Sell Like An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs have a pretty good name today. They’re regarded as visionaries and leaders but beyond that, they’re known for their insane ability to hustle. You may have heard the saying that entrepreneurs are the only people on the planet who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40. Their life is their business. Even when they’re off the clock, their company is the number one thing on their mind. It makes sense the entrepreneur develops a drive and competence that the typical employee can’t compete with.

Think about the mindset of the early stage entrepreneur. When he first starts pitching his product, service, or idea, he is pitching like his life depends on it. Of course, he’s proud of his idea and desperately wants to see his vision become reality. But it goes beyond that. He’s worried about paying his mortgage, sending his kids to school, and avoiding driving his wife to insanity. His entire future is dependent on his ability to work his ass off and execute. If that’s not incentive I don’t know what is.

I started to think about how I approach sales with my company and how I would do it differently if I was the owner launching this business. I would be far more desperate, aggressive, confident, and my hustle would go way up. Instead of seeing selling as sales, I’d approach my day in a more human light. The entrepreneur sees sales in a very simple way. He believes he has an incredible product that he knows will work for your business. He just wants the opportunity to show you. It’s his baby. He pursues the sale with passion and confidence.

Think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Make that mental shift and start your day hungry to make a splash with your product. I’ve only recently adopted this mindset on a daily basis and the difference is huge. It’s a great way to stay confident especially when you’re making cold calls. The biggest change is that it really helps make the sale more human. You have a fresh goal and incentive every single day to spread the word. This helps avoid the feeling that you just have to make X amount of calls each day.

The cool thing is that this isn’t just a quick mental trick you can use. If you’re working in sales you are as close to an entrepreneur as it gets. Yeah, you don’t have equity and you probably aren’t taking out a second mortgage to continue working at that business. You’re still responsible for growing your section of the company and you get compensated according to how well you do! You’re given a unique opportunity, use it.

I Hate Dinner Parties

Remember the last dinner party you went to? I’ve been to dozens over the past few years. The funny thing is I can only name about 5 that I genuinely enjoyed. Why? Because being invited to a dinner party usually means you’re forced to sit down for several hours, you have to shovel down course after course, and conversation is often limited to the two or three people immediately next to you. The only chance you have of enjoying the night is if you’re fascinated by the few people to your left and right. But geez, even then I need a break. I would never put myself in that situation any other time. It’s a terrible experience. Nine times out of ten, I’m dying of boredom.

I remember growing up and thinking this same thing. At some point, I thought I hated dinner parties because I just couldn’t handle the complexity of these prestigious adult conversations. Not true. Adults are just as miserable.

The best part of a dinner party is the time leading up to the meal when guests can mingle and eat appetizers. People are free to socialize, unite, drink, and eat at their convenience. There’s none of that weird pressure or formality that comes with sitting down at a table. It’s a truly beautiful thing to see people bond when they are given total freedom.

Next time you go to a party, take notice of where most of the guests are concentrated. Chances are that the majority is huddled in the kitchen eating finger foods and engaging in pleasant conversation. That’s all people want!

I feel bad for people who still put on these extravagant dinners. You put pressure on yourself to wow each guest with your special meal, planning consumes an entire day, and the result is a letdown.

Throw out your mom’s routine for inviting people over. Liberate yourself and your guests at your next party. Your job as a host is to stock up on beer, liquor, finger foods, and to choose a fun playlist for the night. That’s it! Your guests will have a wonderful experience and you get more time to sit back and enjoy an evening with your good friends like you wanted.

Stop Arguing and Live a Happy Life

It’s been far too long since the last time I blogged. I’ve tried to write several times in the last month and given up within 10 minutes. Writing is only easy when you’re doing it routinely. The reason it’s been so long since my last post is that there’ve been some major changes in my life over the last few months.

I’m lived in Atlanta for about two months now and I firmly believe it is the greatest city in the country. The transition to the new job and city has taken up virtually all of my time. Now that things are cooling down and I’m settling into a groove, I plan to be posting far more regularly.

