Derek and I recently started a podcast for our students who are all starting businesses for the first time through our internship program. All of our students are in college, are aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs, and right now are going through the beginning phase of launching their businesses, which includes a ton of knocking on doors and rejection, phone calls and killing leads, and sales appointments that end in "no." The purpose of the podcast is to try and put the experience in perspective.
The goal of this blog post is to get some of my notes out there. We've had a ton of fun with the first 3 episodes. Lots of learning for sure. Also some of good content, so I wanted to get my notes out there in writing.
Episode01: Business Leadership Bootcamp
In Episode 1, we talked about how they should look at their experience as a business leadership bootcamp, and if they can get through the tough parts, they will see unusually rapid gains in not only their skills, but their mental and emotional strength. Here are my notes:
Why do so many people do Tough Mudders and Spartan Races? It's a 10 mile punishment that involves running up hills, getting all muddy, getting scraped up trying to crawl under barbed wire, getting bruised as you try and make it over obstacles, and you even get electrocuted. In my last Tough Mudder, it was cold in Tahoe, and combined with being all wet from all the water obstacles, it was a few hours of freezing misery. It's comical to think people pay $150 for that. But the tougher something is to accomplish, the better you feel about it in the end.
Why do football teams have hell week? Players are pushed to the point of throwing up. Some players quit or are dropped from the team. There isn't any actual football being played. It's just pushing the players to the point where they think they can't run another lap, and then make them run some more. The harder a team pushes in training, the more it gives them both a physical and mental advantage over the competition.
Why does the military have bootcamp?
Boot Camp prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental and emotional. It gives service members the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be asked of them for the duration of their tour.
Some of the basic skills include marching and swimming and shooting… after bootcamp, recruits go into a another training to learn about their actual military occupational specialty and learn more specific skills here.
"The most important single thing to know about boot camp is that it is 100 percent designed to reprogram civilians into warriors.”
And how do they do this preparation and reprograming? By pushing the recruits far beyond their perceived limits. The attrition rate is purposeful, not everyone is supposed to be able to make it through, and it's important to weed those people out.
Our students are going through a business leadership "bootcamp" in a lot of ways...
Here you will learn basic foundational skills, the marching/swimming/shooting equivalent would be communication skills like persuasion, assertiveness, listening, empathy… leadership skills like problem solving, strategic planning, management. After this you will go on to learn your specific field. For example, if you want to be a lawyer, you’ll go to law school, if you go work for a SaaS company, they will train you on how their specific software works.
But most importantly, through this experience YOU will reprogram yourself into a STRONGER leader. Why? Because beyond the skills, it will push you mentally and emotionally. You will be reprogramed into someone with more resilience, more stress tolerance, more discipline, more tenacity, more confidence.
Just like in bootcamp, you might think of ringing the bell. Here are some thoughts that you might have over the course of the next couple weeks:
"There is no way I can do this."
"I can’t be assertive with clients, it’s against my personality."
"I thought I wanted to learn leadership, but I’m just not passionate about this."
"I'm not happy."
Your mind’s knee jerk reaction to anything new is to go back to what it was used to. Your mind’s reaction to anything uncomfortable is to seek out the comfortable.
The way to overcome all this is this:
- You signed up for this bootcamp on purpose, we told you it would be difficult, stressful, and push you. But you did this because you wanted to learn and grow and become a stronger leader.
- Understand that these mind games are part of your learning and development here. This is the mental and emotional training.
- It’s all temporary. The internship is 6 months. Your comfort zone knows how to expand. You will grow and get stronger.
- Frame it. It's a training ground. It's a proving ground. Look at the hard parts like a test. You are being tested. Just pass the test.
Episode02: How Running Marathons is like Entrepreneurship
Derek and I were both coming off of races the previous weekend. He ran the SD Half Marathon, I ran the Catalina Marathon. We wanted to talk about the similarities to running and business, not in the cliche "it's not a sprint, it's a marathon" kind of way, but really get deep into it. Here are my notes:
1. You don’t just go out there and run a marathon. You build up to it.
- When you run a marathon, people congratulate you for running that far. "Wow, you must be a natural runner. I could never do that.” What they don’t see is the 800 miles you ran leading up to that 26.2. Anyone can be a runner, and anybody can run a marathon, it’s simple, all you have to do is run. You run and train and run and train and you build up to that.
- Business is exactly the same way. When you see a successful entrepreneur who’s running a successful business, you sometimes think, “Wow, what a cool company they have, what a great life they have, they must be a natural leader and entrepreneur, they must have had a really good idea. I could never do that.” BUT NO, that couldn't be further from the truth. They hustled and failed and chewed on glass for years to get to where they are.
