In this episode of Helping Joe, Charlie and Nils break down Joe’s work history up to now, and not only find the beginnings of his story, but also find out things they never knew about him because he doesn’t talk about them at all. They talk about how to ask for testimonials and LinkedIn reviews, which website is best to use to show off your work and what you’ve done, and how early jobs are important to build upon and shouldn’t be diminished.
You can click here (right click, then click save as) to download the episode directly.
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
Beginning – My work history
Charlie wanted a visual, portfolio, which made more sense than what I put down which was more like a resume (link here).
“What shocks me about this is that it’s 7 pages long.” – Nils
I thought this was a criticism at first on my lack of succinctness or simplification, kind of like last episode where I gave them 3 pages instead of ½ a page like they asked. But I was wrong to jump to that conclusion.
“There’s like 10 things on here. I had no idea. These are legit. Where have they been in the conversation?” – Nils
He’s right. I just don’t ever talk about this stuff. Probably because I don’t think they are legit or that they weren’t real work experiences in some sense even thought that is bullshit.
These were all a part of my story, but in the last 2 years I felt like it hasn’t been. They were just cool things I did that didn’t go anywhere.
“They are experiences that define part of who you are… Those are experiences that define your life. They’re under the surface subconsciously. We never talked about these even as just bricks in the foundation. “ – Nils
3:30 – Credibility
“They are also things that give you a lot of credibility.” – Charlie
Charlie talks about his virtual internship with Seth Godin.
“I wasn’t doing anything significant, but that was the foothold I needed to get going, which was to work with entrepreneurs. These are very
That meant a lot when they both said, “these are legit,” multiple times because there is a part of me that doesn’t think these jobs or experiences are legit, and therefore I’m not legit.
And I haven’t always felt that way, when I was in the moment and had those jobs I thought it was the greatest fucking thing ever. I thought it was awesome and was so lucky to be working with these guys who I looked up to and were doing cool things. But somewhere along the way recently I lost that.
Nils tried to dig into this here.
6:00 – There’s a story here
“There’s the beginnings of a real story with the jobs on this list and we’re just finding out about 3 quarters of them.” – Nils
“You’re so down on yourself that you marginalize these things that are a big deal.”
“A lot of people want to know what it is that they are going to do with their life. It’s a lot more practical to go through your life and look back at what you’ve already done and weave a story through your past, instead of staring into the abyss of your future.” – Charlie
Such a good point that I think we should have dived into more because right now I think I’m at this point where I doing this, staring into the abyss and not looking back at what I’ve done.
8:30 – Early jobs, HS, college, summers
Those manual labor jobs sucked but at least the end of the day you did something and felt like you got a lot done because you see it in front of your face whereas now I don’t get that feeling because most of the stuff I do is online and you stare at the same computer screen you started with.
15:00 – English teacher in South America (mostly Mexico and Colombia)
I should have talked more about traveling and how significant that was to me at the time.
I wrote a blog to keep my family updated. I forgot to mention this on the podcast.
Charlie takes not of how I wrote “I lasted less than a year,” which was odd way of saying I worked there for 8 months.
18:00 – UnCollege
This kid who started this was younger than me at the time. He still is, obviously.
I think all he wanted out of the thing was to write a book, do speeches all over the world, and run these bootcamps, which I heard flopped and they don’t really do them anymore so I don’t think they were a sustainable.
20:00 – Why you should take screenshot your work
This is a really obvious and smart idea that Nils and Charlie do. I don’t know why I never took the small amount of time to do this and have a record or portfolio of stuff I’ve done. Such a good idea.
22:00 – Working with Michael Ellsberg
I was unnecessarily self-deprecating here again.
The comment here by Nils was really funny.
Looking back it didn’t turn out to be what I thought, but it was still great to work with them and I was lucky I got the opportunity to do so.
26:00 – I moved to NYC
That was a really big life event.
I moved there without a job or a place to live and was going to make shit happen and I did. NYC was a great place.