For today I’m going to write about a subject that I’ve addressed in the past but was reminded of a couple weekends ago. Some dear friends from back home in Auburn came into town to visit me. The plan was to watch the Auburn/A&M game in one of Atlanta’s few Auburn themed watering holes. I decided to invite a couple of the new friends I’ve made in Atlanta to join us.

It was a fantastic night. It was great to see old friends, beer was cheap, and the bar made me feel like I was back in Auburn rooting for the home team.

The only point in the night when I wasn’t having a great time, was when two of my friends got in an argument over a pretty complex moral issue. This wasn’t something that either side was going to agree on. By the end of the argument, each side was more entrenched in their original view. The only thing that changed was these two people were now pissed off at each other.

Never argue with people. It doesn’t do a damn thing. I first realized this when I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. Everyone who reads this book seems to get the same two things out of it. Don’t argue and don’t criticize. If you can learn to avoid these two, your ability to influence others and simply live a happy life will be drastically improved.

If your goal from talking to the other person is to change their mind, you’ve already lost. See it as a mutual exchange of ideas and nothing more. If the other person is in that aggressive argumentative mode, it’s probably best to just back off. Again, nothing good will come of it. You’ll most likely get riled up too. Even if you can avoid that, the other person is going to walk away resentful.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about new ideas or disagree with others. That’s the foundation of all progress and it’s an important mental exercise. I just know as soon as I stopped trying to force my opinions down other people’s throats, my life improved dramatically.

A big part of this is simply that it gives you a far more positive outlook on life and other people. Instead of being bitter about how wrong and supposedly less intelligent the rest of the world is, you see the best in other people and their beliefs. Second, it’s far better mindset for personal growth. You don’t have all the answers. It’s important to stay intellectually humble and to challenge your own beliefs when you hear an argument against them.

The best part, you can stop ruining relationships over touchy subjects! If someone is a positive influence in your life, keep them around. If they’re a negative influence, cut them loose. Don’t base your friendships on whether or not they have the exact same worldview as you.

If you’re looking for a challenge over the next week, here it is. Make a firm commitment to not criticize anyone. This alone is a nearly impossible goal to stay faithful to. Remind yourself of it every morning. Set it as the lock screen on your iPhone. Name your alarm “don’t criticize.” If you aren’t constantly reminding yourself, you’ll realize at the end of the week you only thought about it a couple times. The second challenge is to see every discussion you have over the next week as an opportunity to advance your beliefs and learn new things. You aren’t trying to convince anyone of anything. You can still absolutely disagree, but with the purpose of understanding their argument fully. Now you don’t want to live your whole life this way but I promise if you focus on this for a single week, the mindset will stick. Good luck!

How To Become a Freer Young Adult

Kids graduating high school are in an incredible situation. They are freer than virtually anyone else. If they play their cards right, their living expenses will be extremely low. It doesn’t take a very high income for them to be able to live a wonderful and luxurious life.

I was in this situation this entire last year. I wasn’t making very much money and I was living on my own. I lived in a place with decent rent but even that was higher than it needed to be. Despite that, I lived a very comfortable life. Why? Because my expenses consist of rent, gas, and food. Even with my modest salary, I had more than enough to do what I wanted. I could take trips, go out on weekends, and really live my life the way I wanted to.

Recent high school graduates should try to stay aware of the special situation they are in. The following are 3 tangible ways to increase your freedom as a young adult. They are a couple of the main factors that have allowed me to have an incredible job and live on my own at 19.

Drive A Crappy Car

Okay, so it doesn’t have to be a total piece of garbage. Really I just mean own a car. I speak with college graduates who are trying to make ends meet all the time. One of the main hindrances to them living a stress-free and fantastic life is their car payments. It’s just not something you need and the extra $200 a month is going to matter. But I’m also becoming ever more convinced that driving a nice car is actually a disadvantage as a young professional.

