064: Finding work you love with Dan Miller from 48 Days

Welcome to episode 64 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! In this episode, Bjork interviews Dan Miller from 48 Days about finding work that you love through understanding yourself.

Last week Bjork interviewed Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents about handling finances as a business owner. To go back and listen that episode, click here.

Finding the Work You Love

Most of us have been there before: working a job that just isn’t right for us. Maybe it doesn’t pay enough, or the passion isn’t there, or it doesn’t work with your lifestyle. Whatever the reason, being in this position is just lame.

At some point, you might have realized that you want to do something else – you saw a friend or a coworker or an internet role model find success, and you want to do what they did. You would love job!

The problem is that it can be really difficult to know if you actually will love that job. Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, has seen this scenario play out many times. Through his books, speaking, and personal coaching, he’s mentored thousands of people to help them find the work they’ll love, and today he talks with Bjork about this common conundrum.

In this episode, Dan shares:

  • How to know if you are doing meaningful work
  • How you can find your passion
  • How to know when your hobby should stay just a hobby
  • What business you shouldn’t go into in the food industry
  • How to know if you’ll enjoy a certain type of work

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Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number sixty-four of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Hey, there everybody, Bjork Ostrom here. Coming to you from Saint Paul, Minnesota, with an incredible interview with one of my favorite authors, Dan Miller. I read a couple of Dan’s books about six years ago, five to six years ago. This is when Lindsey and I both were doing the jobs that we had out of college. I was working at a non-profit, Lindsey was teaching. I was reading some of these books because I was having some of these ideas float around in my head about building a business, or doing something on our own, and making this shift into doing what we do today, which is the entrepreneurial type work.

Two books that Dan wrote, No More Dreaded Mondays, and Forty-Eight Days to the Work You Love, were really influential as I thought about making that transition and shifting into doing work that I really loved. Or, doing work that was a little bit different than the work we were doing, which we still enjoyed, but was a pretty big change from how we did it. Those books really helped me process through that. I thought it would be great to have Dan on the podcast to talk a little bit about this general concept of switching into doing work that we love. I think in some way, shape, or form everybody that listens to this podcast is interested in doing that a little bit.

Making that shift whether it’s big or small, into doing something that you really, really enjoy. Dan has been a great guide for us as we process through what that looks like. I’m excited to jump into this interview. Without further adieu, Dan, welcome to the podcast.

Dan Miller: Thank you so much. I’m honored to be your guest.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I looked up my Amazon purchase history, and one of the things that I love to do is I love to read. It’s one of my great passions, and my wife, Lindsey, makes fun of me sometimes because we’ll go up to the beautiful cabin that our family has in northern Wisconsin. They have a boat and water skis, and things like that, and then I’ll sit down and read. It’s just something that I love to do. I looked up my reading history, and I pulled up two of the books of yours that I had read that have had a really big impact on my life.

One was, Forty-Eight Days to the Work You Love, and number two was, No More Dreaded Mondays. It was so fun for me to look that up because six years ago, five, six years ago, we were in the process of figuring out what this transition looks like. How to have this career conversation with our selves, and with Lindsey and I, to figure out how to make the next step. Before we get into the conversations, I wanted to say thank you. Those two books had such a big impact on my life, and we’re going to talk about those today. More than anything, if we don’t get anything across today, just an opportunity to say thanks is a big deal for me.

Dan Miller: I appreciate that. I never get tired of hearing the stories. There’s been some amazing stories I’ve been privileged to hear over the years about how something I wrote may have just sparked that little bit of clarity, but it requires massive actions. I commend you on taking action on those ideas.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Thank you. It is both of those things. It’s a little bit of the knowledge, and it’s a little bit of the action. What I found is a lot of times the knowledge can spur on the action. Almost in giving you permission to move forward on things. Those two books specifically had a big part to do with that for me. You mentioned stories, and I know that stories are a real big part of it. One of the things that I love about both of those books, all of the stories that you get to share because of some of the life coaching and counseling that you’ve done with people that are doing career transitions.

Instead of hearing those, which maybe we’ll share a little bit about those today. Instead of hearing those, I want to hear a little bit about your story. I know that you’ve had a lot of different things you’ve done in your life. Everything from sold cars, to owning a fitness center, to a cashew vending machine, which is one of my favorite stories. Can you give us a spark notes version of how you came to this place in your life where you’re talking about careers, and jobs, and entrepreneurships?

