17 grim lessons from three years of doing what you love

Last week I turned 29 and that made this blog three years old.

It has been a crazy journey that’s filled with a bunch of lessons, struggles and rewards at the same time.

But this isn’t going to be a typical inspire-you-with-my-experience post. Honestly, that has gotten very cliche and you can get that from any successful person out there. Inspiration porn will never be in shortage.

This is going to be a post of the darker side of the journey and I think not enough successful people talk about it.

Lessons from successful people are both curt and dismissive, so much so that the positive message gets lost. This is when you get shit like, “Do this. It works”, “You MUST follow what I teach. That’s how you succeed” or the most annoying of all, “I’m successful because my good friend is the CEO of [some huge ass company] and he helped me so much. If I can do it, so can you!”

But I guess that’s how it is for inspiration porn. People just like to masturbate to it in hopes of realizing some of the fantasies, but nobody wants to continue working hard even though the high is gone.

You’ll have none of that from me. I like to be dark, but hey, the hardest lessons in life are the ones that are worth remembering. If you can’t even swallow this post, then don’t bother doing what you love. Be safe, secure and stable elsewhere.

So, before we get started, a little pretext. My definition of doing what you love for this article is doing exactly what I want everyday and creating a business out of it. Specifically, it’s how I’ve created a business to be paid for my writing and also continuing to be a Bboy during my free time.

With that, I’m pretty much the sensitive dude who had trouble trying to balance making money and trying to believe that passion plays a huge factor, that there’re good, sincere people out there and the business world doesn’t have to be tough sometimes.

Let’s go.

1) Money is not everything, but it makes up for 99% of almost everything anyway

It is very normal to read about some successful person who would preach, “Money is not everything” or even “Don’t focus on the money. Focus on helping people and do what you love.”

I find that that’s such a hilarious irony because all you have to ask is, “Take away the element of money. What are you then?”

The answer is usually nothing. That’s how the world works and that’s how success is defined most of the time.

Indeed, money is not everything, but it’s extremely ignorant to say that if you’re broke. It’s also downright selfish to say it to people struggling when you’re already making big bucks.

It’s a tough lesson to balance this idea with elements of life that are more important money. It’s also tough to find sincere, successful people who believe the same.

2) The connections you make with others will never be your friends, but they’ll act like they are

Networking is pretty important in the business world. Making the right connection can even make or break your business.

And it’s because it’s all business. There’ll be no real friendship involved.

The folly was mine that I believed those who were trying to help were doing it because they really wanted to help, but they were always back for favors.

I’ve deleted a bunch of connections off my Skype because the conversations bored me with all its business talk. Nothing real came out in terms of business anyway.

Many were the times someone would message me to talk about business and shit, but when I ask, “How’s life?” the “away” status would soon appear, never hearing from any of them again.

That’s just how it is with connections. It’s all business. That’s why kids run home to tell their mom, “I made a new friend!”, not, “I made a new connection!”

3) Offering to help is nothing but an insincere formal opener

When you make a connection, the textbook answer to making the best impression would be to offer to help the other party. That’s the best it is. I’ve seen in the networking Facebook group I was in.

Everybody would want to make a good impression. How do you do that? You offer to help, even if it means you’re not qualified to.

Hence, not everyone will be a real connection since it’s all talk to most of them and they’re too cheap to followup with action.

4) “Life coaching” is a fucking scam

I’m going to create an entire blog post out of this idea soon, but in summary, people who claim to be life coaches are nothing but psychologists wannabes with zero, real qualifications. They claim to have expertise because they write a bunch of a generic blog posts or put up some videos of themselves talking about their own life and then claim they can transform your life.

Of course, that’s going to cost you a bomb, which from what I observed, cost up to hundreds even thousands of dollars for an hour of their time.

I know so because I paid for this bullshit before and I also tried to be one at one point of time. It’s a blessing in disguise I didn’t manage to coach anybody.

There’ are good people out there who can really change your life, but you’re going to have to do your research, thoroughly. I’ve made some good friends this way.

5) Even your supporters can be very discouraging

I’m going to forgo the point of discouragement from your haters and critics because that’s a given.

Guess what? Even your supporters can be very discouraging.

I’ve no idea how many people who claim to love what I do at the start only to start criticizing me to no end because they feel some of the steps I take later on are disagreeable to them. I was even once told, “Dude, I didn’t sign up for this shit.”

It may be a non-issue, but like I said, I’m sensitive. It’s extremely disheartening to see how a supporter can turn into a know-it-all, and then because they don’t dare to do what they love, take all their energy out on you.

Doing what you love is like modern art to others. As the quote by Craig Damrauer goes, “Modern art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn’t.”

