Posts tagged entrepreneur
Don't quit your day job...yet

Four important considerations before embarking on your life-changing pivot

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Have you ever felt frustrated with your employer, your current role or your work environment? Perhaps your ire stems from a difficult boss, colleagues who aren’t collegial, or a support staff that doesn’t do that support stuff so well.

If that’s you, then you’re not alone.   

We’ve all experienced work scenarios that lead us down a path of fantasizing about the green grass elsewhere. And maybe you’ve heard the comeback line to that idea, too:

Want greener grass? Water your own lawn.

A helpful mindset? Yes.

Is it actionable? Perhaps.

Will it solve your problems? Not always.

As we meet with individuals who have paved a new road for themselves, found their calling or defined a new way to work, there can be some confusion about the motivation and process regarding how they made it happen. If you’re in that rut and struggling, and if you’re contemplating leaning into that thing you’ve always wanted to do, consider these things first.

 

TAKE OFF YOUR “PASSION BLINDERS”

Essentially this is the over-romanticized notion of how that thing you’d love to do, the thing you have a passion for, will somehow right a series of past wrongs. But there is a stark reality that we all come face-to-face with in time. When you pull back the curtain on Oz, you realize things are not as they once seemed. There are going to be challenges, shortcomings and strife. You have to keep in mind that your passion is still work, and work is often messy.

 

BUILD YOUR ON-RAMP BEFORE TAKING THE OFF-RAMP

One thing we’ve found is that few if any joy venturers storm out of their current role to embark on the new and unknown. Take the story from Adam Grant’s book Originals where he admits to missing out on investing in Warby Parker. At the core of his decision to pass was a belief that the founders weren’t “all in” on their new venture. They were still students of his and actively lining up internships, just in case their online eyewear idea didn’t pan out. To Grant's surprise, it did.

Hedging your bets doesn’t mean a lack of faith in your entrepreneurial spirit or ideas. Our current startup culture often shares narratives of grinding it out or, disingenuously, a fake it ‘til you make it mentality.  Fact is, you still have to eat and keep a roof over your head. Building your on-ramp (call it a side gig, freelancing, your hustle, or whatever) is a way for the cautious entrepreneur to build her or his minimally viable venture – and then improve upon it. For example:

Brittany Baum shares her unorthodox story of gourmet pretzels and selling them at a local farmer’s market to build a loyal following before quitting her job in state government. She hedged her bets and won.

Kenny Sipes was brewing coffee for friends from his home before launching the Roosevelt Coffeehouse and stepping away from his role in youth ministry. As he tells it, it actually became a different form of doing ministry and social justice with coffee as the rallying point. He built and traveled his own on-ramp.

 

ADJUSTING VS. PIVOTING  

When people are made to do something that they currently are not doing, they feel compelled to pivot.

But what if you’re in the right field, yet feel stuck in the outfield? This is more about adjustment than pivot. Many of our design-driven stories, including Nick Couts, Ben Stafford, Andy J. Miller and Josh Emrich, show us that even when you find your passion or calling, adjustments still need to be made to find fulfillment.

Finding joy in your work is a continual process. You need to feed your curiosity, push your boundaries and try new things from your place of purpose if you want reap the rewards of discovery that lead to a greater desire for your work. Don’t sell this idea short: adjusting can be every bit as rewarding as a pivot.

 

SACRIFICE IS INEVITABLE

What are you willing to give up to make your vision a reality?

If we’re honest, we don’t want to give up anything. However, because getting to where you want to go will inevitably cost you something, this is where many dreams die on the vine. The fear of action, and the cost that goes with it, can be a tough pill to swallow. But those who have the fortitude to sacrifice and see their vision through are the hard-nosed realists who become the future models of how to persevere and win.

Take John McCollum: it wasn't easy for him to close down his design firm to lead a nonprofit organization helping orphaned children in Southeast Asia. Instead it was a process, and a realization that rather than continuing to grow his business prowess and design clout, he refers to his decision as “taking the down escalator” in terms of wealth, influence and business success.

Likewise, John Robinson gave up precious time with his family – the very thing he was seeking to gain more of – to work part-time in a bike shop as he pivoted out of the banking industry.  Short-term sacrifices are necessary to reap long-term gains. And in John’s story, he gained his 10,000 hours of biking expertise in unconventional ways to help ensure success when he launched his own bike shop. That’s sacrifice plus an on-ramp.

If there’s a common theme that nearly all Joy Venture stories have in common, it is that passion is good, perspective is invaluable and a thoughtful, calculated approach is what determines who experiences the joy of their labor in the end.