I think back to my first day with PyRsquared. I was an 18-year-old kid ready to make a name for myself and improve my skills. I ignored the usual path for people my age and jumped right into the workforce. A natural reaction from the other employees is for them to think I’m a coddled and entitled jerk. Driving a nice new car is only going to make that perception worse. I really do believe driving an old piece of junk gave me credibility on that first day.

Avoid Student Loans

I know this is easier said than done. I’m just comparing my current situation with the people I know who are 22 and 23. I have no debt from my apprenticeship with Praxis. But not everyone has that opportunity. My number one suggestion is to forget school and jump right into the workforce. Unless of course you want to go into the medical field, become a lawyer, or maybe an engineer. If you definitely want to go to school, figure out a way to get scholarships. They have them for just about anything. Hell, I was eligible for tennis scholarships and I only played on my high school team for a couple years.

This isn’t me making an argument against college. It’s just that I’ve noticed young professionals struggle for years to get their life started because they are weighed down by debt. If school is for you, then great. But figure out a workaround to do it for as cheap as it can possibly be.

Create Value

This is the most important part of personal and professional freedom. I realize right out of high school it’s hard to put yourself in a position to actually create value for people. While you’re in school, I recommend getting a job waiting tables. It’s a lucrative job, it gives you experience speaking with customers, and you only have to show up at meal times.

After high school, I found Praxis and they set me up with my business partner in Pittsburgh. I really don’t know how you go about getting an opportunity like that without Praxis but use your network however you can. All you need is an in with a company so search through all your connections and see what comes up

Aside from the connections and brand that I’ve developed with Praxis, the most valuable signal I have is my website. I suggest creating a personal website on Weebly and posting there every so often. You don’t have to be an incredible writer or have particularly ground-breaking things to say. Having a regularly updated personal website shows employers a real sign of initiative and dedication. My website was one of the first pieces of collateral I used to get several interviews over the past two months. It’s also just fun to have a website where people can keep up with what you’re working on and the progress you make. It keeps you moving forward and it’s a fantastic way to develop your own personal brand.

It’s always interesting to speak with college graduates and find out what the major problems in their life are. The answer is almost always that they can’t find a high paying job, they can’t afford the monthly bills to pay off their debt, and their car payment is just pushing everything over the edge. The funny thing is you don’t need a high-paying job right out of school unless you are already severely in debt.

I’m 19 and I’ve already completely avoided the three main problems for young adults. It wasn’t even a difficult thing to do. Don’t lease a car, don’t take out student loans, find some kind of in that gets you into the professional world, and start creating value wherever you can. I accomplished this in one year. It’s not difficult and it will take that freedom you already have as a young adult to the next level.

5 Things I Learned From My First Job Hunt

Over the last couple months, I participated in my first real job hunt. I had searched for a job when I was a sophomore in high school but that consisted of little more than dropping off my resume at a few different restaurants around town. During this job hunt, I was low on time and if I was going to find an option besides my Praxis business partner, I had to go all out.

I made a mistake from the very beginning of my job search. I waited at least three weeks longer than I should have to get the process started. I won’t include it in the list but just as a tip, give yourself nearly twice as long as you think you’ll need to nail down a job. Every step of the job hunt process takes a while and that timing is rarely in your control.

A job search is a stressful, tedious, and aggravating process. Despite that, it was one of my most influential experiences during my time in Pittsburgh. I learned several important things to keep in mind when undertaking a job hunt of your own. These five points are a combination of things that worked for me and things I wish I knew beforehand.

1. Don’t Count On One Single Company

My first impulse when I began my search was to identify the perfect company for me. I tried to identify the company that had an amazing product, was growing exponentially, and had an appealing office culture. That company and position became my goal. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a dream job in your job search pipeline, but I took it too far. I spent far too long preparing my pitch deck for this one company instead of sending in applications to others.

It’s the same strategy you use in sales. Keep playing the numbers. Identify as many qualified companies as you can and go after them all. The very first step in your job search should be to send in applications to at least five companies. Ten is a more solid goal. This doesn’t mean you can send in shoddy applications and resumes. There’s no point in sending in an application if it doesn’t make a strong impact right off the bat. I understand it’s hard to walk the line between making an individual impact and filling out enough applications. But with the right strategy, it’s really not that overwhelming.