6) Testimonials are mostly bullshit

The bright and shiny testimonials you see on products and sales pages are mostly rubbish. I know you’re thinking, “Oh I know that” but really, you don’t know the half of it.

It’s mostly made up or at the very most, constructed from a relationship were both parties just want to help each other. E.g. I’ve give you my product free of charge. Could you write me a good testimonial?

What do you expect the other dude to say? Fucking no?

I think the most accurate testimonial today is on Ellen Dengeres’, Seriously, I’m kidding, where she wrote all of them herself.

7) Your most satisfying day ever isn’t going to beat a good sales day

That is why money is still that important.

I’ve had days where I made money from out of nowhere and I felt on top of the world. On days where I felt I wrote the best piece of shit ever, but felt low because I knew I was going broke.

Honestly, unless you’re a six-figure money-making machine who’s financially free, concentrate on making money to survive first before you try to change your life or the world with your whatever messages.

8) A lot of entrepreneurs are faking their inspiration

If you ever see someone post some testimonial or “real” reader’s email thanking them and then say something like, “This is what keeps me going”, know that the entrepreneur himself does not do the work or create any kind of art.

They simply outsource everything and are pretentious enough to claim credit.

It boils back to the question of how important money really is, because that’s the definition of success to most businesses. And that’s okay. It’s whether you want to look into it and see whether the entrepreneur really does his own work to spread a real message.

Again, do your research to find the real deals. I know of a few.

9) You can’t learn forever because it’s all the same shit

You want to create a business and start making money? Then learn. Pay to learn from a coach or in a course even.

Then once you get the basics down pat, stop. Anything further are nothing but shiny objects that contain what you’re already know inside.

You need to create your own real lessons from your own actions from here on out.

10) Nobody wants to hold your hand

This isn’t school or the office where you can rely or even shift blame on someone else.

If you want to do what you love, you’re going to have to take the reigns and do things your way. You’ve to call the shots. And it’s going to feel scary as fuck.

And the people who claim to want to hold your hand and “guarantee” your success? They’re lying.

11) The answers you seek come only when you think out of the box

Picture this: For a long while I kept studying bloggers who were expert on making money online. I tried their shit out, but it never really worked for me.

Then I realized I was looking for answers in the wrong places. My goal is to be a writer who create stories. I should have looked and studied real writers who inspired how to create art, not bloggers who taught about making money, tweaking, testing and all that shit.

Any kind of knowledge may be good, but be sure to follow your gut from time to time. Take what you need and reject everything else. I learnt it the expensive way.

12) 20/20 hindsight makes you feel dumb as hell

You know how successful people teach, “The answer was within me all along!” and all that?

It’s true.

I’m already seeing a level of success for myself today and everything that I’m doing today? I could have done it on day 1 of this blog. I’m not joking.

This is such a beautiful, yet ironic idea that you truly what it takes to succeed, but because you were merely distracted, you fall off the path and waste as much as a few years of your time.

Also, sometimes you’re your own culprit. You hold yourself back because of fear of… pretty much nothing. It kind of makes you feel stupid.

There is truly no secret to success. You DO know what it takes to succeed. So just do it.

13) Humble yourself, for having passion doesn’t mean you’re good

If you read back my old articles you’d know that my writing style and choice of topics have changed a lot.

If you read about my $1000 wake-up call, you’d have an inking that I’ve made a significant shift of late.

It can be a real downer to know that you’re not good enough.

Learning is always good, but your ego is going to be pinched from time to time. It’s best not to take things so personally.

14) Nobody gives a shit about your passion

They just want a package-deal on what’s in it for them.

You can show the world your beautiful story of how you plan to change the world, how you quit your job, how you courageously beat some disease or whatever, but they don’t make for good business.

People will only fork out the cash if they know what you offer is going to help them. Your story can only inspire, not help.

15) You must be dreaming if you’re playing on hope

So many people simply hope to be discovered to be the next start. So many people hope their book becomes the next bestseller. So many people hope their whatever goes viral.

Hope really doesn’t have a part in doing business. You might as well play the lottery every week and you’d have a better chance of striking it rich.

Work hard and form a real strategy. Throw hope out of the window. Your rewards will come accordingly.

16) No sales copy is perfectly honest

Every entrepreneur I know will stretch the truth and then call it “It’s just business”, which is not illegal or even wrong I’d say.

But it can make you very cynical especially if you think these guys are super honest or have a positive message to spread.

I once refunded a course because the owner was full of shit. He promised “unlimited” (his own words) support but it never came. He then proceeded to tell me I asked too many questions. What an asshole.

So, as with how I mentioned that learning has a ceiling, don’t buy into too much courses or whatever. It will turn to crap in the end.

17) Sometimes you want to give up

But you’ve to keep pushing on anyway. That’s how it is.

