Even though I wrote a book about alternatives to a job (51 Alternatives to a Real Job), and I talk about multiple streams of income, and I regularly present to youth and adults about starting their own business, and I think that being creators trumps being consumers any day, I know that being an entrepreneur is hard.
It’s not for everyone.
And at times, it’s not for anyone.
In a recent email from a JibberJobber user, I read: “One of the discoveries I made is that I am an entrepreneur at heart, but not at the moment.”
Not at the moment. Sometimes the timing is right, but that doesn’t mean the timing is always right.
A few months ago a close friend who has owned a software business for years closed shop and got a “real job.” The emotions in this type of transition has to include:
Elation beyond measure, to get a regular paycheck (no more high ups and low downs).
Sadness, because of having to move on from having built something that is just not buildable anymore.
Embarrassment and shame to quit on your dreams of so many years, and admit that you simply weren’t good enough to make it work.
But circumstances shift, needs change, support from family changes, markets evolve. At the intersection where dreams meets reality, you learn just how hard it is to get something close to break even, much less highly profitable.
Your respect for those who founded and created businesses from yesteryear skyrockets as you realize that to get to what looks like an easy, privileged and exotic lifestyle, founders had to sacrifice health, relationships, and sanity.
I’ve seen this over and over.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs-at-heart pull the plug on their dreams and get a job.
And here’s what I think: THAT IS OKAY.
I read Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, and what I got out of it was you have to learn when to quit or change course. He’s not talking about quitting in a depression and giving up on life. He’s talking about figuring out when to change what you are doing, either in a big way (close your business) or a small way (change your strategy, offering, packaging, etc.). Change, re-evaluating, and some-might-call-it-failure, is OKAY. It’s necessary. It’s expected. It’s important.
You’ve heard that you should fail quickly, learn from it, and move on, right?
This is a really, really hard pill to swallow when it’s your idea, your business, your attempt. It’s your ego, and eventually, your identity.
Quitting means you don’t believe in yourself. You slip into a depression where you have validated, once again, that you weren’t as competent and qualified as you thought you were. Perhaps you will only amount to being a cog in someone else’s wheel. This is not the career you envisioned.
But in reality, you shouldn’t think that way. Whether you are a cog in someone else’s wheel, or you create the next Facebook, you have value. And as I mentioned earlier, circumstances change. Maybe your role as cog today will lead you to successful entrepreneur in the future. Or maybe you’ll be a great cog, with a great career, with financial stability and all the joys that can come from having a fulfilled life.
I admit that I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I couldn’t figure it out until the idea for JibberJobber came. There were a few false starts with other businesses, but my heart wasn’t in it, and they weren’t the right path. I eventually pulled the plug on them. But when JibberJobber came, it was like a calling from God. And for parts of the last nine years, that calling has been hard to fulfill. I’ve done the stuff I’d heard about from other entrepreneurs: lived off of credit cards, borrowed ridiculous amounts of money from family, burned through my 401k, payed my employees for months without taking any salary, etc.
Glamorous? Only in the movies.
Hard? Indescribably hard.
Did I think about giving up? Many times.
Did I have any way out? I’ve had job offers and buyout offers over the years, but none of them were right.
For now, this is my calling. I’m blessed to have a wife who is all-in, and gets the vision of what I’m doing. Not to say that there haven’t been times when she wanted something different (like a paycheck every other week), but she gets it. She supports it. And that’s the reason why I can still be here, as an entrepreneur, fighting the fight, while I might otherwise get a high-paying job with benefits and vacation, and some facade of security.
Luckily we figured out the money part of this business, which is something that my ex-competitors can’t say.
I choose to fight this bloody, messy fight.
Getting a job? Pulling the plug on entrepreneurship? If it’s right, right now, then do it.
I think that’s only a step in the big journey of being an entrepreneur. After all, with the state of job security being what it is now, aren’t’ we all taking entrepreneurial risks?
Last week in Utah there was a crazy wind storm… it caused all kinds of accidents, and blew people’s stuff around their backyards. And, of course, it caused a few Globe Willows to fall down. Globe Willows are called “garbage trees” because of the amount of branches that fall from them… they grow very, very fast, but are also susceptible to having big branches fall in a storm. Last week a friend posted a picture on Facebook of his tree that had fallen towards his house.
I had only had one occasion to use a chainsaw before, and it was pretty fun, so I jumped on the chance to do it again. On Facebook he said he would chop it up best he could… he said he didn’t have a chainsaw, but he had an ax. I’m sure he was joking about using an ax… have you ever used an ax? It’s very hard work, especially on a job like this.
A chainsaw is the tool that can make this a job to do in less than an hour. Using an ax would be a full day of frustrating and tiring work. It is NOT the right tool for this job.
I took my kids over and we had a fun time with two chainsaws. My 14 year old did a lot of the work, and two of my girls got a chance to use the chainsaw… their first experience. We are all more experienced now… and on the way home we got some ice cream cones, and unloaded a van full of firewood.