Dan Miller: There was a convergence of things that happened when I was about forty-five years old. Prior to that, I didn’t sit down when I was eighteen years old, and say, “I want to be an author, speaker, coach.” It just wouldn’t have even made sense at that point. To do those things effectively, you need a little life experience. I was just a happy entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. I’ve never had a real job. I always just found ideas just to develop and work on those. I’ve never done anything that I didn’t enjoy, but I did a variety of things, as you already mentioned. Starting with selling Christmas cards door to door out in the farming country when I was six years old. Then, detailing the neighbors cars when they had road tar on them. I did all kinds of things, but I just have always seen opportunities, and by taking a little action, was able to turn those into ways that people readily gave me money for that. It’s been a really fun journey.

After that, the health and fitness center that you mentioned there, that ended up being a major financial disaster for me. Some things change, banking things change, blah, blah, blah, but at the end of the day it’s the guy in the mirror that I saw the next morning who really screwed up and made a mess of it. I didn’t point any fingers, I just took responsibility for that. Walked out of that, but it was in walking out of that, that I started encouraging other people who were going through these inevitable, relentless, screw transitions. It just seemed like there was a vacuum there.

I was a sales guy, so I wasn’t looking to create a new business, but there was so much demand for direction. People getting clarity, “Gee, what is my calling? My purpose? How does that translate into daily work that’s meaningful?” I was speaking into that space, my wife and I were doing a Sunday school class that grew just exponentially. Finally, we decided, “Wow! If there’s that much demand for this I ought look at how to make this part of a business, rather than just doing it as a volunteer that consumes twenty, thirty hours a week”.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Dan Miller: It was kind of a slow transition, and it’s not something where I sat down and said, “Gee, I want to start writing books”. It was because of the listening to the demands of people, the request of people, that I started writing just simple things that grew into a three ring binder that ultimately became what is now Forty-Eight Days to the Work You Love. I went to a writers conference with Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Los Angeles, 2002. I thought, “Man, this guys sold one hundred million copies of his books already at that point. Maybe I can learn something from him”. I did. I came back, learned about some of the marketing things to accompany the material, the content that I’d created. In about a twenty-four month period, I generated over two million dollars with that little three ring binder that I had. I thought, “Man, this is pretty cool”. I’ve just expanded in that space of providing information for people, and helping them know how to leverage their unique talents, so that it does create work that’s meaningful, purposeful, and profitable.

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s such a great niche that you’re in that, not only do you have the experience of it, and you also have the context from other conversations that you have, but one of the reasons it’s such a great niche is because you’re helping people in a really tangible way. An example would be us, and I can come to you and say, “Dan, thank you so much for taking us through this process. For planting some seeds, and some of these ideas. Helping us get to this point where we can envision what it might look like to transition out of jobs”. Our case was, we didn’t have jobs that we necessarily dreaded, but there was this idea that, “Hey, we think that we can build something that we own both with our time and the work that we do, and transition into doing that”.

What a great thing that is for you to be able to do this. It’s profitable, like you said, but there also a strong purpose with it. I think that would be a great way to take this conversation, initially, is to have this open conversation or dialogue around, how do you know if the work that you’re currently doing is or isn’t a good fit? I think that people know if it’s profitable or not, right? That’s the easy one to check off the box, where you’re like, “Okay, am I making enough to sustain my family, myself? Am I creating an income from this?” When you get into some of those other questions about purpose, and having a bigger impact, that’s a little bit harder. Is that a gut thing? Or, how do people know if they’re in the right spot for their career or their job? Or, is it more of like, “I just don’t like what I’m doing”?

Dan Miller: No, it’s a great question, and it can be a little bit elusive, but it’s not something that has to go without a resolution. It’s not so elusive, or psychological, or even spiritual, that you can’t get your head around it. There are clues, as you kind of alluded to. If there isn’t a real clear sense that, “Wow! This is what I was born to do”, chances are you needed to take a fresh look. Now, to simplify, to really simplify what you just described there is kind of all these moving pieces. I like to look at three, a triad, three things that need to be blended together for this to really work. Those include passion, talent, and money. Now, those are the things that need to be included, so a lot of people have proven their talent in a particular area, and they’re making great money, but they know something’s missing. They’re really not passionate about it, they’re just going through the motions to get a paycheck.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of that? I think it’d be interesting, maybe a story or maybe a coaching relationship that you’ve had.

Dan Miller: Sure. Yeah. Lots of them. Had a dentist come to me. Forty-two years old, and he was making three hundred fifty, four hundred thousand dollars a year. People loved him as a dentist. He had, obviously proven, his talent, the money was great. He was on heavy medication for depression, and absolutely despised the life he had created for himself. Here is what happened, pretty classic American Dream story. He was the only child of blue collar workers. They decided, “Our child is going to have all the advantages we did not have.” He went to the finest schools. They decided dentistry was going to be a great profession for him. He went to dental school, had sports cars. All the way through. Came out with a DDS behind his name, and into a practice. At 42, he realized, “I’m living somebody else’s dream, not my own.” He said, “Man, is this all there is? Do I have to just capitulate, and assume, this is all there is?”