29:00 – Why are you diminishing these work experiences
“You are trying to head off criticism or judgment at the pass… you sound very unconfident and unsure. You are trying pre-empt judgment of all your choices and things you’ve done. By doing that you set yourself up for judgment.” – Nils
I just can see and hear Tucker (even though he’s not even here for this one) or Nils in my head making fun of or joking about these things and I want to beat them to the punch.
“If you told your peers about these experiences, they would be jealous. But you’ve diminished every thing you’ve done to the point that it has disappeared from your history… It has disappeared from your public story. That is the problem. You need to work on NOT diminishing yourself and your accomplishments.” – Nils
“These were smaller jobs, but it’s not like they never happened.” – Charlie
Nils’s story of working on a billion $ lawsuit against Microsoft
I would have said: “I just made these stupid binders for a year.”
What he said: “I was a paralegal for a major class action lawsuit against the biggest software maker in the world.”
“Most people embellish and pad your resume, you diminish and make it disappear.” – Charlie
“It’s a fact. It’s part of your history.” – Charlie
Nils calls back the moment in Episode 23 where I talked shit about a bad show then when she played along and made fun of me I got mad.
“This is the professional manifestation of that tendency. The 3 of us didn’t even know that 3/4s of this existed. You have buried it.” – Nils
36:00 – These early experiences build your character and story
“These are the foundation that is your life and if you take them away (which is what I’ve done) there is nothing to build on. No wonder why you feel unmoored and are drifting around. You haven’t allowed yourself to establish that foundation.” – Nils
37:00 – Working with Pete
This was one of my first real jobs. An awesome gig for a year and a half. Charlie was right, Pete is super smart, one of the smartest guys I know. We did some cool stuff together. This was a great job. I just wanted to be more than an assistant.
41:30 – How to get a great testimonial or Linkedin review from somebody
This was great advice from Charlie.
NOT “Hey will you leave me a testimonial.”
Write it for them, then get their ok, + quantifiable results.
“Hey I know you’re super busy so I went ahead and put a sample testimonal together on your behalf, feel free to change it, but just wanted to make it easier for you.” – Charlie
“You have to control what you want to be said about you.” – Charlie
It’s better that you remember and revisit everything you did for them instead of them trying to do it.
And remember, get the #’s! Which I did later here, but didn’t get the testimonial.
“Social proof gives you way more credibility than you just tooting your own horn.”
“If you did this with the people that you had worked for, it’s a Thiel Fellow who founded an education startup, a NYT bestelling author, a business coach, Tucker, Enstitute. That’s impressive.” – Nils
“That’s legit, dude.” – Charlie
I said “I know” but the way I said it made it sound like I didn’t believe it, which I didn’t. I don’t think I’m legit.
It meant a lot that they said it because I didn’t believe it.
I really regret not acknowledging and talking about this stuff more.
Maybe one reason I did this was that I liked who I was more and thought I was better back when I had these jobs and was in NYC and was on a path to somewhere. And now it’s painful when I look back because I liked who I was more than I like who I am now, or at least I was more positive and happier and going in a good direction with my career back then. And that’s gone. I can’t get that back. I fucked up and now I’m lost and it sucks.
47:30 – I was worried about talking shit and Nils yelled at me. This was funny.
I was nervous about talking about the bad experiences I had at these places and using their names because
1) It’s bad form, I shouldn’t talk shit behind people’s backs. They aren’t here to defend themselves.
2) They gave me a good opportunity and did a lot for me so I should be grateful and not a bitch.
This is bullshit tho because I did a lot and they got a lot out of me working there, way more than I did from them probably. Sheeeet I brought in $53,000 for them in 1 summer (their only revenue up to that point) and this was on top of all the other work I was doing and helping them with. Get the fuck out of here with that shit.
3) I’m worried they are going to listen and it’s going to get back to them and they’ll be pissed, to which Nils brilliantly said,
“Joe, you don’t have control of anything at all anyways. This is a public company. They were shitty to you. You don’t owe them. What are they going to do? Fire you again?!” hahahaha
Still, I don’t want to burn that bridge or end that relationship by being brutally honest here.
51:00 – Working at Enstitute
When Charlie was reading this off, words I wrote, it still burns.
