“Wow, I just made two hundred bucks!” I announced glancing at my phone.
“Really? That’s awesome!” replied Molly.
As we found our seats arms full of popcorn and drink, I read the message again. This was what I’ve dreamed of – the whole “making money while you sleep” thing or in this case while watching a summer flick.
Ironically, this was the tail end of a great three weeks camping along the Oregon coast – not the middle of some product launch.
Years ago I published my first Kindle ebook to “demonstrate my authority” and ultimately teach workshops. I saw the need for this training because when I got started, there was little to no information available.
Although I had tried all kinds of get rich quick schemes and even programs that sincerely wanted to help you make your first dollars on the internet, I just wanted to finally make some real money online.
As I finished writing my book, there was a section about mystery shopping that felt incomplete. A friend put me in contact with Pam of IMSC (Independent Mystery Shoppers Coalition – a group for mystery shoppers formed by mystery shoppers,) and that one call launched my speaking and teaching career.
Pam not only generously took the time to talk to me about her own mystery shopping experiences, but she shared her own book and invited me to speak at the next conference in Las Vegas.
There I shared my journey as a field inspector before pitching my book and training. Although I managed to sell only a few seats, it was the beginning of my teaching online. Since then, I’ve launched other books like Local Business Alchemy and courses like “Build a Business You Can Sell” (based on my experiences as a business broker / small business adviser) and even co-produced one on Instagram marketing with a friend.
I’d be lying if I said that now I have all the answers, and I’m sitting on a beach in Thailand sipping cool drinks. There’s still a lot of work ahead. At the moment I’m doing some mix of freelance work through eLance, Guru and Fiverr. Folks are starting to contact me for things like podcasts through my LinkedIn profile.
I was hesitant to try the mix my girlfriend had made.
“Aww.. come on – you’ll love it!” she said unconvincingly.
Well, here goes. Bracing myself for the gag factor, I took the spoonful and..
photo: via Unsplash
Like most of us my earliest memories of the kitchen growing up was mom cooking. Maybe the dishes are slightly different from culture to culture but we all have some comfort foods that stay with us through life.
Coming to this country opened up my parents to things they had never experienced back in Taiwan and China. I still remember the shock and confusion when our family discovered that what looked like ice cream was in fact yogurt!
Cheese – the pungent smell took some getting used to. But being a kid I took to it like a happy duckling playing in the rain, and pizza became one of my favorite foods.
Occasionally, mom would need a break from the kitchen, and I stepped in as sous-chef to cook what I liked and what the rest of the family had to learn to appreciate.
For some reason Italian food was my passion as a kid. So much so that in sixth grade I even wrote a 137-page treatise (er, did someone forget to read the memo? it was supposed just be a geography report..) on Italy. Years later, I would actually travel to Rome, Venice, and Florence with my family. Let’s just say that I raised my expectations so high there was only one way to go..!
Later in college I went out with a girl who opened me up to what Asian food had to offer. Up to then my idea was Chinese food. Suddenly, I learned there was Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, even Laotian (her culture).
We would make some unbelievable dishes using just a very illegal hot plate and some utensils (some from home and others “borrowed” from the cafeteria).
Nope. No generic ramen for this homeboy. We cooked noodle dishes using all types – rice, pasta, thin, thick.. boiled, stir-fry.. you name it! We made egg rolls (that does require deep frying, right? .. er, yup!)
While I never saw myself as a chef or working in restaurants, my love and passion of food only grew through the years. Sometimes I looked for excuses to work with the hard-working folks that sweat out the details to provide amazing experiences.
With the rise of celebrity chefs I’ve noticed that slowly there is a greater appreciation of what happens in the kitchen. It’s something that I have carried with me into other areas of my life – whether as an author or entrepreneur, here are some key lessons:
Follow recipes.. before improvising – success leaves clues. Any musician knows that mastering the chords is needed before playing jazz or “jamming.” Unless you understand which ingredients work well together and “how” to bring out their flavors, you’ll either go hungry or have to stomach a lot of failed experiments!
First, master the basics – whether it’s how to chop and prep ingredients or understanding how to let dough rise before baking, anything we do requires fundamentals. This is true in flying – where you need to learn how to take-off and land before trying aerobatics, and this is true in work – where any profession has core competencies.