In my discussion with him, he shared that he had an Ultralight plane. Now, an Ultralight, it’s really just a go-kart with wings on it. I thought, “Oh, my gosh, that’s got to really be cool. To be up there, over top our city here, looking at your own property,” and whatever. He said, “Dan, I hate heights. I don’t care anything about flights.” He said, “One of these days, that Ultralight is going to go down.” He said, “If I put a gun to my head, that’s a messy remembrance of who I am. If that plane goes down, everybody will remember me as the fine dentist that I was.” It was his suicide plan. As soon as we started getting him healthy, he sold his practice. He went back to school. Got degreed as a family counselor. A really cool guy. Loves, loves, loves what he’s doing. As soon as we started getting him healthy, he sold the Ultralight. There, we had somebody who had talent, and money, but no passion. Happens all the time.

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s to be able to compartmentalize that, and say, here are the three different things that you can look at, helps people to have a frame of reference, for analyzing what they’re doing. To go back to that original question, that I had asked, about how do you know, you know? Some people might have the talent, like you said, but that doesn’t, necessarily, mean that that’s what they should be doing. Which, I think, is a big shift in thinking, for some people.

Dan Miller: It is. Yes. I have worked with plenty of physicians, dentist, attorneys, pastors, engineers, accountants, who have proven their ability, to do what they do, but hate the life they have created.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the questions that I have, specific to passion. I think that is such an interesting topic, and an interesting area to focus on. Is, and this is something I’ve been rambling around in my head, and trying to explain to people, so let me know if this makes sense, or not. I think it is because it applies to what we do, is whether people like the idea of doing something, versus, actually, doing something. An example might be a podcast. I think from the outside, people might think, man that’s awesome. You get to have conversations with people, like Dan Miller, and get to learn from them. It seems like an hour is what it takes to put it together.

Then, when you get into it, there is, actually, a lot more that goes into it. Everything, from preparation, to publishing. You know, as you have a podcast. What would your guidance be, for people who think that they might be passionate about something, when in reality, they just like the idea of it? Another part of that question, maybe it’s tied in, is how do you discover what your true passion would be, and to test that out?

Dan Miller: Great direction, because passion doesn’t show up full blown. You don’t go sit on a stump in the middle of the hay field, hoping for that lightening bolt that reveals your passion. Passion really is, probably, more developed, than it is discovered. A lot of people are stuck in neutral, trying to find their passion. They aren’t engaged in anything. I tell them, get engaged in things. Do something. Go sailing. Take piano lessons. Drive a different way home from work. Do something to get engaged, because it is in the doing, that you really develop what could be a passion. If you suspect that you might be passionate about something, try it out.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes.

Dan Miller: If it is playing beach volleyball, go sign up. Get involved. Get involved, and it is in doing it over a period of time with excellence, that passion is developed. That’s where a lot of people get stuck. They are waiting for the passion on the front end, and it doesn’t show up.

Bjork Ostrom: An interesting point that you make about passion, developing as your experience becomes more advanced. Meaning that, you might be really interested in something, but you haven’t really lined it up. There’s a quote that I talk about a lot about. It is the guy that does This American Life, Ira Glass. I won’t pull it up, but he talks about this period of tension for those that are creators, that exist. When you know what good work is, but you’re not there yet. I think that can apply to passion, as well. Where you’re passionate about, or you maybe like something, but you haven’t fully expressed that passion, because you haven’t gotten to the experience level, or the talent level, which comes back to that other piece, of where it needs to be. I can start to see how all of those things play together, and as your talent level increases, then your ability to create an income from that, and for that to be a sustaining thing, also increases. It is fun to see how all those play together.

Dan Miller: They do, and they really do need to play together. Usually, people can identify what leg of the stool is missing. I mean if you have passion, and talent, but no money, you’ve created a hobby. That is okay, and a lot of things need to just stay there. If that is going to be your primary focus, then you have to figure out, “How is this going to generate income?” A lot of people, a lot of Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y, are drawn to things that are humanitarian, Godly, service oriented. That is fine. Tell me how it is going to work, financially. You cannot just go around begging for money, because you are doing something worth while. We are all doing something worth while. How are you going to make that work economically, and if you cannot do that, figure out something else.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. One of the questions that I have, tying into this idea of passion, talent, and money, is, let’s say somebody knows that they really like something. They want to develop that talent and, eventually, would love to create an income from that. At what point do you have to step back, or is there a point where you have to step back, and say, “I know that I like this. I know that I’m passionate about it, but I might not be able to take it to the level that I need to, the talent level, in order to create an income from it.” What does that look like for people? Let’s say if somebody is an artist, and they are really interested in developing that. Do you shift, do you look to go into something else? Do you continue pushing forward? How do people handle that?

