“There are very few people today who just have a 40-hour a week job and that's their only source of income. I mean, we're approaching like 60-70% of people who have traditional jobs who do have a side hustle. They have something they're experimenting with on the side, and I very, very much encourage that, and I've got a process that whereby I say, "If you use 15 hours a week in your side hustle, you can be very successful." And really what I lay out is a plan whereby I expect somebody to be able to replicate their ordinary salary within six months if they really have an idea that's viable and move in that direction.”
“Now, here's what happens. People say, "Well, I want to start a side hustle." And so, they start reading books, they list the podcasts, they go to conferences, and six months later they have their head full of knowledge, but they've never generated a penny. See, that's not where I want people. I want people to have something where you're generating money right away. So, there must be a split, a division in how you're using your time, so it's not just more and more learning. You can't keep doing that. You also have to be creating something.”
Lots of people have dreams of being their own boss — but feel terrified of giving up the security of a paycheck. It makes sense. You’re a professional. You’ve done what you’ve “supposed” to do - got a degree or two, landed a job, which turned into a career, built a life – maybe not where you thought you’d be, but you’re by all counts, you’re “successful.” Now what? If you’ve reached a certain age or stage, but secretly you're starting to get tired of the grind and would love to start something new, this episode is for you. Dan Miller and his team at 48 Days specialize in helping professionals redirect careers, evaluate new income sources, and achieve balanced living for increased personal and business success.
On this episode of The Matt Feret Show, we’ll talk about how successful people with good incomes and fancy job titles can actually find themselves trapped, unwilling to embrace a desired change. And what you can do to go about fixing that.
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, Podcast Addict, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Alexa Flash Briefing, iHeart, Acast or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.
Brought to you by Prepare for Medicare – The Insider’s Guide book series. Sign up for the Prepare for Medicare Newsletter, an exclusive subscription-only newsletter that delivers the inside scoop to help you stay up-to-date with your Medicare insurance coverage, highlight Medicare news you can use, and reminders for important dates throughout the year. When you sign up, you’ll immediately gain access to seven FREE Medicare checklists.
“I talk to 27-year-olds who think "I majored in the wrong thing in college" or "I am in my third year in law school, and I realize I don't want to go in that direction" and they imply, "Gee, I made a mistake there, so now I'm just going to have to kind of coast into the grave." And I think, "Oh my gosh, you aren't old enough to even ask the right questions yet." Value your life experience. If you take a fresh look at it at 45, 55, 75, that's fine. It's exciting to see what's going to be coming next, what are the next three years going to unfold, so never too late to have a new beginning.”
- Dan Miller
“I had doctors, attorneys, dentists, accountants, pastors, engineers coming and I'm like, "What are you guys doing here?" They're like, "Well, things are going okay. Everybody sees me as doing okay and I am, but I think I live in somebody else's dream. I'm not sure this is really it for me." That's the space that I moved into, and I've spent 30 years there helping those people who by all outward appearances are doing great, but they're saying, "You know what? I think there's something else. I think there's the dream I had back when I was a kid that I haven't really acted on. I got caught up in doing what was practical and responsible, and here I am, but I'd like to see a new chapter in my life."
- Dan Miller
Links, Websites and Mentions:
00:00 The Matt Feret Show Introduction.
02:00 Dan Miller introduction.
03:43 Career transitions in middle age.
06:43 The Millionaire Next Door vs. reality.
10:11 Golden handcuffs vs. entrepreneurship.
12:18 How professionals can think about side hustles.
17:23 Values, dreams, and passions - recurring themes when you were in the “zone.”
20:45 My AC kicks on and interrupts the podcast (Ha!).
23:48 K-12 Education prepares us for… what, exactly?
33:37 Layoffs might be the perfect time to jump into entrepreneurship.
38:28 The illusion of job security.
42:13 Dan’s a fan of side hustles.
46:19 How to find Dan and his team on the internet.
50:37 The Matt Feret Show wrap.
00:00:00 / 00:50:37
Hello, everyone. This is Matt Feret, author of Prepare for Medicare and Prepare for Social Security: Insiders Guidebooks, and online course training series. Welcome to another episode of The Matt Feret Show where I interview insiders and experts to help light a path to successful living in midlife, retirement and beyond.
If you enjoy the show, I'd love your support. Please follow, like and subscribe wherever you are. Leaving honest reviews and five-star ratings really helps the show thrive and helps others discover it. Thanks!
I'd also love to invite you to sign up for my newsletter. I send two a month, full of news you can use and you can sign up on any of my three websites, prepareformedicare.com, prepareforsocialsecurity.com and themattferetshow.com.
Speaking of newsletters, Dan Miller has one and he's got over 130,000 subscribers. Dan runs the very large 48 days Eagles community, which is an offshoot of his New York Times bestselling book, 48 Days to the Work and Life You Love. He's also been a guest on CBS, MSNBC and The Dave Ramsey Show.
