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Everyone is an Expert. So are You. Get Paid for It… no Seriously.

Everyone is an expert at something. Sharing your knowledge with someone that results in a favorable outcome is a beautiful act. It provides a person with the feeling of being useful, needed, and having a purpose.

Before we talk about expertise and how to identify it, we’ve gotta talk payment. Sirens are going off in people’s heads… Slow down Rivedal—it’s impolite to talk about money. Word. Sometimes it is. But getting payment doesn’t always mean the exchange of money.

Mentorship or charity: Sometimes sharing your knowledge and giving back is payment enough. The euphoric feeling you get from passing along your expertise to benefit a charitable organization or the next generation of movers and shakers.

Bartering: Also an effective tool, one that I have used in the past to create a win-win situation. I need X work done. He needs Y but can’t afford Y, so he offers to work on X for me so he can afford Y.

Moolah: And of course, there’s always getting paid with actual currency. There might be a few slight hurdles to this like learning some business skills and learning about the people who need what you have to offer (i.e. your “target market”)—but Rome wasn’t built in a day. The first hurdle is always a small one and that involves some simple research on Google.

You might be saying, “But I’m not an expert at anything…”

Bullius Shitius—yes you are.

Your expertise doesn’t have to intersect with millions of people but maybe it can impact a few hundred. One quick analogy to illustrate the need for specialty: the rise of specialists within the medical industry versus doctors who are general practitioners.

Don’t think you’re an expert? Is there something people are constantly running to you for advice? Computers, sex, breast feeding, human genome mapping…

Recently I’ve come across patient activists in the health care industry. These particular people have a rare or rarely talked about health condition. And then they start blogs and discussion groups about their condition. It’s always about helping their community. Sometimes they will mentor other people with their condition one on one. Sometimes the person will write a book and/or create a career out of their knowledge within this niche field.

One more note about specialty and expertise. I did a Google search for a few random things that popped into my head—things that I thought might require a specialist. Each of three following examples netted results that did indeed have specialists that had received payment through a) giving back through charity or mentorship, b) bartering (or at least what appeared to be so), c) a person developing a part time or full time career based on the random niche that I Googled.

  •      Navigating the Affordable Care Act in New York State
  •       Transgender women training bras
  •       Tuning old church pianos

Go through your mental archives. List a few of the things people have asked you advice for recently or places you’ve volunteered for in the recent past. Write ‘em down. Offer yourself and your skills up. Volunteering and bartering are easier places to start before offering your expertise in exchange for money.
A quick note about money: If money is something you want or need in the near or distant future, see what other folks are charging for the same or something similar. At the start you’re probably not going to make what they’re making because you’re the new kid on the block. But if you test your pricing (hey, would you be willing to pay X for this?) and someone is willing to pay for it, then your test continues. If someone is willing to pay (X), then will they pay for (X+Y)? The operative thought process here is: you are providing a solution to a person’s problem, which always supersedes your need for money, and informs the price you charge (can I charge this and if so, will it allow for maximum impact for the person I’m helping). 
Oh and while searching for your expertise if it’s not already apparent: cut yourself some slack. That negative boogie monster in the back of your neck (the amygdala, the friendly but finicky fella who protects us from danger) might tell you you’re not good enough. Thank that boogie monster for doing their job but let them know that you’re in no danger and they can let their guard down. You’re a badass mo-fo who has a lot to offer to the world. Please do share.

#iampossible #booyah

Faith Plus Action = The Recipe for Fire

#Realtalk, I don’t like to talk about “faith” much because of the religious connotation and how much angst and discord that word can bring. Everybody believes in something and nobody wants to be wrong.

But I’m talking about faith in oneself—the hope without strong evidence that at some point, no matter your lot in life, it will get a little or even a lot better.

As an entrepreneur, as an artist, as a caregiver, and as someone with a history of suicide in their family; I’ve had to cultivate and create a good deal of faith for myself.

Faith is important but taking action is essential—the need to continuously be searching for glimmers of light in the darkness, finding ways to set myself up for little wins.

Why? Because faith without action is meaningless.

I’ve noticed that in my own world, and in the lives of countless people I respect and admire; the foundation of any personal success great or small is reaching out for temporary support and then sustainable support.

Temporary support can be: asking for directions at a gas station, government assistance, a crisis line, a bank loan.

Sustainable support involves: reaching out to friends, family, a therapist, and/or mentors.

Reaching out for support can feel like a little win, but over a period of time the support you receive results in big gains.

When I was in crisis, temporary support was asking for a day off of work; permanent support was identifying and then reaching out to the positive influences in my life.

As a caregiver, temporary support is a glass of wine (mwahaha!); permanent support is creating of lists of people and then reaching out to them and asking for their support in my caregiving.

In both cases, the little wins snowballed into huge gains—making both experiences much easier to bear.

