I’ve been an amazingly consistent blogger lately. My secret is that I’ve been calling Carmen a lot and dictating my posts to her.
In the middle of my blogging flurry, I read this book to my son, Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen. Its about this kid who can see businesses everywhere in all kinds of talents that other people have, and he ends up making money from all his friends.
Throughout the book I was thinking, “Oh my God, I have to do this with Carmen. I have to start selling her services because everyone can be a great blogger if they could dictate posts while they’re driving. Now all the people who are driving to and from work can now be big bloggers and love their commute too! Stay‑at‑home moms can do a blog post every time they drive to ballet lessons!”
So I pitched the idea to Carmen, except I didn’t tell Carmen about how the boy in the book pissed everyone off because he was making money from all the things they do, and he ended up with no friends and no money. Instead, I just told her that I thought I could sell her services as a court reporter.
My plan was just to publish her phone number on my site and everyone can pay me money to call Carmen. And I pay Carmen. And I know that Carmen totally does not charge enough on her own, because I want to jump for joy and high-five myself every time I dictate a blog post to her. So I know that you would want to do that too, and I know that I could easily charge double her rate.
So at first Carmen got really excited, but then she got to thinking how this idea would complicate her life, which of course it would, because I would ask all the time, “Carmen, did you get that call?” and “Carmen, that guy is calling,” and “Carmen, you’ve got two people waiting for you.” It would be crazy. So Carmen said no because she wants a life that’s more simple.
Which made me think I’m like Carmen: I want a simple life too. I realize no one would believe that, not even Carmen.
But you know what? It’s true that I want a simple life. And wanting that life is how I ended up doing both homeschooling and my new company, which I’m still too scared to announce to you because you’re all going to be really critical, and I can’t deal with criticism right now—I’m just trying to make my company look like a company that you’re not going to criticize. You probably didn’t even know that I care about your criticism.
So, you can’t see my company now, but I’m still talking about it.
And the reason that I homeschool and have a company is because it simplifies my life. Here’s how: if you send your kids to school, you have to do everything according to the school schedule. You’ve got to be there to pick up your kid, and you have to get them to school on time. I never did that but at least I hired someone to do that.
Plus you have to do homework—which we never did. And that was the problem because then the kids realized that we were sending them to a place we didn’t respect. But really, my kids were doing coloring projects in second grade. Coloring. In second grade. There’s no way I’m going to manage my kid doing coloring projects at that age. And then there was family reading night. School interrupts my family’s reading time to drag us to family reading night at school. Insane.
All the things that you have to do for school are insane. They totally interrupt your flow, interrupt your ability to manage your family, and interrupt your ability to manage your career. So once I took my kids out of school, we could all just do what I want, which means we go to Las Vegas for my speaking engagements, or we take a trip to New York with no set ending, because my son can read in the member’s lounge at the National History Museum while I do a coaching call.
So this is why taking my kids out of school allowed me to have a more simple life, because then it’s just me making the schedule and doing what’s best for us.
The other reason that having a company makes a more simple life for me is because I’m most comfortable leading an army, and I’m least comfortable when I have no army to lead. So if I don’t have a company, it’s me doing everything. This means that I have to manage my own calendar, which is largely impossible for me, because I’m dyslexic. And it means that I need to manage the back end of my web site which makes me want to kill myself.
So what I really need to do is have a group of people where we’re all doing my vision together. That’s really fun for me. The problem was I didn’t have a vision or a group of people. All I had was me at home managing every single little detail of my life. So I worked really hard to develop an idea that was bigger than my blog so that I could get funding and have everybody marching to my grand idea. It’s actually a way to simplify my life because it’s so easy for me to manage a team of people, and so easy for me to think of my big idea and go pitch it to people.
So, really, simplifying your life is arranging everything so that you’re doing only what you’re great at. Everybody can make money and have a life that feels simple to them if they focus on doing what they’re great at. We get into trouble when we get distracted by opportunities for us to do things we’re not great at. And we benefit from surrounding ourselves with people like Carmen who are great at turning down opportunities outside of their sweet spot.