Josh Monen

Sharing my journey through life.

Month: January 2017 (page 1 of 7)

The Risk of Documenting Your Journey

Last year I read the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.

In it he talked about why it’s important to become a “documentarian” of what you do.

This short little book had such an impact on me that I’d say it was one of the top 3 reasons why I finally launched this daily blog. Kleon says:

“The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.”

So the questions are:

1) “What do I want to learn?”
 
2) “How do I be honest about my journey?”

After a lot of thought I believe I finally know what I want to learn: how to go from being a broke freelancer to a wealthy entrepreneur.

There I said it.

I almost didn’t include the word “wealthy” out of fear of what some people might think about me.

“Oh Josh is just all about the money now!”

“I thought he was a Christian. Doesn’t he know pursuing wealth is dangerous for your soul?”

Yes, I do actually. Thank you for being so concerned with my salvation.

I understand the spiritual risks of having a lot money. But here’s the thing… I’ve always been a risk taker.

My mom would always say her boys were a bunch of adrenaline junkies. We played sports like ice hockey, jumped off cliffs on snowboards and raced cars!

So if you tell me “money is risky,” hoping that will change my mind then you’re going to be disappointed.

Anyway, I got off track there. Back to becoming a “documentarian” of what you do. 🙂

That’s really what I want to do with this blog.

I’ve already made a 10-year commitment to publish daily on here. That’s not up for debate. I’m doing it.

So the question is: what will I write about every single day!!

I only have so many tips, tactics and strategies I can share with you (sorry).

And I’d like to think I have a whole storehouse of wisdom to draw from but let’s be real: I’m 32 years old.

Yes, I’ve had some valuable life experiences I can talk about, like how I went from a $500/day cocaine habit to becoming clean and sober.

But how many times can I rehash that same story!? Plus, it’s the past. It’s not the story I’m living right now.

When I write about it it’s like I’m writing about someone else because that’s not who I am now.

If I were starting this blog 13 years ago then yes, I would probably write about my journey of going from being an addict to being sober because that’s what I was learning at the time.

But it’s not my life now.

My life now consists of making the transition from being a self-employed copywriter to being a business owner.

That’s what I live and breathe every day now.

When I wake up in the morning it’s what I think about. When I walk out to my motorhome and open up my laptop it’s what I work on. It’s what I talk to my wife about at lunch.

So it only makes sense that it should also be what I blog about!

Now you would think this would be a no-brainer, right?

Just be honest about where you are, where you’re going and what’s happening along the way.

But here’s the challenge: being honest is not easy.

Your ego gets bruised. You risk offending and alienating people. Not everyone will like you.

So I’m faced with a choice. And so are you if you want to document your journey: do you want to be real and give people an honest report of what your journey is like or do you want to create some sort of facade to hide behind?

Do whatever you want. But I feel compelled to be honest. And it’s scary. I won’t lie.

But my heart says to take the risk because the reward is worth it.

Just like I’m not going to shy away from creating wealth because of the spiritual risks involved, I’m also not going to shy away from being honest about my journey.

So here we go… Stay tuned and thank you for reading. My commitment to you is to be honest, even when it hurts.

Use Your Brain to Think vs. Memorize Facts

Einstein was once asked,“How many feet are in a mile?”

He said, “I don’t know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?”

He died on April 18, 1955. Now here we are over 60 years later and we could say the same thing except it doesn’t even take us 2 minutes to find answers like that.

You can pull out your phone and ask, “OK Google, how many feet are in a mile?” and within 2 seconds you will have your answer.

Einstein knew there was an opportunity cost to spending his mental resources on trivial matters.

Instead he used his mind to think, imagine and solve problems.

I’m 32 years old so technically I’m a “Millennial.”

And one of the criticisms I hear about my generation is that we’re so steeped in technology and the internet that we don’t know basic facts about history.

You’ve probably seen those funny videos on YouTube where they ask some young kid who the Vice President is or who the First President of the U.S. was and they have no idea.

People laugh and think, “Oh my gosh, what is the world coming too?”

