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Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and a life that you love. If you or anyone you know is struggling to figure out what should I do with my life? In other words, what is your life’s work, my guest today is here to help.
Chris Guillebeau is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The $100 Startup and The Happiness of Pursuit and is the creator and host of the annual World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, awesome people. During a 10 year quest, Chris visited every country in the world. He’s also a long time entrepreneur who believes in creating freedom while truly giving back. His newest book is called Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do.
Chris Guillebeau. It is so good to have you back on the show and finally in the studio, because we’ve done this several times but it was always Skypetown USA.
Marie Forleo, thank you so much. It’s a huge honor. I always come back whenever I have a book.
Yeah. And which I am so excited to talk about this book because when I saw the title and saw what it was about I said, “Thank the Lord someone is talking about this,” because so many folks that I get a chance to meet and to connect with online struggle with this very topic of figuring out what they should do with their lives. So… so let’s dive into it. What inspired you to really tackle this subject, because it’s a big one.
Well, I know this is something we’re both very passionate about because we both hear from people all over the world that are trying to figure out their path and, like, what’s… what’s best. And I wanna say since the last time I was on MarieTV, I went out and did a big tour. I went to, like, 30 cities, and I met more people from MarieTV than any other source. And I went around to different cities, I have been on national media, I’ve done some really, really big shows, lots of newspaper coverage, and I heard from, like, you know, 5% of those people and, like, so many viewers from MarieTV. So I wanna say thank you for that. Not to interrupt or sidetrack your question. I look forward to hearing from many more. And as for what inspired it, you know, I feel very fortunate in that I feel like I have found the work I’m born to do. I feel, you know, like I have the greatest job in the world. I feel like I’ve won the career lottery. And I think if you talk to people who also feel that way, they say things like, you know, I would do this for free. I love my work so much. And I wanted to understand what that process was like and how it can be replicated. And I think a lot of those people, we feel fortunate, as I said, but we’ve also made different choices. And so we’ve come to different turning points in our lives, we’ve had the opportunity to do one thing or another, and for whatever reason we’ve chosen this path. And so how is that? And how do people make those choices, what do they do differently, and how can everyone make those choices to find the work they were born to do?
Were you intimidated at all going at this subject? Because it’s a big one and there’s so many different ways that you can tackle it.
It’s a big subject, but it’s really important. It’s really important and it’s really fascinating and it’s fun. It’s fun to talk to people who have found the work they were born to do, because they feel so alive. And you can see it in them, you can recognize it in them. You know? You can sometimes even come across this in your own life if you… if you, you know, meet someone that you knew a long time ago, maybe your friend from high school or something, and you lost track of them. And then 15 years later you see them on Facebook or somewhere and you realize, like, what they have gone on to do and you’re like, “That’s exactly what they should’ve done. Like, that person became a lawyer and I didn’t know they were gonna do that, but they were always really analytical, they were good with asking questions and solving problems. Or they became a teacher, of course they’re a teacher. You know, that makes perfect sense. They were always so caring, they were always so instructive. You know, they were good at helping people.” So I don’t think I was intimidated, I was inspired. I was excited about it.
That’s awesome. You know, one philosophy in the book that you and I share, and it’s something I talk about as often as possible, is this idea that everyone should think like an entrepreneur, whether or not you wanna run your own business or you wanna start anything. It’s just that mindset that is so essential these days, and I was wondering if you could speak to that.
Yes. Everyone should think like an entrepreneur, whether they want to be an entrepreneur or not. There are lots of great careers in which you have to work with an organization or a company, and that’s great. My mom worked for NASA for more than 30 years. You can’t be an astronaut or support a space shuttle launch as an entrepreneur. That was something that she wanted to be part of a greater team. I interviewed… one of the stories in the book is the first female firefighter from Mississauga, Ontario. And 21 years ago there were no female firefighters there and she set up… she set out on this journey to kind of crack the system and figure out, ok, how can I, like, I really want to be a firefighter but it’s really hard and I have to pass all these tests. And, you know, she was also very small, she weighed like 102 pounds, but she made it work. Right? And so I think even in a traditional job, you have to look out for yourself. You’re always self employed even if you’re employed I think, you know. Like, you’re ultimately responsible for your own career and if you want to not only be stable and create security but also to create the best possible work and solution for yourself, you have to think entrepreneurially.
