On the topic of differentiation, or why do you matter?

be different, rather than being betterWe all want to be unique, right?

​It seems that throughout life we are taught that we need to blend in.  Be like everyone else because differentiation is a bad thing.  Pursue the same things as everyone else.  This is especially common in school, a place that is notorious for stamping out the free-spirited.  Even more, when I was in the military, you did not want to be known as an outlier.  However, this goes against the very nature of us as people.  We long to be special…special to ourselves, to our family, to our friends, and our peers.  There is an excellence in each of us, I’ve shared this before.  Why does it matter?

​Different is remembered.

​Do you remember the song “Tubthumping” by Chumba Wumba?  If not, check it out here.  That song will forever be in my memory not because I found it to be particularly good, rather it was so different from the other music on the radio.  A more recent example of this is Dragostea Din Tei by Ozone, found here.  These songs were all over the radio, and while I did get bored of them, their unique sound memorializes them because of the differentiation.

​Different is appreciated.

​We get bored of the same old things in our day-to-day lives.  We certainly do live by habits and patterns, but there is certainly something to be said about the things that come and break up the monotony.  Even the most change-averse individual needs some kind of variety at some point.  With this in mind, being that “something different” can put you in a position to be an authority on a subject.  There is a guy that makes good money off his website that is solely about worm farms ( super-differentiation!).  I am seriously curious about what other incredibly specialized (yet oddball) ideas are successful out there.  This guy has been interviewed on many different podcasts for entrepreneurs because of the importance of being different.

​Different, itself, is unique.

​None of us specialize in all of the same things.  Our strengths may be similar but to the same degree and in the same order? Very highly unlikely.  The elements that make you who you are, are definitely worth celebrating.  After all, you are the only one riding on your rollercoaster through life.  Sure, others may have a corkscrew followed by 3 loops and a 1 mile drop, but maybe not in that order.  Also, maybe spread out over their course because they cannot handle the degree of insanity that you are comfortable with.

Differentiation is the key to your happiness.

​It seems that as we get older we become more accepting of this pattern to our lives where we wake, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat.  Its up to you to shake that up.  You ever play blues saxophone onstage in a small bar in downtown Providence?  Me neither, but one of you out there has, I know it because I saw your show.  It was incredible.  Want to know why I haven’t?  Because I don’t know how to play blues saxophone.  Keep working on those skills.  I may not be a blues musician, but I can listen to it with the best of them.

​I’ll find my own way to differentiate myself from all of you people.

More Side Hustle Going On…

Get your hustle on!

​If you had read my past post, you may be stuck trying to figure out what you can do.  I had an opportunity to sit down with a buddy of mine the other day, and he was talking to me about his hustle.  I was asking him where he got his ideas.  It led me to thinking that maybe I could share some of the ideas, he had, with you.

​The hustle is all around us

The easiest approach to start up your hustle is to list all of your skills.  Identify the things you can do, even at an amateur level.  Perhaps you can organize your receipts like it is no one’s business (not my skill.)  Maybe you are fantastic at cleaning out your sock drawer and finding those elusive left socks (also not me.)  These are all skills that can be applied to different needs, but in order to get started you must understand your abilities.

How does that even apply?

​The receipts are easy.  First, it implies you are great at organizing.  Second, you are going to be able to store these in such a way that you can easily find them even after a year or longer.  This kind of organization is hugely useful both to businesses and regular people.  With the socks, it is a similar situation.  You can find the items that are missing, and even among similar items, keep it all straight.

​Now obviously, this is very simplified, but what I want you to see is the skills could focus on anything.  I am a huge believer that no matter who you are, you are excellent at a number of things.  With this in mind, there are also many different subjects that may appeal to you.

​Okay, whatever, where do I make my money?

​First off, have you looked around yet?  Craigslist is the easiest one to jump into.  Their gigs section has a bunch of different categories.  Though some of the posts are creeps looking for “models”, just be safe with your work.  Additionally, you can check out message boards to see where people are getting side work.  Even something as simple as a Google search for “(your interest) sidework” will yield many ideas or websites.

​Another thing to do is to tell your friends and family about the things you want to do.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had side work fall in my lap because friends of mine have given out my information.  I have fixed computers, helped people move, delivered random items, and toyed around with so many different things.  It bears repeating, BE SAFE with your work, and don’t take on anything that is either illegal or questionable unless you want that kind of risk in your life.

​What can I expect from hustles?

​No one can tell you this with any degree of confidence.  This will be totally dependent on your drive, and how much time you want to dedicate to this.  If you want to do the “ever-popular” driving for Uber, just be aware of all the factors.  Perhaps you want to start delivering pizzas, or anything along those lines.  You’ll need to keep in mind the wear that it puts on your vehicle, the gas, and the time you are spending doing it.  If it is worth the hourly breakdown, then by all means pursue it.

​The side hustle is a personal aspiration.  If you want more, then get more.  Reach out to me if you want to discuss this further.

On the importance of being a good leader

Everyone knows we need good leaders!

​For years now, it has been common to see articles profess the need and importance for good leadership in organizations.  Even the classes I took in school talk about the differences between managers and leaders.  However, it seems as if everyone is concerned with the “finished product”.  How does one become a good leader?

​Why is it important?

​Good management is the difference between a business succeeding or failing.  Good leadership, however, is the difference between surviving and thriving.  Without a good team at the helm an organization can certainly get by for some time.  It will not last, though, unless upper management recognizes the importance of good leadership.