Lots of people have dreams of being their own boss but feel terrified of giving up the security of a paycheck. It makes sense. You're a professional. You've done what you're supposed to do. You got a degree or two, landed a job which turned into a career. You built a life, maybe not where you thought you'd be by this point, but by all counts, you're successful. Now, what? If you've reached a certain age or stage, but secretly you're starting to get tired of the grind and would love to start something new, this episode is for you. Dan and his team specialize in helping professionals redirect careers, evaluate new income sources, and achieve balanced living for increased personal and business success. On this episode of The Matt Feret Show, we'll talk about how successful people with good incomes and fancy job titles can actually find themselves trapped, unwilling to embrace a desired change and what you can do to go about fixing that. Enjoy!
Dan, welcome to the show.
Dan Miller (02:15):
Hey, thanks so much, Matt. Delighted to be here.
Matt Feret (02:18):
So, tell everybody what you do, how long you've been doing it, and how you help people.
Dan Miller (02:24):
What I do is help people, typical people in their early 50s who are going through some changes and trying to figure out, is this really what I was meant to do? Quite a few years ago, I was in my mid-40s, started teaching a Sunday school class, the large church we were going to in Nashville, Tennessee on career life transitions, these inevitable changes that we go through, and I expected to have the 18-year-old who's trying to figure out what to major in college or maybe the 24-year-old who's already out of college and doesn't have the Mercedes in a driveway and a white picket fence they were led to believe was going to be there. I had a few of those, but what surprised me, Matt, was that I had doctors, attorneys, dentists, accountants, pastors, engineers coming and I'm like, "What are you guys doing here?"
They're like, "Well, things are going okay. Everybody sees me as doing okay and I am, but I think I live in somebody else's dream. I'm not sure this is really it for me." That's the space that I moved into, and I've spent 30 years there helping those people who by all outward appearances are doing great, but they're saying, "You know what? I think there's something else. I think there's the dream I had back when I was a kid that I haven't really acted on. I got caught up in doing what was practical and responsible, and here I am, but I'd like to see a new chapter in my life."
Matt Feret (03:43):
Yeah, you just rattled off a bunch of professions that people aspire to and work really hard to get degrees for, certifications for. Those are the, if you want a good life, you should be a fill in the blank, and you're right. People go, "Wait, lawyer, doctor, engineer. These are high level, tough professions, have to be very smart and work extremely hard to get them there." In the time you've spent with those types of professions, what have you found? You said the mid-40s and the early 50s, but what spurs it? Is it children leaving the home? Is it a layoff? Is it just a existential crisis? Is it what they say the 40-year-old, the midlife crisis? What spurs those types of feelings and thoughts?
Dan Miller (04:32):
Well, those are all kind of elusive ways to describe exactly what happens, Matt. But sometimes it's that, "Okay, my kids are self-sufficient at this point. They're not as dependent on me. I've got a little more freedom to think and dream, not as strapped by having just to do what's responsible. I think it's time that I could explore or spread my wings a little bit." Now, here's what happens. The reality is, I'm going to generalize grossly here, bear with me.
Matt Feret (05:01):
Dan Miller (05:03):
But in the book, The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley, a wonderful book, in his work with millionaires, he discovered the average millionaire in America had a GPA of 2.7. Now, what that implies is that if you come to Nashville and go to Vanderbilt and you get a 4.0, you're going to get invitations to go to law school, to medical school, pharmacology, divinity school, whatever, all those. You're a kid with a 2.7, you don't get those invitations and you may find something that's way more authentic to you where you can just absolutely knock it out of the park. That being said, a lot of those people who have those fancy acronyms behind their name, a PhD, a JD, an MD and so on, simply got there because they had the academic ability to keep going, so it allowed them to procrastinate having to make a real life decision because it's certainly socially acceptable to just keep going to school.
Who's going to fault you to that? Wow, you get to go to law school? Cool. So you got another three, four years to hang out in that environment, and a lot of people discovered it wasn't really an authentic fit. It was just a socially acceptable path to go on where they had proven their ability to do that, and they end up in something where they have the ability but not necessarily a real blend of their passion. That leaves that gap. "Wow, I know I can do this, but I'm not really passionate about it."
Matt Feret (06:36):
We're talking about those types of degrees first, and I do want to get to the whole ... By the way, the 2.7 thing, when I read that back in the late '90s, it made me very happy that I [inaudible 00:06:48].
Dan Miller (06:47):
Congratulations. You get a chance.
Matt Feret (06:51):
I guess that's the shame you feel being raised by two PhD parents is the [inaudible 00:06:57] and undergrad was not celebrated in my house, but that's why-
Dan Miller (07:02):
Matt Feret (07:03):
Mr. Stanley was very helpful to me in helping me getting over that in the '90s. Any which way, you were talking about professions that have, let's be honest, they have money attached to them. And if they've done a decent job in those professions, they should have some significant funds squirreled away in their 40s and 50s and give them that freedom to do that exploring. What about the professions and the people who don't have that situation or those degrees, do you find there's a different approach or a different, I guess, fear for folks who are just doing great, doing fine, got some money in their 401(k), but don't have maybe some funds in the bank that says, "Hey, I've got whatever, 50, 70 grand here saved for me to take a leap of faith, so to speak, and make a career pivot at that age." What about those folks?