Dan Miller: Sure, let’s create the framework for that.

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Dan Miller: Let’s say that somebody is used to making $80,000 a year. They want to get involved in art. I’m a big believer, and a big proponent of that, but you’re never going to hear me say, “Quit your job. We’ll just try to figure something out.” Not going to happen. It is, “Let’s do this. Let’s get real intentional. Let’s do things that most artists don’t do. Let’s get real intentional, about having a strategic plan, for what you’re going to do as an artist. We’re going to project that between three, and six months, you’re going to be generating fifty percent of your current income. If you can do that, and we see clear trends, by golly, you can quit your job, and this is going to work. If in three to six months, you cannot get to fifty percent of your current income, then chances are, it is not a great idea. Either you don’t have enough talent, something isn’t working well.”

What I see is a lot of people do that for years, and years. They are spending another twenty, thirty, hours a week, on top of their forty hour job. They are still making five hundred bucks a month, and they are angry about it. Maybe you ought to just leave that side thing, as a side thing. Where you devote fifteen hours a week to doing it, and enjoy it, but don’t force it to be your primary source of income. Maybe, it needs to be a hobby.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that is such a great thing to bring up. I think so often, because we live in a culture that is so fiercely entrepreneurial, and independent, in nature. “Go out, and so your own thing.” I don’t think the conversation happens enough around, keep your nine to five job, whatever that might be. Switch your hobby, from wanting to grow that into a full thing into, how can I make this the most enjoyable thing possible? Maybe then, the analysis is, how do I change my current nine to five job, to be something that lines up really well. I think it is a great alternative take on a situation, versus you have to go out, and do your own thing. Be an entrepreneur, and build your own business. That is not always the case, in order to be fully fulfilled in what you’re doing.

Dan Miller: Not at all. No. I worked with a young gal, this has been a couple years ago. She was a Christian musician. That whole sense of, “God called me to do this.” Well, fine. Can you put groceries on the table? No. She would go out to a little country church on Sunday night, in her old rattly car, just desperately hoping they would give her enough money, so she could buy groceries on Monday. I said Debbie, “Don’t put yourself in that position. You’re a great personality. You’ve got great administrative skills. Get a job with a respectable company.” She got a job, as an administrative assistant, with Fruit Of The Loom, up in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Golly. She got her own apartment. Didn’t have to beg bedrooms from people. She bought a car. Now, she can go out, with a totally different mindset. Now, she’d been going out to really just share her gift with people and bless those who are listening. She’s not going to be short on rent money if they don’t give her anything. You know what happened? All of a sudden, her income from that went up dramatically, because I think that kind of pressure is transparent. People don’t respond to that. They don’t want to bless you with money because you’re desperate. They want to bless you with money because you’re sharing something that they really, that gives them joy as well.

Bjork Ostrom: The freedom that you have in doing what you’re doing without something attached to it, or kind of this urgency I think is, especially in art I think that really shines through, but in all those different areas of entrepreneurship. I’m curious to have the entrepreneur conversation with you. It seems like it’s going to be a stretch, but I’m reading this book on nutrition. The book is called Why We’re Fat, and he talks about calories in versus calories out. He makes the argument that people that are obese aren’t like that because they overeat and are sedentary. Sedentary people are overweight, essentially kind of flipping the script a little bit and saying that people become obese because naturally their genetics are such that they are led to eat more and then to be more sedentary.

I thought about that in the context of entrepreneurs. I’ve been thinking about people that I think is really great entrepreneurs. I wonder if they are people that are just naturally like that, and therefore can’t help but be entrepreneurs, or can people make that transition as individuals? Can you rewire ways that you are thinking about work and career in order to become your own entrepreneur? I’m curious to know your take on that especially in regards to the people that you’ve worked with.

Dan Miller: I have real strong opinions on that. I think that there are people who are born with a natural bent toward entrepreneurship. I think I’m one of those people. None of my brothers and sisters are entrepreneurs. They all had traditional jobs and really thought what I was doing was wild and crazy. I had that wired into me when I was a little kid. Same environment, same mom and dad, same home, and I’m out there hustling door-to-door selling Christmas cards, doing things to make a buck. Then when mom had all the sweet corn frozen and canned that she could possibly use, I saw what was still left in the garden. I thought, “Man, there’s an opportunity. I’d get up at 5:00 in the morning, pick that as a little kid 11–12 years old, pick that sweet corn, tow a little trailer behind our one family tractor two miles up to the paved road. I’d put a stake in the ground set up a sign, ”Sweet Corn 30 cents a Dozen.”