​What makes a good leader?

​There are many different attributes typically associated with good leaders, and you may even recognize some in yourself or those that you report to.  Some of the more commonly identified characteristics are: honesty, integrity, vision, team-building, courage, and communications.  Additionally, leaders are rarely focused on themselves, rather it is more important to achieve common goals.

​Isn’t it a fact that leaders are born, not made?

​There is no scientific evidence that suggests leadership is a trait we are either born with, or not.  Just as we are taught many of the skills and abilities we exhibit, leadership is no different.  Though it is true that some will excel while others may not, there is nothing that proves we cannot teach the necessary skills to be a good leader.

​How do I begin this journey?

​If you are asking this question, genuinely, then you have already started the process.  Leaders continually seek to improve themselves.  Through self-reflection, you can begin to identify the areas with which you are strong, and find the areas you need to improve on.  How are your communication skills?  Are you the type to go on a power trip the moment you have some authority?  Do yu ask for feedback and input on decisions?

​One of the common ways to become a great leader is to identify someone in your life that you feel exhibits the necessary qualities.  Reach out to them and ask if you can go to lunch with them, or meet for coffee.  Ask them to mentor you.  If you have analyzed your own qualities, share them with this individual and ask for their honest opinion.

​Don’t feel discouraged if you have trouble getting going down this path.  The best leaders begin as followers, and there is no way around that.  If you need help finding a mentor, reach out to me.  I work with a network that can help align you with someone.

Finding your niche – or why it is important to self-study

I’m sure my niche is taken.

​​Normally I’m not the type to talk in terms of us all being unique and special.  I do believe that there is a unique excellence in each of us, though.  In that sense, I wanted to discuss finding your niche in life.  I don’t mean to imply that it should be something no one has ever heard of.  Just because you have an uncle that was a pig farmer, don’t assume that you aren’t meant to be a pig farmer (or that you are.)

We, as people, grow in life when we do the things that challenge us.  However, in order for us to flourish, as individuals, we must pursue the ideas and activities that interest us.

​Be different, like everyone else.

​Looking back at the things I have enjoyed doing, I feel confident that business was definitely the right choice for me in school.  I pursued economics for undergrad, and Operations Management for grad school.  No matter what, I wanted to be involved in the growth and development of an organization.  I came to this realization when I thought about the fact that I have worked since I was 15.  Though this is not a unique situation, I was working full-time hours at that age.

I realized that I enjoyed making money, and I have been fortunate to find myself in many different wonderful opportunities to make money.  Not all of my jobs were a blast, but every single one brought life lessons for me.

​What does this have to do with my niche?

​When you look at the things you spend your time on, what do you see?  Is it family? Friends? TV?  Whatever it is that gets your time, that is what you will become.  For this reason I dedicate a significant amount of time to reading, learning, and experimenting.  What was the last book you read, or podcast you listened to?  Was it something to help you learn a new skill, or something to just pass the time?

How can I find my niche?

​This blog has often held a very prominent focus on personal development.  Many of the ideas I have had, and ventures I have toyed with, can be linked directly to some of the podcasts I subscribe to.  Some of the ones I am listening to right now are the following:

  • ​Freakonomics Radio
  • The Side Hustle Show
  • Side Hustle School (Excellent for quick listen, only 10 min per episode)
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • TED Radio Hour

​There are so many different topics, and podcasts out there that I am nearly 100% confident that you will find something that interests you.

​Leave a comment and let me know what you think?  Have you found your niche?  Do you have ideas on finding where you best fit?

The importance of the side hustle…

What is this about side hustle?

​Many of you that know me outside of this blog know that I love a good side hustle.  For those of you that don’t know me outside of this, you know now.  A side hustle is anything that makes you money outside of your job.  Or, to put it much better, courtesy of the podcast, “The Side Hustle Show“, “Your 9-5 makes you a living, but your 5-9 makes you feel alive.”  This can be anything from writing on a freelance website, or dogwalking, or really anything.

Why do you need a side hustle?

​Who doesn’t like some extra money?  Maybe you want to use the money for a vacation, travel, or to buy that cool new tv for the living room?  I have my own plans for this money, but the best part for me is the fact that I am honing my skills in areas I may not have much opportunity in otherwise.

​What are some of these hustles?

T​oday I was looking through some posts that people were looking for help on.  I came across someone looking for some help with web design.  Though this is something I don’t do in my day job, I have designed my websites for all of my own projects.  So, why not?  I reached out to him and we are talking about what he wants to do, and maybe it will turn into something.

​Another side gig I am working on now has me setting up a DVD with a menu and overall finish work on a film that will be presented at several film festivals coming up.  I have never had any work in that kind of thing before, but I am curious by nature, so why not?

​One of my friends is a drone pilot, not the military kind.  He is working on his own hustle that will have him using his hobby of flying to make him some extra money.  He also is very interested in photography and videography, so it just seems to be a natural fit for him to make money doing these things.

Couldn’t this make these things less fun?

​Sure, everything has the potential to lose its luster.  However, the side hustle is awesome simply because YOU are the one in control.  When it stops being fun, stop doing it.  Move onto something else.  No one said you had to choose one role and stick with it.  I am more like a shotgun, I’ll land on the target, but I am COVERING that target.