What have you sacrificed? What on-ramps have you built? Have you pivoted or adjusted? Join the conversation online and help inspire others as they contemplate a shift. #joyventure

photo credit: "AMC/Mad Men" 

The one thing preventing you from the life you're meant to live

Now comes the hard part: the day-by-day moments where you have to live out those promises and resolutions you made just a few weeks ago, lest you face another year of reckoning and wrecking your best laid plans. There’s a reasonable chance that all of your well-intended visioncasting and early action is starting to wane (after all, it’s almost February). If it hasn’t yet, hold on. It will.

And know that you’re not alone.

While we all need this important if not wholly artificial January reset, we need something even greater to stop us from hitting the proverbial snooze button on pursuing our joy; that thing and sense of purpose we know, deep down, we were meant to pursue and do.

In effort to keep myself on track, I continually return to Steven Pressfield as he knows a thing or two about this conundrum, and his truth-searing words are like a bucket of ice water thrown in one’s face. If you’re an artist, writer, maker, entrepreneur or creative of any type, you need his wise words bouncing around your head on days of setbacks as well as the ones filled with promise. In his book The War of Art, he talks about that thing, that force, that undeniable enemy that lines up on the opposite side of the field preparing to slay you again and again. As a prelude to his deep dive on falling short and understanding why that is, he sends us a wake-up call with this passage below.

If you need motivation that you cannot conjure up on your own, read it.

If you can visualize your end reward knowing you just need to persevere, read it.

Or if you’re scared to death of not realizing what you were meant to become, then definitely read it.  

Neither Times Square nor your town square catalogs your hope-filled confetti. Your party hat and noisemaker have long been recycled. The clock continues to tick whether you’re counting it down or not. And you still have choices to make about pushing through or getting up off the mat.  

 

THE UNLIVED LIFE

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two lies Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark on a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you envisioned the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who doesn’t start a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. Genius is a Latin word. The Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artist paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center. It’s our soul’s seat, the vessel that holds our being-in-potential, our star’s beacon and Polaris.

Every sun casts a shadow, and genius’s shadow is Resistance. As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it. Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine. We’re not alone if we’ve been mowed down by Resistance. Millions of good men and women have bitten the dust before us. And here’s the biggest bitch: we don’t even know what hit us. I never did. From age twenty-four to thirty-two, Resistance kicked my ass from East Coast to West and back again thirteen times and I never even knew it existed. I looked everywhere for the enemy and failed to see it right in front of my face.

Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission.

Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare Death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance? Does Resistance have to cripple and disfigure our lives before we wake up to its existence?  How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us. If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, infotainment business, not to mention the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff.

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real. Resistance will bury you.

You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it an overstatement but I will say it anyway: It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

Steven Pressfield, excerpt from The War of Art

  

A year of risk, reward & discovery
The #cbus studio for Joy Venture

The #cbus studio for Joy Venture

One year ago Jeremy and I took a risk to do something new (following a whole bunch of conversation and hand-wringing to get it right). But when we whittled it down to its components, it's hard to believe this was really a risk at all. Here's what we did:   

  • Developed a vision and roadmap for what Joy Venture should or could be
  • Bought some recording equipment
  • Made a list of people whose stories fit our vision
  • Built a website
  • Launched a podcast
  • Wrote a handful of blog posts with the intent to encourage

Our intent all along has been a simple one: to share stories of dreamers and doers who are actively discovering, developing and spreading their joy with the world.

Why this vision

We knew from experience -- and saw it in others -- that we all get stuck: stuck in jobs we don't love. Stuck doing work that doesn't motivate or fulfill us. Just plain stuck in a myriad of ways. What we wanted to do was give a platform for those who found ways to become unstuck -- to take risk and pursue their joy, to pursue that thing that, at some point, might not have been part of "the plan." In doing so, we believed listeners would resonate with the challenges and be inspired by the perseverance of our guests to pursue that thing they felt an itching to do. 

We've said this often: you get one shot on this merry-go-round of life. Make it count. 

What we discovered

The stories being shared are resonating and making a difference. We're finding a loyal and interested audience, even if it doesn't always show up in the almighty marketing metrics. How do you measure the impact on the heart or to quantify success when someone takes life-changing action? You listen. And you've told us that sharing a different kind of story that peels back the veneer of the marketing story and the so-called overnight success story is something worth fostering.

Something else we've discovered: It doesn’t particularly matter if you know the podcast guest. If it is someone who is well known, it's because we seek to uncover a story you haven't heard yet. But we're also big on introducing new voices with great insights and compelling stories to share. Discovery is always the key ingredient regardless of who the storyteller is. 