It’s not going to feel good at all because that’s when you doubt yourself and start to think what you love is a sham.

It can be very demoralizing. It makes you question what you do and also your entire life itself.

This is your make or break moment though. Best to choose the way forward.

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  1. Kevin - August 28, 2014 8:23 pm

    Man this is some real, human, and humbling advice.

    Do you have any advice on becoming truly ascending to greatness?

    I guess it’s scattered across your blog here and there. No bullshitting and just hard work.

    • alden - September 3, 2014 6:35 am

      Sure. Just be yourself, do what you want, fail as fast as you can and stop caring about what others think.

  2. shirley - August 28, 2014 9:51 pm

    Hey Alden
    Thank you once again for a dose of reality. Grounded me.
    Best wishes for your birthday..

    • alden - September 3, 2014 6:35 am

      Thanks Shirley.

  3. CB - September 1, 2014 5:32 am

    Finally! Someone who hates reading all those stupidly long and pointlessly drawn out testimonials as much as I do! Yay! Thanks Alden!

    • alden - September 3, 2014 6:35 am

      For sure!

  4. ScrewtheSystemJoe - September 11, 2014 9:32 pm

    Love this Alden. I can see the transition in your writing and the last few posts are some of your strongest material.
    Love how real you are in this post “testimonials are mostly bullshit” “entrepreneurs are faking their inspiration”. Cool stuff and great advice.
    Where do you stand on the coaching issue?
    Clearly you’re not a fan of life coaching (haha) but you paid Ryan Holiday $1000 for coaching of sorts.
    I agree with your thoughts on life coaching yet at the same time, being a coach myself for over 10 years (tennis coaching, hypnotherapy, nlp) I think having a good mentor/guide/coach can be invaluable to your development.

    • alden - September 14, 2014 2:11 pm

      Hey dude,

      Thanks a lot! It has been a real transition indeed.

      Well I’m sure you read my life coaching article by now.

      I paid Ryan Holiday personally because I knew I had to feel the pinch and I had a clear blogging/business goal in the consultation. I won’t go into semantics. Call it coaching, consultation or whatever. I did it because I knew I wanted it and I knew what I seeked.

      I needed knowledge, not a cure to my ailments, which is what vulnerable (and desperate) people want and that is where the life coaches come in to try to help, or “prey” if I want to be harsh.

      Know what I mean?

      So… to cover it up, to each his own. I just think the whole life coaching thing makes everything so grey area-ish, and because clients are vulnerable and life coaches are trying to make money, nobody wants to be truly honest.

      • ScrewtheSystemJoe - September 29, 2014 11:40 am

        Totally get what you’re saying man. It’s when making money comes before being honest that people get screwed over.

  5. Sebastian Aiden Daniels - September 15, 2014 11:18 pm

    As usual your post made me smile. Telling it as it is. So many of these are straight truths such as the business connections. They are just that, business conections. Very rarely do they ever translate over to friendships. The thing that brings most people together is a commen interest, goal or proximity. You make friends at works because you work there, but when you quit and move away then most of those friendships will fade away. The same is true of business connections. Most will fade away over time when one person is no longer in the business. It is a fact of life.

    No one gives a shit is a tough one to take, but it is something that you need to accept. It is also wise to move from hope to being open to whatever happens happens. You can’t really control results. You can use certain marketing skills, but in the end if something doesn’t take off it doesn’t. Hoping that it does won’t get you anywhere.

    You are right that no one gives a shit. You have to make them care in some way.

    Quick business question. You have guest posted at a lot of sites. Which sites brought you the most subscribers and visitors from that post? Which sites brought you the least amount?

    • alden - September 16, 2014 4:00 am

      Hey dude,

      You got that right. Connections are just connections. With regard to friendships, it seems to work along the lines of connections too. I’ve drifted apart and not contacted friends from high school. And we were all so close once…

      As for guest posting, as long as your post gets more shares, the more subscribers you get. The trick is to lead back to your squeeze page ONLY and not your homepage, sales page or whatever. And yeah, the more popular the site, the higher chance your post will be shared. Bottomline, just write your best shit no matter what. It’s not a “Their site is popular, therefore any shit I put up will be popular” case.

  6. Blanca - June 9, 2016 3:31 pm

    Love it!!!! Real and cruel at the same time. Honest indeed. Those thoughts help me to improove my MKT estrategies because in the end is the costumer satisfaction of what do they receive from you that they will appreciated. Lets talk about them not about me and my brand. Keep writing!

  7. Blanca - June 9, 2016 3:32 pm

    Great content!!! Real and cruel at the same time. Honest indeed. Those thoughts help me to improove my MKT estrategies because in the end is the costumer satisfaction of what do they receive from you that they will appreciated. Lets talk about them not about me and my brand. Keep writing!


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