Of Shovels and Holes and Jobs

December 7th, 2020

You probably know I’m a fan of Dave Ramsey. Last month I wrote this tweet:

Dave is very principle-based, and his advice is meant for each of us, no matter where we are at. I love how instead of saying to start with six months of emergency fund he says to build up to just a month. One month is much more doable than six months, right? If you made $60k a year, you’d have to have $30k for a six month emergency fund (kind of… you could reduce that amount by what you pay in taxes, probably). Who can fathom building $30k into an emergency fund? I can stomach the idea of building $5k, but $30k just seems impossible.

And so he says to start with the one month, then build to three months, then build another three months. And then you are in a good place!

In my tweet I talk about the other part of emergencies… the part that hopefully gets you back into an income stream before your emergency fund runs out. When I ask how employable you are, I’m talking about things like:

  • What skills do you have, or can you learn? Pretty important to convince someone you can actually do the job, right?
  • Who do you know? Or, as they say, it’s not who you know, but WHO KNOW’S YOU! If this sounds like networking, it is.
  • What do people know about you? Or, in jargon: What is your personal brand?

My final thought on the tweet is to BUILD your employability… or any of those three things. Please, please become more employable. I don’t want you to spend months, even years, figuring out how to replace lost income. I want you to enjoy your career, which isn’t done when you are fretting to figure out how to provide for the basics (like a roof over your head).

JibberJobber Ramsey Shovel Hole

One of the analogies Dave uses that I love is that of the hole and the shovel. For example, he’ll have someone call in who is $100,000 in debt but only makes $20,000 a year. They have a very big hole (their debt) and a very small shovel (their income). Contrast that to someone who calls in and has $500,000 in debt (“WOW!!”)… but has $400,000 of income. They have a very big hole, but a massive shovel.

For most people, your shovel is your job. But when you create multiple income streams, or your partner has a job, you grow your shovel from just your job income to all the income. Creating a bigger shovel with more than one income stream is an immensely powerful concept. Businesses do it all the time. Remember the old, original Amazon, which sold books? They have since diversified into streaming video and hosting websites and a slew of other things. When we diversify our income we create opportunities to grow our shovel. The diversification can also create a buffer to protect us from unforeseen threats, such as a job loss or a pandemic.

Of course, filling in the hole, reducing expansion of the hole, or stopping more holes, is also critical. Can you imagine only needing a little bit of money to pay immediate bills, without worrying about loans and mortgages and other typical debt? I hear being completely debt free is so liberating. Even if you lose your job you won’t have your debtors breathing down your neck for past due payments.

In summary:

  • Build your emergency funds.
  • Build up your shovel.
  • Reduce the hole you have to fill.

These are three core elements to having financial peace, which can lead to financial freedom, setting you up for financial wealth.

P.S. Here’s an example of Dave talking about the shovel/hole (at minute 3:20):

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Financial Peace vs. Wealth

August 27th, 2020

A few days ago I posted this poll on Twitter, asking about which you would prefer, financial peace or wealth:

As of right now I have 65 votes. 74% say they want financial peace, which leaves 26% who say they want wealth.

I have been on a money journey for the last … well, I guess my whole life. But I’ve been rethinking money and wealth over the last few years.

JibberJobber Financial Wealth

Months ago I told my friend Marc I was poor… he said you are NOT poor, but you might be broke. Indeed, he is right. I am absolutely not poor. I do not live in poverty, my family’s basic needs are met, and we even get more than basic needs. I have no complaints.

And honestly, I don’t have to be broke. But I’m following the Dave Ramsey plan (more or less), which means I’m putting excess money onto debt we’ve been accumulating. Putting everything there makes me feel broke. But it is a good broke. It is a “cleaning house” broke. It is a temporary broke. Once this debt is paid off, I’ll free up what I’m putting on it, and hopefully won’t feel broke.

When I was a kid, then a teen, then a young adult, then a middle adult, I chased after wealth. I wanted to be wealthy. “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan if I were a wealthy man?” I heard that riches will ruin you… I took that as a challenge and thought I’d like to try it out. I think being purposeful about having wealth would help me not become ruined.

Wealth. Riches. What would that really mean?

I think what I was after was rest. Not hustling to live paycheck to paycheck. Or not hustling to get behind just a little every paycheck, accumulating more debt. I want a break from that. Wealth would surely provide the break and rest I was seeking, wouldn’t it?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I have friends who have said they know they would be ruined by riches. I don’t fault them, but I don’t think I would be. Just try me… just a little.

