go out in the world and get that money from them. If you’re going to people that don’t have money, it’s really hard to get money from people who don’t have money. The last on this list is the one that really hits people hard. It’s a lose-lose situation. I’m not saying that it’s impossible.
- 37:21 It’s like the lottery. It’s not impossible. It’s just highly improbable, such that recommending that someone play the lottery, if they’re looking for advice on how to make money, is bad advice. It’s not impossible. There are people who sell nice-to-haves to people who don’t have money. It’s just really, really hard. Also, you would really need to do that at scale. You would need to sell super cheap stuff to super cheap people, or overpriced stuff to people who have no money and convince them to go into debt for it. Generally, you have to do it at scale.
You can’t afford not to sell premium products.
- 38:19 You, the small business owner, the freelancer, anyone who’s just starting out, anyone who’s not Walmart, should stop trying to sell cheap stuff. You’re not Walmart. Stop trying to convince yourself that you’ll just sell a bunch of these and then you’ll make money. It’s not going to happen. You’re small. The only way this is going to work for you is if you sell things at a premium, and you need to deliver excellent service and super awesome products to people. Charge a premium for it. If you double the prices of your products, are you going to lose half of your customers?
- 38:59 Think about the people you’re trying to serve, the product you’re selling them, and the problem that’s being solved. If you double the price, will you lose half of those people? Think about the value. What is it worth to them? If you don’t think you’ll lose half of the people, then you will make more money. That’s a reality. Apply that to the small business owner. You need to be charging more for your products. You need to be charging more for your services. You need to be doing things that make money for people who have money. That’s how you will make money.
- 39:39 I am not saying that you can’t do art, design, or music. I’m saying that it’s really hard to sell things that don’t make money to people that don’t have money. You should see selling nice-to-haves as a luxury. I would love to sit around and play piano and record myself and have that be what I do everyday. That sounds like a blast to me. It’s not like I don’t get you and I don’t understand you. I want you to pull your head out of the sand and realize that you need to make money first to be able to enable this purpose.
Start With the Problem, Not the Passion
- 40:19 The money has to be the starting point. The thing you don’t have is a willingness to solve problems. We all want to sit and play music. We want to do [insert whatever]. We want to create art! You have to earn that luxury. You have to start with money. Sometimes, that means going out and solving a problem you don’t want to solve. It sometimes means doing hard work, sleeping a little less, waking up early, not watching Netflix, not reading the fantasy novel you want to read and going out and making money. If you care so much about that thing, you’re willing to say no to it for now.
- 40:59 If you’re just trying to get this thing to work over and over and you’re running into a wall and not making money and you have to move back into your parents’ basement, that’s not fun. It might be better to say, “I care about this so much, so deeply, and I believe in it and want to be able to do it, that I’m going to say no to it right now while I get super practical about making money. I’m going to go out into the world and overlap here. I’m going to do something that can make me money and set up a foundation for doing the work that I love.”
- 41:37 Ben: It’s a motivation check, too. Sometimes, I’ll say I’m passionate about something, and it’s easy for me to see the value of something and to feel passionate about something in such a way that I can almost convince myself, “Yeah, I feel passionate enough to do something about that,” but if it really comes down to it, if it has to be about making money, making a living, and earning the right to be passionate about whatever it is, then I have to be real with myself.
- 42:13 I have to ask the question, “If I were in a position financially to choose whether or not I wanted to do this, would I really choose to do it? Or am I saying that I feel passionate about this, but I’m really looking to it as a source of income, regardless of how effective that can be?” If you think about it that way and you’re honest about the way you answer that question, it’s hard to say what you’re passionate about unless you’re in that position, unless you get to the place where you have those choices. I think that’s a hard question because a lot of people aren’t experiencing it.
- 43:11 They’re just idealizing. It’s such a hard question to ask and it’s impossible to answer unless you’re in those circumstances. If you’re really not sure what you would do in a situation where you had enough money, why not put that question aside?
Focus on solving a problem and getting to a place where you have the freedom and ability to make choices.
- 43:44 Sean: I’m talking to my past self and I care about you. I want you to be able to do work you enjoy and be sustained by it. I bought into this idea that I think is prevalent today. You can do things you enjoy, make money from it, and make a living from it. That’s a fact, but it’s a very big story that’s being put out there. The part of the story you hear is the person who wakes up, and from the moment they wake up, they do the things they enjoy. They love their work and they’re making money.
- 44:32 It’s like the end result, the happiness, the positive front. Meanwhile, like Kyle was saying, nobody actually cares about your income. You have to be the one to care about that. You see the story, read the article, the magazines, the newsletters, and you listen to the podcasts about the success, but you don’t know how it is behind the scenes. You don’t know if they’re about to go out of business the next month. You don’t know if how they got there actually wasn’t waking up one day and saying, “I’m going to quit my job and start pursuing my passion.”
