The Myth of ‘Choosing the Right Path’: The Live Your Legend Backstory
The above is a glimpse of the beauty that eventually became Live Your Legend. Go ahead and snicker. Then when you’re done, let’s talk about decisions (and hop in the LYL Time Machine).
What it was like in the beginning…
A lot of you tend to ask about what it was like when I first got started online. More often than not, I still feel like a beginner (something tells me I always will), so today I thought I’d take a little stroll down memory lane, despite how embarrassing the second half of this post is to publish…
I started my first website in 2006. It was called Reading For Your Success, and I used it to write book reviews on everything I was reading on career change (and all else) during my long train commute to a boring job.
I’d actually call it more of an experiment than a website.
You see, one of the books I read was called Internet Riches by Scott Fox, and it said I could start a website without knowing code. I didn’t know a thing about tech, so between that and the case studies of what people were building, he had my attention. And I had my first glimpse of possibility.
I didn’t necessarily have dreams of creating the next big thing, but I noticed how excited I was, so I followed the spark.
My first site was hacked together in Yahoo Site Builder and it was hideous (see screenshot above). But at the time, I was damn proud of it. It was a blog four years before I knew what a blog was.
(Ok, so after looking at that screenshot I guess maybe I thought there was the off chance that I could make a small killing with a few ads here and there – see that Amazon banner in the upper right. I even asked all my friends to make their Amazon purchases through my link. Not exactly the jackpot, but an experiment nonetheless.)
For the next four years I got exactly zero traction. There was no growth in readership, other than some family and friends, and certainly no runaway success. But I got to write, test, learn, create and see what stuck. I had something to play with. It was a petri dish for running my experiments. And that’s always where it has to start. I loved it.
I never could have imagined that little experiment would turn into Live Your Legend. It would have been impossible to see that coming. Like Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement speech (arguably the best career talk ever), the dots didn’t connect looking forward, but of course, they make perfect sense today as I look back.
“But How Do I Decide?”
Probably the most common question I get from you is “How do I figure out which direction to take?” Many of you are desperate to know if you’re choosing the right idea or interest to focus on. The reality is that it’s impossible to know. All you can do is choose what’s most exciting right now and see where it leads. You can always correct later on – and eventually everyone surely will.
But the worst decision you can make is none at all – spinning your wheels or wavering between one path or the next. The longer you wait, the longer you put off a chance at some clarity. The only way to know is to start experimenting. Start learning. The more you do, the more qualified you’ll be for the future decisions.
That doesn’t have to mean launching full-on into a brand new business or career from scratch. The wrong type of pressure can kill your experiments. Start with something small, on the side. That’s what Reading For Your Success was for years.
Which brings us to the embarrassing part.
So, to give you all a feel for my thinking when I was getting my start, I thought I’d share the review I wrote about the book that first turned me onto all this stuff. I stumbled upon it a couple weeks ago, and in the spirit of full disclosure, it only seemed right to pass it along to you.
It makes me shudder to read, and is even more embarrassing to send out to 65,000 of you. I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about and the writing reminds me of a fifth grader, which makes me wonder what I’ll think about today’s post in a few years from now…
But that’s the point. Here’s a sliver of my mentality long before the LYL movement was even a sparkle.
Keep in mind that I wrote this on July 22nd, 2008 – just under five years go. I share it not as a book review or recommendation, since Scott has written a couple books since then, but as a little sampling to show you all where things started and how winding the path can be (and usually is).
Scott has since become a friend, and I’m grateful for the spark he lit a while back.
Now, let’s enter the time machine…
########## Enter Time Machine ##########
First Published on readingforyoursuccess.com on July 22, 2008
*Note: The article below is unedited from its original publish date.*
Why I Read this Book: I wanted to prove to myself that the conventional job and career progression that is taught by our parents and educational system is not the only way and that there is indeed a road less traveled that can prove to be more prosperous.
Anyone who is tired of the grind and working for “the man” should, no must, read this book. I have chosen this as the featured review because it opens one up to ideas and possibilities that most people, especially in the over 40 generation, could not dream of. I did not know a thing about the vast opportunity that existed on the web and how “simple” it is to get started until I read Internet Riches.
Unfortunately Scott Fox may have lost a number of readers at the book shelf due to the get rich quick-gimmick feel of his title, but once you get that cover open, the knowledge to be gained is incredible. Fox does a great job of explaining how the playing field has changed with regards to starting a small business and then comes right over the top with numerous examples of entrepreneurs making ten of thousands of dollars up to millions of dollars a year with very little (if any) startup capital. All it really takes is the motivation to get something going. But then again isn’t that always what’s holding us back?
The real-life stories in this book are the most powerful and motivating part about what I read. For instance there’s the 20-year-old kid who put together a website discussing the latest cell-phones and now he is pulling in $70k a year on ad revenue alone while attending university. Or how about the man bored at work who created a site targeted specifically towards people like him who were looking for things to do on the Internet. Ad revenue alone is funding an incredible lifestyle for him. These stories and many others go to show you not only that it is possible, but people are doing it. People are taking what interests them most and turning it into their living. They are the stories that many people only dreamed of living and what is so exciting is that it is so very possible for any one of us whether we’re tech savvy or not.
The other section of the book serves more as a reference than anything else, and a very good reference at that. Fox goes through all of the tools available at little to no cost that can be found on the Internet that will assist you with everything including building a professional-looking website in a matter of hours, creating an online store, online marketing and selling advertising. The resources really are unbelievable. It was with the help of this book that got me to create readingforsuccess.com. Fox also goes step by step through everything required for being successful with an online business starting at concept brain-storming all the way to making sure your website can handle a million+ monthly visitors (because if you do things right, it will need to).
He also takes some interesting and opposing views on what most of us have come to know as common practice. He emphasizes the importance of not going to outside investors such as venture capitalists and angel investors. The monetary investment is so small that these sources often are not necessary. Besides, who would ever fund a kid who wanted to build a site offering free advice about cell phones? This brings us to his next interesting piece of advice, which is to keep your business small. There is no need to try to grow a business just for the sake of growing. So many of the ideas and concepts out there can be managed by one or two people and still produce fabulous revenues and profits. Ah, the wonderful benefits of leveraging recent technology.
This book not only provides the motivation and examples to get you going, but the odds are that when you finish this book you will probably have come up with a number of e-business ideas on your own through his brainstorming steps. And then you will have an incredibly valuable reference to use when starting your business.
If you have ever felt the least bit entrepreneurial or would like to feel that way then you really cannot afford to pass up this read. The opportunity is yours and the time is now. Enjoy.
Key Take Aways:
- Due to numerous technology advancements, business as we know it has changed significantly allowing
every one of us to more realistically pursue our dreams.
- We cannot afford to stand still and let opportunity pass us by.
- With every new idea, concept and business, even more opportunities are uncovered. We are all in the
perfect position to take advantage of it.
- Do not seek outside investors for your business and try your best to keep it small. Small in size does not have to mean small in profits.
Related Web Sites:
-Reading for Your Success
########## Exit Time Machine ##########
A lot can happen in a few years.
When I first published that review, I think three people read it: my mom, my dad and Chelsea.
Today tens of thousands of you will see it, and maybe a lot more.
In 2008, I didn’t have a clue about the impact I wanted to make.
Today, we have people from almost every country in the world who have joined our movement to find and do work they love and surround themselves with the people who make it possible. And Live Your Legend Local meetups are happening in dozens of cities and countries around the world – I attended one in SF last night!
Together we’re starting to do something meaningful – for all of us.
And it all began with one confused, excited experiment.
Just like it always does.
So … what are you testing? Tell us in the comments.