AskPat 38 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up everybody? This is Pat Flynn and welcome to Episode 38 of AskPat. I'm here to help you by answering your online business and entrepreneurship questions, five days a week.
The resource I want to mention at the top of today's show is actually a book, and it's my own book. It's called Let Go, and it's an electronic book that . . . who says electronic book? It's an ebook that you can download and check out here. It's available on Snippet app which is how you get the full experience. It's also available on Amazon, and you can actually listen to it for free on audiobooks.com if you're subscribed to them. If you go to AudioBooks.com/spi, that's how you get access to that.
So today's question comes from Ben, and it ties a little bit into my story—actually it ties very much so into my story, so let's hear the question from Ben right now.
Ben: Hi Pat. My Name's Ben from Chicago. My question is, I was wondering if you had any reservations about leaving your previous career behind after all this schooling and a number of years of advancing in the field. I was just wondering if it was hard for you to let go and move into this new career. Let me know. Thanks.
Pat Flynn: Ben, thank you so much for your question, and just to give you a straight up answer, yes, it was absolutely hard, especially at first in the moments after I got let go. The first thing I did, my natural reaction, was just to call every single architecture firm that I knew, every single engineering firm that we've worked with, every single construction company that I've ever dealt with, and call and actually beg for a position, because that's all I knew. That's the world I dedicated school to. That's what I envisioned the rest of my life doing, and then all of a sudden getting that was taken away. I mean, absolutely, I wouldn't imagine doing anything else. I didn't have any other options. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even consider that this could happen, but of course in 2008 the economy went down, and my job went along with it.
So that was my initial reaction, and it was very hard, but after some long and deep thought, some support from my fiance at the time and my family as well, they all said, “It's going to be all right.” And also that's when I thought long and hard to myself, and said, “You know what? I did everything I could. I worked so hard in that industry, and I still got kicked out. I thought it was secure, but it was not. I have to take control. I have to do what I need to do to make sure that I am in control of my destiny. That if I fail, I want it to be because of things I didn't do correctly,” and I know I had done everything right up to that point. So that's when I knew, and that mindset started to shift from the architecture 9-to-5 space to the space of online business and working for yourself and being your own boss.
That was the difficulty at first, and then I made that mindset shift, and what's what allowed me to get out of my comfort zone, try new things, and discover what the possibilities were and see what the opportunities were, and try to take hold of those. But then when I started doing online business and started getting into it, this was after I was officially laid off, and even after officially I had started generating money, and even more money than I was making in architecture, it was still very hard that transition because . . . there's a number of different things.
When I was working from home—that just I wasn't used to and I didn't know how to do from just not being around other people to talk to–you know, that was really hard for me, and it's still hard sometimes. We all suffer, anybody who works from home and is a self-employed or a solo entrepreneur, there is such a thing as entrepreneurial loneliness, right? Even though there's Skype and Google Hangouts and stuff, I miss, and I still do, I still miss going to lunch with somebody midday and just talking about the Charger game that just happened the other day and how we got blown out by the Broncos or whatever. So I miss those moments.
And another thing that was a hard struggle for me in that transition was taking the role of just one hat, or being in that role of just putting on one hat and being the drafter, or being the job captain, and focusing on my clients and making them happy too. Okay, now I'm doing the work, but I'm also doing the taxes. I'm also doing the bookkeeping. I'm also doing the legal stuff and this and that. I'm doing web development, which I've never done before. I have all the hats now, and that was a big struggle for me.
And it got me into a little bit of trouble at first, because there was a time when I got a cease and desist letter for putting a domain name in my URL when it was intheleed.com. I used LEED which is a trademark, and I freaked out, and I even doubted myself at that point. I said to myself, “Maybe I'm not cut out for this. How stupid of me to do that when I didn't know what I was doing?” But when I sat down with a lawyer and discovered that they just wanted me to change my domain name, obviously I felt a little better after that, but I still doubted myself. I said, “Wow this is crazy, like, I don't even know what I'm doing and I might get into more trouble later and who's that going to affect?” Right?
I started thinking about those things, but then I started thinking about, and this was thanks to a lot of people who I was working with, mentors and people in my mastermind group, they said, “Well, Pat, like think about what would happen if you stopped doing this. Think about the people who would suffer from not being able to have the correct and best information for this exam. I mean, you know how hard it was take it was to take this exam, and now you've provided an easy solution. What would happen if that solution wasn't there?” And I knew I had a responsibility to do whatever it took to make that happen, make other people's lives better in that way, and that was my way of doing that at the time, and now I'm doing it in several other ways with AskPat and the podcasts at Smart Passive Income, and my blog over there and other sites that I'm creating as well.