So from your research and from your own experience, do you feel that each of us was born for a specific job or a specific calling? Or have you discovered that perhaps there’s multiple options for each of us?
I think there’s a… I think it’s a little bit of both because one thing I really wanna say is, you know, I think a lot of people when I talk to people about this book, they were worried about mistakes they had made. And they were worried about, like, you know, I had this opportunity and I let it go. Or I should’ve done this and I ended up doing something different. I really learned that you can recover from most mistakes. Like, most of us have made mistakes, we’ve done different things and that’s… that’s normal. So there are a lot of different paths. I don’t think there’s just necessarily one path, you know, for everyone. You know, there’s this whole, like, poem about, you know, the road not taken or the road less travelled and I took this one, it made all the difference. But we don’t really know the other story. Right? We don’t know what happened, like, what if you’d actually gone back and taken the other one? Maybe it would’ve been great too. Maybe it would’ve been better. So I do think there’s more than one path, but I also think when you talk to people who have found the work they were born to do, they’re so excited about it you can tell that they have found something that is really unique and really special. So even though there’s more than one path, I think it’s important to kind of work toward whatever this special thing is. Work toward this… this combination of factors to where, like, we’re really happy and we have all the money that we need and we’re doing something that we’re really good at. I think… I think that’s the goal, right? So it’s not like this one elusive thing, but if you look at really successful people, if you look at Beyonce, like, Beyonce probably could’ve done a bunch of different things but isn’t it so good that she’s doing, you know, what she’s doing? Or anyone that you admire. You kind of look at them and you’re like they… they’ve really found their thing.
Which speaks to, actually, another really great frame in the book, which is the joy money flow concept, and you can kind of use that to start to decipher if there’s a few things that you’re considering doing, which is something that a lot of our audience runs up against. Like, what should I pick? I have so many things that I wanna do. Can you speak a little bit to… to what that concept is, joy money flow?
Absolutely. So in the book there’s a lot of different exercises to help people kind of see, ok, I’ve got all of these different options. What should I do next? What should I be working towards? And what we found is that everybody who is successful, and by successful I mean, like, absolutely fulfilled in their career, you know, passionate about it and feeling like they’re doing something that they’re supposed to do, they have these 3 characteristics. And first of all they have joy, they’re happy in their work, they enjoy what they do most of the time. They’re not doing a soul sucking job. If they have a job, it’s a great job. Or if it’s something that they’ve built for themselves, they really enjoy it. And the second quality is money, because there’s lots of things that you can do that you enjoy but if you don’t get paid for them, then it’s a hobby. Which is great, like, it’s good to have a hobby but if you’re talking about a career it has to be financially sustainable. So joy, money, and then the third factor is flow, which is really doing something that you’re good at, really doing something where when you do it you’re immersed in it and the hours just kind of pass by. And it’s also really easy for you. It’s something that you’re good at and other people are like, “Wow, like, you know, she’s really good at that. Takes me a lot longer to do it or I’m not good at it.” But so I think what we’re looking for is this combination of all 3 factors. We want something that brings joy, we want something that is financially sustainable, we want something that brings flow. And I don’t think people will be happy unless they have all 3 of these factors.
I think you can be a little bit… you can be ok. Right? There’s lots of people who do jobs they don’t love. And that’s fine, they get a paycheck and maybe they’re satisfied in other areas of their life. But because life is short, why not try to work towards something, you know, that is not just, you know, ok but is amazing. Right? Isn’t that the goal?