Remember, Einstein was a scientist and he didn’t even know how many feet were in a mile. Did that make him “stupid”? According to some, yes. Mostly the academic types who idolize the memorization of facts.

They confuse knowledge with ability.

But since have instant access to all the facts in the world why would we spend time memorizing things when we could be creating, thinking and solving problems?

I don’t know about you but that’s where I would rather devote my mental energy too. Especially in business. I want to figure out how to make my business succeed.

I don’t care if some recent college grad can explain in great detail how to properly prepare a business plan or what the current economic forecast is for small businesses is.

Those are great facts, opinions and ideas.

But I want to figure out how to add value to my clients and build a thriving business. Knowledge can’t do that for me. That takes creative ability and problem solving skills.

Don’t Confuse Knowledge with Ability

Recently I decided I wanted to improve my chess game.

So after some googling I found this great article by Michael de la Maza.

Michael tells the story behind why he created his 400 Points in 400 Days Chess Program. He said:

When I was researching chess coaches, one comment I heard again and again from students was: “I have been studying openings, endgames, middlegames, weak squares, knight outposts, etc. and feel that my understanding of the game has improved greatly.”

I would always follow these statements with the question: “So, how much has your rating improved?” Time and again, students told me that their ratings had not improved in the three months, six months, or year since they had started their coaching.

Why did these students’ ratings fail to improve? Class players who spend their time on openings, middlegame strategy, and endgames are doing an excellent job of increasing their chess knowledge, but they are not increasing their chess ability.

The author goes on to explain why he created a chess training program that focuses on increasing your ability (your chess score), instead of just learning chess theories, tactics and strategies.

It’s a good lesson to remember, not just for chess but for life and business too.

Knowledge is not the same thing as ability.

You can understand a topic deeply but have zero ability in that area.

I know a lot about the NFL but I have close to zero football abilities!

And I could go study to get an MBA but that doesn’t mean I’d be any more capable of growing my business then I am now.

You could read every sales book ever written but until you start having real life conversations with prospects, you’ll never improve your selling ability.

The point is this: you can be well-informed but unless you can get results, it doesn’t matter how much you know!

What matters is this: are your abilities improving? And how do you know?

If we’re talking about chess then you know if you’re getting better because your ranking has improved.

If you’re a business owner then you know you’re getting better because you’re bottom line has improved.

Remember, if you want to increase your ability at something you must engage in deliberate practice. You must find creative ways to convert your knowledge into action.

Because it’s only when we act, when we start to play the game, that we find out where our ability is.

Out of Egypt Into the Promised Land: The Entrepreneur’s Journey

“The skills that got you out of Egypt aren’t the same skills that will get you to the promised land.”
– Dan Sullivan

The children of Israel left Egypt and then spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land.

The crazy part about that story is the journey from Egypt to Canaan (aka the Promised Land), was only an 11-day journey! (Talk about wasting time!).

And the sad thing is, they didn’t have to.

The Bible says they failed to enter in because of unbelief (see Hebrews 3:19).

Remember the story of Joshua and the spies who came back with fruit from the Promised Land?

Joshua and Caleb were like, “Yes, those cities are occupied and there will be battles to fight, but we can totally take them! Let’s go!”

But they were in the minority. The other 10 spies shared horror stories about how bad it was.

They persuaded the people they would die if they tried to take the Promised Land. So instead of taking that risk, they stayed where they were and ended up dying of old age outside the Promised Land.

When that generation died off, including their leader Moses, then Joshua was able to lead the next generation into the Promised Land.

Isn’t it crazy that instead of moving forward and figuring out how to take the Promised Land they instead did nothing, and died anyway… just years later?

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” – William Wallace

And guess what? There is going to come a day you will die (sorry to tell you that!).

So the question isn’t, “How do I not die?”

The question is, “How do I really live before I die?”

You may be thinking, “What does any of this have to do with an “entrepreneur’s journey”?

I’ll tell you…

As entrepreneurs we’re on a journey.