We've wanted the stories told on Joy Venture to be unvarnished, vulnerable, enlightening and encouraging. We'll keep asking: does this inspire or jolt you to think differently about your work or what you feel called to do? Can you see hints of yourself in stories of others? 

This was and still is our hope.

For all of you who have validated that vision for us – thank you. 

What's next

Our growing community of dreamers and doers will multiply this year and spread beyond our home base in Columbus, Ohio. We'll be taking our gear on the road in the months ahead to meet up with extraordinary folks in other states. We'll be dialing in disrupters and community-makers from Indianapolis, Minneapolis and perhaps more cities ending in -apolis; “the other Columbus” down in Georgia; Nashville and even the coasts.

We believe every story we share is unique and valuable. As our episode list continues to grow we'll also help you find the specific types of stories you're looking for by categorizing them by vocation and purpose on our website. Look for that soon.

And we have more up our sleeve – ways in which we'll invite you into to our joy in the months ahead.

Until then, take this as encouragement and a call to action: we discovered and befriended some amazing people with extraordinary stories on this journey. Because we we're willing to take that leap, we're now developing Joy Venture in ways we couldn't have envisioned a year ago. That's exciting for us, and hopefully it will prove valuable to you.

And so it begs these questions:What's that thing you need to do this year? What leap will you take?

If you feel compelled, share what's up your sleeve with us on Facebook or Twitter and be an encouragement to others who have similar ideas or simply need a nudge.  

Joy Venture is a rewarding labor of love meant for all of us – to help us push through the artificial boundaries that we've constructed. Thanks for joining us on this ride. We've got a lot more ground to cover together...

Happiness vs. Joy: what's the difference?
 

There are some really good reasons why we didn’t call this project the Happiness Venture. To pinpoint a few:

  • We knew there would be a learning curve and that difficulty would likely ensue
  • We anticipated there would be days, weeks or even seasons when things just wouldn’t go our way
  • We would feel like nobody was listening (friends and family included) and question if anyone cared about our little adventure
  • Rejection and disappointment somehow would be part and parcel of the experience

We expected these moments might arrive (and they have) – and that happiness wouldn’t be riding shotgun (disappointment is indeed a lone but frequent invader).

There’s plenty of psychological research to explain the differences between joy and happiness, much of which focus on the external emotional influence on our happiness and the more internally grounded nature of where our joy comes from. We won’t rehash all that here, but instead provide an analogy that we feel sums up this whole happiness vs. joy thing – and why we choose to seek the latter.

 

If happiness is the wood veneer applied to the manufactured table  

Then joy is the solid wood table.

 

There’s a reason that we accept and, when necessary, painstakingly restore the hand-me-down bureau or the Amish-built table. There is a deep beauty that has endured through the generations, a solidness that has been tested and upheld over the years providing function. Something so well-worn becomes a story itself worth sharing, not to mention the stories that emanate from its history.

Likewise, there’s a reason we don’t seek to restore, pass down or hang on to the DIY particleboard piece either. The idea sounds silly for something fabricated to be functional yet fleeting, destined to be disposable yet affordable enough to replace on whim.

We all want happiness in our lives and we want it now. And, much like the analogy, we have a tendency to look for shortcuts to get it.

We put on the good face in hopes that our external veneer can somehow conjure up those desired feelings. Sometimes it works. We go looking for it in all the wrong places and manage to find moments of happiness now and then. But we also know it’s circumstantial. What ushered in happiness yesterday won’t necessarily yield it tomorrow.

Joy – and in particular, Joy Venture – is about recognizing that happiness is fleeting and how we need to find that thing, deep within us, that gives us joy. That something to buoy us, to lean into when "it" hits the fan (and it will). Something that gives us purpose to persevere during the less-than-happy times.

Do you have that thing? Do you want that thing in your life?

 

Take happiness as it comes. In fact, revel in it. And recognize it for how finite it is.

Then go and seek joy.

 

Discover that thing that gives you joy – a vocation or change of vocation, a hobby or side project, a ministry or volunteer purpose – and develop it. Pour yourself into it without reservation. Hone it. Make it yours. And make it last.

Through this lens, it’s hard to imagine chasing happiness when joy is there for the taking – for all of us.

 

Need some inspiration to start your Joy Venture? Check out our podcasts and other posts to get motivated. Get outside your comfort zone and see what resonates. And take comfort in the fact that you’re part of a community of dreamers and doers who are activity pursuing their joy.