Absolutely. And I think one of the genius things about this concept is that it applies even if you are in what you consider the work that you’re going to do. And, you know, for me, when I thought about this concept of joy and money and flow, you can apply that to revenue streams. You know, whether or not you really want to take this thing on or this project on or this client on. Is it gonna be financially viable to the degree that you want and is it really just something that’s deserving of your time and is aligned with your strengths? So I think it’s a great litmus test…
…if you’re still searching, but then if you’ve found it it can also take care of whether or not you should move ahead with a particular project or client.
So let’s talk about expanding your options and then eliminating them, which I think is so great for those of us who, you know, I’ve coined this term multipassionate entrepreneur. When I was first getting started I was so confused because I couldn’t pick one thing to do. I loved so many things from coaching and hip hop and dance and writing and marketing and spirituality, and I felt schizophrenic.
So talk to me about expanding your options and then eliminating them, what you found in the book.
So I think maybe if we go back to somebody who’s in that beginning part of their career, I think the wrong advice to them would be say just pick one of those things. And that’s what everybody says all the time. They’re always like, “Oh, you have… you have to focus, you have to just pick your niche or your niche. You’ve gotta do that.” And how are you really gonna find that combination of factors, of joy, money, and flow, without expanding your options, without trying a lot of different stuff? So you did that.
You did that in your career. I did that. And I think in the… in the beginning part of really trying to figure out what am I good at and also not just what am I good at, but what is going to be rewarded, you know, in the marketplace? You know, I said yes to a lot of different things. And so I always encourage people when you’re starting out, expand your options. Do everything that you can to have a lot of different experiences and then as you become more successful, as you have more experience, then you limit the options. Then you start being more selective. Then you start being like, ok, I am gonna apply that litmus test more often. I am gonna say, ok, you know, I’ve got all these different things I could do. What is most aligned? What… where can I have the most convergence, you know, what am I really like getting close to? How am I gonna have the biggest impact in the world? But I don’t think you can necessarily do that when you’re just getting started, because you don’t know.
You can’t. And that’s the thing I always try and stress to people is to give yourself permission to do a lot of different things without trying to force that focus too fast. Because for some of us, certainly me, not in my DNA to focus right out of the gate. I did not have a clear answer and I remember somewhat envying people. You know, Josh, my fiancé, he knew he wanted to be an actor from, like, the moment he popped out of the womb. But, you know, I think between 60 and I’d say 80 to 90 percent of us don’t have that.
So this advice is just so good and I love you suggest for us to eliminate ideas that don’t bring you joy when you think of them.
That’s a really smart thing.
Yeah. So you can have this inferiority complex because you can look and see, like, successful people and you’re like, “Oh, they must have known, like, all along.” And most of them didn’t.
You know, most of them actually went through this nonlinear path, most of them went through this whole path of discovery and path of trying things that didn’t work out, which is totally fine and totally normal. And they were able to successfully say goodbye to those things and embrace something else. You know, I don’t know what you wanted to be when you grew up, when you were 6 years old or 8 years old.
5 or 6 things. My books had all different, like, from teacher to speaker to actor to dancer, I… all the stuff.
Ok. That’s actually still not too far from what you’re doing now. When I was a kid, when I was 6, I wanted to work at Burger King. Because I thought Burger King was the best restaurant when I was 6 years old.
Right? And so I think of that a lot now because fortunately I grew out of that. But, you know, people are always like, “Oh, when I was a kid I wanted to be the President or I wanted to be the astronaut,” or whatever. And sometimes it’s ok to change. Right? Sometimes it’s ok to evolve.
Yeah. For sure. Let’s talk about what I think is such an important topic, one of the chapters you end with. Winners give up all the time. You say that perseverance is good for some goals, but not all of them. So how can we start to know for ourselves and decipher when we should persevere and when it’s just time to get outta town?
So along with the inferiority complex, I feel like one of the things that we have in our culture is this notion of never give up. Right? And you must never give up and you always have to persevere. And it’s true in the broad sense of, ok, never give up on life. Like, you’re always gonna… you’re gonna figure something out.
Never give up on love.