Good ingredients are essential – unless you’re Jesus, don’t count on making water out of wine. It’s really difficult to make an appetizing dish out of less than quality ingredients. That said, while fresh helps out a lot, you can take an old banana and make a decent smoothie, as the ripeness actually enhances the flavor. But that whole thing about the sow’s ear – yeah, don’t try this at home!
Taste, taste, taste – one of the most shocking things on Restaurant: Impossible with Chef Irvine is when he asks the restaurant owner to taste their own cooking, and they are surprised. If you don’t know how it tastes, how can you serve it to others? Learning to test how the world responds to you is another key life skill.
Passion is everything – we’re not machines, and I’ve learned that even the best intentions lead to that proverbial road to hell.. UNLESS you have the commitment that comes with passion. Do we need to make adjustments to our plans depending on the feedback we get? Absolutely. But if faith without works is dead, then intention without passion isn’t too far behind!
Hmm.. not bad. It was actually edible.
“Well, what do you think?” she asked expectantly.
“I’m still alive,” I smiled with a hint of sarcasm, feeling my chest in mock testing.
So, these are lessons that I’ve found to carry over not only to work, play, relationships but life as a whole.
What about you? Are there things you’ve learned from the kitchen or other crafts that stay with you?
Join me in talking with Chris Hill on Cinco de Mayo Tuesday, (05/05/15) about his personal journey from the corporate world to the kitchen.
For some time I’ve followed Sir Ken Robinson and his crusade to reform our current education system. If you haven’t seen his TED talk, here is a short RSA version:
One of his main points is that the school system was designed for a post-agrarian industrial system. That is, schools are designed to crank out workers in a factory assembly line fashion. Some rise to the top and become office workers. Others who can’t hack the academic standards become laborers.
Traditionally, it was the artists that suffered. There is no room for creativity in a system that values conformity and mass produced results.
In fact, Sir Ken talks about a girl who is brought in to see a psychiatrist about her learning disorder. Luckily, the perceptive doctor said the problem wasn’t with learning; she needed to be sent to dance school.
But here’s an even bigger problem. As James Altucher points out in Choose Yourself, the days of go to school, earn your degree, get a job and retire are long gone. Yet many still cling to the belief that this is the way to go.
Here’s some of what I believe schools should teach –
1) how to prioritize & time management – Stephen Covey’s 7 habits should be mandatory reading! But more important is learning how to develop your own sense of what you value – not based on what you’re told; again, following others is a factory mindset
2) how to sell – no matter what you do in life you need to learn how to be persuasive or get across your view, whether it’s applying for college or getting a raise (not even talking about your own business)
3) how to connect – social media is now a fact of life; understanding how to play well with others isn’t just a maxim – it’s now life & death!
4) how to collaborate – it’s only in the traditional school system that teaches working together is “cheating”; in the real world this is essential to success
5) how to be creative – as mentioned.. even Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
6) most of all, how to learn – this may seem to be simply a meta idea but it goes beyond an academic idea; pass / fail is an industrial concept; today’s economy needs more entrepreneurs, and the essence of the entrepreneur’s mindset is try, learn, repeat
No wonder we have a hard time figuring out what we want out of life. Recently, I read Jeff Goins’ Art of Work. He shares not only his own journey but also that of several other ordinary folks who made extraordinary choices.
Basically, Jeff offers that you can live a life of not only with passion, but also with purpose. But it takes the courage to ask some difficult questions – made more challenging by the fact that your current friends not only don’t know the answers but wouldn’t dare ask themselves.Luckily, there’s a community of like-minded folks willing to support you on your journey.
For some time I’ve wondered about this disparity between what we’re taught and what need to learn. It’s been a long road to fill a lot of the gaps on my own. And I wouldn’t say that I have all the answers on what my purpose is.
But I do feel that I have more sense of the direction of my path. And that makes all the difference. So if you’re ready to ask some of these questions, you can grab your copy here.
What do you believe is missing in today’s school systems?
[Post-note: This blog post inspired me to launch a new blog dedicated to creative entrepreneurs on their hero’s journey – http://butterflyformula.com/