Man, I was making money. I was always doing things like that. I think there is the genetic thing, but I also think that people can learn the characteristics. I’ve got the checklist of 18 characteristics of a successful entrepreneurs, most of those are things that you can learn to do. Now, there’s a caveat with this though that I want to be real clear on. I don’t want to imply in any way that it’s better to become an entrepreneur. I don’t want to imply that this is a progression that if you really get your act together, get your fat butt off the couch, that you’re going to become a successful entrepreneur. We need good, faithful, really responsible employees. We’re always going to need that.

If you have that idea, have that dream, have that urge and sense that there is more out there and you’d like to be doing something in your own, then by all means embrace that. Scratch that itch. Get out there and do something. What’s the worst that could happen? The worst could happen, you decide, “Geez! I don’t like all this responsibility of having everything at you. I don’t want to have to motivate other people. I want a job where it’s real clear that I’m part of a team. I don’t like the loneliness of being an entrepreneur.” Whatever, if you find that out, the worst could happen is you decide, “Well, this is a good fit for me to be part of a team.” It’s yes and be careful.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Dan Miller: I think you can learn to be an entrepreneur, but I certainly don’t think that it’s for everybody.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. I think the piece about if you have that in your gut, if you have that desire. If you know that it’s something that you really want even if you have a traditional job right now, go after it like you said, “Why not?” Not necessarily in a way that sets you up for not being able to pay the bills, like you said. Build a path to that but go after it. I think that people that listen to this podcast will be really inspired to hear that, even if they don’t may be branded themselves as the ultra-entrepreneur. They have the permission to move forward on it. I think that would be a good way to shift this a little bit and to talk about that.

Let’s say that we’re talking to somebody right now that maybe has a traditional job, or maybe they’re not working. They’re staying home with kids perhaps, but they’re wanting to transition into doing this thing whatever that is. A lot of people that listen to this it would be in the food space. They want to transition into doing that as a full time gig. They want to maybe have a personal brand or a blog. Maybe they want to do a podcast. What are some of the initial steps that people can start to take in order to get the ball rolling, and to start to set themselves up for success as they make that transition?

Dan Miller: When you mentioned a lot of your listeners are attracted to the food business, the last thing in the world I would recommend that they do is open a restaurant.

Bjork Ostrom: Why do you say that?

Dan Miller: Because it’s the most highest risk application you can possibly have. I had a young couple that came to me one time. They wanted to buy a restaurant. A place that I’m familiar with that’s an old antebellum home that where every room is its own unique little room, really cool place, was opened just for lunch. The lady was making 60-$70,000 a year, run of that. They want to buy it. It was $230,000. This young couple brought her dad in who’s going to take a mortgage out in his house to pay for it which in itself is a horrible, horrible idea. I didn’t say that at the outset. I started going through, “Okay so if you buy this, so the 60-$70,000 you amortize repayment with a $230,000 loan. That gets pretty slim. In order to increase revenue, you probably need to add breakfast and dinner.”

We mapped that out and all of a sudden, we had like 80 hours a week being open. Gee, they’re going back in their chairs saying, “That’s not really what we wanted. We got small children. We didn’t want to have that much work committed to this.” I said well, “I think there are red flags all over this idea. What I want you to do is I want you to go home and come up with 20 other ideas that would embrace your affinity for food, but would have the logistics of a restaurant. You could come over the special recipe for cheesecakes that you make, and you supply other restaurants in the area rather than being a competitor. You’re now a supplier. You could cater just special events. You could provide lunches for sales organizations where you’re just out there at lunch time. You can do vending. You can go through all kinds of things.”

I would encourage somebody especially in today’s environment. We have so many tools available to us. Start a blog. Start a podcast. Do the things that require zero capital investment but start to build a brand on awareness, about your area of expertise where you start to have a voice in a particular area in the food industry. That you can do. You do that for six months, and you’ll know pretty quickly, “Is this something that’s going to get traction?” Then you can start to leverage out. You may do just have an affiliates. I have things that I recommend for my podcast because I have an audience and I recommend things that make me more money than a lot of people make in their entire income. Just by me mentioning other things. There’s those kind of things. You can build a very robust business around an idea in the food industry without ever having a refrigerator or a stove.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure which is-

Dan Miller: Start with those.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a beautiful thing about this time and that’s maybe a cliché phrase. The reality that you can build something and have such far reach with it from your home, right? You don’t even need a traditional restaurant if you want to talk about food. That’s one of the things that we found that we’re so excited about is that … The ironic thing about us being in this space is that I’m cooking illiterate. I’m terrible with food, but Lindsay is really, really good. I enjoy this side of that, whether it’s the business or the behind the scenes stuff. The incredible thing is that you can build a brand and you can build content around food. You don’t have to have like you said in the example you give a restaurant, which I think is such an incredible thing.