We leave Egypt (the job we had under our former taskmasters) and our goal is to reach the Promised Land (financial freedom, usually achieved by owning a business that operates without our presence).

The problem, as I’ve experienced first-hand, is that we get stuck in the land of self-employment.

We’re not in Egypt and we don’t answer to our former taskmasters anymore. But now we have new taskmasters (ourselves, clients, vendors, etc.).

Some people don’t have what it takes and they think, “Man, life was better back in Egypt. At least I had a consistent paycheck and lower blood pressure. Maybe I’ll turn around.”

But when they do, something inside of them dies. They trade freedom for a sense of security. And that fire that was burning inside of them starts to dwindle.

But the “Joshuas and Calebs” of the world press on.

They spy out the Promised Land. They dream of what life will be like once they’re living there. They know it won’t be easy and they’ll have to fight, but they know the reward is worth it.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re barely hanging on financially right now.

Maybe there’s no extra money in your accounts. You’re drawing from savings because things have been tight. You feel bad about it and wonder if you should just turn around and rerurn to Egypt.

Here’s what I have to say to you: decide what’s more important to you. Do you want freedom of time, money and resources? Or do you want a sense of security?

And remember this: one day your time on Earth will end. Make sure to live your life in such a way so that when that day comes you will have no regrets.

An Example of Why It’s Worth it to Work with a Business Coach

A couple years ago I hired a business coach, Ed Gandia, to help me grow my copywriting business.

I first heard of Ed while reading The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman during my first year of freelancing in 2011.

Ed grew his annual freelance copywriting revenue to $180,000 before quitting his day job! So naturally, his story caught my attention.

I read Ed’s blog, listened to his podcast and pretty much consumed anything he published. So when he launched his 2X Coaching Program for copywriters I signed right up!

It was around $6,000 and I think the program lasted around three or four months.

It was organized really well. We would listen to a teaching by Ed and then we’d all hop on a group call to discuss it. But the best part of this whole program were the one-on-one coaching calls I had with Ed.

One of the most helpful things about having a coach like Ed is that they can see those things that are standing between our present reality and our desired future.

And what I realized is that many of those “obstacles” to success are things I’m unaware of. Some call them “blind spots,” and I believe we all have them.

Sometimes these blind spots are simply limiting mindsets we get stuck in.

For example, when Ed asked me about my goals I said, “One of my main goals is to have more reliable income. I’d like to make $10,000/month. And so I need to figure out how to sell monthly retainer packages. Here are some ideas I have for the packages.”

He told me my goal was good but then said something that exposed one of my limiting mindsets. He said:

“Your goal is great. But be careful about focusing too much on ”how“ it will happen. Don’t worry about that so much. The monthly retainers may be what gets you there, or it may be something else. Don’t try to control how it happens. Be open to new ideas and unexpected opportunities.”

It may sound like a minor thing – to shift the focus from “how” something will happen to “what” you want to happen – but for me it was a big deal.

When I stopped worrying about “how” it was going to happen I was once again free to dream and stir up the vision of “what” I had in my heart.

In other words, I didn’t realize it, but when I focused too much on the “how” I shut off one of the most powerful forces in the world: faith!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to have a plan and pursue it. But I’m convinced that having strong faith and belief has a much bigger impact on whether we achieve our goals or not.

And if I didn’t have a coach to give me this feedback I don’t know if I would ever have realized this. I could read 50 more books and listen to 100 more podcasts without ever discovering this.

So what’s my point? Don’t try to do it all alone. Seek out coaches and mentors who can help you identify your blind spots and shift your thinking to where it needs to be to experience the success you want.

P.S. If you’re a copywriter and you want to grow your business I highly recommend working with Ed Gandia if you ever get the chance. The story I just shared with you was just one of many eye-opening lessons I learned from him. And by the way, he has no idea I’m writing this blog post and I don’t get paid if you work with him or not. I just recommend him because it’s the right thing to do. He helped me increase my monthly revenue by about $3,000/month. So it was a great ROI for me!

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