Dan Miller (07:59):
In some ways, it actually has a reverse impact, and here's why. The dentist who's making $400,000 a year doesn't have the flex room that the dude who's making 70,000 does. At 70,000, you can risk going in a lot of directions because that's pretty easy to replicate. But somebody's used to making 350, $400,000 a year, they really feel like ... for the most part like Thomas Stanley talked about, they have a lifestyle that goes along with that, so they already do have the Lexus and they do have the house and kids in private school. They're expecting to go to nice colleges and all that, so they have the push, the impetus to maintain that. Thus, their options in some ways are much more limited.
If I start talking to a doctor who says, "I don't want to do this anymore. They just had a third malpractice lawsuit. This is not what I signed up for." And I talked to him about having a hot dog stand down on Second Avenue where you could perhaps replicate your income, they freak out at thinking about something that unique, that novel, that different, whereas somebody who has not been used to that high income, they say, "Yeah, well, sure. My gosh." There's a lot of money to be made in vending in simple businesses like that, and they're more open to that than somebody who has the high income and feels trapped by virtue of that and feels trapped also by the status of what they're doing that wow.
I worked with a physician one time, young physician who really had been just pushed along by parents, but he was a fine surgeon. He ended up driving literally a potato chip truck. Sounds like a cliche or the setup for a joke, but he literally ended up driving a potato chip truck during the week. He would still work ... what I had him to do and encourage him, he would work in the ER, emergency room on the weekends. He could still generate significant income by doing that, but it wasn't his passion and he moved to something that he thoroughly enjoyed.
Matt Feret (10:11):
Kind of the golden handcuffs, if you will.
Dan Miller (10:15):
Matt Feret (10:18):
That makes sense, and so it's all about ... Well, not all about, but somewhat about expectations and current lifestyle then that, yeah, I can see that where somebody who's making 80, which is doing great, might be able to take a bigger leap of faith in someone who says in their brains, "Wow, I have worked so hard and I've climbed so high and so far, why am I giving all this up?" Again, that's a lot of cognitive dissonance I'm sure at those upper income levels.
Dan Miller (10:47):
It is, but if we go back and look at the distinctions between vocation, career and job, it helps to frame that. Vocation is the big picture. What do you want to do to be remembered? What kind of a legacy you want on? It could be to help reduce pain and suffering in the world as an example. Well, then if we look at career as a subset of that, what could you do as a career to help reduce pain and suffering in the world? You could be a physician, you could be a biochemist. You could also be a sports trainer, massage therapist, or a pastor or teacher. We really could frame them under that, so there's not just one application of what we have as a mission, a purpose or calling. But taking that then further, job is just simply what we do daily to create income, but job is the smallest kind of component.
So we can have somebody who changes what they do as a daily job dramatically without changing really their vocation, and usually in making these changes that I talk about, we don't just throw everything out, throw the baby out with the bath. Usually the next move still embraces that academic background in some unique way. If somebody's an attorney, well, you can't take that away. It'll impact and give them a unique approach to whatever they do next. So we can look at those kind of moves that are not necessarily, just forget everything you're doing, we're going to start over. No, but what can we do to accentuate what it is? Here's an example, Matt.
Matt Feret (12:12):
Yeah, I was going to say, walk me through something, because I'm picking up what you're laying down, but give me an example.
Dan Miller (12:18):
So I worked with the dentist. He was 47 years old. His dad had been a doctor and he thought, "I don't want to be a doctor, but I want to do something where I get a lot of respect. I can wear nice clothes, make decent income, and be in a business for myself." That was it. It wasn't a track, and so he ended up being a dentist. He hated it. Three times he left. The last time he left, prior to seeing me, he had gotten a transmission franchise. Now, this guy didn't know how to release a hood in a car, but he got a transmission franchise just as a way to get out. Ended up filing bankruptcy. So he went back again to dentistry one more time.
As I started to work with them. What drew you to this? What was the things I mentioned? It had nothing to do with the clinical practice of dentistry. I said, "Okay, what do dentists need? What is it that in your environment you see they need?" I said, "How many dentists are there to start with?" "Well, there's 600,000 dentists in the United States," he says. So there's a lot of them. What is it that they need that they struggle with? He said, "Well, they're clinicians, but they don't do some of the business things well. If they need a new rotary drill, they don't know how to go get that, get a good deal on that." I said, "What if you provided a service where those people paid $29 a month to you to be their broker to go find the best deal on whatever it is that they would need in their office?" I said, "Would those manufacturers, the vendors, the suppliers, give you discounts?" "Well, sure, they would. If they don't have to go through the individual decisions of each person, they give massive discounts."
