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How to Learn About Entrepreneurship Without Spending a Cent

As part of the promotion for this year’s B-School program with my friend Marie, I wanted to point out two very clear things:

1. I think this course is fantastic, and well worth the cost. If you like the idea of establishing a freedom business, like I’ve done and so many AONC readers have done, this is a great way to get going in a structured program.

2. If you don’t have the money or aren't sure you're ready, you don’t need to pay for this or anything else. You’re not "missing out." There are always other ways you can learn and participate.

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Immerse Yourself in What You Want to Become

38563077_a0e8fc4065_z In reading the transcript of Bob Dylan’s speech at MusiCares, I also liked this part on the origins of his songwriting:

“There's nothing secret about it. You just do it subliminally and unconsciously, because that's all enough, and that's all I sang. That was all that was dear to me. They were the only kinds of songs that made sense.

I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs. And I played them, and I met other people that played them back when nobody was doing it. Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that's fair game, that everything belongs to everyone.

For three or four years all I listened to were folk standards. I went to sleep singing folk songs. I sang them everywhere, clubs, parties, bars, coffeehouses, fields, festivals. And I met other singers along the way who did the same thing and we just learned songs from each other. I could learn one song and sing it next in an hour if I'd heard it just once."

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Stop Marketing to “Millennials” or Any Other Generation

SocialMedia From time to time people ask my advice about marketing to Generation X or Millennials or any other group of people. When this happens, I always worry.

One research firm offered me $250 for an hour-long consultation on this exact topic. I said no, partly because I don’t like to trade time for money, but also on the principle of “What would I say?”

If forced to say something, I suppose I’d say that unless you’re selling diapers, it’s a bad idea to market to people based on what generation you think they belong to on account of their birth year.

Instead, maybe you should think first about making something that matters. Then, stop putting people in boxes based on how you expect them to behave and what you think they want. You might be surprised at the results, and you might be a lot more successful.

Cartoon: Tom Fishburne

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How to Run a Business and Still Care for Your Family

I met a guy who was a busy executive at a startup in Silicon Valley. His family, a wife and three young kids, lived several states away. He lived in a hotel during the week, worked every evening, and flew home every weekend before returning to the office on Monday morning. Not a very dedicated family guy, right?

On the contrary. When I asked him about living in two cities, he admitted it was sometimes a challenge. But then he talked about what the weekends were like. “We do everything together,” he said. “We go camping. We bake and cook. We play hard the whole weekend long. I know I have to go back on Monday, so I'm constantly thinking about how to squeeze as much time and as many experiences in as we can.”

His family had discussed the arrangement of him being away mid-week, and they re-evaluated it twice a year. So far, at least, it was working.

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Why I Became an Entrepreneur 16 Years Ago

102269936_c53eb13bef_z The best and most honest answer is that I wasn’t good at anything else. For better or worse, I learned that I was a terrible employee. I was unreliable and unskilled.

I’ve written before about my last official job, lugging boxes onto FedEx trucks in the middle of the night.

Stacking boxes was surprisingly hard! It wasn’t just about picking up the box and tossing it in the truck—you had to stack it in a certain way that led to maximum efficiency (and presumably out of some concern for the contents, though that never seemed to be much of a priority).

I lacked the spatial reasoning to do this task well. I was decent enough at Tetris, but when it came to real boxes, I sucked. I kept waiting for that big horizontal bar to come down the chute, so I could clear off four lines of bricks or boxes all at once, but it never arrived. Instead, the supervisor kept messing with me, adding boxes with incorrect zip codes to the queue while laughing at my poorly-stacked pallets.

Whatever. I quit and never went back.

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The Light Outside My Window on the Morning After Launch

This morning I woke up at 7:20am, and it felt so late. There was a touch of light outside—what was that? Oh right, sunrise.

For the past few mornings I’ve been getting up at the entirely unreasonable hour of 5:30am or sometimes even earlier. My breakfast place opens at 6am and I’ve been at the front of the line shortly thereafter. The sun rose two hours after I’d been awake.

Two nights earlier, I went to bed with my laptop on the nightstand. Yep—it was another product launch week.

As I made another cup of coffee on the morning after having slept “so late,” I thought back on the launches over the years. How many have I done? I honestly don’t remember.

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“What do you do for a living?” “I confound expectations.”

Bob Dylan gave a rare 35-minute speech at a MusiCares event for the Grammys last night. It's all interesting, but here's my favorite part:

"Critics have made a career out of accusing me of having a career of confounding expectations. Really? Because that's all I do. That's how I think about it. Confounding expectations."

"What do you do for a living, man?"

"Oh, I confound expectations."

You're going to get a job, the man says, "What do you do?" "Oh, confound expectations."

And the man says, "Well, we already have that spot filled. Call us back. Or actually, don't call us, we'll call you."

Here’s the full transcript.

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Build a Sales Machine That Works While You Sleep — Free Training with Ramit Sethi

RamitSethi Link: Free Training from Ramit

Starting a business can seem overwhelming. With so much terrible advice on the internet, there are thousands of hopeful online entrepreneurs that waste years spinning their wheels wondering "When is the money going to come?"

My friend Ramit Sethi, who has built a hugely successful online business and community with a massive portfolio of products, has a better way.

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Checking Your Bank Accounts Will Not Make More Money

Seems obvious, right? We wouldn’t expect that driving past the gym will make us any healthier. But when it comes to money, those of us who are self-employed tend to spend a lot of time on activities that do nothing to help the bottom line, either directly or indirectly. I don’t just mean “administrative work,”…

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2014 Annual Review: Lessons in Entrepreneurship & Unconventional Work

And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post builds on Monday’s, with some more specific lessons related to entrepreneurship, writing, and work. You’re welcome to share your lessons too, and—new bonus!—we’ll award a $100 Powell’s gift card to the person who leaves the best comment by the end of the week, as determined by our cats…

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Writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days

Graham Green on writing a book: “I was trying to write a book that simply would not come. I did my daily five hundred words, but the characters never began to live. So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance…

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