28th of September 2015

Helping Joe, Episode 32


This week is the first episode in the new direction of the Helping Joe podcast where Tucker, Nils, and Charlie will help Joe get his life together by finding and building skills and a career.

In this episode Tucker & Nils map out the end goal and what success looks like for Joe. They try to figure out what Joe really wants, what he likes to do, and what skills he has right now that he can work with.

Also, they bring up the difference between internal (intellectual) work and external (physical) work and why Joe should explore work that is outside of his head if he wants to be successful.


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Joe’s Thoughts and Takeaways From This Episode:

Hey this is a running commentary of random thoughts, notes, and takeaways I had during or after this episode. – Joe

@The Beginning

Helping Joe get his life together. What does that look like?

The goal in episodes 1-31 was a lot easier because I knew what I wanted and what that looked like.

In this next part, I’m a little less clear on what I want and I really don’t know what it will look like.

“What does having your life together look like?”

9 to 5er VS freelancer / lone wolf digital nomad

I guess this is part of my problem. I don’t know what the fuck is out there. My scope of what’s possible and what’s available is just really limited. It’s broader than it was in HS and college and has grown since then but I still don’t know that much about the world and what the fuck all is out there that I can do.

You can be location-independent without being a freelance designer or developer

Full-time job in a specific place with the same people (more than 4 people) day after day. This is one measure of success.

What I did in the past

I got fired from a really cool nonprofit job in NYC. I did a bunch of stuff there. I should have dived more into everything I did there.

I quit a job I had in Colombia. I didn’t learn much there and I sucked at the job because I hated it.

@6:00 – Figuring out a comfortable salary/pay to shoot for (goal)

Tucker stole sushi from whole foods

He spent months doing this!

He was funny and open about his fuckups that occurred when he was my age.

Comfortable: “$3,000 a month” they just laughed at this.

“’I’ll only have to suffer ½ of the indignities of poverty. I’ll have poorer people drive me places instead of walking there. I’ll make money from splitting my private place with strangers.’ You don’t have to accept that.” – Nils

“Joe is dating multiple girls with no money.” – Tucker

This was funny and nice of him to recognize that.

@12:00 – Figuring out life expenses

“Do you even know what your expenses would be? What does a comfortable life to you look like?” – Nils

I was glad Nils did this exercise. Much better to get specific about this stuff and have a number or goal to shoot for.

The next 10 minutes is us trying to figure out this number where I’m happy with my life.

Per month
Rent: $1,000
Groceris: 400
Going out: 800
Gym: $150
Transportation: 400
Books: 100

Per year
Rent: $12,000
Groceries: $5,000
Going out: $10,000
Gym: $2,000
Transportation: $5,000
Books: $1,000
Misc: $5,000

= $40,000 in expenses a year

Tucker flips out about the idea of me getting health insurance. I’m not sure why.

60K a year in gross wages is what I need to hit to make this work.

@20:00 – Why this number, this outcome is important

“You have to set your sights at the right spot.”

I got worried here about being fixated on a number and not the other stuff because I don’t care too much about money. There’s other important stuff first.

“Your goal needs to be to find something that you enjoy doing that will enable you to have the lifestyle you want. That’s the point.” – Nils

“The point is to understand first what your outcome is and then figure out to get there.”
– Tucker

More important to me: finding something I enjoy doing that I can get good at, build skills, build a career… more important than living a comfortable lifestyle. I’ve gotten used to living uncomfortably and I’m willing to keep doing it’s temporary and I’m working towards other bigger things.

@24:00 – Is it more important to find a job that you enjoy or one you can learn a lot in?

We try to figure out what I want here. I’ve never been good at doing stuff I don’t like to do. I just hate myself, I hate getting up, I hate doing it. I don’t want to “sell my soul” to do something.

“It’s fine to put enjoyment first and learning things / growing second.” – Tucker

I don’t know. I have some weird guilt or shame for saying that I want to enjoy what I do above all else. It feel selfish and kind of phony because wtf do I have to offer that I should be entitled to do something I love.

In the past, I’ve just gone after exciting opportunities that I thought were good ones without thinking about how it played into long-term skill building and job prospects and completely regardless of pay, in my early 20s I just didn’t care about getting paid that much, I just wanted to work on cool stuff and I did but I didn’t get very far, probably for a bunch of other reasons.

We talk about my job history here. I could go into each of these in a lot more depth but it would probably bore everyone on the podcast.

I think with each of these jobs, I went for something exciting and the identity or story it gave me. I wanted to be the guy working at this place because of the status or coolness that I thought came along with it. And also, especially in the nonprofit job I got fired from, I really believed in what we were doing and thought it was mega meaningful and a game-changer if it worked. I loved who I was in that job.