First off, don’t submit a resume. Submit a pitch deck. If you don’t know what a pitch deck is, follow that link and read my article on why they are far more powerful than a resume.

To save time and keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed, create your general pitch deck and personalize it for each of the companies you apply to. It still takes work to make sure you have a strong value proposition, but it’s worth taking the time.

2. Make Each Company Feel Special

The downside of applying to so many companies is that it can be easy to become too comfortable with the interview process. Aside from ability and drive, employers are looking for someone who loves the company, the product, and the tea

You have to treat each and every interview you go into like the company is your top choice. I made the mistake of coming across a little lackadaisical in one of my interviews and it hurt me. I’m not saying you should act as though they are the only company you are talking to. That makes it seem like you’re not serious about your job hunt. Just be sure to genuinely express why you love the company and why you want to add value for them.

3. Stick To Your Guns

Another mistake I made in one of my interviews was to appear too flexible. The interviewer told me the position I applied for was a little full and that it might be tough for me to fill. He asked if I was open to filling another position that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy as much. I told him I didn’t think that was the best use of my skill set but that I would like to create value for his company however I could.

At the time, I felt like this was a decent answer. I showed him I really cared about the company and that I wanted to be a part of it no matter what. Now I think it just comes across as weak. It makes it seem like you don’t really know what your real skills are. It also says you aren’t being genuine when you say you want to create value. If you would be able to create more value in a different role, then it doesn’t seem like you’re serious about doing amazing things for the company.

If it’s simply not a good fit, then fine. Let it go. But I think more times than not, the boss will be impressed by you sticking with the role you applied for and may seriously consider you for it.

4. Be Persistent

It’s protocol for companies to take a ridiculous amount of time during the hiring process. You have to recognize this and make sure you are the one pushing forward. Follow up within the week if you haven’t heard anything regarding your next step. Don’t berate the boss but you need to make sure you stay on top of their priority list.

If you get turned down for a position but you still really like the company, don’t give up. Approach the boss and present him with another option. Again, don’t say you’re willing to do anything. Come with a plan or another specific role you feel you would excel in.

5. Set Up An In-Person Meeting

You can only do so much over the phone or a Google Hangout. After finding an ideal candidate, a boss still has one big question looming over his head. Is this person going to get along with everyone and be a positive presence on my team? That can be hard to convey digitally. That’s why if you have the opportunity, do whatever you can to get in front of your potential employer. I know it would have taken several more weeks to get an offer from Guild Quality if I hadn’t made the trip down to Atlanta.

Once you get in their office, impress them with your skills and be a good interviewee. But at the same time, make them want to work with you. Be charming and delightful. If you are making friends with the employees within your first few hours, the boss is going to have extra incentive to hire you. Many bosses would rather hire a less talented candidate that gets along with their staff than someone who has a higher level of skill and no one likes.

How Praxis Gave Me a Five-Year Head Start

One year ago I had just graduated high school and been accepted into the Praxis program. My only real work experience was two years of waiting tables. Other than that, there wasn’t much I could show future employers. Praxis was an opportunity to build my own resume and jump start my career in just one year.

Let’s fast forward to today. I just finished my 10 months with Praxis a couple weeks ago. As of this last week, I have received two full-time job offers. I have one contract on the table with my business partner and I was just offered a job with one of the top tech startups in Atlanta!

That reality still hasn’t totally hit me. It’s somewhat incredible how much has happened in a year. I’ve gained confidence in my own ability and intuition, I’ve developed marketable skills, and I’ve built an effective network. Praxis has given me absolutely every opportunity I need.

But it’s not a fairy tale world. Joining Praxis doesn’t mean you’ll definitely set yourself up with the perfect job. It doesn’t mean you’ll be making an impressive salary regardless of your previous experience. They don’t do the work for you. One of the biggest differences between the Praxis and college mindset is that college promises to do the work for you.

