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Just Because It’s Supposed to Work Doesn’t Mean It Will

Dan finished his education degree without ever stepping into a classroom.

After he graduated, he realized he didn’t like teaching and wasn’t good at it. The very first day of student teaching, where the goal was to serve as an intern before accepting a full-time position, he knew that this was not the career for him.

You’re probably thinking: hey, that’s life! He just had to stick it out, and then he’d be fine. And it’s true, sometimes there’s a learning curve on the road of purpose. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and it takes time to gain real-world skills.

This was different, though. Dan really didn’t like teaching. It felt uncomfortable and unnatural. He knew he could probably soldier on through the internship, but he didn’t want to go any further.

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“The Success I’m Having Now Is What I Planned for Three Years Ago”

The other day I met with a small business owner. Her business is going well, she recently had a successful product launch that brought in a lot of funds and new customers. Awesome!

But what interested me the most is what she said about it: “The success that I’m having now is what I planned for three years ago.”

Three years ago, she set out to build the kind of business she has now. She settled on an area of focus and said no to other opportunities. Then, she took the actions she’d determined were most likely to lead to successes like her recent launch.

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When You Need to Escape, Build Your Own Countdown Clock

Before my dad packed up his cubicle and moved to a beachside office, he created a spreadsheet that displayed the number of days that remained until his retirement age.

It soon became a topic of dinner table conversation: “Hey, Dad, how much longer at the day job?” I’d ask. He’d respond with something like, “Oh, I don’t know exactly . . . well, I guess I do. Looks like I have 673 days and 4 hours to go.”

When you’re trying to escape a dead-end job or any other undesirable situation, create a calendar and count down the days to freedom.

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If Plan A Fails, Remember that You Have 25 Letters Left

alphabet *My brand-new book, Born for This, is all about helping you find the work you were meant to do. This series explores some of these lessons.

Lesson: Craft backup plans. They will allow you to take more risks and make better choices.

There’s no shame in having a plan B, or even plans C–Z. Use the “if this, then that” method to make a backup plan for every career choice, and then make a backup for the backup. If one strategy doesn’t work, move to the next.

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The Resumé of Failures

For every success, there are countless failures. Yet when we look at someone from the outside, especially someone who’s been particularly successful, we may not see the failures.

Scientist Melanie Stefan issued a challenge for academics to share their “CV of failures,” a formal listing of all the programs from which they were rejected, the funding they didn’t get, and the journal articles that weren’t published.

Here’s how she explains the idea:

"My CV does not reflect the bulk of my academic efforts — it does not mention the exams I failed, my unsuccessful PhD or fellowship applications, or the papers never accepted for publication. At conferences, I talk about the one project that worked, not about the many that failed."

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How to Win the Career Lottery

If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would your life be different? Maybe you’d buy a new car or take a dream vacation. Maybe you’d quit your job... or maybe you’d keep doing exactly what you’re doing right now. The point is that you’d have a lot of new opportunities and choices all of a sudden. This short video, based on the lessons of Born for This, tells more.

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The Historian Who Couldn’t Escape from Alcatraz

In the introduction to one of the chapters of my new book, I wrote about escaping from Alcatraz. If you’re trying to get out of an unfulfilling job, it can sometimes feel just as difficult as getting out of prison. I used the Alcatraz story as a metaphor, but a reader who wants to remain anonymous passed on a story that I really liked. Here’s the story.

My uncle was a historian at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco. He gave me a tour of their private collection once, items that were too delicate for public display.

In a large metal drawer, he showed me the fake human heads made of soap that the escaped inmates had used to fool the nighttime guards. Can you imagine? Collecting the tiny end slivers of soap after a shower. Getting them back to your cell. Finally saving enough to create a head. They also made a makeshift drill out of hair clippers and a screw. You get really creative when you need to escape!

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My Morning Routine: Why I Do the Same Things Every Day, and How I Work from Anywhere

I’ve been a longtime fan of MyMorningRoutine.com, which regularly interviews interesting people to learn how they spend their mornings. Some of my favorite profiles include features from Steve Kamb, Lisa Congdon, and Yuki Shimuzu.

The founders recently asked to feature me on the site, and of course I was thrilled! You can read my full answers over there, or a brief selection below.

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What is your morning routine? (Please note the approx. time you wake up).