- 45:09 You don’t know that. Maybe they actually did client work in an old skill that they had that they don’t really want to do anymore, but it’s what they had to do to set up a foundation for themselves and then they overlapped. You don’t see that part. I didn’t see it either. I bought into this idea that you just do what you love and it works out. It works for everyone. It’s called “confirmation bias.” You see the stories that confirm your belief. The thing is, those successes, those stories, rise to the top. You don’t see all the people that did the same thing and didn’t rise to the top.
- 45:48 Ben: It’s also an incomplete story.
- 45:50 Sean: They did this and they’re successful. Therefore, if I do this, I’ll be successful. What you don’t see is all the people who did that and weren’t successful, even if there’s a hundred more of them—because they weren’t successful.
- 46:02 Ben: One of my favorite videos that Sean posted in the chat recently was from entrepreneur.com or something. There was a guy with a whiteboard, and he was talking about part time, full time, and all the time. There was a part of me, as I was watching that video, that started to feel kind of sad. It’s the part of me that wants to believe a narrative where I don’t have to put in that kind of effort or sacrifice in order to get the kind of results he was talking about.
- 46:44 He was talking about making millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, and hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t want to hear the hardships. I don’t want to hear the sacrifices. I don’t want to hear that you had tension in your relationships, that you didn’t get to hang out with your friends for a couple of years. I don’t want to hear any of that stuff. All I want to hear is the part of the story where you did a few things that I think I could do, too, and experience success so that it feels easy and I feel good about it.
A lot of people are feeding themselves a false story about how to be successful because it’s comfortable.
Become Passionate About the Problem
- 47:32 Sean: Passion is important. I think Steve Jobs really popularized this, or at least kick-started the era, when he talked about passion. Steve Jobs was talking about passion in the moment where you’re discouraged, because you’ve been working really hard and you still haven’t broken through and made it to the other side. You feel discouraged and you want to give up. He was saying that passion is the thing that helps you persevere in that moment. It’s not the thing that’s magic dust that makes everything work and you can somehow make money from it. He was just saying that, at some point, when everyone else has given up, you have to be unreasonable.
- 48:22 It really is unreasonable many times in the life of an entrepreneur. They’re going to reach places where it feels like there’s an insurmountable hurdle or a burden. The passion for what you do is what will carry you through. I think passion is very important, but for it to work, it has to be something you’re good at that overlaps with a market demand. Sometimes, that happens automatically for people and they get lucky. Other times, it actually starts with the demand, and then someone becomes passionate.
- 49:13 You can’t start with the passion and be guaranteed a path to money. That doesn’t mean that passion’s not important. You do want to do your best to align what you love to do with what you actually do every single day, but you can’t do what you love to do all day and expect that to lead to making money. It’s a fuel on the fire, but you have to make sure you know how to build a fire correctly in the right place. The fuel will help keep it going when it seems like all odds are against it, but it’s not a magic thing that leads you to money from the beginning.
- 49:50 It is possible to reach a place where the way you make money involves doing things that you enjoy, but you don’t get there haphazardly.
Time is money and if you want people to give you their money, you need to give them time.
- 50:06 People with money value their time. They’re going to give up their money when you can save them that time, because they value their time more than their money. To give them time, you need to do work for them or solve a problem for them. You need to be good at doing work that someone else either doesn’t want to do or can’t do. If you’re fortunate, that’s also something that you like to do. There are two ways to reliably make a living doing what you love:
- Become passionate about the problem. Get good at solving the problem, and when you get good at something that makes you money, this can often turn into something you’re passionate about.
- Become passionate about a thing. Get good at doing that thing, and then find ways to solve problems that other people are willing to pay for when you do that thing.
- 51:09 Those are basically the two ways. Everything else is an edge case. Everything else is, like we said, like winning the lottery.
- 51:18 Ben: This seems to have some parallels to falling in love. Aaron Dowd posted in the chat, “I wasn’t passionate about podcast editing when I started doing it. I just saw that there was a need that I could fulfill.” I don’t know how this works in real life, but I’ve heard about arranged marriages, where the two people didn’t choose one another. There wasn’t a period of time where they were courting and fell in love. What ends up happening is that because they live together and they go through life together, along the journey, they fall in love. Love is built.
- 52:15 I think passion works the same way. I like romance. I’m a very romantic person, but romance isn’t going to carry me to the 50 year mark in my marriage. It’s the love that I build during the time that I’m married to Rachel. It’s not the feelings I felt when we were dating and engaged. If you think about your passion, the thing you want to do, or problems you want to solve, that way, it’s the passion you build into something that makes it really meaningful, not the idealism you start with. That gets a lot of people in trouble. They feel romantic about something.