I said, "I want you in the next 90 days to find a thousand dentists who will come on board with what we just described." They said, "Man, I can do that. I probably have 5,000 other dentists in my Rolodex." He did. 90 days, he had those thousand and more. So here's a guy who's bankrupt, doesn't have the capital to start a new business, but we've created a business out of nothing where he now has $29,000 a month as a base to be the eyes and ears to go out there. What we did was put him into a very profitable business, which is what he wanted. He wanted to be in business where he could make money now, wear nice clothes as I described, but it put him in a business that validated and built on his academic background and yet put him in a position where he would never again have to have his hands in somebody slimy mouth. That's an example of how we pivot, embrace where they came from, but find a new direction.
Matt Feret (14:52):
In that example, you didn't say go do another transmission one, that was a bad franchise. Go get a McDonald's. You said, okay, let's sit down and talk about what you're bringing to the table and how you pivot, and I don't mean pivot 180, I mean, pivot two or three degrees, right?
Dan Miller (15:10):
That's right. That's right. It'll embrace what you were doing previously. Yes.
Matt Feret (15:18):
Because you know what you're doing and you've got experience and you've got a network of people that you know. Even though you might have to think about it for a little bit, you've got them there.
Dan Miller (15:26):
That's right. Yeah.
Matt Feret (15:30):
Thank you for the example, but I'll take it back from a dentist. I mean, a bankrupt dentist in that example, but still a dentist nonetheless, right? The guy could have been like, "All right, look, I've gone broke. I'm going to go back and get hired to be a dentist and make my three, $400,000 a year." And he didn't do that, but what about the guy or the gal who's got that $80,000 a year job and they have transferable skills, but not necessarily an entrepreneurial ability? I didn't mean the way that sounded. A dentist can go hang his or her shingle out anytime they want, basically, but if someone's been working in a corporate America gig at 80 grand, they don't necessarily have that backstop of an entrepreneurial or solopreneur. So in the 80 grand example of someone working, I don't know, make it up, make an $80,000 a year in corporate America, where do you start with them and what is an example of someone like that who's talked to you and your team? Is there a different approach or is it the same?
Dan Miller (16:33):
It's really the same. The foundational principles are to take a fresh look at three things, your skills and abilities. Yeah, we need to embrace that. What is it that you do well? Now, most people do a variety of things, and in those, there's probably two or three that they do pretty well. So usually it's still that 20 80% principle where only 20% of what you've been doing are things that you would want to continue doing, so we look for that. Skills and abilities, personality tendencies. No right or wrong, good or bad. Doesn't matter if you're shy and introverted or if you're outgoing, extrovert, doesn't matter. But how do you relate to the people? What kind of environments are you most comfortable in? How do you manage? How do you persuade? How do you relate to the people? We want to know that. That's a big piece that a lot of people get moved away from even as they become more successful.
Then the third is simply what I call values, dreams, and passions. What are those recurring themes and when you felt like you were in the zone? We talk about athletes being in the zone where it just feels like, "Ah, man, everything just came together. I was at my peak performance." When was it that you have felt that? And there ought to be recurring patterns that show us there, and from those, then we get a clear focus.
So here's an example of that based on what you were just asking, Matt. So I worked with the guy who came to me. He was pastor of a small Baptist church, so he was an employee of the church. I'm like, "Okay." He was frustrated clearly, and I said, "How'd you end up here?" Well, he had had a dramatic change in his own life and he thought the most godly thing he could do would be to be a pastor. So he went to seminary, got ordained, came in as a pastor of a little church, being paid peanuts of course, which is pretty typically the case in that kind of situation. He had five small children. He was working during the week nights as a desk clerk at a hotel just to try to have enough money to keep the lights on his house.
So he wasn't making 350, 400. He was making that 50, $60,000. And I said, "Man, who sold you this bill of goods?" And he was really kind of taken back. He was like, "What do you mean? Isn't this the most honorable thing I could do?" I said, "No, you're an imposter. There's nothing about this that fits you. Somehow you get caught up in thinking this was God, but it's not. It's not an honor to anybody because you're struggling with it." So I said, "What is it that you do when you feel like you're in that zone, when you just love what you're doing?" He said, "Oh my gosh. I go into a room in our little rented house, I lock the door. I put on Beethoven, a Mozart, and I paint. I just paint." And I said, "Wow. How many of those are you selling?" "Never sold a thing."
I said, "Why is it that you're doing something that you enjoy so much like that, and you never looked at that as being a potential for provision for your family?" He became an artist. For four years, he did faux finishes where he would do ... uses brushes, sponges, rags on pretty walls, blank walls like behind you there to make a real dramatic effect. He did that. He was extremely successful doing that. That gave him immediate income, but it also gave him time to position himself as an artist. Today, he does nothing but abstract music themed art, and he's highly known in the music community. Everybody who's anybody has one of his paintings. I've got one hanging on the wall right behind me here. If I put my camera around, you could see it, and it's a $15,000 painting that he gave me just out of gratitude after we finished this process. He's a artist. His income is 10 times what it was previously.
And here's the interesting thing too. People may hear that and think, "Well, he walked away from his calling." No, he didn't. He misunderstood what his call. His biggest vehicle for ministry or service is through his artistic skill, not in trying to be something that he's not suited for.