One piece that I wanted to call back to that you had mentioned that I think is worth calling out here on the podcast is the idea of writing down 20 different ideas of different ways that you can do it. The reason that I say that is because sometimes one of the things that I think about is we’re pretty open about how we have built our businesses, and how we’ve created an income from that. One of the things that I worry about sometimes is that people will take that and think of it as the path that they need to go in order to work on their passion. Like you said, there’s 20, 30, 100 different ways that you could do something very, very similar in terms of how it feels to do the work without doing it in the exact same way, and what we’ve done has worked well because it works well for us, who we are and how we work, but it’s not going to always apply to other people, so I think that idea of writing down those different ideas, brainstorming and really thinking through what are the things that would really be a good fit for me is really worthwhile.

I’ll say this, one of the things I think potentially that can happen is we don’t really have a good understanding of what we’re good at, or where our true interest is. I think you had mentioned that a little bit earlier about experimenting and trying different things out, but are there other things that people can be doing to become more self-aware? The example I think of is like StrengthsFinder, to do a test to see what strengths are. Do you have any guidance around self-awareness for people as they’re trying to discover what they can be working on, and how they can do it, and where their strengths are?

Dan Miller: Those things that you’re mentioning are certainly important pieces. We use the DISC profile here at 48 days, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. How you work with other people is a really big component of knowing what is going to work well for you. StrengthsFinders like you talked about, Kolbe, there’s a whole lot of things like that that can help you give more information about yourself.

I tell people that 85% of the process of having the confidence of proper direction in your career comes from looking inward. Only 15% is the application. People get too enamored with the latest trend or what Uncle Harry is doing or the guy down the street, and they try to just duplicate somebody else’s success.

Bjork Ostrom: So true online, it’s so easy to chase the shiny object online.

Dan Miller: Absolutely, without recognizing the authenticity about yourself, but as part of that process too if somebody were interested in the food industry, I’d tell them, “Hey, let’s spend the next two years working for somebody else who is doing what you think you want to do.” You’re learning on somebody else’s nickel rather than risking coming into something, where there’s a whole lot of unknowns.

That’s one the old classic business principles Brian Tracy, one of the old gurus, talks about is learn on somebody else’s nickel. That’s the power of even like network marketing. The infrastructure is already there. You can test an idea, or all you have to do is promote the idea, be excited about it, believe in it, get other people excited about it, where the backend infrastructure is already in placed. It’s a way to test an idea without having a lot of risk out front.

I live in Franklin, Tennessee, or just south of Nashville, and love, love, love the community. It’s just a great community. It just breaks my heart the number of food places that come and go. I mean, there are places that open, and 6 months later, they’re gone. I’m thinking, “How could they not anticipated that that was not going to work?” They just come and go, and it will have Mexican restaurants. I can park the car in one parking lot, and walk to five different Mexican restaurants.

I’m thinking, “Why do these guys think they can just come right in somebody else’s backyard? What are they going to do that’s different? What are they doing to be distinctive? What is their unique selling proposition?” Nothing, they don’t have anything. They’re just jumping in a crowded market. There are a lot of things that I think are just violations are common sense, Especially in the food industry, there’s so many heartaches in that.

I just saw this morning that Logan’s Restaurant filed bankruptcy. They’re going to close 21 stores. They’re based right here in Nashville, Tennessee. Ruby Tuesday, another one based right here in Nashville, Tennessee, they’re closing 95 stores. Both of them say that they’ve discovered that casual dining is on the decline. I have a real good friend right here in Nashville, Tennessee who has just opened his seventh restaurant. It’s like he has the Midas touch. He’s in that space, casual dining, and he is killing it.

His margins are two and three times what most people in the food industry experience, because he’s a good, good operator, and he’s doing things at scale. He’s now got his own brand of barbecue sauce, his own brand of ice cream. He has bought a vineyard in California, because he’s selling so much wine. He’s producing a lot of his own product that he then sells to the restaurants, where he makes money again.

We see, it’s not the industry. It’s what are you going to do that makes it unique? What are you going to do that makes it better than the way it’s been done before? You can get wealthy. You don’t have to have a brand new idea, but what are you going to do that adds bonus value, or is going to do it 10% better than what’s being done? Without something, you don’t do it. Do something else, my gosh.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. We talk about that a lot with our community, and the need to have some type of specific niche in building your brand, and we see that more and more. We have this interesting niche, where Lindsay has her food and recipe content that she publishes online, but we also have the niche of speaking to the people that are also doing that. Our niche in a way is that community, but within that, I think, if people are going to do just a food or recipe or something in that industry, it really has to be segmented down to serve a certain population.