Back to Dave Ramsey. I listen to him on Youtube when I’m doing chores and errands. Sometimes I get on the student loan threads, other times I get on the “I make $11/hour and have $30k in debt!” threads. I love the millionaire hour, where he interviews people who have $1M+ in assets. Dave has a bunch of one liners that are a crackup. I love how principled he is. I have yet to hear him deviate from principles, even though people call in for the same issue time after time, and everyone thinks they are the special exception.

One of the things that started to jump out over the last few months is his phrase “financial peace.” I swear I’ve heard it a thousand times, but just recently it started to make an impression. I started to think I’m not necessarily after wealth (although, bring it on!). I’m after financial peace.

First, according to Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, that comes from having $1,000 in an emergency fund.

Then, financial peace comes from following each of the subsequent baby steps, all the way through step 7.

As you go through his steps you take care of your “four walls” (food, shelter, clothing, transportation, utilities (that is … 5)). You get a feeling of peace knowing that you will have a place to sleep and have electricity for the basics.

All the way through Baby Step 7 you can have more peace because you are doing the “right things,” based on principles that have been tested over centuries.

I can imagine becoming wealthy and still not having financial peace. To answer my question, I want financial peace. At the same time, I’m working towards wealth. But if I never get wealth, I’ll have financial peace.

Too often we focus on how much we make, or what we have, even while creditors are lining up asking for their money back. When we focus on wealth without financial peace all we are doing is setting ourselves up to do is have much bigger debt and risk losing it all.

JibberJobber Financial Bondage

Contrast that with not having any wealth, but also not having any debt, and having a steady income. Not rich, but not beholden to anyone, ever.

As my relationship with money has shifted, I’ve realized why Ramsey’s program isn’t about building wealth. It’s about creating financial peace. And I’m 100% on board with sharing that message.

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Think Like An Entrepreneur, Not An Employee #CareerChange

June 19th, 2020

I recently did a 6-week series for Pluralsight on jobs and careers. It was a lot of fun (and a bit of work :p).

In some of the emails I’m getting from people I can sense a great deal of frustration. This frustration is coming from being in the hamster wheel we call the job search. Again and again, doing the same things, not getting anywhere. I remember waking up during my Big Job Search and thinking “why get out of bed? Why do the same stuff I’ve been doing? I’m not getting any reactions.”

I made a career change. I went from employee, at a corporate job, to entrepreneur. Many of the people emailing me are talking about career changes. I’m reminded of the fabled 10,000 hours that it takes to become an expert. You’ve heard that, right? You need to spend 10,000 hours on something before you can claim to become an expert? That is 5 years of full time work. Nobody I know, in the job search right now, has 5 years to develop expertise and then start their job search.

The urgency is now.

I’m not going to dispute the 10,000 hours thing. People smarter than me claim that. It sounds catchy. And I’d rather a surgeon with 10,000 hours work on me rather than a self-described surgeon with 100 hours works on me.

What I want to dispute is the level of knowledge, skills, or expertise we need to START SOMETHING.

A couple of years ago, at my dream job in a dream company with my dream boss (all that lasted 10 months) I remember watching people slowly do stuff thinking “man, thanks to the amazing sales team there is time for superflous, slow, unproductive meetings.” People could literally sit around, not adding value or producing, and still collect a paycheck. The rhythm we sometimes see in the corporate world is slow. Measured. Good for our mental health. Intent on reducing stress. Focused on creating a great (read: fun) place to work.

Fun Work Culture

But I had been an entrepreneur for about 12 years. My mantra was “you eat what you kill.” You don’t produce, you don’t pay bills. You don’t pay bills, you got problems. There was no paycheck that came every other week. If I wanted to pay my mortgage, or go grocery shopping, or even think of something like a vacation, I had to have revenue lined up.

If corporate was peaceful, which I think too many of us slip into when we land our job, then entrepreneurship was anxiety. I’m not saying that is necessarily bad (or that peaceful is necessarily good), but it was definitely a major shift to go from entrepreneur to “I have a job, and no matter what I do today, I’m going to get paid.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for you to have more anxiety in your life. I do, however, want you to think differently about your career. You see, if you listen to experts telling you that you need to wait, that you aren’t ready, that you don’t know enough, that you haven’t put the hours in, or that you can’t do something, you have a problem. You have been fed a line of bull, and you accept it. And that is harming YOU.

Entrepreneur Waiting

When I put my entrepreneur hat on, back in 2006, I learned about “sense of urgency.” I didn’t think of myself as anxious, rather I had a sense of urgency. If I didn’t know something I had to learn it. Consider:

How do I create an online business from scratch? From product management to design to development to QA to marketing to sales to pricing to customer retention to customer acquisition to financing the venture to …

How do I become a blogger? Is it a consistency thing? Is it a messaging thing? Do I need to write to a human or am I playing a Google/SEO game?

How do I write a book? How do I get a publisher? How do I self publish? I had no idea. But I had to learn all of that, even though I wasn’t an expert.

How do I become a professional speaker? I was confident in my public speaking skills, although I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. How do I create a business line out of professional speaking? How do I get more gigs, how do I engage with my audience, how do I get repeat business, how do I do all of the logistical stuff a professional speaker deals with, should I have “back of the room sales, etc.?

How do I create a DVD, which I can sell at a much better margin, and have more control over than my books? NO IDEA. Never done it before.

How do I start doing online courses? Where do I host them? How much do I charge for them? What exactly constitutes a course, anyway? Do I need special equipment and software? How do I edit and produce my stuff? Is it a long webinar, or a chopped up series of small clips?

These are SOME of the things I’ve done since 2006. I didn’t have expertise in any of these areas.

But my sense of urgency, and my need to create income, led me on the path to learn. Did I make mistakes? YES. Did I work crazy hours? YES. Was there sacrifice? YES. Did it cost money? YES. Was I out of my comfort zone? USUALLY.

Instead of taking it slow, and spending tons of money to “do it right,” I had to just do something. I talked to people about each of those questions I listed (and more). I talked to people who had been down the path, and learned from them. I found people willing to share and help. I studied. I applied critical thinking. I weighed alternatives and juggled priorities.

Entrepreneur Love To Learn

And most of all, I just DID IT. I tried. I threw the proverbial spaghetti on the wall, and some of it stuck. I learned from everything I did.

Here I am, 14 years after The Big Job Search. 14 years * 2,000 hours is 28,000 hours. So maybe I’m 3 times an expert (if 10k hours makes you an expert).

My point, though, is that you don’t have to be an expert to do stuff. I wasn’t an expert in any of those things. I still don’t consider myself an “expert.” But I had a sense of urgency that drove me to think, and try, and be okay to fail, and try again.

My first book? Not proud of the quality. Super proud I wrote a book, but not proud of the book. Even the fourth edition of it… not super proud. I think “it needs to be better.”

But guess what? I did it. I wrote it. And I’ve written two others. Why? Because my sense of urgency drove me.

Get your own sense of urgency. Get on that path, and get off of the “when this happens, then I’ll be qualified” path. Want to change careers? Then DO IT. Figure it out. Try things. Learn as you go.

Want to start a blog, or a podcast, or a consulting business? DO IT.

Entrepreneur Podcast

If I spent 30 minutes with you on a call right now I could coach you on how to become a consultant. Save your money, put away your wallet. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to LinkedIn, create a new job on your profile. Call it [Last name] Consulting. Or, call it [Your specialty] Consulting. There. You are now a consultant. This is, as they say, hanging a shingle out.
  2. Email everyone in your network telling them what you are doing, and then work the phones.

That’s it. You’ll get your first customer and you’ll do okay. Maybe a little worse than okay. But you get that customer, you bring value to them, you bill them, and you learn from the whole experience. Then you get another, and another, and another, and in a few years you think “man, I kind of feel bad for my first customer. I’ve learned so much.”

Don’t wait for five years from now. Start now, learn along the way.

The first freelance website I built was for a new realtor. She paid me $400. It was okay-ish for the time. But really, it was horrible. Especially compared to now. But doing that first one, working with a client, delivering a product, was a great learning experience. It was a stepping stone to get to where I’m at today.

DO SOMETHING. Don’t wait. Don’t listen to the experts telling you you aren’t ready.


Fling the spaghetti. 

Flinging Spaghetti Entrepreneur

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How To Build Revenue Streams (Jason Alba Twitter Thread)

June 8th, 2020

I’ve been pretty active on Twitter for almost a year, since taking a number of years off. It’s been a lot of fun to reconnect with some old friends there, as well as meet a whole lot of new people. Years ago I said I “fell out of love” with Twitter… and for good reason. But I think I’ve figured out some things, and it has definitely enriched my networking, etc. over the last almost-year.

Here’s a thread I wanted to share with you… I could write it all out here, longhand, but I figured I’d spice up the blog a little and just embed these. Feel free to “like” them, follow me on Twitter (@jasonalba), and share this post or these tweets.

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The Time To Look For a Job Is NOW! (Even Through Quarantine)

May 13th, 2020


A friend of mine posted that he is sad, and snappy. This line particularly stuck out from a long facebook post:

Maybe you weren’t at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. I know this person was living a great life. He isn’t wealthy but he really was living a great life. Rich with friends and doing what he loved. And then everything is taken away.

Combine that with news that we are at 24, I mean 27, I mean 30, I mean 33 MILLION people unemployed. And those are just those who have reported for unemployment insurance. I guarantee there are more. Not to mention people who had their own businesses who have shut down.

It feels like no one is hiring (here’s a link to a spreadsheet of who is freezing hiring). Except that companies are hiring (here are some jobs in Utah for product managers (my dream job) and UX/designers).

Whether you are part of the unemployed, the furloughed, or whatever, there is absolutely no reason to NOT do job search stuff right now.

In my Job Search Program I guide you on a six week journey of informational interviews, or, as I say, “networking on steroids.” Even with all of the economic question marks right now, with no one knowing what Fall or Winter will look like, there are things you could do for your job search. I’m not sure if you’ll land next week (people are getting hired right now) or in a couple of months, or early next year, but you need to get ready. You need to do things to put you in the running.

So what can you do when it feels like there is nothing going on, and no options? Here are nine ideas:

Personal Branding Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Personal Brand Blue Orange

Fix up your LinkedIn Profile. This is your professional landing page and it shouldn’t suck. Here’s my Pluralsight course on that…

Write something to let people see your subject matter expertise, thought leadership, and/or professional passion. This could be as simple as ONE LinkedIn article (here’s my LinkedIn course for proactive strategies)… just think of it as a smart email. Or, you could write a guest blog post for someone with an established blog. Or, consider your own blog (post once a week, or once a month?), or start tweeting. But you gotta share your expertise somewhere, if you want your personal brand to grow.

Fix your email signature. This is what I call the “secret weapon of personal branding.” Secret because everyone could easily have one, but hardly anyone does it well. Strip out useless info (including inspirational quotes) and come up with clearly branded statements to help others know who/what you are.

Networking Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Networking Chatting

Make your list and check it twice. Really, spend some time on this. If you are bored at home you have time to do this. Your list becomes your game plan. It can be the most important list you ever make. Do it in a spiral notebook, or a spreadsheet. Or, if you are serious about career management, keep track of your contacts in JibberJobber. We were designed to replace the job search spreadsheet!

Figure out your target companies. This is also a critical part of your game plan. You’ll want to figure out how you will network into those companies. Maybe you do research on LinkedIn and figure who does, or has, worked there. You can spend a lot of time planning and preparing… time that most of us have right now.

Call someone TODAY. And tomorrow. And pretty much every day. Do this strategically. Not just to chat, but to have an “informational interview.” This is, I think, the most effective job search tactic you can employ. I know it might feel weird, and you might feel uncomfortable. But do it anyway. It will be worth it when you land your dream job. Here’s a course you can get on Pluralsight (the free 10 day account will get you full access) on Informational Interviews. If you are serious about your next job, get on the Job Search Program.

Multiple Income Stream Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Multiple Streams of Income Money

Brainstorm and list ways you could make extra money, even if it is only $100/month. I am super passionate about creating multiple income streams so that when your main stream goes away you still have income. Read this post to see how it worked out for me. There are plenty of lists online you can research to see what might work for you. I’m not saying to burn the ships and become an entrepreneur (although that might be right for you). But imagine making a few hundred, or a few thousand bucks a month that don’t go away when your job goes away.

Learn from others who have multiple revenue streams. I’m not talking about the tons of people on Youtube that are like 18 and telling you how to get rich like they did. Maybe you read books to learn (Multiple Streams of Income, Rich Dad Poor Dad, etc.). Maybe you talk to friends who are entrepreneurs. Maybe you talk to financial advisors. Maybe you talk to the 15 year old kid who is doing stuff (because they aren’t afraid to fail, like us older people are). How you create your other income stream(s), I have no idea. But you can get ideas and inspiration from others to create your own recipe for success.

Try something. People ask me if they should major in entrepreneurship at school. My answer is NO. Why wait to get a degree on how to be an entrepreneur when you can try something right now? Whatever your skills are I bet you can find someone to pay for them. Walk dogs (seriously), paint numbers on curbs (seriously), clean window wells (seriously), or whatever. Dave Ramsey’s go to alternative revenue stream he always recommends is to deliver pizzas. This requires hustle but you can make good money doing that. The biggest issue is usually getting over your pride and other false constraints and just jumping in.

Do something. Don’t get overwhelmed with things out of your control… each of the nine ideas I listed above are in your control.

If you are wondering what this has to do with finding a job right now, or job search activities, every single one of these nine tasks can be a part of you getting your next job. I’ll never forget the phone call I got in 2006, out of the blue, essentially offering me a job. Why? Because I had started JibberJobber. I showed what I could do, I showed I had hustle, and creativity, and could get things done. And I had a job offer. Just starting my own revenue stream led to a job offer. Mind blowing.

