A $1000 wake-up call



So just last night I blew a thousand bucks just for an hour of somebody’s time. Only one hour, to talk to some dude over Skype.

It does sound crazy eh? Especially when it’s read like that, like, “Whoa… $1000 for only an hour? I could get [insert whatever] with that money.”

But it had to be done. And I’m pretty proud of spending that money. I don’t normally pay so much for anything, unless it’s something long-term and tangible, like a souped up computer or a trip to somewhere faraway.

This call was a grand wake-up call. I approached it as a business call, in which I intended to consult the writer on what new methods I could try to take my blog to the next level.

Instead, the entire hour was a philosophical one.

We went deep and targeted my foundations as a writer and the way I approached my writing.

Alas, to put it dramatically, I’ve been somewhat of a fake.

Truly, you get what you pay for, provided of course, you do your own damn research first.

This is my receipt:

A forced, look in the mirror

I went in the call with this burning question in mind, “Hey man. I really feel like I’m caught in the middle in this blogging thing. I love to write about personal development, but yet I’m not fully being myself because I’m in a dilemma. On the one hand, I hate that part of the self-help world where there’s a bunch of annoying ‘life coaches’ promoting their pretentious crap. I think I’m way cooler than that. I’m young, hip, a Bboy, good looking and have awesome messages. Yet, I don’t want to be too cool to the point of being frivolous, like the supposed YouTube millionaires today. These video guys start off with something viral, which are indeed funny or even useful inside, but after the fame got to them, they’re pushing out lame ‘day in the life of me!’ videos.

Is there then, a space for a cool Bboy-writer who wants to write about serious stuff?”

I thought he’d give me a straight answer. I honestly thought he’d just say yes and then give me strategies on how to develop that persona.

But I got way more than that.

His first reply was like, “Look, I’m skimming through your homepage, and all I’m seeing are articles that are the same as what those life coaches are churning out. You’re producing the same shit as them.”

Whoa. Indeed. In the endeavor of wanting to gain more traffic, subscribers and make money online, I “sold out” and started writing according to what is expected of me, and not what I really want.

“You need to be specific. You need to look into yourself and provide a piece of humanity in your writing. You need to start being real and honest.”

I honestly always thought my writing has been pretty real and honest as it is. But apparently, it hasn’t been enough. And I’ve been deluding myself.

I’ve no idea how many times I held back on little details because I didn’t want to offend somebody who might catch on and realize that I was talking about them. The fear was always in me, especially when I shared my articles on Facebook. I was always worried I’d received hateful comments or be laughed at.

“You need to look in the mirror and be proud of that person, somebody who’s creating art exactly the way he wants. Ask yourself how you can write stuff only Alden Tan can.”

I felt like a joke of a writer. I didn’t even dare to share my own shit. I didn’t dare to share my life with others.

There’re no more shortcuts

You know, I like to think that I’ve been pretty diligent in my work such that I always focused on the long-term and that I wasn’t the chicken shit who sought shortcuts, golden tickets or one-click solutions.

But on some level, I was still hoping to learn some tricks, tactics, life-changing tips and stuff on that call.

That was the folly of mine and I’m willing to bet, all of you suffer from the same flaw too.

We all seek shortcuts and quick answers all the time. We don’t want to get down and dirty with the real challenges, all of which require working hard in the long run and of course, not giving up.

“That is why most people don’t last long.”

He then told me this is a long-term deal. I have to develop a brand that stands for something. I have to write shit so that even after five years, people would still want to read it. I’ve to tighten my niche and find my 1,000 true fans. I’ve to see it through even though the results come in bit by bit only. It won’t be significant, nothing worth celebrating in the short run.

I then showed him a blog I liked. Another blogger who claims to be making five figures from selling $10 ebooks.

“So they say. You need to know that a lot of these guys are liars.”

The $1,000 pinch

A thousand bucks is a lot to me. I can do a lot of with it. I’m feeling the pinch and I’m glad for it.

The pinch is good. Way too many of us want everything free of charge today.

But there has always been a problem with free and that is we don’t realize the real value of it because we didn’t pay anything for it.

There is so much good, free shit out there that we chuck aside all the time.

I bet if, some way or another the government or universe starts charging for things like inspiration, a walk in the park, viewing a billboard advertisement or a chance to talk to that hot girl at the bar, all of us would be pissed off, on the outside. But we’d learn the most and we’d remember it forever, though most of us probably won’t admit it.