If you can make it through 4-8 years of school, you’re rewarded with something that will make you valuable to employers. That’s not what Praxis is about. You have to build your own signal, your own relevant network, and real skills. No one’s going to do it for you. You can cruise through the entire program and come out of it with virtually nothing if you want. No one’s going to stop you.

In my case, I was offered a job by my business partner upon completing the program. I’ve loved my time with them but I knew I was looking for a new challenge. I started looking for other companies all over the country. I applied for positions in Charleston, Nashville, Atlanta, and Austin. This was no different than any other job hunt that people go through. I didn’t have anyone setting me up with interviews or making connections for me. Praxis did nothing to directly influence their decision to hire me. If I had passively made my way through the program, I wouldn’t have had the collateral I needed to make this a successful job hunt.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in Praxis is that if you want something, you have to get it. You have to be your own signal. You have to be actively hustling instead of passively waiting for recognition.

Praxis didn’t set me up with a job. They did something far more powerful. The program and the wonderful Praxis team gave me the tools I needed to take my first step in a distinguished, thrilling, and lucrative career.

No One Cares About My Education

I’m currently in the middle of a job hunt. I’ve spent the past month and a half pursuing opportunities in Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh. It’s been a stressful 6 weeks for sure. It’s exhilarating as hell but still stressful. Not knowing where I’ll be living by the end of July is the most unplanned my life has ever been.

I’m incredibly grateful for the last year with Praxis. The skills I’ve gained with PyRsquared Inc. are the main collateral I’m using to sell myself. Without that, I wouldn’t be qualified for any of the jobs I’m applying for.

I met up with a friend last weekend and he asked me a question that stumped me for a second. He was wondering whether my lack of a degree was proving to be a challenge during this job hunt. It surprised me because that hadn’t occurred to me once during the last 6 weeks. I’m not kidding. My education hasn’t come up one single time in any of my interviews. They don’t care about that. They want to know what I can do.

After realizing this, I became even more convinced that a college degree is nearly worthless. You know why my education hasn’t come up? It’s because I’ve already done stuff cooler than a degree. The only time a degree might be slightly important in an interview would be if you haven’t done anything cooler than go to school. As soon as you get a real job and gain valuable skills, it stops being relevant.

A couple months ago, I had a friend approach me out of genuine concern for my future. She was worried that I don’t have a degree to fall back on. What if something happens and I lose my job? I’d have nothing to prove my worth to the world. “A degree to fall back on.” It’s almost laughable. A degree isn’t a cushion that ensures your value to the market. Again, the only time it’s valuable is when you don’t have any experience at all. After you gain that experience, forget your degree. It’s no longer important. Lose the credentials and make yourself valuable.

How Important Is Money For a Successful Career?

I’ve viewed money as the most important part of a successful career for virtually my entire life. That’s what you’re trained to care about. If you weren’t being taught that, you were fed a rehearsed speech about the importance of following your dreams and passions. But aside from the cheesy guidance counselors, the main focus was on finding a career that would set you up for financial success.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying money isn’t important. It is. It’s one of my main focuses, especially this early in my career. It always annoys me when people completely undermine the importance of choosing a lucrative career. Yeah, money isn’t necessary for happiness. But you need money to do a lot of the stuff you want. You need money to pursue that stuff that does make you happy. So yes, money is important. But it’s not everything.

Everyone’s goal in life is happiness. That’s what we’re actively working towards every single day. I like to measure the importance of money by how much it affects our happiness. Money does directly correlate with our happiness up until a certain point. Once you hit an income that allows you to live comfortably, your happiness stays virtually stagnate. As long as you’ve got money to save, pay rent, take care of your car, eat good food, and keep beer stocked in the fridge, who cares?

After you hit that point of living comfortably, your expectations rise at the same exact rate that your income does. You start making more money, and what you think you deserve rises. It’s a never ending spiral and it’s the reason we see unhappiness often connected with wealth.

You know what does increase your happiness? Purpose and people in your life that you care about. Purpose is completely up to the individual person. For me, it means adding value by doing fast and exciting work for people I like.