“So potentially a job you could enjoy is something in the education sector where you get to meet a lot of people but is in one place and a full-time job?” – Nils

Yes the meeting a lot of people isn’t critical but yes.

@29:00 – Internal VS external work

Tucker brings up something that he hasn’t talked about before but hinted at:

“I think he should get the fuck away from anything cerebral or intellectual or in his head. He should get a job where he has to make something or do something external and objective… I’ve watched you do this. I know how you work. It is extraordinarily detrimental to work with you on things internal. You do not have a good grasp of your internal life. When you are doing work in your head, it brings out the worst parts of you. It feeds into a lot of your issues.” – Tucker

This was a brilliant point that I had never thought about before, ever, but it made a lot of sense. I’ve experienced this when working on projects and I’ve seen it play out in this podcast on dates. I am too much in my own head and it comes out in all these crazy thoughts and projections and whatever that make me depressed or whatever.

“You need to be able to see the product of your labor.” – Nils

You need to exert yourself physically, do something objective and external so you aren’t in your own head, get pride of ownership, create something that you can look at and be proud of, and you need to work with people in a physical environment.”
– Tucker

This sounds cool but I don’t really know where to find this, unless it’s blue-collar work which I’ve never really thought of doing before.

The idea is that instead of getting lost in my own head, go outside of it, focus on building something external.

“People who aren’t good at action but are good at thinking need to go do action-based jobs.” – Tucker

It’s funny because the best dates I’ve been on was after doing improv, after working out, running, playing.

I thought everyone felt better and was happier after working out, but Tucker was saying it is just me.

“If you are this introspectively morose person, then you go workout and you feel great. Why is your job not working out? Why would you not create a job based around what you need as a person?” – Tucker

Haha that’s a great point that I never really thought about. I didn’t know that I could create a job like that. Or that I would want or could do a job that was mostly physical. Maybe that was just drilled into me at school because that’s all school is, internal, thinking, not external or physical.

“You don’t know what you want so in your head you are torturing yourself into paralysis. If you take that energy and focus it outward and produce something, it will allow your unconscious mind to relax and maybe you can start to put dots together to ahah moments.” – Nils

@35:00 – What skills do you have?

I said writing, Tucker shot that down. It’s not something I’m that good at and I don’t really want to do it anyways.

“A skill on a resume that you could get hired for… If you have to think about your skills, you probably don’t have any.” – Tucker

I said marketing, but no not really. I said logistics, organizational, secretarial stuff.

I said curation, Nils called this an editorial lens. Tucker shoots this down and he’s right because a lot of other people can do that. It’s not hard or difficult to do. It’s a basic skill

“These are things you can do as a person. They are not job skills that you can get hired to do… You have a personal skill but it’s not a job skill.” – Tucker

I’ve never had a job that wasn’t entry level. This is somewhat true. I’ve had jobs that were more than entry level but I’m not sure if they were. Like I was a growth (partnerships) guy at the nonprofit but I felt like I was making it up as I went along in that job even though I probably picked up some skills or got experience there.

The last job I had I was a manager of a coworking space but that lasted like 3 months so not really. I wouldn’t count that as a job I was good at and could go do again.

“I think you could market yourself as a podcast producer.” – Tucker

Yea he’s right.

I know I have some skills but either I can’t remember them or explain them the right way or my confidence is so low in this job/professional life thing that I overlook them, like the podcast editing skill that I didn’t mention here.

My self-image in this area isn’t good and I know that’s fucking me up like it did right here where I didn’t even mention the #1 thing I’ve been working on which is audio editing and producing the podcast. There’s gotta be other stuff that I’m missing.

@41:00 – Going into a field where people don’t have your basic skills

“If you were to go into a field where they don’t have soft skills, like construction… you’re like advanced.”

This is a great idea.

“In the fields of marketing, communication, and organization your skills are low-level but in fields where those skills don’t exist at all. All of a sudden you are the star… construction is just one example. There are a million.” – Tucker

“And they pay you like that.” – Nils


@42:30 – Nils’s story about his wife’s cousin

This was a cool story. Funny his name was Joe. Yea this path of building all these skills is really cool.

“Through one thing, all things” – Mushashi quote

This dude focused on woodworking and learned all these skills involved in the business of woodworking.

@44:00 – The question is, “What do you like doing?”

“Forget about trying to find a job. Think about what do you like to do… You figure this out, then you pick a job where you can learn the skills and develop the skills.”
– Tucker

“Then you tell the person who is hiring you that you want to learn all the skills. Anything you can teach me, I want to learn. You then become irreplaceable.” – Nils

“You need to be doing external skills. That’s just not a good path for you emotionally and the way you work. You don’t have to be good at that.” – Tucker

“I feel stupid if I’m not.” – Me

Yep I feel like I’m fucking stupid when I have to leave this field and go into something completely different. Like I’m not enough here or I’m an idiot and maybe I am but that sucks to admit. And I hate that feeling.