Matt Feret (20:45):
Wow, that's a heck of a story. I don't even know ... Well, actually, Dan, hold on one second here. I've got to turn something off in my house. It's making a noise. I apologize.
Dan Miller (20:56):
Matt Feret (20:56):
But I'm going to pick up right on that. Okay? I promise. Because I want to ... Sorry about that. Okay. An AC vent up here that kicked on and I didn't mean for it to. I usually turn that off before I start. So sorry. All right. I'm going to go right back. Okay?
Dan Miller (21:18):
Matt Feret (21:19):
So in the first example of the dentist, he went to the entrepreneurial route, which we all know is ... Well, I don't know, maybe my frustrated entrepreneur in me says, "Wow, that sounds awesome." But it's also really, really scary. When you go back and read one out of 10 actually make it, all those things. And the pastor did a similar thing of going out and finding your passion and going through your three steps and then translating that in. Do you have instances where you simply recommend, "You know what? You're making 80. Your vision, your thoughts aren't either defined enough yet or you don't have necessarily what it takes to go out and be an entrepreneur. You should find another job, another W2 job." Is that a potential outcome as well?
Dan Miller (22:16):
Well, it's interesting how you frame the question. Because if I really suspect that, it's probably not somebody I'm going to work with. Now, that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities or that it is not a good fit in times, and certainly there are going to be those. However, I'm not energized in helping somebody go in that direction to just polish a resume, go do an interview, negotiate salary. That doesn't fire me up at all. I get jazzed with the kind of situations I'm describing where we have to come up with something really non-traditional, really creative to replicate the lifestyle that a person is used to or to give them freedom to really be who they are, how they're wired. So those are the ones, the people that I choose to work with. So it's not a reflection of the reality out there because there are times when what you're describing is absolutely probably the best choice. It's just that in my pre-screening, it's probably not somebody I would invest time to work with.
Matt Feret (23:18):
That makes sense. Because then, yeah, you're not a resume writer. Right?
Dan Miller (23:23):
Well, and it certainly is biased by my own life path. I have never had a job. I've never gotten a paycheck. I've never had benefits. I've never gotten a W2. I'm an old farm kid, and I just have always seen opportunities around every bush and I just follow those opportunities. So that's my frame of reference.
Matt Feret (23:48):
That's an amazing background and one that I think probably strikes fear into the hearts of people who, as we've discussed, went to high school, got a job or went to college, got a job, or went to another college and then got a job. It is so, I don't know if antithetical is a word, but it is so against much of what K through 12 education and higher education espouses and talks about. When people come to you, I'll say the word brainwashed, with that kind of linear progression, what's first, man? What do you start with? When you go like, "Look, the line you've been on is ... there's a different line and I've been on it for years." What are those mental hurdles you got to get people past?
Dan Miller (24:39):
You have dropped the seeds for a whole lot of issues in there. We have to realize our academic system was designed to turn people into industrial workers, to do things that are rote, replicable. Just stand there and do ... I mean, that is what our academic system was set up to do originally. You also mentioned the word career in there. Career is historically a relatively new term. When people grew up even a hundred years ago, you weren't concerned about a career. You just did what you saw around you that other people were doing and decided how you could fit in. You just did something there. It wasn't this elaborate process of choosing a career. You also mentioned that we have been taught to expect a linear path where you start when you're 18, then you go to school and then you get the first job at 80,000. The next one ought to be 120, the next one ought to be 200. We expect every transition to be more and bigger and more success in the way they're traditionally redefine it.
We're not in a linear world anymore. We're in a very non-linear world, meaning that somebody who has had a job for 20 years can lose it today and go from that fancy salary to nothing, and we can also have an 18-year-old kid who develops a new software process or tool that can go from zero income to be a millionaire overnight as well. It's not linear and it also want to open up the opportunity for people in their mid 50s or whatever they are to say, "You know what? I want to take a year off and just go travel." Or let's take that 28-year-old who has had the first couple jobs, so they've got their resume polished and all, and they say, "You know what? I want to go and live in Haiti for a couple years and help build schools down there. I've really been attracted to that. I've been reading about it, hearing about it. Got a friend down there, I'm going to go do that."
Well, no, no, no. Everybody would tell you, "You're going to damage your resume." Those days are over. And more and more companies are announcing they don't really need to see a resume. They want to know, what have you done the last couple of years that's interesting? And those can be very unique things that a person has done that they think provides more well-rounded education than having just sat in a classroom during that period of time.
My oldest son, he started bicycle motocross racing when he was 10 years old, became very, very good at that. Went into road racing and he went to Europe, lived in Amsterdam, raced on the Dutch national team right out of high school. And people would ask me, "Aren't you concerned about Kevin being in college?" I said, "Well, he may choose to go to college at some point, but right now, he's too busy getting an education." And I really mean that. How can you balance the idea of traveling the world, hearing people with other religious traditions, other political aspirations, other cultures, how do you balance that with sitting in a classroom and just memorizing what you hear so you can regurgitate it when the test comes?