If we used an ax, we would not have finished even half of the tree, it would have been a lot messier, and I would have been completely worn out. None of that was the case… because we had the right tool.
In your job search, JibberJobber is the chainsaw. Your spreadsheet is the ax.
Yes, the spreadsheet can do the job. But it will require more time, and be more tedious, and take more mental energy, leaving you drained.
Put your effort into networking, not into forcing your tools to work.
The night before we did this job, we went to a friend’s house to borrow his chainsaw. He said “most people want to push down on the branch they are cutting. Don’t do that… let the chainsaw do the work.”
If you are muscling through a spreadsheet, you will have to “push down” and do a lot of work. You’ll get tired, and wear yourself out. Or, more realistically in a job search, you’ll become less organized, and spend too much time making the tool work.
It’s your choice. You can even use a steak knife or garden shears to do this job…. but in a job search you don’t have to go for the wrong tool. Simply get an account on JibberJobber. It’s like a free chainsaw.
Last week I was asked what profound idea or inspiration I had in the last year. It took a while to think through things… not because I had a lot but because it’s easy to underestimate the power of the thoughts we have, and realize that they are profound.
Finally, I thought about where my head has been the last 6+ months. We have been making marginal improvements to JibberJobber. Not just in the last six months, but for the last almost-nine-years, since we launched.
If you add up those marginal, seemingly small changes, over the years, you get something pretty great. Or, on the road to great.
For me, marginal improvements means something that is better, but it doesn’t have to be tons better. We’re not talking about a full make-over… for example, you don’t have to get rid of all of your clothes and buy all new ones. But maybe you buy new socks, or new shoes, or a new tie, or a new blouse. That is a small, bite-sized, manageable, affordable improvement.
Maybe a marginal improvement is that today you work on smiling more, even though you will not see anyone. Smile while you are on the phone. Smile while you write that email. Heck, I just smiled while writing this line, and THINGS CHANGED in my brain! My attitude changed a little bit. It sounds crazy, and I have no science or links to back it up, but what if you smiled more. An affordable improvement that is so small, but it might just take you down a better path.
A business mentor I’ve had for years, Mark LeBlanc, sent me a card that I have in front of me… on the front it says “consistency trumps commitment.” The power of consistent actions, and consistent improvements, no matter how small, has played a big part in my business, and the fact that we’re still around even while a half-dozen competitors have come and gone over the years.
I invite you to think about marginal improvements you can make in your job search, or personal life. Move forward without becoming overwhelmed by the idea that you can’t improve because improvement costs too much, either in time or money. Make the tiny, doable, bite-sized changes that you can, and let those accumulate over the days, weeks and months.
I recently got an email from a friend who just got laid off… and thought I would share how I would coach this person to write it differently. I know this person, trust this person, and would help this person as much as I can… which is a little different than those out-of-the-blue, cold-contact from strangers emails you get from LinkedIn. I’m sure you’ve either sent something similar, or you’ve gotten something like this. First, the email:
I was delighted to get this email since it was from a friend I hadn’t heard from in at least a couple of years, probably more. The email was good, but it was definitely lacking. Here’s what I recommend:
(1) Keep my first name there just like you have it (and don’t put “dear”). This makes it personal and I know I’m not on a bulk email, althought if I were on a bulk email from this person, it would be okay (because of our past relationship and trust).
(2) Keep the first sentence, which puts it at the friend-level, before anything else.
(3) I’m glad to cut to the chase and hear that you are looking for a new gig (or, opportunities). Immediately my attention is gotten and kept. Good.
(4) The sentence that you got let go, and keeping it from sounding bitter, is perfect. Nothing more to say. Don’t lay blame, don’t assume blame, don’t sound jaded… just state that much and let’s move on to the purpose of this communication.
(5) Good… let me know how I can help you… is essentially tapping into the hidden job market.
(6) Okay… now this is where you lost me. You see… I don’t know what your current skill-set is. It has been a long time since we worked together. But honestly, even if we worked together yesterday, I think you should explicitly state what your skill-set is. I don’t know if you want me to focus on your software skills, or your customer skills, or your product management skills, or your project management skills, or your management skills. Or, you could be interested in some other skill-set that I don’t associate with you, but others might. I need you to explicitely spell this out, and I would do it concisely (not all of your skills, but the ones you are most interested in) in another paragraph (just to keep a good amount of white space in this email).
Here’s what I would include in this email, which I think will immensely help others help you (which is what you want to do, right?):
The first part of this short paragraph expands their vision of where I want to end up, and what I want to do. The last two questions are yes/no questions… easy for them to answer.
(7) I was a little on the fence about this, but this totally fits this guy’s personality.
(8)Get ending… but….
(9) I would LOVE to get a link to your LinkedIn Profile, at a minimum, and perhaps a personal website or blog where I can read up on you, your projects, etc. Give me some meat so I can “stalk” you for a few minutes, and perhaps jog my memory of all of your professional coolness so I feel confident in recommending you.
So that’s about it… a real world email from someone looking for help, and two main things I would add.