Other little wins to help fuel your faith include:
• Positive self-talk , i.e. your inner coach—and no positivity doesn’t make it all better, but it sure as hell can be pretty helpful. A few years ago when the going got pretty tough, I made a conscious effort that when I screwed up on something, I would stop calling myself nasty names and instead would chalk up the experience to be a lesson learned.

• Self-education. In seeking out and discovering new information, you evolve, and you find out that you’re not the only one going through whatever it is you’re going through. You learn how to get to the next level. Self education helps you move a little faster toward what you want—like the cheat codes on the old Nintendo games (I was a big Konami Contra fan: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start.)

Whatever it is you want that you’re not currently getting is, at its very essence, important… and so are you. Keep the faith and keep up that hustle.

Creating Systems, Punching “Drudgery” in the Ribs, Making Your Life Easier

A month ago I wrote a little about automating tasks. Yet, I realized there were still some things in my own world that needed to get done but seemed like drudgery and definitely not automate-able.

So how do I make doing the necessary drudgery a little more manageable?

We’re back to creating systems. And yes, some of this might just be straight up common sense, but I’m hoping some of this inspires you to create your own systems (feeding your goldfish Fido on a regular basis, getting those TPS reports into Lumberg on time, remembering and celebrating your partner’s birthday every year etc. ).

A few examples:
  • I eat like crap when I get hungry and food isn’t readily available—so, I decided to prepare a few meals in advance of the week and blocked out time when I can prepare more easy meals. Calorie count is lower, proteins and health(-ier) fats are higher. My mental health is better because I’m not eating crap. And my pants continue to fit me. #woot
  • I dislike exercising and know I won’t do it unless I make it really easy for myself to do it. So, I put running shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt beside my bed at night. When I wake up in the morning, those bad boys are staring me in the face and it’s easier for me to slip them on and run out the door. Otherwise, I’d be searching for clothes and give up halfway to getting my socks out of the drawer. And once again, we’re back to my mental health being a notch better because the exercise triggers those lovely chemical friends, endorphins.
  • A few posts back I wrote about how I create systems for some of the work I do and then hire out to have that work completed. Otherwise, I’d be working 100 hour work weeks and would need corrective glasses for having double cross-eyes after sitting at the computer too long. FYI, out of these three examples I just gave, this one did take the most time and effort—two hours of replicating the work I’ve done in the past and written out in careful detail. These two hours, saved me roughly 5-10 hours per week for fifty-two weeks. 
Create systems only when you feel a little extra motivated and when you can give a small amount of time to the task at hand. Set yourself up for little wins that add up to something big. Trying to lose 30lbs in a week or get that promotion this afternoon with no plan is not going to make your life easier—it will make you give up your goal. Build on the little wins. This will help you to create long-term sustainable change (habits).

Punch drudgery in the ribs a few times before you go for the knockout.

Finding Your Iggety-Oasis in the Middle of $%^storm

Bad things happen—it’s inevitable. I’ve certainly had my fair share in the last half-decade.

Sometimes bad things compound and turn into a $%^storm. I’m currently living in one right now, and it’s all good (kinda) but damn is it difficult.

Beyond the “grin and bear it,” “go to therapy,” or “fix the problem” — all of which are valid responses, yet are part of playing the long game, there needs to be some positive gains in the short game. We need positive daily gains, even if they’re tiny, to make playing the game of life a little easier.

There are more than a few ways to make and measure small daily gains. One I’ve cultivated for myself I call “Finding My *Iggety-Oasis.”

*Note: The title is super-corny but this is actually how I talk to myself. “Finding My Oasis” sounded too flower power for my tiggety-tastes. “Iggety Oasis” sounds like something Ludacris would rap about. #woot

The Iggety-Oasis is a place with no timelines or deadlines. It’s something I enjoy and give myself to fully when I’m there. It’s a recharging station.

My Iggety-Oasis is playing my piano (actually, an electric keyboard with a broken low A note). I play my piano for an hour every morning after I’ve eaten and showered, right when a bit of the anxiety starts to creep in. I work out some piano exercises, try to get better at the craft, then freestyle a bit. My head is much more equipped to wrap itself around the bigger issues and problems of each day after having my piano and my music fix in the morning.

Gardening, baking, cleaning, pampering, showering, charitable acts, knitting neon Christmas sweaters—all things that could be considered a person’s Iggety Oasis. Test it out and find your own.

I’m not sure how long the oasis should last during the day, but it probably shouldn’t be the majority of the day.

The Iggety-Oasis shouldn’t be destructive either. I.e. the difference between unwrapping and savoring a York Peppermint Patty, and gorging on three Costco-sized tubs of Almond Joys.

The Iggety-Oasis doesn’t make it all better. But it provides sustenance and provides a brief rest so you can later go out and face the difficulties of the day.

The i’Mpossible Project: Reengaging With Life, Creating a New You is now available for pre-order. 50 authors. 50 inspirational stories of overcoming tremendous obstacles. 
Read a few sample chapters HERE.
The first 200 people to pre-order will get a “thank you” in the front of the book, and a free copy of the book The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah.