I’ve always spent an inordinate amount of time reading. I remember coming home and even reading the encyclopedia when I was little. I got to a point where I had read a crazy amount of books, watched a ridiculous amount of documentaries, and listened to a lot of podcasts. I have been on a mission for a long time of trying to better understand myself and get personal freedom- whether it’s creating a healthy lifestyle that allows personal freedom or learning about finances to have financial freedom.
I had read so much about online business and thought I need to do something; I need to make something. So, I thought ‘I know Chinese fairly well; I’m going to write a book about Chinese.’ I never went to a class once and I speak way better than a lot of the foreigners that come to Taiwan and pay for Chinese classes. All I did was follow some rules. I thought that method I used could be shared with other people. I didn’t really care about how well it did; I just wanted to do something.
For my other books, I wondered- what do i know fairly well? And the topics were psychology and logical fallacies. I had a really intense interest in logical fallacies because I think we are so good at lying to ourselves. There is a reason why we have to believe our own lies because it’s part of the identity we create for ourselves, that persona, that character, to portray out into the world. You have to create your own narrative, your own story, then go through the world believing that narrative, that story.
It’s important to defend that and surround yourself with people that don’t question that kind of thing so the person that comes and points out your inconsistencies and your flaws- that has always been the quintessential definition of an asshole. We usually have a pretty visceral reaction to those types of people, but it’s really that same process of pointing out those things that we find where we contradict ourselves. I find it really interesting to explore that, and that’s what most of my books have been about.
After I started writing and made a blog, I needed to collect readers’ emails so I can sell them my new books, and then I got into email marketing. From email marketing, I got into writing sales copy. I started to see the same questions come up over and over, and in researching those questions, I realized what I like to do and what is most profitable is helping those existing businesses get leads and generate more clients through the use of technical ranking strategies for google, so that’s what I’ve sort of head dived into and I set up my agency. I realized how technical and interesting SEO is and how the applications it has are really amazing.
For me, what it comes down to wasn’t about the creative exploration; it was about money. I realized we exist within a fixed financial system and if I want to use that existing financial system to make more money and therefore have more freedom, then I need to play by certain rules. I realized my blog and my writing are things that I’ll have forever, but the path to making money on that is much more difficult. If you’re going to pursue something creative, I think it’s important to be honest about money. Money does matter. There’s a guilt about talking about money and it makes people uncomfortable.
I have a lot of problems with the idea of passions. I think your generation has been brainwashed into the whole “find your passion” thing...I was born in Iran during the war and my family and I are all refugees, so I grew up with that immigrant, work hard, save your money, invest, get an education kind of mentality and that is at odds with that whole ‘find your passion, never work a day in your life’, Western, YOLO kind of thinking. It’s like saying you should be happy all the time. That’s not the way it works. I think a better model is to do whatever it is that brings you money and personal freedom and enough time and bring your passion along with you. I didn’t say don’t have a passion. I just don’t think you have to have a job that you just fuckin love every day... I think that’s a whole bunch of other bullshit. You could dislike the thing you do every day, but knowing that what you do will result in a future outcome that brings you so much fulfillment makes that act that you don't like much more worth it.
When you talk about creativity and that flow state, I get that piece of my life doing jiu jitsu. I used to be competitive about it but I got to a point where it is just something I enjoy doing. It’s a hobby; it gives me a lot of satisfaction; it’s healthy and I like the social aspect of it and that allows me to work harder and focus on different things outside of jiu jitsu. It’s part of the equation that keeps me sane and lets me work hard and keep myself and my mind in check.
I have nine books on Amazon and I didn’t feel like doing any of it was overly difficult, but it gives me credibility. And, having something out there in the world brings things back to you in ways that are unexpected. The more of yourself you put out in the world, whether that be through your music, your writing, or your businesses or your ideas, the more opportunities they have to mix and meet and interact with other people and other opportunities and connections, and things that are unexpected can come back to you.
Most people don’t understand that. They think that whatever they need to put out in the world has to be perfect and they’re waiting for permission from someone else to do something, but you can just put it out there and it’s fine. The point is just doing it and not just talking about it and also creating a life, which if you’re serious about pursuing it, where you can pursue it.
I’m pretty relentless in the way I pursue things. A lot of people probably wouldn’t agree with the way I pursue things, but you have to schedule and structure life in a way that meets your goals. You need to spend the time that you need to go after what it is that you really want.
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