You got this.

JibberJobber Like a Boss

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Gambling With Your Career and Job Search

May 5th, 2020

Many, many years ago, around 2000 (I can’t remember exactly) I had a “nice” government job. Okay, it wasn’t nice at all. I hated it. It was mind-numbingly boring. I was absolutely going nowhere, but it was a job that had decent government benefits.

I made $11/hour. I was trying to decide whether I was going try and “work my way up” in the organization, or what I would do for a career. The thing was, the really great poshy jobs were very few and far between. You had to wait for someone to die, and even after one or two deaths we learned that didn’t always mean their role would be opened for someone else.

i was bored

The future was grim, and I wasn’t interested in making $11 (or $22 or $33) per hour the rest of my career. Even if they government benefits were “great” and working for the feds was “secure.”

I wanted more. A lot more.

I took a gamble and interviewed for an internship I heard about from a professor. Believe me when I tell you, it was a miracle I got the job. The upside was I’d learn web programming in a real, corporate environment. It was quite on opportunity! The downside was I’d take a pay cut (to $10.50 an hour) and get ZERO benefits. Since I was an intern I got no health insurance, no vacation, no sick leave… I basically just got paid when I worked, and that was it.

But this was starting a new path that could become a career, as opposed to being a warm body with the word “clerk” in my title. This was an opportunity to get on a real career path.

For me it was a no-brainer. I didn’t look at the 50 cents difference and think “that sucks.” I didn’t look at the two-almost-three weeks a year I got in vacation (I was really close to moving up to three weeks a year… yahoo!), or losing health insurance and think “this is stupid. I need to stay with the Feds!”

Fun story: when I accepted the job one of my colleagues, a couple of decades ahead of me, came to berate me for leaving a safe, secure job to go to private industry. I was going to lose everything, he said. The risk wasn’t worth it, he said. And when this happened, it would be very hard to come back and get my ($11/hour) job. What a fool I was being, he said.

Instead, I looked at it as a low-risk gamble. Of course, I was at the stage in my career (at the very beginning) when gambles are easier to take. I had nothing to lose… we were renting and had very low expenses. I don’t know what car I drove but I know it was a junker that was either paid off or close to it.

Fast forward a few years. When I lost my job, where I had been IT manager and then took over a software shop, I was high on the hog. Not my salary, but my position. I was running a company with a brilliant team of developers. I figured raises were coming soon, as soon as we could fix the mess we were in. But I was optimistic, hopefully, and working on righting the company.

I didn’t realize then that that was the biggest, highest stakes gamble I had taken. I gave my all to that company and role. I didn’t network, I didn’t even think about other jobs or careers. I trusted the company and owners to treat me right because I sure know I gave them 200%. In the end, though, I was a “business decision,” and thrown to the curb. I had recently moved, for that company, to a much more expensive area and had a house that was more than twice the value of my house I had left. My wife was pregnant and my growing family had growing expenses. It was really, really scary.

Giving everything to that company was a gamble I made where I lost all my chips.

career gambles

Fast forward a few months and I start JibberJobber. This was my new gamble. I already had my degree and my MBA so going to hide in school wasn’t an option. Looking for a new job was an utter failure. So I let my optimism and hope win, and chose to be an entrepreneur (still hopeful I’d be an executive at some awesome company one day). It helped that my first marketing efforts and phone calls were very well received. I got a ton of interest with JibberJobber while making zero progress as a job seeker.

So I gambled again. Not much to lose, right? I had already lost everything. Of course, I hadn’t lost my family, my house, or my mind, but losing my job/role/salary/title felt like losing everything.

Over the next few years I’d gamble a few more times… on writing a book, on trying to speak professionally… and then on Pluralsight.

When I was on my early calls with Pluralsight, where they were telling me how it worked to be a “Pluralsight Author,” I thought “this doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get paid a lot to talk about this stuff from stage… and the amount I’d get per course seemed really, really low compared to that. Further, I’d have to sign my intellectual property away, at least to the point where I couldn’t/wouldn’t do courses for Pluralsight competitors.”

I felt like this was a pretty significant gamble. Indeed, it was. The first, and next, and next quarterly royalty checks all added up to maybe almost as much as I’d make from one 45 minute on-stage presentation. I considered it a dud… a failure. I lost the gamble. I didn’t lose anything, really, except I had that little issue of intellectual property I had signed away. But I didn’t plan on doing that with their competitors so it really wasn’t a big deal. But it wasn’t rewarding.

I gambled, and I lost.

Did I really lose?

Or so I thought.

If this is your first time reading my stuff you probably don’t know I have 34 (and counting) courses on Pluralsight. Why, if I lost my gamble back in 2012, did I keep making courses?

Because the gamble paid off. Nicely.

When I look back on my career, leaving the Feds paid off. Starting JibberJobber, writing a book, becoming a professional speaker (which means paid speaker), and learning how to create online courses for one of the most prestigious online learning platforms… my gambles, paid off.

Not everything I’ve done over the last couple decades paid off. I’ve had plenty of failures, false starts, pivots, etc. But as I look at what I’ve done, I haven’t taken the easy or the logical best choice.

Today, this month, this year, YOU will have a chance to take a gamble. I won’t disparage you if you take what looks like the easy road. Not one bit. Everyone has to choose their own path, make their own decisions. In doing so, you’ll make your own gambles. Should I go or should I stay? Should I skill up or do I stay on the path I’m on? Do I do something ridiculously hard (like go back to school while working full time) or do I quit and focus on school or do I just keep working and maintain a fun work/life balance?

These are all gambles.

Should I write a book?

Should I make a course?

Should I start a business?

Should I invest in real estate?

Should I move to another country, learn a foreign language, and get into international business?

Should I trust my company to be around, and keep me around, for many years?

Should I follow my boss when she leaves?

Should I take the promotion, even though it feels scary and uncomfortable?

Should I look for a job in a different industry or role?

These are all gambles.

Just as much as staying and doing nothing (or making no changes) is a gamble.

Career Gambles Scary

I know gambles can be scary. Some of you have a very low risk tolerance, which means being an entrepreneur is not at all appealing. But staying in one place is way more of a gamble than it was back in 1980.

It’s scary. It’s still unsettling for me. But it is also very exciting. Change can be fun. Learning can be fun. Growth can be fun. Education doesn’t stop when you leave a classroom… I educate myself almost every day.

This is our new world. It’s a world where you are invited to take more control of your career. This has been my message for the last 14 years that I’ve been doing JibberJobber… and since the Covid-19 pandemic, with businesses shutting down, it’s never been a more important invitation.

Please, be purposeful in your gambles. Don’t let others make the gamble for you. I did, and it failed, and they didn’t care. It hurt me and my family, but didn’t matter to them. This happened in 2006 when I got laid off just like it happened in 2018 when I got laid off.

I’d rather take the consequences of my own gambles than the consequences of the gambles from other people who have zero interest in my life and future.

And now this is my invitation to you to be serious about your career gambles.

Career Gamble Invitation

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Fundamentals of Success in Anything

March 25th, 2020

I have a confession. I found a show that has become my new guilty pleasure: Hotel Impossible.

JibberJobber Hotel Impossible

I had never heard of this show before, although it ran for nine seasons. But now, when I work out, this is my go to show. I don’t love what looks like fake drama… but hey, it’s TV, so I take that with a grain of salt. But just this morning I finished an episode I started yesterday, and watched another one before I got out of bed. My wife walked in and was like “what are you doing?” and I said “I’m studying.”

As I watch this show I am learning so much about business. It’s interesting to learn about it business through the lens of the hotel industry. There are so many blog posts I could write from lessons I’m learning from the show… this morning, the thing that stuck out to me the most was that in order to be successful, fundamentals have to be done.

In the hotel business that means:

  1. Safety is #1. Period.
  2. Customer service is key
  3. Cleanliness and maintenance is critical
  4. Business partnerships with other local services/companies is important
  5. Design can change everything (and doesn’t have to be expensive)
  6. Every person should have a well-defined role, with expectations and boundaries
  7. The right tools are super important
  8. Training can’t be overlooked
  9. Marketing will make or break your business
  10. Systems and processes need to be in place and respected

You can tell those fundamentals are not unique to hospitality. They can be applied to just about any industry, service, organization, etc. There are more, like pricing your offering properly as well as ensuring you have funding to do the job right. One thing I love about the show is that Anthony Melchoirri, the main personality, brings in specialists. He doesn’t rely on his own knowledge and expertise… he brings in bed bug dogs, campground experts, hostel experts, revenue experts, hospitality management experts, and of course, designers.

As I’ve been watching the show I’ve thought a lot about this, wondering who the Anthony Melchoirri is for my own businesses. I’m at least average when it comes to smarts, and I think I can learn things well enough… but I realize I’ve hit my limit on various things, and I really should bring experts in. I’m just not sure who those experts are.

That, though, is a topic for another blog post. In this blog post I want to focus on fundamentals.