- So remember to have patience as you are building. You are building experience, skills, calluses, stress tolerance, comfortability with failure, comfortability with the uncomfortable… and these things take time. Remember you are in the building phase, if you just started the and you aren’t where you want to be yet, OF COURSE YOU'RE NOT! Just build.
2. Getting to where you want to be is a lot of work, and it is going to suck sometimes.
- Running isn’t that fun most of the time. Now sometimes, you are on a nice trail, weather is great, you got some good stuff in the ear buds, and you’re just feeling it. But honestly, the best part of running is getting done running. Most of the time, it’s tiring, and monotonous, and it hurts. And then sometimes it’s too hot or too cold. Or its raining or windy. The key is that you just need the discipline to get it done.
- Business is the same. Sometimes its fun, you're working on something and you are in flow and time just passes by quickly. But most of the time, the best part of work is being done with work, and that sense of accomplishment from getting shit done. Most of the time, it’s tiring, frustrating, monotonous, and you just ask yourself why the hell you are even doing it. Again, the key is that you just need the discipline to get it done.
- So remember that if it was easy, everyone would do it! If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it. Only .5% of Americans have run a marathon!!! Same for business, there are 27 million entrepreneurs in the US, which is only 8% of the population, and 9/10 business fail! TAKE PRIDE IN THE FACT THAT YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE WILL NEVER EVEN ATTEMPT!
3. Keep the end in mind, and realize that the shittiest days are the most important.
- I can think of a couple really bad runs I’ve had, ones where I was just miserable, tired and no energy, and I was super close to quitting and calling an Uber to take me home. But the thought that fought off the Uber was, “What if I’m in the marathon, on race day, and I’m feeling like this, and I have 4 miles to go. Am I just going to quit?" I have to train myself to get through these times. These are the most important runs to train your mind, you need to learn how to control it. They are also the most important runs to train your body, you teach it how to keep going even when it’s telling you that you can’t. I want to run an ultra marathon and do an Ironman, but how can I do that if I call an Uber on an 18 mile run?
- Business is the same. There will be times when you just want to give up. You think: “Why am I doing this? I’m not even passionate about this. I don’t enjoy this. I’m not happy.” But those are the most important times to learn and grow. You need to learn to control your mind during those times, and teach yourself how to push through. Because right on the other side of those thoughts is where success is!
- So remember your vision. You are running a business to learn and grow. You will be a more skilled person, a stronger leader, have a better resume, be more prepared for your future career. It's not how do you feel now, but how will you feel when the summer is over and you've run a 100k business. How will you feel in 5 years when you are killing it making over 100k/year at a company you love?” You gotta get through the hard days if you want to get there.
In running there is the PR, or personal record. The PR is a rivalry against yourself. Today, can you be your best self? Can you beat your previous best? My 3 half marathons I've run have ended at 2 hrs, then 1:45, then 1:40… there are thousands of other people out there in a race, and I am really only running against myself.
What if you also applied this to your business?
If the most productivity points you've gotten in a week is 21, this week shoot for 22. The most sales appointments you’ve done in a week is 9, this week shoot for 10. The most sales you’ve closed in a week is $12k, this week shoot for $15k!
Everyone has different numbers. For you it might be 18 points, or 6 bids, or 5k. Every week should be a game against yourself. Don't compare yourself others and try and run their race. Run your own race.
Running is a mental game, it’s about mental toughness. So is entrepreneurship. Here are some of my favorite running quotes, but you can easily substitute entrepreneurship for running:
Distance runners are experts at pain, discomfort, and fear. You’re not coming away feeling good. It’s a matter of how much pain you can deal with on those days. It’s not a strategy. It’s just a callusing of the mind and body to deal with discomfort. Any serious runner bounces back. That’s the nature of their game. Taking pain.” – Mark Wetmore
“If you want to run, then run a mile. If you want to experience another life, run a marathon.” – Emil Zatopek (If you want to learn about business, read a business book. If you want to experience another life, run a business.)
“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine
“One thing about racing is that it hurts. You better accept that from the beginning or you’re not going anywhere.” – Bob Kennedy
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. – Lance Armstrong
"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us find out what we are made of." ~Patti Sue Pulmer
"A high tolerance for monotony is a decidedly, underrated superpower." - Iron Cowboy
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” – Bill Bowerman
"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." ~Dean Karnazes
Episode03: Hacking College
In Episode 3, we talked about hacking college. We reflected on our own college experience, talked about some of the problems with college, and how to get the most value from it. Here are my notes:
I enjoyed college UCI. I went into college with no clue what kind of career I wanted to pursue, and changed my major 3 times, which in retrospect I'm grateful for. I lived in Newport for a year and had too much fun. I met great people, but regret not getting more involved. I worked and did an awesome internship that turned into an awesome career.
