This site isn’t for everyone.
When I launched it 7 years ago, I was a student at Stanford. I wrote it for my friends and me, many of whom went to colleges like Stanford, Harvard, etc. As the site grew, the people I wrote for didn’t necessarily have to go to those colleges, but they were educated, likely to make above-average incomes, and not interested in saving pennies.
In fact, I refused to do short blog posts or video clips because I didn’t want stupid people on my site. Life is too short to spend all day fending off attacks from ignorant people who are “outraged” by someone spending a few hundred dollars a month eating out.
Is that condescending? Cocky? Maybe. But that decision — to write for smart people and not pander to them — set the tone for the quality of readers even years later.
I’m proud to say that even today, I would be proud to have any of my very smart friends read my site and know that my material would not only apply to them — it would challenge them. Compare this to sites that write articles like “5 tips to save on your holiday sweaters,” also known as people you and I would not want to hang around with.
That’s why I laugh when I occasionally get an email from a high-powered corporate attorney or investment banker, wondering if my material would apply to them. (It’s a legitimate question, since they are relatively rare and therefore virtually zero self-development material is written for them.)
I usually tell them that, yes, I have highly successful people earning multiple 6-figure incomes who have still benefited from my material.
Today, I’d like to share the story of a research pediatric cardiologist who used my Earn1K course to make a career change.
I’m not afraid to tell you that I expect more from you. I don’t simply want to show you 50 new “tips” and “hacks” to let them wash over you and make you feel good. I expect you to make significantly more. I expect you to live a richer life by hanging out with friends and family more. And I expect you to demand more of yourself.
Today’s story is a good example that by focusing on top-performing people — including a cardiologist who earns 6 figures — you know that you can use the very same techniques for your career.
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How many of you have heard people say things like, “If you want a safe job, work for the government”?
Or: “Corporations are evil, soul-sucking places for sell-outs.”
Or: “Online courses are a scam. If you want to learn something, you need to go to school.”
Part of the reason these beliefs are so dangerous isn’t just because they’re wrong. Maybe they are, maybe not.
It’s because most people don’t even think about testing them.
We hear something a few times and just assume it’s true without digging around to find out for sure. Hence people who genuinely believe that paying for material, like my Earn1K course, is scammy because they “could always find the same info for free online.” (Yes, but will they?)
And when we do test them, people around us get scared and tell us how wrong we are. Most people would rather be consistent than happy or right.
Today, a story about one of my students, Fraz, who tested his assumptions. He was a well-paid university researcher frustrated by a system that seemed to hinder all of the goals it claimed to support.
Was academia really the best place to work?
Was he selling out by going to the private sector?
Could he even make the jump?
Read on to find out how Fraz did it.
“You’ve gone to the dark side.”
That’s what Fraz’s friends and coworkers in academia said when Fraz told them he was leaving his research position as pediatric cardiologist at a major university for a private sector job at a pharmaceutical company. He had sold out.
Fraz shrugged it off. He knew the truth. The private sector was the best place for him to continue his work of facilitating research.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions out there,” Fraz noted. “People on the academic side think the streets in the private sector are paved with gold and that everyone is rolling in money. That’s not true. I’m making about the same now as I was at the university. Six figures.”
“Research is heavily funded and controlled by the federal government,” Fraz explained. “That means when the government is under pressure to cut costs, it impacts our work.”
Fraz noted the common belief that business is selfish and secretive while academia is generous and open. That seemed false, too.
“In pharmaceuticals, everything has to be done in a team. The work is very complicated and takes a lot of people. That’s versus academics where you’re in it for yourself. There’s not a lot of support. Grants are a zero-sum game. We’re not all in it together.”
Fraz challenged one other assumption: that you can’t hustle your way into a great new career.
2011: The Year of the Hustle
“I’m definitely not entrepreneurial, but I do read a few personal finance blogs. That’s how I found I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It’s refreshing because you don’t pull any punches.”
One of those examples was my 30 days of all-new material about creating disproportionate results by hustling. Fraz tackled the challenge head-on. Instead of just thinking about informational interviewing, he started making calls to friends and acquaintances in the private sector.
The first few calls didn’t go anywhere, but it quickly turned around. Fraz shattered many of his misconceptions about the private sector and discovered there were many opportunities available if you just knew how to look.
When he heard about Earn1K, he was convinced it could help him make the switch to the private sector.
“Anytime you spend big bucks, you have to think twice. But based on the stuff you’d done already — the blog, the emails — the likelihood of Earn1K being a dud was pretty low. Your free stuff is good quality, so there’s got to be great stuff on the back end.”
Fraz signed up.
“Hearing real stories about real people is so valuable.”
“My goal with Earn1K was to really focus on how to interview. How to present myself to a potential employer in a way that looks good to them.”
Fraz loaded up his iPod with over 30 downloadable case studies from the course and listened to them on his daily commute.
“Hearing the stories of real people is way more compelling than just reading about a list of techniques. People don’t understand that. What counts are the stories that illustrate the points, make it actionable. That show how to approach the process. That was my favorite part of Earn1K. All the stories of entrepreneurs and negotiations and what lessons they learned from them.”
Fraz particularly liked hearing about mistakes people made. “You hear about successful people and don’t think they make mistakes, but they do. And I’m going to make mistakes. I love hearing about how you spent an afternoon watching reality TV and blew your whole day. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be a superhero to make it.”
Putting Earn1K into action
To begin, Fraz expanded his informational interviewing. To make the switch to the private sector, he needed to really get into the heads of people on that side.
“I called up people I knew. Friends of friends. I said, ‘Look, what I want to know is where you are, what you do, and how you’re doing it.’ And one of them actually mentioned a position I might be a good candidate for.”
Fraz knew from Earn1K that you can’t just walk into a client meeting or an interview and wing it, but it took a couple failed interviews for the lesson to sink in. When another opportunity arose, Fraz vowed to be prepared this time.
He reviewed a 35-minute Earn1K video on how to identify the benefits your clients really want. He tapped his growing network and found someone who had been a close confidante of the hiring manager. From that contact he learned about the hiring manager’s personality, history and pet projects. Fraz also talked to people inside the company to uncover their real needs.
Then he set up several mock interviews with contacts from other companies. “Going through the mock interview process is important. You can think about it sitting on your sofa, but there’s a big difference in actually moving your lips and doing it.”
Altogether, Fraz spent one to two hours a day over a couple months preparing for the interview. All this on top of his normal workload as a pediatric cardiologist researcher. “I didn’t realize how much work has to go into the preparation process. But it was totally worth it.”
The final result?
The hiring manager, a relatively senior vice president, was so fascinated by everything Fraz had to say that he was taking notes during the interview.
Fraz laughed. “How often does that happen?”
He got the job.
Earn1K is not just for entrepreneurs.
As Fraz settles into his new career helping a pharmaceutical company collaborate and streamline its processes, he’s still challenging his assumptions.
“I just had a meeting with marketing. We were talking about the motivations of our patients. Before I would have thought the marketers were coming from outer space, but now I could appreciate it and participate.”
He also still digs into Earn1K for guidance.
“I’m not entrepreneurial by nature. The industry I’m in and came from is not entrepreneurial. Nonetheless, I still found a lot of value in Earn1K. The stuff you talk about is valuable to a lot more people than just twenty-somethings in Silicon Valley.”
Get an excerpt of my Earn1K lesson on customer research
Fraz dominated not by simply diving into the new career search, but by methodically RESEARCHING (so he would impress his interviewers.) This lesson applies to us all – identifying what really matters to your clients & customers is often makes the difference between success and failure.
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