Not that it has to be that forever. You can always niche up, but there’s this phrase that I heard on a podcast recently, business podcast, about a company. There was a guy that started a company in Brooklyn. It was a laundry company. He said, “There’s riches and niches.” I think the same basic idea can be applied to having something that’s a little bit different. Your offering is a little bit different. It’s a little bit better. It’s not the same Mexican food chain that you see within walking distance. I think that’s a great takeaway.

I want to go back to the DISC inventory, and talk a little bit about what you had said about working with other people. That’s such an important thing. Lindsay and I have gone through some interesting transitions as we’ve gone from working in jobs. I was at a nonprofit, and she was a teacher, so very people-centric businesses or people-centric jobs to transitioning into doing jobs, which I would imagine in some way, shape, or form look similar to what you do, where you’re doing a lot of self-directed work. You’re not with other people all the time.

For me, a lot of the times, I’ll be working on my own. It’s been interesting for us to experience how that feels, and sometimes, it’s really nice. Other times, we have this longing to be with people, but I’m curious to hear you process through your DISC results, and to talk about how that impacts the decisions that you personally make on how you work.

Dan Miller: Very easy to do, the DISC is D-I-S-C, dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance. I’m extremely high D and above the line C. Both of those are very task and project-oriented. I’m very low on those that are people and relationship-oriented. That tells me a ton about myself and how I work well, so when I speak at a conference or we have a live event here on our property, I love doing those. It’s unnecessary part of what I do, but those are emotionally draining for me.

We purposely have our live events on Thursdays and Fridays giving me Saturday and Sunday to recover. Saturday and Sunday, I don’t want to talk to anybody. I don’t want to be around anybody. I’m energized and restored by solitude. I just had lunch today with my son. I’ve met him down in Franklin, Tennessee here at Frothy Monkey, so I walked up this real hip place. You can tell it by name.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s a couple musicians that I follow along with, and they will occasionally post about Frothy Monkey.

Dan Miller: It’s real hot spot here in Franklin. I walk up, and I see one of my friends. He’s a really cool guy, works for himself, photographer, sitting on the front porch. I said, “Man, hey, what’s happening? What are you doing?” He says, “I really needed to focus.” I said, “You got to be kidding me. You came here. There’s people wall to wall. There’s music. There’s traffic. This is where you come to focus. That is so antithetical to what I would consider focus. I can’t even get my head around it. That is nothing but distractions to me.”

I am very energized by solitude. I need to be alone, and I structure my week so that I have big, big blocks of my week, where I’m totally alone. That’s where I do my best work. You may recognize the name Dave Ramsey. Dave and I have been friends for years and years and years. Dave is very different. Dave is very people-oriented. He’s energized by having people around. Dave has his offices 10 minutes from me here.

He has a four-story building, and he has 550 some employees there. If I had to walk in there on a Monday morning, I’d throw up. It’s not right or wrong, good or bad. That fits him. He knocks it out of the park with that model. That’s not me, but that’s something that we need to know about ourselves, so if I tell somebody who is looking for a business opportunity, so I’ve got a dentist who says, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I say, “Hey, let’s look at the subway, how does selling franchise. They’re really great. You can get a couple of locations.”

If I know this guys is a high SE, this guy is somebody who is very analytical, detailed, gets as lots of facts and information before making decisions. He is not a candidate. It doesn’t matter how successful that business is. It doesn’t fit him. We ought to know that in advance. A lot of people jump into something because they see that it’s successful through somebody else, or it’s a winning business opportunity. It doesn’t fit them. That’s why that 85% is so important.

Look at yourself. That will tell you what kind of business you ought to be in. That will tell you if you’re going to do well in something that gives you a whole lot of alone time, or if you’re going to miss the sense of camaraderie and team spirit that you’re maybe used to in a traditional job.

Bjork Ostrom: That ties into one of the concept that we’re talking about earlier with entrepreneurship, except it’s maybe augmented just a little bit where a lot of times, I’ll look at people that are really successful as entrepreneurs, and think, “Okay, here is the path that they took. Maybe I need to take that similar path,” but I think so often, that’s the path that they took not because they thought that was going to be successful, but because they were so closely aligning to and following what their strengths and their personality was, and because of that, they found success.