If you look at the Pluralsight ratings for courses you’ll find that, generally, there are more ratings on fundamental, or basic, courses, than there are for niche courses. Fundamentals are critical… we all need them. We need to understand them, master them, and implement them.

JibberJobber Job Search Business Fundamentals Basics

Too often we can talk about fundamentals but in reality we skip them. I’ve been thinking about the fundamentals of my businesses and thinking about where I need to revisit, and make sure I’m really addressing them. Skipping over fundamentals (in a hotel, for example, housekeeping and maintenance) can make what looks like a good business really be a big, unsustainable mess. So, here are some ideas on fundamentals for my businesses:


  1. Marketing: Including SEO, my marketing message, my brand, guest articles and podcast interviews, etc.
  2. Functionality: Question #1: does it work? Then: What is the breadth and depth of our offering (compared to the competition)?
  3. Customer service: I know we sometimes fail here but for years this has been my #1 differentiator.
  4. UI/UX: Two different things, but both on my mind since day 1.
  5. Growth: Both user growth as well as financial growth.

The Job Search Program

  1. Marketing: Need to increase awareness, which will increase signups and upgrades.
  2. Product offering: How good is it? What can be done to make it better?
  3. Partnerships: I think growing through resellers/partners is the key.
  4. Seamless experience: Many people who come to the Job Search Program will come from JibberJobber… and then go back. I need to make the experience seamless and delightful.
  5. UI: The Job Search Program is simple… but powerful. The UI needs to look cooler, more welcoming, more modern. People have much higher expectations of UI now than ever before.

Pluralsight Courses

  1. Next course: For me to be successful, I need to continue to add courses to the Pluralsight library.
  2. Learning: I need to learn how to learn better, so I can consume as much as I can as I’m preparing my next course.
  3. Presentation skills: Yesterday I was watching a course on Youtube to learn more about my next topic and I literally almost fell asleep. The presenter had a voice fit for meditation, talked too slow, had no energy, and spent 10 minutes saying the same thing.
  4. Audio integrity: My first courses were done on a cheap headset. I didn’t think mics made a difference… but now I use a $300 mic and the difference is night and day (one of which is unbearable).
  5. Visual appeal: I have learned that visuals are everything. If my visuals stink, my course stinks. I used to loath taking the time to look for “the right” picture, but now I do it because I know how much it matters.

Those are three of my product lines. I could identify key fundamentals for other aspects of my life, like father, husband, person, entrepreneur, etc. If I were in a job search right now, here are five fundamentals I’d really dig into:

Job Search

  1. Informational Interviews: This encompasses so many things, but especially focused, targeted networking. That is why the Job Search Program focuses on informational interviews.
  2. Consistency: You can’t hit it hard for a couple hours today, then play online games for two weeks. What are you doing EVERY DAY, consistently, to get you closer to your next job.
  3. Self-marketing: Including your resume, LinkedIn profile, tagline, even how you present yourself (visually, orally, etc.)
  4. Optimism: And, what I call HOPE. I have to believe that there is something out there for me, I’ll find it, and it will all work out.
  5. Financial wisdom: Do I need to cut costs (cable TV)? How long is my runway before I have no more money? Where should I invest (clothes, career specialists, interview coaching, etc.)?

If I were happily employed, here’s what I’d think about:

Currently Employed

  1. Communication: I need to make sure I’m communicating the right amount with the right people to maintain the right network at work.
  2. Professional development: There aren’t too many jobs where you can stop learning and just coast on what you already know. Always Be Learning for me is the Always Be Closing for sales.
  3. Excellence: I know you have plenty of opportunities to skimp and do a minimal amount of work, but take pride in what you do, and strive for excellence (balanced, of course, with time and other resources). This should pay off in the short and long run.
  4. Soft skills: You shouldn’t be a jerk. Some people excel, even though they are a jerk. But seriously, what fun is that? What if you could excel in your job and your career and not burn bridges and step on toes along the way? Being kind is fulfilling.
  5. Create value: How are you creating value in and for your role? What can you do to become “indispensable?” Yes, everyone can be replaced, but what kind of value can you create and provide that will make you desirable by either your employer, or if that doesn’t work out, your competitors or potential customers?

What about you? What area do you want to see improvement, and what are your fundamentals? My challenge is to not just make the list, but to actually have the right discussions about them, and address them.

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Podcast: Jason Alba and Valerie Sokolosky

December 16th, 2019

I met Valerie Sokolosky years ago through the Reach personal branding training. A few weeks ago I was honored to be her guest on her podcast series talking about my story. Our conversation includes job search (of course, that was the beginning), networking, branding, multiple income streams… you know, all of the stuff I like to talk about :)

Check it out here on Youtube:

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A Job Is Simply a Revenue Stream

July 8th, 2019

jibberjobber-revenue-streams-plant-treeOne of the greatest epiphanies I have had over the last few years is that a job is simply a revenue stream.