@48:00 – Great wine master analogy

This was a great story about getting super good at what you do that is very valuable to others and then pay other people to do everything else.

@50:00 – Tucker’s background and failures

He was in the same position as me at the same age but got to that low point a different way.

He got fired in humiliating fashion and could no longer be a lawyer or work at his dad’s restaurant. He probably could have worked at other restaurants, he had those skills, but they might not have hired him if they heard about how he left his last job.

So he was actually doing worse than I was at around the same time. He got fucking fired.

BUT he did have something going for him, writing, which he “dumb-luck fell into.”

“I was staring at my path to success, but I didn’t even recognize it because I had blinders on as to what I could or could not do.” – Tucker

This is something I don’t have or I don’t think I have because I have those same blinders on now. I’ve never really been good enough at anything for someone to say “hey you should go do this for a living… you should go get paid to do this”

OR if somebody did say that I probably ignored it or disqualified it or didn’t believe in it, which I have a bad habit of doing when I get positive feedback.

Tucker kept learning skills (website, html, publishing) and kept going from there. From one thing, all things.

“I took the dumbest path because I was obstinate and arrogant. I did almost everything wrong. I succeeded almost in spite of myself because I had talent and busted my ass.” – Tucker

“You know what he didn’t do? Lots of list.” – Nils

This was pretty funny because this is exactly the shit I do… writing lists of stuff to do or research or of just nonsense.

If I was him in that situation I would have wrote out a list of all the things I had done and the stories I wanted to write and then never written any of them.

“There are two ways to start, with something that you are good at and something that you like. He started with something he was good at. You don’t know if that exists for you and it probably doesn’t now. So start with something you like, and get good at it… What do you like?” – Nils

“You are building a set of skills in an area that you enjoy so that in the future you are making a lot more money in a position that allows you to pursue all these other things.” – Nils

@53:00 – What do you like, what do you enjoy?

It could be an activity, subject, place, or a group of people you like working with.

Why do this? Steve Jobs said it best ->

@55:30 – Using podcasts as an example

“There is no wrong answer unless it’s something you don’t like.” – Nils

“I would find boring, old industries. Things you know that won’t go anywhere. Because all these industries are going to be totally revoluntionized by digital technology. No one knows how though. Your skills now will stand out there. Go learn them up and down.” – Tucker

He’s talking about physical, dirty jobs. Once you have skills and know the industry, then you can bring in those marketing or digital tech skills to them and kill it.

@59:00 – The online marketing / digital tech world is so small

“You need to go look around at all the different things around you that are interesting to you. Go back to your childhood.” – Tucker

“[This] is not hard. You only think in one sliver of the world.” – Tucker

Yep I think that’s most young people though. I just don’t know and haven’t looked around at everything that’s out there.

Being a waiter / server idea

I don’t know. There’s a lot of good reasons to do this, will become a much better people person, but they say I might hate it. Yea probably. Idk

@1:01:30 – Two tracks I need to focus on

1. Figure out what you like

2. Focus your energy on the external. Seeing at the end of the day that you have produced something. Quantify your accomplishments.

“What you struggle with is that you are a self-doubter so if you can’t objectively quantify it, you will diminish it.” – Nils

Yep, totally right, I am a big self-doubter and this is a good focus.

“You can’t deny yourself because you can quantify it. That’s what we’re talking about with the externalization of your focus. If you combine that with 2) figuring out what you like and 3) a job in a single place with lots of people. That’s the holy trinity.” – Nils

@1:04:00 – For next week

“The goal is to get good at lots of things by starting at the place that you like.”

Make a list of 100s of things that you like. Come in with a list of the top 10.

Stuff you like, not stuff you would put up with. I will do this, not I could do this.

If you are not excited about doing it all day, leave it off the list.

“A bunch of them will be deadend but we need to see the list and we will think of things (jobs) you will not think of.” – Tucker

@1:7:00 – Revisiting the outcome, when we know we’ve reached this goal

1. a full time job, in a specific place, with the same people
2. a job you enjoy
3. where you can learn new valuable skills
4. make at least 40k, with path to 60k
5. One or two bedroom place

Still going on more first dates, keep dating girls.

“We need to make this about a job. He needs to build a work identity. That is what this podcast is about. Then we bring up social/dating stuff later.” – Tucker

@1:10:00 – Funny end to the podcast

“We were making fun of you because you aspire to be poor.” – Nils

“You are so poor that you aspiring to be poor, but you are still pulling all kinds of girls.” – Tucker

I was still successful with women while fucking poor. This was funny.

What skills do you have?

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