Right. Never give up on life or love, but lots of other things. You know, it’s ok. It’s totally fine. You know, it’s like we have all these, like, inspirational quotes about it and there’s one called, you know, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take or something, which comes from Wayne Gretzky, the hot hockey player. And I always think this is interesting because you see this quote everywhere, it’s like on the Pinterest, on the Instagram, lots of likes and stuff. But it’s like, ok, it’s true. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. But should you really keep taking the same kind of shot all the time? I don’t know much about hockey, but I would assume you don’t have an unlimited opportunity to keep doing the same thing, you know, over and over. Pretty soon your teammates are gonna stop, you know, passing the puck to you or whatever. So it’s like, you know, the way we figure out when to give up and move on or when to keep going is by asking ourselves two questions. One, is it working? And two, am I happy? Do I still enjoy this? And I think if you answer yes to both questions. Yup, it’s working. Two, still happy about it. Great. You keep going. If you answer no to both questions, it’s not working, I’m not happy about it, then you can completely let it go. And if it’s a mixed answer, it’s like ok I still enjoy this but it’s not really working. Or, you know, it’s working ok but maybe I’m kinda ready to move on, that’s when something has to tweak. Something has to change. And maybe you keep going or maybe you quit, but you have to fix one of those variables. Because, again, it has to work and it has to be something you enjoy.
I think there’s such freedom too in dropping something and letting them go. You know, one of the things that we do internally on our team, we’re pretty focused and we have our calendars planned out and there’s sometimes when we look at our priorities doc and we see that we had an idea perhaps, you know, 6 months ago, 12 months ago, and it’s coming up to do it. And all of us collectively will, like, look at that line on the spreadsheet and everybody just feels a sense of dread. And we admit it and we’ll be like, “Does anybody… do we really still wanna do that? Like, is that still current?” Or even if we’ve started to do something but we notice we’re either hitting a brick wall or we’re not getting the results that we want and there is such freedom to go, “We’re actually gonna stop. Like, we’re gonna quit that. We’re gonna drop it. We gave it a try and it’s not for us and it’s outta here.” And collectively, even though we’re a virtual company, collectively I can feel and even hear the sighs of relief. And it’s like high fives and cheers. And I love this idea for us to give ourselves permission to not constantly keep beating our head against a wall and to look at it through those lenses: is it working and does it give us joy? And I think that, you know, if you discover something that does give you joy, it needs to slot over perhaps into the hobby field for a while because you need to have a livelihood. You don’t have to let that thing go, it’s just kind of rearranging your puzzle pieces.
Sure. Quitting is a valuable skill. Right? That’s great that you’re able to do that because I think a lot of people would be in that same situation but they would just keep going.
Because that’s what they know how to do. You know? Or maybe it’s working ok, which is also a dangerous thing.
You know it’s like, when I first went to college I tried to major in accounting. I was terrible at it. And I’m so glad I was terrible at it because if I’d just been mediocre at it, maybe I would’ve kept going. Right? But because I was so bad I was like this is not gonna work. You know, I have to do something else. I ended up getting a degree in sociology, which ended up helping me later, etcetera, etcetera. If you just… if you’re doing something that’s just ok, maybe you should give up on that too. Right?
Yeah, and I think it takes courage, and what I love about this work and what you’re giving people, you’re giving people such a clear roadmap and you’re giving them the tools to have courage to experiment and to have the time it takes to figure it out for themselves. It’s like it’s not gonna come in an instant, which is what most of us want, but I just think it’s such valuable work and I am so, so thankful that you did this. Chris Guillebeau, thank you for coming on today.
Thank you so much, Marie. Thank you.
Now Chris and I would love to hear from you. In the comments below, what is the single biggest insight that you’re taking away from today’s episode? As always, the best conversations happen after the episode over at MarieForleo.com, so go there and leave a comment now. Did you like this video? If so, subscribe and I would be so grateful if you shared it with your friends. And if you want even more resources to create a business and life that you love, come on over to MarieForleo.com and make sure you sign up for email updates because they’re awesome. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams, because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.