I missed 2 things the most:
1) The identity it gave me, the meaning I had working there
2) The group or tribe of great young people that were there
“You closed 45 out of 75 recruiting calls? That’s huge!” – Charlie
I downplayed this a lot (like everything else on this here) because I thought the intro we had through our network and our offer, which to me was a no risk no brainer, mattered much more in them saying “yes” than me being on the call. I thought, maybe wrongfully so, that a lot of people could have done this. It wasn’t that hard.
“You’re diminishing again. What is wrong with you!” – Charlie
“There is value to humility, but when we’re talking about what you’ve accomplished, [this] is an impressive accomplishment.” – Nils
57:00 – The structure of this doc is wrong
Lead with the best accomplishments, most impressive stuff, don’t go through it chronologically.
Sales = partnerships
You are making an offer and they are accepting.
59:00 – Other big accomplishments I was proud of
I talk about landing Donors Choose here as a partner and running the 2 summer bootcamps we did in 2013. The best thing I feel good about was that they matched a fellow with Donors Choose after I got them on board. I have a lot of respect for the work they do and what they’ve built. I also sold the Clinton Global Initiative America on our nonprofit and got a comped ticket ($3,000)
“Why do you say less than 500 instead of 400?” – Charlie
“The lens you respond from is always ‘less than.’ If you could practice one thing in conversation, stop yourself and reframe this stuff in the positive. Give the number it’s due.” – Nils
Yea I have a bad pattern of looking at the glass half empty. It’s glaringly obvious in this episode.
“Everything is being [said] through the filter of ‘I didn’t do enough.’” – Charlie
Yea I would add “I am not enough” lens too.
“Because you’re trying to fend of criticism and beat it to the punch.” – Nils
Charlie read through the list of stuff I did at Enstitute and said, “Some of these are legitimately very impressive to anybody.” – Charlie
That was cool.
1:06:00 – Talking about summer bootcamp stuff
1:07:30 – Talking about new job at a tech hub in Colombia
I went there for the wrong reasons.
I felt like this was the only job I could get. It was one of two jobs I went after immediately following being let go.
I thought living in Colombia again would be exciting and it was but this job wasn’t for me.
I didn’t realize how bad the management problems and people problems were until I got there and I realized pretty fast that I need to get out. A lot of other people left around the time I did too.
I’m grateful for the opportunity and they were nice people but it sucked working there.
“People can be nice and give you great opportunities and sometimes they just suck at their jobs.” – Charlie
1:10:00 – Work I did for Tucker and James Altucher
This was great. Really fun but it didn’t work out for various reasons.
“What is legit book marketing?! What does that even mean?”
I think they were fed up with my nonsense at this point. Fair enough. This was funny though.
“You’re a sales guy.” – Nils
“Amazingly right? Which we’re just finding out.” – Charlie
“No fucking shit!” – Nils
I don’t how he knows that I’m a sales guy. I don’t feel like a sales guy. I don’t really sell much or haven’t sold much.
1:15:00 – “This is a very solid work history to work from.” – Charlie
“Absolutely, unequivocally, there is no debate.” – Nils
“A lot of this stuff is really impressive and I had no idea.” – Charlie
External source of significance = huge for me. I wasn’t able to articulate this but Charlie was. This was huge, big for me.
This was great! For days after this podcast, I felt a lot more positive about myself, the stuff I’ve done, future potential and what I might be able to do.
“You’re not Guy Kiwosaki. You’re not pretending that you built Apple when you worked there for 4 months and built a giant speaking and writing career after that. You are the exact opposite of that.” – Nils
“Own your work history and be able to confidently say that you were involved in these meaningful, impressive projects with these notable people.” – Nils
1:18:00 – What from this list is something you are good at or enjoyed?
The work itself, research, list building, partnerships.
“You are either really good at or enjoy research, sales & partnerships, and working with a team on something that is important.” – Nils
Yea that sounds about right I think.
1:20:00 – Homework from Charlie: Build a visual showcase on Strikingly
He recommends Strikingly
“That’s the anchor Nils is talking about, the foundation. You need to have something that you can look at and be like, ‘Yea I did all this, and that is a fact.’” – Charlie
And for next time: Talk about major life events where I got a deep sense of fulfillment or whatever.