So those are some things that have helped with that transition, and one of the best things, and something I love to say, is when I was working in architecture and working for somebody else, I worked so hard. I worked really hard, really hard, like 80 hours a week when I didn't have to, taking classes, going above and beyond. That's how I got promoted so fast and how I got raises and was ready to live a comfortable life, hopefully, in that industry. I worked so hard and you think about the buildings that you walk through every day, and if I were to ask you who designed that building or who built the building or if maybe you're listening to this in the car right now or on a walk or something, and the last building that you were in. Who designed it?
Unless you were in a famous building like the Guggenheim or something, you wouldn't know, and even then you might not even know. I mean, nobody knows, but here I am working on an online business doing something that might seem a fraction as important as building an actual building that people stay in, but here I am doing that, providing information for an exam, or here I am on AskPat from my home recoding on a microphone that I bought, and I'm providing value, and people know me. Pat Flynn. I get thank you emails that say my name. I get letters in the mail, handwritten, that say my name. I get people coming up to me saying, “Pat, you've changed my life. You've affected me in a positive way. Thank you.” There was no way I was ever going to get to that point in architecture until maybe I was 60 and I had my own firm, and even then, who built the building that you were in? See what I mean?
So the transition was difficult, because, yes, I put a lot of time into that, and I don't regret spending time in architecture school and another year beyond what the normal was just to learn more and also be in in the marching band, but I don't regret that because it was all a learning experience, and I learned what that world was like, and I wouldn't be where I am today without any of that, but I also know that I can look back and see what the differences are and imagine what my life would've been if I didn't get laid off, and that makes me even more thankful for where I ended up today. So just more background story and a little bit of more insights into what's going on in my head why I love what I do, because I get to make a direct impact on people's lives and be recognized for it. Something I wanted to do in architecture, but it's so much easier to do online.
Now before I finish up, I do want to bring back something that I forgot to mention earlier when I was talking about some of the hardships, and something that I know a lot of people struggle with, and even I still struggle with every once in a while, although I've found solutions for this problem, that is blurring the lines between work life and personal life. You know when you work a 9-to-5 job, you know when you're at your workplace, or it's 9-to-5, you are in work mode, and then when you come home you can just leave work behind. You're not even thinking about it. You're glad you're home, right? And then you're just focused on personal life and family and things like that. You're not crossing those boundaries.
But when I started working for myself, those boundaries, those lines were extremely blurred to a point where I would get into nice little heated conversations with my wife, because she couldn't tell if I was actually working on my computer or doing personal stuff, and I didn't know internally whether I was working or not. Sometimes I'd be talking to my wife, and then in the back of my head I'd be thinking about that email I had to do or that sales page I wanted to create or that new product I wanted to create. Totally unfair to the people around me. Totally unfair to me. Totally unfair to my wife. Then there were times when I'm working in my business and I'm thinking about personal things. It's just unfair to my business too, and you need to be focused, you need to be 100 percent where you need to be, whether it's personal or work, and that's something I learned the hard way up front.
And I do have, just quickly, a couple strategies to help solve that problem. One is actually even though I don't have a 9-to-5 job per se, I still have a schedule. I have a schedule. There are hours of the day where I try to work, and it's flexible. It's a flexible schedule which is nice, and that's the freedom that comes with passive income and things like that, but it's a flexible schedule. So I know when I'm at work, when those times of the day happen, I'm in work mode, and I can just focus on that. Everybody around me, my family, knows I'm in work mode and I'm not interrupted unless it's an emergency. It just helps me stay focused on work when I need to stay focused on work. On the other hand, when it's not work time, it's play time or dinner time or go out with the family time, and I know that, and I know internally not to think about business, and it took a little bit of practice and it was hard, but it just took time and understanding.
Another strategy is I actually have a physical space to do work, and when I'm in that physical space, I am in the right mindset, and I'm focused on work. When I'm not in that space, I close the doors and I'm back in personal life again. I do what I can to make my office feel like a totally different part of the house, and for a while I didn't have an office and that's what made it really hard, but having an office is really changed the game for me a far as separating those boundaries.
So, Ben, I hope that enlightens you a little bit about what that transition was like for me, and some of the struggles and hardships I faced, and perhaps some of the solutions that go along with that. So, Ben, thank you so much for your question. An AskPat t-shirt will be sent your way. And if you have a question that you'd like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to AskPat.com. There's a widget right there you can just use the mike on your phone or computer to ask a question, and it might get featured here on the show, and that'd be awesome. I can't wait to hear from you.
And of course I want to mention my book one more time, Let Go. Just go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/let-go. You could check it out there.
And, lastly, I want to leave you with a quote, and this is a quote from me that is actually from this book and that is, “The best and worst things in life are usually the things that happen unplanned, and you just have to realize that, because when bad things happen, you know, you have to learn from them and vow not to repeat the behaviors that allowed them to happen. When good things come along, take advantage of them, and learn how to stimulate more good things like them to happen. That's called creating your own luck, which is a far better option than trying to control the uncontrollable.”
Thank you so much. Take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
My book on how I overcame a personal setback to build a life and career focused on helping others.