Now, I don't want to totally dis ... I mean, I did my bachelor's, my master's, my doctoral work. I love the process in as much as it allows personal development and personal growth, but I never did any of those so I could get a piece of paper to get a job. Very different approach. If you're just going to school to get a piece of paper to get a job, you're probably going to be disappointed, because those things are so unpredictable that we're going to see changes in the next five years unlike we've ever experienced.
Matt Feret (28:35):
When you're saying the previous examples and even about your son and people would say, "Oh, aren't you worried about getting an education?" That was a great response. Couldn't help though because again, I was brought up in that same linear path and I did the same and similar things that a lot of other people did is there's fear. I felt a little fear, a little twinge of fear. I've got kids right now in college and there's a little bit of fear. Am I setting them up for the success that you're describing and the changes that you're describing in the next five years or are they just getting that piece of paper and then scrambling after it to go start somewhere somehow and make income? When people come to you at all ages and they have that, I would imagine fear is the very first emotion that comes out. Is that true?
Dan Miller (29:29):
Yes, it is. It is. Because that expectation of the degree and a linear path in our career, all those terms that go together is so embedded. It's hard to break away from that. It is terrifying if people see that as the only option. What I do when I work with somebody is I don't want a preconceived idea about where they're going to end up, but I trust the process. This process, in my book 48 Days to the Work You Love, I say that 85% of the process of having a confidence, a proper direction comes from looking inward first, not outward. We're so prone to say, "Well, gee, I've got somebody who's really doing well with FBA, selling things online with Amazon. I'm going to do that." or "I've got an uncle who works down at GM, I'm going to go get a job."
Now, be careful about just seeing these external solution. Look inward and it's going to allow you that authentic fit. Back to Thomas Stanley's book. That was true of those millionaires. Instead of just following a very predictable path, of choosing something out of the dictionary of occupational titles, people came up with really unique things. Like a guy in the profiles who is extremely wealthy, who sells junk truck parts. He just found a niche there. He buys wrecked trucks and then sells the parts individually. The guy's amazingly wealthy, walks around with bib overalls, with dirt in his hands, but he's got a life that he loves. I mean, those are the kind of things that have to be on the table, and I want people to see the full spectrum of opportunities. So today having a job is a very narrow slice of the full continuum of what work opportunities are available.
That little boy incidentally, my son, who is a bike racer, grew up. He's father of seven children at this point and lives in a beautiful house up in Aspen Grove outside of Colorado Springs. His work is he has a podcast. He releases four podcast episodes per week. In January he had 650,000 downloads podcasts, and he's confident that by the end of this year, he'll be at a million a month, a million downloads a month. What that leads to is he has advertisers who pay him exorbitant amounts of income for exposure on his podcast. He never did go to college and he's doing something that we could have never envisioned as a job or an income opportunity 10 years ago, but today it is.
When we live in that kind of a fast changing world, we have to be careful about resting on something that was valid 10 years ago. I got my degree from the Ohio State University in 1969. I had to take a computer language and I took FORTRAN, I mean it was essentially moving beads down a little string compared to what we have today. It has zero value today. It was part of my past, but I can't rest on that in terms of how it's going to give me opportunities today.
Matt Feret (32:45):
Yeah, great example. By the way, what's your son's podcast name? I'll put it in the show notes.
Dan Miller (32:50):
It's Self Helpful with Kevin Miller. That's it.
Matt Feret (32:57):
Nice. I'll put it in the show notes and the podcast notes. Thank you. So here's a slight take on the question. I get emails all the time about Medicare, right? I'm somewhat of a Medicare guy and I get emails from all over the country from people who read my book or found my websites. And in the last 12 months there's been a lot of people going, "I just got let go from the IT industry." People in the healthcare industry are getting let go. And by let go that's a nice way of saying fired. Downsized, right? Their jobs eliminated, whatever. They're losing their jobs. They're getting fired. They're not making it, and it's a scramble.
Is there a different approach or what's your recommendation for people who in one version they're employed, they're unhappy or they seek some other type of fulfillment and they have 48 days to go through the process to note your book title, and I have to imagine it would be different if tomorrow somebody got an announcement, "Guess what? You've got two weeks and six months severance. See you." What's your recommendation for people who get blasted with that type of notification and may not think they have time or just may have their brain scrambled as what they thought they were doing the day prior is no longer what they're doing two weeks from now?
Dan Miller (34:22):
Well, for one thing, I would encourage those people before that happens to see themselves as self-employed at some level. Really understand what are your most marketable skills. Now, in reality, people are interviewing for their job every day. Interview doesn't happen just once and then you don't have to worry about it anymore. The company is constantly evaluating. Is it a fair balance in terms of how we're compensated you and what value you're bringing to the company? And that's going to translate into economic value for the most part. So that's an ongoing process, meaning at any given time, somebody ought to be able to describe clearly what are your most marketable skills, not just for this company, but how they would apply for 20 other companies out there as well. So I encourage people to see their current employer as their biggest customer, so to speak, but always be recognizing you may have the opportunity given as you described to reposition yourself and that may look different.