Not necessarily because it was the right path, but it was because it was the natural path for them to take. I think that’s such an important concept for people that are trying to build their own thing online. As they’re looking at what’s working for other people, that might not be what works for them, and that’s really hard to shift that type of thinking, and apply that to yourself, and the self-awareness piece is so important for that.

Dan Miller: You and I are both podcasters. I absolutely love podcasting. It’s a highlight of my week, often that and do a 40-minute podcast once a week. I’m sure you know the name John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur On Fire. How many people have jumped into the world of podcasting, and tried to duplicate what John Lee Dumas is doing.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a great example.

Dan Miller: It’s crazy.

Bjork Ostrom: For those that don’t know, his story is that he does a daily podcast. He will interview …

Dan Miller: 7 days a week, he does a podcast interviewing entrepreneurs. That guy is a machine. There is no way in the world I’d want to try to duplicate, but a lot of people seeing his rapid explosion of success, and said, “Well, I’ll just do that.” You’re not John Lee Dumas. There’s a whole lot of things that may be different there, but don’t try to duplicate somebody else’s success. Make sure that what you’re doing is authentic.

I’ve been working with people going through these kind of transitions for a lot of years now, but I would rather help somebody grow dandelions if that’s what they’re passionate about, than to try to talk them into being a computer programmer, because we know there are great job opportunities there. Nope, their chances are higher for success going down the lanes if that’s really what they enjoy doing. Let’s develop that.

Bjork Ostrom: If somebody’s interested in doing some of these personality tests, let’s focus in on DISC, I know that as those doing some research here, you have an area on your store. Would that be where people could purchase a test code or whatever it would be? If it is, I want to make a note of that, because I would love to do that after I haven’t done DISC before, but it would be a fun thing to do.

Dan Miller: Oh my gosh. The DISC profiles is our hot a selling product. I’ve done pretty well with some of my book titles like 48 Days to the Work you Love, but the DISC profiles, I would sell anything, because we talked about it, and positioned ourselves in that space, and people understand it’s that important to know about yourself, the techniques, the ideas, the application, the method systems, tools we can use.

We can warn all those, but boy, you better be. It’s the old Shakepeare. Know thyself to thine own self be true, then thou canst not then be false to any man. Know yourself is such an important starting place especially when we go into the entrepreneurial side. If you just work in a job, man, you can fake your way through that, and get by a whole lot of years when it fits you, it may not, but not as an entrepreneur.

It better be an authentic fir, or you’re going to burn out. In 6 months, you’re going to be scratching your head, and thinking out this entrepreneur thing doesn’t work.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a great note to wrap up on there, the idea of if thisis something that you, or if you’re not wanting to be an entrepreneur, even in a traditional job, how valuable it is to understand yourself, that’s self-awareness piece. That’s a great note to wrap up on, but before we do, I want to make sure that people know where they can follow along with you, Dan.

You have a podcast. Obviously, we’ve talked about the books that I’d really recommend people check out, but where else can people follow along with what you’re doing, and online or podcasting, all the above?

Dan Miller: Sure, 48days.com, it’s easy to find. Just put in 48 days anywhere, and it will take you right there. We have a lot of resources there, and that’s the easiest link to my podcast, which I love doing, and just where I encourage people every week take an action on ideas that really will help them find or create work that they love. 48days.net is a community. It’s about 16,000 people strong at this point.

These are people who are saying, “I’ve got an idea, but I want to ask somebody else to link arms with me to help me develop it.” There’s no cost to be involved. I just simply created the community there, and we have people with every kind of idea you can imagine that are there. They’re helping each other, so that’s a great place to pug in if you really are thinking there’s something more than idea that you may want to develop, 48days.net.

Bjork Ostrom: We’ll be sure to include that in the show notes as well. I had talked to you before this. I said, “I’m going to attempt to make this podcast interview 48 minutes,” and I think that if I time my intro and altro right, I might be able to lock it in. That would be a true podcasting feat, so I’ll see if I can do that.

Dan Miller: There you go. Nail it.

Bjork Ostrom: The ultimate branding inception. Dan, thanks so much for coming on the podcast, and for the books and the inspiration, just really appreciate it.

Dan Miller: Thanks for having me as your guest. I enjoyed it.

Bjork Ostrom: Thanks a lot. That’s a wrap. One more big thank you to Dan for coming on the podcast today and also for writing some books that would have been really influential for us as we process through what it means and what it looks like to shift into doing work that you really love, work that you truly enjoy. Both No More Dreaded Mondays and 48 Days to the Work You Love have been a big part of our story. Thanks Dan for being on the podcast and for writing those books as well.

That’s a wrap for this podcast episode. We will be back here same time, same place. We’re going to keep these podcasts pumping out. I hope you enjoy them. Until then, make it a great week. Thanks guys.

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