First things first: I’m on the go to at least 20 countries each year, in addition to more than 100,000 miles of domestic travel. At the moment I’m kicking off a 30-city book tour that has me waking up in a different place nearly every day for five weeks. Therefore, sometimes there’s not a routine, or at least the routine varies greatly by time zone.

I was recently in Jakarta, Indonesia and ended up working a modified night shift for most of the week. I worked on my projects through the night, woke up for “morning coffee" at 2pm in the afternoon, and then everything was pushed back from there. It felt a little disorienting because I’d show up at the hotel restaurant for “lunch” around 10pm, right before they closed for the night. Then I’d have “dinner” during normal breakfast hours before falling asleep as the sun rose.

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To Succeed in the New, New Economy, Don’t Mail It In

Ever since I wrote about The New, New Economy, I’ve been having lots of interesting conversations with people about it. Readers have also asked that I share more specific recommendations for “what works” now that a lot of online marketing strategies feel increasingly outdated.

I still stand by the general assertion that building relationships and producing quality work are the most important predictors of success, far more than any tactic or “hack.”

As a good way to illustrate this, last week I recorded a podcast for The Art of Charm, founded and hosted by Jordan Harbinger. I’ve known of Jordan for a while and we’ve emailed a bit, but I don’t think we’d ever spoken before. The hour-long conversation covered a lot of ground, and I was especially struck by something he said in the beginning.

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Everything’s Great, But Could I Get That Breakfast I Ordered?

My hotel breakfast server was very friendly. It took a while for him to come over after I was seated, but when he did, he was all smiles and exuberance.

I ordered eggs, coffee, and a smoothie (thanks, Starwood). “That’s a great idea!” the server said, and seemed genuinely happy about my order.

Over the next twenty minutes, he came back several times to check on me. There was just one problem: my breakfast never arrived.

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What to Do Now to Succeed in the Future

Link: Online Business Training That Works (Ends Wednesday)

A couple weeks ago I let you know about a popular online business course that's returning to the market. Well, it’s back! And actually, it goes away later this week. (I was a bit behind in following along with the video series—I just caught up and it looks really good.)

There’s still time to join, and if you’re looking for specific training that will help you in the new, new economy—along with a community to support you for years to come—this is a great offer with a lot of value.

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Here’s the Proof of “Live Your Dream”: 40 Case Studies of Online Entrepreneurship

Link: 40 True Stories of Online Entrepreneurship

The other day I mentioned the upcoming relaunch of an extremely popular course on online entrepreneurship. Many readers joined the preview list and have been following along with the free video series—and the course opens its doors tomorrow!

One of the questions I've been hearing since then is: does it work? And related: where’s the proof?

Well, yes—it certainly can work. The proof comes in the form of case studies, stories of real people who’ve been through the training and applied it to their own lives and businesses.

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Online Business Training Returns, More Focused and Better than Ever

Link: Online Business Training

Yesterday I published a long, controversial essay that’s currently making the rounds. In the essay I basically said that it’s no longer business as usual in the world of online publishing, and that what once worked doesn’t work anymore, at least not as well.

Here’s something that’s a clear exception to that. Last year I shared Marie Forleo’s incredibly popular course with many of you. The course is now back in action, or at least it will be soon—and you can follow along with the free video series by joining the email list featured at the link above.

So, what’s up? Well, there are at least three good reasons why this matters.

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Take the “Born for This” Free Quiz: What Kind of Work Style Suits You Best?

Quiz Link: Take the “Born for This” Free Quiz

Hey, everyone!

My new book, Born for This, goes out into the world in less than 70 days. I’m very excited about sharing the message of “how to find the work you were meant to do” with lots of people all over the world.

You can now take a FREE quiz to learn more about what kind of work style suits you best.

I developed this quiz with my star editor, Talia Krohn, and we worked with our great team of ninjas to put it together.

The process is pretty simple: you’ll answer just 14 easy questions about your preferences. Questions range from what kind of collaboration you prefer, as well as what kind of people drive you crazy in the office.

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Make Two Blockbusters for Every Arthouse Film

Blockbuster Consider a successful Hollywood actor. This actor likes to make independent, arthouse films. These films have special meaning to the actor, and he or she believes in them enough to give up a big paycheck to do them.

But this Hollywood actor also makes commercial, popular work. The actor has the prized opportunity to perform a major role in summer blockbusters, the kind of films that rarely win at the Oscars but regularly boost the actor’s stature, not to mention their bank account.

The clash of preferences and opportunities raises numerous questions—most of which miss the point.

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