I mean, if you're an IT, you may discover that getting a cushy job with a big salary and benefits is really, really hard to figure out these days, and a lot of companies aren't interested in offering that. But if you say, "These are my skills, what I have would be a good fit for you, if I spent 20 hours a month doing those." And you find five companies where you're doing that, thereby reducing the hours you put in, and you could effectively in doing that, double your income, but it's a new model. So it's kind of that in-between. You don't have to be a true entrepreneur.
You could take being a bookkeeper as a simple example. You're a bookkeeper, so you work 40 hours a week. Probably the company is having to create things for you to do part of the time just to justify having you on as a full-time employee. But if you really did what they need and spent 10 hours a week for them, you may be able to accomplish exactly what they need. They could pay you less, but per hour you're getting a whole lot more. Again, you replicate that, get five other clients, other customers to do the same thing. You're doing the same work, but you're focused on what it is you do best and everybody's happier overall. If somebody's not prepared to think about that potentiality, they're very, very vulnerable.
Matt Feret (36:50):
So if they haven't done that work, where do you start? Buy your book? Or where do you start? A lot of people are head down. I'm working 50 hours a week, making sure I'm on that hamster wheel and making sure I'm not the one that gets let go, and then surprise, they get that announcement. Do you have any advice for the people who haven't done that planning yet? I say it's an eventuality. It seems like it is these days. You get a certain age or a certain stage in your career, you're either too expensive or I'll say it, you're old.
Dan Miller (37:24):
Matt Feret (37:25):
They can hire somebody else younger and more dynamic, in air quotes, behind you and they go, "Well, you weren't planning on retiring, but here you go. Here's your two weeks and your six months severance."
Dan Miller (37:36):
You're exactly right. And my advice is no matter what your situation is, start today to do exactly what I described so you are prepared knowing that. A lot of people talk about they're in a job because it's secure. See, to me, it's exactly the reverse. If I have a job, then I can have one person decide to put me on a street this afternoon. If I've got that hot dog stand down here in a street in our town, I may have 276 people that come by and buy hot dogs on an average day. If I lose one, it's not really a big deal. I've got a lot of security in that, and I see these terms about being predictable and secure as pretty much reverse what society has led us to believe.
I have worked with a lot of people its no surprise, who thought they were secure and ended up realizing it was just the illusion of security. My goodness. I mean, how often have we heard about not only people losing jobs, but then the company says, "Oh, sorry, we thought we had a retirement fund that was invested wisely. It turns out that's not true. It was FTX or whatever, and so it's gone." We hear that as well. People had all their security hopes identified with a company they're working for, and it turned out to be very, very disappointing.
Matt Feret (39:03):
When you are working with people and they're thinking about making ... well, let's say they've done the work or it's been announced they have to do this work as uncomfortable or not as it may seem, do you have any tactical or practical advice for people either thinking about this piece or even if they say they're secure, again, in air quotes, you read on the internet, you need to have six months living expenses. No, you need to have 12. No, you need to have a certain amount in pre-tax investments and then you have to build your post-tax investment. There's so much out there. What's your practical and tactical advice for people thinking about this in terms of steps beyond the three steps you mentioned and the how do I take my current skills and my marketable skills and transition them into something new and exciting and entrepreneurial? Health insurance, six month savings, making sure your spouse is on board. What do those types of things look like?
Dan Miller (40:06):
Well, again, I'm not one to look for a lot of structure. If you really know what you do that has value, doing work that matters for people who care, if you really have something there, you have a lot of security and a lot of room to pivot and change even if external circumstances differ. So that's part of that process. Again, looking inwards so you really have a clear understanding of what that is. People who do that are not going to be concerned about paying the rent or be concerned about what their investments are doing. If you have that ongoing ability, and this is where your work is so important, because as people approach retirement, usually the idea is, "Okay, I've done all these right things for a long period of time. Now, I can take a deep breath. I don't have to do that stinking job anymore, and I hope that everything I've built around me, this little cocoon that I've got is going to carry me through until I breathe my last breath."
That's not a very appealing kind of prospect for me. I want to be vital, engaged, contributing. Being an author, my idea is that I'll write a chapter of a book in the morning and go to my funeral that afternoon. I mean, I don't have any desire to unplug, step back and not be contributing anymore. This is an exciting process. And if you have that kind of sense of what it is you're doing where it blends your passion, your talent, and also probably creates income, that's an ongoing process and it gives you an amazing amount of protection against these circumstantial changes that are bound to happen. So it's, again, being real clear in what it is you have to offer and being willing to engage with that even if circumstances change dramatically.
Matt Feret (42:13):
Over the pandemic and really even before it, there were a lot of news articles around side hustles, which is I guess a new phrase so was quiet quitting. That still describes. It's a new phrase for an old concept, but I want to talk about side hustles and testing environment. Do you recommend or have you seen it work where someone's employed, they're thinking about this idea, they've done the hard work and figured out this is where I want to go, and is there an opportunity here in, again, what you've seen and what you've preached, but also what you've seen work of starting it on the side or tiptoeing into it or testing? If somebody says, back to the earlier example, "I think I want to be in the transmission business." Is there a way to side hustle or side gig testing environment to make sure that you're looking before you leap, so to speak? Or do you recommend not doing that and going, "You know what? You need to have a very good plan and then commit?"