So, lesson time: Feel the damn pinch already.

Only losers want it easy. Only lazy, spoiled brats want shit served to them. Only cheapskates and misers hoard in their little hole.

Money is indeed important. We might as well invest it in ourselves. It’s about time we do.

“Be thankful for the struggle”

I can’t really explain it, but when he said this, it really got to me.

I guess that when it comes to working hard, not giving up and all that jazz, I’ve been made pretty disillusioned by all the cliches.

We hear it so often. Successful people are always saying shit like, “You need to work hard”, “Don’t give up man”, “Feeling uncomfortable? GOOD. [Insert lecture on getting out of comfort zone]” and other ra ra bullshit.

Count yourself lucky if you won’t fed the worst cliche of all, “Oh you aren’t making the money you were expecting? Well dude, I told you that it’d be hard. You need to work hard and put in the effort. I guess you aren’t trying hard enough.”

I actually found it both enlightening and encouraging to hear that I can be thankful for my struggles. It’s like finally, there’s a true sign out there that shows you’re headed in the right direction.

And it’s nice to know that, according to him, I’m asking the right questions.

If you’ve read to the end of this post, congratulations. The mysterious man over the phone is Ryan Holiday. Just click on the link if you want to know more about him and why he’s the real deal.

Do yourself a favor today and find your own real deals. There’re people waiting out there who actually want to help.

But it all falls back on you to how much you’re willing to invest in yourself in the first place.

Find that spot and give it a little pinch. It’s only a little pinch, so man up, feel the pain and go for it.

Get what you want by being the quiet killer, that means to say, you don’t need to always seek validation when it comes to doing something huge and uncomfortable. You also ought to quiet your mind and ignore everybody else.

I just know a lot of friends are going to comment on this post and tell me shit like, “Whoa $1,000 for an hour? That’s crazy. You could have bought a PS4” or “You should have given me the money instead and I’d have shown you a good time too.”


Look in the mirror and look at your life receipt. Is it not time to invest in yourself?

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  1. Marc Mawhinney - August 7, 2014 6:47 pm

    Loved the post Alden, kudos to you for being so upfront and candid! I’ve read a few of Ryan’s books and really enjoyed them (in fact, I’ve placed his “The Obstacle is The Way” in my top 5 list of books that every entrepreneur must read). Best of luck with the journey!

    • alden - August 8, 2014 9:56 am

      Oh yeah that’s a great book man. I got it from my local library and finished it in a few days. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Jason Fonceca - August 8, 2014 1:37 pm

    I like Ryan Holiday (Trust Me, I’m Lying), and I’m glad he helped you, man 🙂 Keep ryzing 🙂

  3. Gerry - August 12, 2014 2:36 pm

    Yes, Ryan Holiday is great! Read the book, Trust Me, I’m Lying if you have not already.
    Alden, Thanks for this! Rest assured, your work is good and getting better! Love the
    no-nonsense approach you have. Looking forward to more!

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  5. Samuel Chai - January 16, 2015 1:04 pm

    You could argue “dude its Ryan Holiday.” $1000 is an understatement when you’re getting timeless advice from a man like that. Stick with your no-holds barred approach through to the very end cause we hardly get any of that in the self-improvement/mental masturbation industry. Loving your shit dude.

    • alden - January 22, 2015 3:09 pm

      Thanks dude.

      Indeed. I probably earned back what I already paid.

  6. Kala - August 20, 2015 6:27 am

    Yes! Finally someone writes about free youtube

  7. Ethan Bridges - October 27, 2015 1:46 pm

    Hey Alden,

    I just found this post and I think I find it really … bold and genuine. (Actually found this through your F**k Your Dreams post–hah–I NEEDED to read that post.)

    I gotta say you’re one of the few people (I follow) who talks about this great dude, Ryan Holiday–thanks for introducing him.

    Thanks for always, always keeping it real, man.

  8. Pingback: Lessons from Doing what you love. | TweetInc

  9. Brian Robben - November 28, 2016 1:20 am

    Loved reading this post dude! I can relate. Back when I was a pre-law student, I paid an Ivy League admissions expert $350 an hour for phone calls. I went into each call looking for specific tactics, but the best lessons were when he spoke honest truth into my life and habits… I didn’t end up going to law school, but I learned the power of investing in myself. And that’s paid me back 10x as an author and entrepreneur.


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