If it is your only revenue stream, you should start to worry.

Those are the two most important sentences of this entire post. Memorize them. Write them on your bathroom mirror. Look at them every day.

I have multiple revenue streams. I’ve been working on them for at least 13.5 years. I could argue I’ve been working on them since I was a little kid.

They have never mattered more to me than in October when I had what was my dream job and my boss (who has since left that company) laid me off. I loved that job (most aspects of it). I didn’t want to lose it. I was excited about building the awesome program I was hired to build. And then she took it all away from me.

Like in 2006, when a committee of people, persuaded by one (wrong) person, took it all away from me. Thank goodness, because that started me on my JibberJobber journey.

But, there is one HUGE difference.

In 2006 I had one revenue stream: my job. That committee took away 100% of my income.

In 2018 I had at least four significant revenue streams. And while I made very good money at that job, she didn’t even take away 50% of my income.

I say that not to brag. I say that because getting laid off from a job where you walk away and can still pay your bills, where they weren’t able to destroy your income, where you could refocus on other streams, and you even have some breathing room, is FREAKING AWESOME.

I want YOU to experience that.

But you won’t, if your job is 100% of your income.

Something important to note is that I got laid off at the beginning of 2006, and then the end of 2018. That gave me 13 years to build up multiple revenue streams. This idea of building other revenue streams can take time.

Best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. Second best time to plant a tree? RIGHT NOW.

Best time to work on multiple revenue streams? 20 years ago. Second best time to work on multiple revenue streams? RIGHT NOW.

The JibberJobber theme for 2019 is financial freedom through multiple income streams.

I have empowered you with a networking and follow-up tool. I have empowered you with motivation, tips, stories, and ideas on my blog. I have empowered you with my book 51 Alternatives to a Real Job. If we ever talk, this will be my message to you.

Please, get on the path to multiple revenue streams. It is WORTH IT. You may fail sometimes. But as you learn, and some of them work out, and they grow, and you experience the sweet freedom that multiple income streams provide, you’ll never look back.

When I started JibberJobber my goal was this: to create $100 a month in income. Why? So that when I got laid off the next time, the person who did it would not be able to take away 100% of my income. And 13 years later, sitting in that room, I couldn’t help but think that I was losing less than half of my income, and it didn’t financially hurt.

That is freedom and independence. And I want that for you.

Join me?

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JibberJobber Is Relationships: Job Search, Gig Economy CRM, Just Networking

June 28th, 2019

jibberjobber-networking-professionalsLiz sent an email this morning to JibberJobber users quoting my blog post from 2016. This was from an email that Steve Krum wrote with feedback about JibberJobber. You can read it here.

The point of Liz’s email was this part of that post:

“JibberJobber is a versatile tool that helps you with career and relationship management where you are. Right now it might be in job search, tomorrow it might be in contact management.”

Here’s what I see:

College students use JibberJobber to keep track of important people they come across in their school career. Professors who have industry contacts (believe it or not, some professors have very healthy consulting side hustles), students who are “going somewhere” and have parents who are hiring managers or business owners, and guest speakers who come and share their time with the school. Students might not necessarily be in a heavy job search, but they should certainly be serious about real and long-term networking.

Job seekers, of course. Job seekers should be collecting too much data… and feel confused and overwhelmed. There’s no way around that. But JibberJobber, the job search CRM, helps alleviate a lot of the confusion and feelings of overwhelmed.

Gig economy and side hustle people use JibberJobber for the three main components: Networking, because you get your next customer through people. Target Companies, because consultants need to network with multiple people in their target companies, and Jobs because they might come and go, but tracking the actual jobs and contracts you get in JibberJobber is as key as tracking contacts.

Let me propose a bit of a stretch here… this might show you how crazy I am: I think JibberJobber is great for a grandma or grandpa who wants to track kids, grand kids, grand-nieces and nephews, cousins, etc. with important information like birthdays and when you communicated with them last, and when you should reach out to them again. A stretch, I know :)

My point is, JibberJobber is about relationships and networking and opportunities.

The idea is that you are tracking information instead of relying on your memory.

The idea is that you are networking, and don’t want to forget about or miss opportunities to stay in touch.

The idea is that you are on top of what amounts to a full-time job.

That is JibberJobber. That’s what we are all about, and why people, since 2006, have used JibberJobber.

Regardless of whether you are in a job search today or building your side hustle, do networking on purpose! 

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