I have some video courses you can watch to bring you up to speed on some of these things. Remember, watch a full course, at no cost, and you get an additional 7 days of premium on JibberJobber. Video explaining this here.
Pluralsight courses I recommend related to this post:
Informational Interviews (once you get introductions, this is your next step)
Effective Email Communication
Designing a Killer Job Search Strategy
Developing a Killer Personal Brand
LinkedIn Strategy: Optimize Your Profile
LinkedIn: Proactive Strategies
Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers
Career Management 2.0
To watch these for free, and get 7 days JibberJobber premium for each course you watch, watch this video:
I’m excited to finally get this project to a point where I can announce it – I’ve been thinking about it for way too long, and this week I finally made it a priority! This should help a lot of people “get started” on JibberJobber. If you recommend JibberJobber to friends, family, job clubs, etc., point them here! You get here by clicking on Videos, and then it’s right up at the top.
Since October of last year the Focus Friday calls have been structured so that they were in order for someone new to get off on the right foot. I’ve taken those videos and removed the Q&A, and reduced the time to considerably less than what is in the Focus Friday series… and put them in the right order.
When you come to the Getting Startedpage you’ll see them numbered so it’s easy to keep track of where you left off. You can also see which videos you have seen.
Confused about what to do next in JibberJobber? Start watching the short videos, in order.
Want help on specific functionality in JibberJobber? Scroll through the list of topics and pick the one that will help you get unstuck.
As of right now, the videos are (each week we should add another topic):
Getting Started: Introduction (1)
Getting Started: Overwhelmed? Watch this! (1.5)
Getting Started: Homepage & Widgets (2)
Getting Started: Setting Up Tags (3)
Getting Started: Log Entries and Action Items (6)
Getting Started: Verifying Action Items and Log Entries Got In (7)
Getting Started: Log Entries and Action Item List Panel (8)
Getting Started: Optimizing the List Panel (9)
Getting Started: Managing Duplicates (10)
Getting Started: Exporting from LinkedIn (11)
Getting Started: Importing from a CSV File (12)
Getting Started: Recurring Action Items (13)
Getting Started: Calendar Views (14)
Getting Started: Interview Prep (15)
Getting Started: Job Description Analysis (16)
Getting Started: Events on Jobs (17)
Getting Started: The Job Journal (18)
The “viewed” shows whether you have watched it or not:
Do you have requests for other topics? Let me know!
Because I’ve heard that JibberJobber is too confusing, and there are too many things you can do. I’ve tried to figure out how to create a visualization of the what and why, and a few nights ago I finally figured it out. Without further ado, check it out:
Last week two people asked how to save a Job that is “closed,” instead of just deleting it. This is actually pretty important… sometimes a closed Job has a job description you don’t want to lose, or you don’t want to lose the Log Entries (aka, history) and communications you had as you worked on that Job. BUT, you also don’t want to see it on the Jobs List Panel.
First, you can change the STATUS of a Job from the Detail Page or the List Panel. Below is a picture of doing it from the List Panel (mouse over the cell, and when it turns gray, double click on it to edit the value). Notice that you can change it from Open to Closed, Cancelled, or Held. Use the icon at #1 if you don’t see the Status field… you’ll be able to show that field on your List Panel.
You can easily filter which jobs show up on the List Panel, by Status, by changing the drop-down on the left side of the screen:
One thing you don’t want to do is work really hard, collect great information (aka intelligence), and then lose because, for example, a Job was closed. You don’t have to – keep it all for future reference!
My response to that article is one single, easy hack:
If using JibberJobber is too hard, then you can do what they suggest, creating your own organizational system with a bunch of tools put together. Here are some of their points, from the link above, to help you know what your organizational system should do:
Keep track of companies (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Keep track of applications (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track company name (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track application status (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track job titles (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track application deadline (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track application submitted date (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track contact at company, with name, title and email (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track when you did an informational interview (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track when you last contacted the company so you can send a follow-up email (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track all of this in “one place” even though you have a lot of it in your email inbox (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Document all meeting notes (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Track everyone you spoke with, or want to speak with (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Follow-up (which is the “critical factor for success”) (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Schedule email follow-up reminders (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
Keep your important docs, like cover letters, resumes, etc. in one place that’s easy to find/access (Check! You can do this in JibberJobber)
There’s plenty more that you could do… in JibberJobber. One reason we designed JibberJobber is so that you don’t have to monkey around with all kinds of folders and other apps… just do it all in one place. Kind of has an appeal to it, doesn’t it?
“Jason was a keynote speaker to the Executive Network Group of Greater Chicago, which is a group of six figure individuals who are in job transition. He spoke about his own job search stories and focused on JibberJobber.com, which he founded. Jason is an excellent speaker with a wry sense of humor that keeps his sessions lively and entertaining, as well as informative. JibberJobber is one of the best online tools for individuals in job search and we recommend it to our 250 members.”
That was pretty cool
I reached out to Chris because Chicago is on our list of places to travel through this summer, as we head to D.C. and back… here’s the list of places I hope to speak. If you know of any job clubs that would be okay with me speaking, let me know!