Dan Miller (43:20):
Well, no, what you're describing as something that I recommend a lot. I love the idea of somebody experimenting with something on the side, and that's so true. There are very few people today who just have a 40-hour a week job and that's their only source of income. I mean, we're approaching like 60 70% of people who have traditional jobs who do have a side hustle. They have something they're experimenting with on the side, and I very, very much encourage that, and I've got a process that whereby I say, "If you use 15 hours a week in your side hustle, you can be very successful." And really what I lay out is a plan whereby I expect somebody to be able to replicate their ordinary salary within six months if they really have an idea that's viable and move in that direction.
Now, here's what happens. People say, "Well, I want to start a side hustle." And so they start reading books, they list the podcasts, they go to conferences, and six months later they got their head full of knowledge, but they've never generated a penny. See, that's not where I want people. I want people to have something where you're generating money right away. So there has to be a split, a division in how you're using your time, so it's not just more and more learning. You can't keep doing that. You also have to be creating something. If it's art or writing a book or designing a course that you're going to offer or buying a lawnmower so you're going to start a lawnmower, whatever it is, you have to be creating as well. And then there has to be the earning part where you ought to be able to engage with prospective customers immediately.
As soon as you get that first dollar, you can identify, "Okay, this really is something that's going to work." Until that, it's just a hobby or an idea, a dream, a wish, but as soon as you get that first dollar, and I want to move people into that very, very quickly. And then the fourth area in there is the marketing, the business building. You have to continually be doing that in order to keep that going. But if you divide your time 15 hours in those four areas, you can have something that's very, very profitable on the side and just using 15 hours, and we all have that. We all start with 168 hours if you work, if you've got a little commute, you've got some time you want to devote to community service or church time with your family and kids, that's okay, but we still easily can come up with that 15 hours. And I've seen people go through this thousands of times where they have done exactly that, giving them the insurance that they need for having the job that may go away tomorrow. They can't control that, but they can control what they're doing over here. And if they have that in place where they're producing even 50% of their normal income, it gives them a sense of security that certainly isn't going to exist without that.
Matt Feret (46:19):
This has been fascinating. How do people find you on the internet and engage with you? And I know you've got a book and a website, but tell everybody if they're interested in learning more about you and your process or what you have to offer, can you tell everybody how to find you?
Dan Miller (46:37):
Well, sure. Thank you for that. Yeah. One of my books is 48 Days to the Work You Love, and because of the success of that book, that went very, very quickly and that now is the name of our company. So 48 days, 48days.com gives people access to a lot of resources for the things we've talked about here. We have an very active community, online community where we have those dentists and attorneys and pastors and engineers and accountants who are saying, "I know there's something else. I'm trying to figure this out." And they link arms with other people who are on the same path, so it's really exciting. That's the 48 Days Eagles, but 48 days is the door into all those resources.
Matt Feret (47:18):
Thank you so much for that. It's been a really, really great conversation, and I had a hard time separating questions for the audience from my own questions. So thanks for bringing that out of me. What questions or topics did I not cover that I should have?
Dan Miller (47:38):
Wow, we covered a lot of territory, really the kind of theoretical conceptual framework for how to look at this. There's certainly a lot of things we could talk about. What's the impact of AI going to be on replacing humans? There's a whole lot of new things that are happening right now that are extremely exciting. We just have to realize these are new tools. People were threatened when ATMs came into existence because it was going to throw thousands of bank tellers out of work. Well, that didn't happen. It had a different effect. So these changes, we don't need to be fearful. We don't need to try to legislate against them. We just need to be able to adapt to what these new tools provide. And really, if there's another thought that I kind of want to leave with people, Matt, knowing your audience especially, is that it's never too late to have a new beginning.
I talk to 27-year-olds who think "I majored in the wrong thing in college" or "I am in my third year in law school, and I realize I don't want to go in that direction" and they imply, "Gee, I made a mistake there, so now I'm just going to have to kind of coast into the grave." And I think, "Oh my gosh, you aren't old enough to even ask the right questions yet." Value your life experience. If you take a fresh look at it at 45, 55, 75, that's fine. It's exciting to see what's going to be coming next, what are the next three years going to unfold, so never too late to have a new beginning.
Matt Feret (49:02):
Dan, thank you very much.
Dan Miller (49:05):
Hey, my pleasure, Matt. Thanks for the conversation.
Matt Feret (49:08):
Dan, thank you. Dan's 48 Days podcast consistently ranks in the top three under careers on Apple Podcasts, if you want to check that out. If you like this episode, please follow, like, subscribe, and rate the show. Make sure to hit themattferetshow.com website for links to all of Dan's items, and of course, the complete show notes. Until next time, to your wealth, wisdom, and wellness, I'm Matt Feret, and thanks for tuning in.
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