- 53:13 Gary Vaynerchuck talks about that a lot—stop feeling romantic about stuff and solve a real problem. Look at what the market is really asking for. If you can build passion into that, you can find a lot of meaning in it, you can solve people’s problems, and you can make money. It might even lead you to have the freedom to choose something that doesn’t serve the market directly but fits more in line with the previous passion.
The Place of Passion
- 53:46 Sean: That’s the one thing you lack. It’s not money that’s keeping you broke. If you get money, you’re just going to lose money. You actually have to know how to make money and sustain that. The thing that’s keeping you broke is an unwillingness to solve problems. We all want to do what we’re passionate about. It is possible to get to a place where what you do is work you’re passionate about and it makes you money, but it’s not automatic. You have to be willing to solve problems. Sometimes, that means starting with problems you don’t want to solve so you can set up a foundation for yourself and, eventually, pursue the thing that you love to do.
- 54:25 Other times, it means pursuing the problem, and you actually fall in love with the problem. You become passionate about the problem. There you go. That’s it. The problem is market demand. When what you love to do and what you’re good at overlaps with what the market is demanding, you’re set. Any thoughts, Cory?
- 54:57 Cory: On the topic of passion, and I put myself in this category, a lot of people use the word passion for something that they’re just interested in. I’m interested in filming, but for me, it’s more than that. I’m passionate about that. Passion is more of an attitude toward something. You can’t just say that you’re passionate about something. Matt Lopez from Lambo Goal loves what he does, and I think it kind of just came. He started doing it, and he has a passion for it now.
- 55:42 Sean: I talk about it as, “Passion is found in the doing.” There’s the idea of something that many people think that they like and then there’s the act of doing.
The only way you can truly know if you’re passionate about something is if you do it, you encounter resistance, and you don’t give up.
- 56:07 That’s when you really know that you’re passionate about a thing or a person. Otherwise, you’re just “in love” with a person. What happens when there’s a bump in the road? What happens when it’s long distance? Can you get to the other side of resistance? That’s when you know you’re passionate about something.
- 56:29 Cory: It might have been a Magic of 7 type of thing that happened today, but Sean has said for years that he loves something, that he wants to do this thing, and maybe it’s more on the nice-to-have end of the spectrum. Sean always says, “Maybe you need to say no to it now and do something else. You love it and want to do it so much, but you have to say no to it now to do a problem-solving thing that will make you money so that you can do that thing.” What do we say? “Money is an enabler of purpose.”
You need to have money, because money is oxygen to do the things that you love.
- 57:07 I think it clicked just now. I think I understand the idea of saying no to something now. I’ve always heard Sean say it, but I’ve been kind of indifferent towards it because I didn’t like how it sounds. Filmmaking is what I want to do, but maybe after this next film I’m working on I need to work on a problem-solving type of thing like teaching film making. Maybe it’s unrelated, but this is so I can make better films in the future.
- 57:36 Sean: I really enjoy music. I like electronic music production and playing the piano, but I made a conscious effort to say no to that in this season. I don’t think a year is a long time. I don’t think a million dollars is a lot of money. In 2020, I’m going to take a year sabbatical. I decided this six, seven years in advance. I decided that I’m going to take a whole year sabbatical in 2020, and we can do whatever we want. We can travel. I can produce a full music album. I can produce several music albums. I have the freedom to do that.
- 58:24 It will have taken 15 years or so to get to that point from starting this particular business, but that’s not that much. It’s not a long time. I love music so much that I’m willing to say no to it now. Before I started this business, I didn’t have the freedom I do now. If I had quit all my jobs and said, “I’m just going to make a music album,” I know that I would not make enough money to sustain myself. It’s just a reality.
- 58:59 However, when you start with the money, you can eventually get to a different point. Many people in my audience, because I’ve been building a business, listen to music and would buy music. If I ever came out with an album, I have a lot to leverage here, and I could syphon some of that audience over to my music. Certainly not everyone, but it might do a lot better than it would have if I had started with that.
- 59:46 Ben: I really like thinking about money as a tool, and even passion as a tool. Like Sean was saying, passion is sometimes the thing that carries you through difficult times. If it’s something that isn’t going to make you money but you feel passionate about it, like filmmaking, you have to go get the right tool for the job before you can start the job. Getting the tool means going out and getting your money. You can’t make money, so you have to provide value in some other way.
- 1:00:26 It creates this logical situation. Going to do someting else doesn’t feel like abandoning or setting aside your passion, but this is actually you pursuing your passion. Going and getting money doing something else besides my passion is me pursuing my passion, because it’s me going and getting my tools.