I think there are some major problems with college:
- Student debt crisis, college is becoming more and more expensive, while at the same time becoming less and less valuable as it becomes less and less scarce.
- College doesn’t teach you everything you need to be successful after college, and some students and parents think that it will. There are the soft skills and life skills (leadership, comm, emotional intelligence, personal finance, goal setting, habit formation, job search). Also the character traits - perseverance, resilience, stress tolerance.
- Colleges teach towards the mean. They have to do this because most kids are okay with being average, they don’t want to leave the slower students behind, but what happens to the best students? They aren’t challenged, they get bored, their potential is stifled in a lot of ways. A good example is the UCI Career Planning Timeline:
- Freshman year was EXPLORE, get to know whats out there, take some different classes and topics, join a club.
- Soph was LEARN MORE, investigate campus programs, attend a resume workshop, attend a career fair.
- Jr was start TAKE ACTION, take classes like public speaking and business communication in addition to major classes, make a resume and linkedin, try and get an internship.
- Sr PREPARE, solidify a career choice, attend workshops on job search advice.
Increase the value you get from college. You are in control of the value you are getting from college. How do you get more value?
- Take advantage of all the resources your college provides. Your tuition is a fixed cost, so maximize what you use! Use the gym, because you will end up paying $50/month for one after college. Join intramural teams and extracurriculars, I joined a sailing class. Go to the career fairs. Use the career center. Talk to your professors. Seek out the programs that actually do prepare you to be successful after college. There are on-campus programs and events like Leadership Seminars, career panels, guest speaker talks, and job search workshops, and most of these are completely free! Last year I paid $800, plus traveling costs, to go to a 2 day conference in New York.
- "You become the average of your 5 closest friends." You are surrounded by the most people you will ever be surrounded by ever again in your life. Go meet as many people as possible. Develop long-lasting relationships with the right people. The more active you are, the more people you meet.
- School shouldn't be the only thing you do from 18-22 years old. This is contrary to the advice from many parents, who think that their kid should only focus on academics and grades. This is the time of your life where you are preparing yourself for life in your 20s and 30s. It’s a 4 year investment in the next 20 years. School should only be one of the many things you do during that time, but there are other resources outside of school:
- Use your summers for badass non-school stuff - work, internships, travel, projects.
- Get a job. You learn how to work, budget and save money, and do your own taxes. You can start creating the right habits now.
- Do internships. A paid internship is a win-win. You get everything you get from a job but it can be a better experience and looks better on a resume.
- Utilize outside learning materials: read books, listen to podcasts, take courses on sites like Udemy, Creative Live, Treehouse, Springboard, Khan Academy, Code Academy.
- Develop transferrable skills. If you are business major, also learn coding. If you are comp sci, take an improv class. If you are pre law, also start investing, if you are psychology, also learn photoshop and graphic design. (This is why I'm actually grateful I switched majors so many times!)
- Travel. If you can afford study abroad, awesome. If you can’t, plan a 10 day trip and go explore. Through travel you gain perspective and self-reliance.
Look at your resume as the credential you are paying for in college, not your degree. Your degree makes you the same as everyone else. Your resume can make you different than everyone else.
What's on a resume?
One thing is your college education, so definitely get your degree and get good grades.
At the very top of your resume is your Executive Summary. This is where you can explain who you are professionally. Use college as a time to develop your professional brand and personal brand. Pursuing your curiosities during college will not only point you down the right career path, but employers also want to hire people that are interested and enthusiastic in that field. Read books and blogs, watch speakers, and listen to podcasts in your fields of interest and curiosity.
The rest of your resume are your Big 6 Skills, and how you have professionally demonstrated those skills.
Most entry level jobs want you to have strong soft skills. Leadership. Management. Professional communication skills, both written and verbal. Teamwork and collaboration skills. Productivity skills and the ability to get shit done. Problem solving. The ability to be a self-directed learner. The more skills you have, and the more strong examples you have of the skills, the more marketable you are in your job search.
Understand that most recent grads will put "Strong Professional Communication Skills" on their resume. But what is a more impressive demonstration of that skill? Being a waiter at a restaurant and working with 10-20 tables per night. Or spending 2 years doing improv or stand-up comedy. Or being State champ on Debate Team. Or being a top sales rep, doing 100 sales appointments with a 30% close rate, closing contracts between $5000-10,000.
There has been lots of learning lessons with the podcast so far. Everything from how to record, edit, and deliver the actual audio, to the content and value we deliver and the voice we want to create. I'm definitely excited to keep experimenting and learning this new format!