I made a very humble amount of money this last year. Far less than is considered to be necessary for your average adult. But I lived a very comfortable life. I had money for rent, gas, fun with friends, and good food. Even though I made less money than I have since I was 16, my overall happiness soared straight up. And that’s because I work in an exciting office doing important stuff that I know people value.

Again, I hate when people completely disregard the importance of money. My point is that while yes it’s important, it doesn’t take much to live a very comfortable life. Your career decisions should be made on the basis of how much you like the work, the people, and the office environment. After that, start to consider the money.

The 3 Actually Important Qualities For Success

When I was younger and going through school, I was given the impression that the most successful people are highly intelligent. Your IQ was supposedly the primary factor that determined how well you performed in school, and the professional world. In the past year, I have learned this could not be farther from the truth. The 3 real important qualities for success in life are hard work, confidence, and charisma.

Don’t get me wrong, intelligence helps. But the higher the level, the less it matters. If you have a job, think about your performance in relation to your coworkers. Are you the absolute best? If you aren’t, chances are that its because your co-workers work harder than you. If you just started, this may not be the case. But over time, the importance of hard work begins to outweigh raw intelligence.

The world is full of lazy geniuses. In some cases, superior intelligence can actually be a handicap. If someone believes they are simply at a higher level than everyone else around them, they aren’t going to feel the pressure of having to outwork their peers.

Next is confidence. It is an absolute necessity for success. It’s what allows people to act on their feet. You can be smart and hardworking but if you don’t have the confidence to make snap decisions, you are going to be severely limited in life. A lot of the time hard work and confidence go hand in hand. The harder you work, the more awesome experiences you’ll gain, and the more challenges you’ll overcome. That in turns gives you confidence for your next challenge.

You have to be able to make people like you and want to follow your lead. That’s where charisma comes in. I’m not talking about being a manipulative smooth talker. I’m talking about the ability to inspire people. The ability to express your ideas and dreams in a powerful way. Possessing charisma is a huge part of being able to sell yourself as a leader.

Intelligence is indeed a natural advantage right out of the gate. But its importance quickly diminishes over time. Success starts with hard work. The harder you work, the more you will succeed. The more you succeed, the more confidence you will gain. I don’t know what to tell you with charisma. I guess just be a fun, decent person and dream big. If you’re doing incredible stuff anyway, people will naturally be drawn to you and you’ll get more experience in learning how to inspire people.

Show You Care About The Company, Not The Paycheck.

When a boss starts looking for a new employee he has two major questions about each candidate. Do they have the necessary skills and are they serious about adding value to my company? No boss wants an employee who is just in it for a paycheck. The problem is that traditional resumes don’t answer these questions very well.

The resume can, to some extent, show the skills the applicant has. Even then the employer is taking a little bit of a chance because they haven’t seen those skills put to the test. There’s really no way for an employer to tell what the applicants reasons for wanting the job are from just the resume. The best they can do is get them in an interview and ask them. Even then the employer has to put a certain amount of trust in the employee to make his case and explain why he wants to be at that company. This is all very time-consuming and still doesn’t guarantee that the employer chose the right applicant.

It makes sense that hunting for jobs is so difficult. It’s hard to stand out in the crowd and make a real impression. To complete a truly successful job hunt you need to change the game. Don’t rely on a resume. That shouldn’t be anything more than an afterthought. The key to making a powerful impression on the employer is to complete a pre-application project. This can be whatever you want as long as it provides value for the company before you even introduce yourself to the boss.

If you’re interested in a job as a website developer, improve part of their website. If you’re going after a job in marketing, improve their email campaign. Whatever it is, do research on the company and find ways to improve what they’re already doing.

This answers both of the questions that a resume can’t. It shows you have the skills necessary for the job. You already demonstrated your skills in what you’ll be doing if they do hire you! It’s not a promise of your skills, it’s proof. This also shows the employer that you’re serious about creating value. You took the initiative and searched for something that would help them, and you did it for free! This shows you care about the company and not the paycheck.