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5 Things You Can Learn From Charlie Hoehn, the Former Personal Assistant of Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi and Tucker Max

5 Things You Can Learn From Charlie Hoehn, the Former Personal Assistant of Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi and Tucker Max

I first heard about Charlie a few months ago, though I was unknowingly enjoying the fruits of his work for a long time. Because among many other things he assisted Tim Ferriss with the marketing of Ferriss’ New York Times Bestseller “The Four Hour Body”, which helped me to get six-pack abs back in 2012.

Reading a post of his on Ferriss’ blog made me increasingly interested in what he did and how he did it. After watching his TEDx Talk I went from being amazed to becoming a fan. To give you an idea of what Charlie accomplished, get this: one of his first mentors was no less a person than Seth Godin. Charlie applied for a summer internship to work for Godin, was turned down, got the chance to do a virtual internship with 200 other applicants and simply outworked and outlasted nearly all of them. His work ethic got him promoted and he started to work as a virtual intern for Seth Godin. From then on his journey became even more impressive. He actively reached out and landed gigs with bestselling authors and accomplished entrepreneurs like Ramit Sethi, Tucker Max and Tim Ferriss.

After numerous successes and working himself to the verge of a nervous breakdown he quit working for others and started a company with Chad Muretta and Jason Adams. This resulted in an incredible financial success and on the first 10 days of the launch they made $2,000,000 in revenue. Once again, Charlie turned his back on this success. He started again to struggle with his own anxiety. He tried any number of things to overcome it. Finally he found a cure for it and captured this in his new book “Play it away”, which Tony Robbins calls “The cure to your stress”. Pretty impressive, huh?

Despite his success Charlie is incredibly humble and approachable. He took some time to talk to me about my upcoming TEDx talk and gave me some great input. We talked about mentors, relationships, fluoride in the US drinking water and Harry Potter. Here is what I’ve learned from Charlie:

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1. Everybody can be your mentor

Even though Charlie obviously had the chance to work with some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, he started out on a completely different level. His first “mentor” was a local videographer from his city. Charlie would drive an hour just to help the guy move around the equipment and therefore learn from him how to film. Later on he would even mentor Charlie on which rates to charge when he had his own clients. So before reaching out to superstars he used the opportunities that were already at hand to learn.

So look around in your own neighborhood. If you are young and inexperienced there are people literally everywhere from whom you can and should learn valuable skills.

Starting out with local professionals makes complete sense, because all young entrepreneurs want to have Tim Ferriss or Robert Greene as a mentor. Though it is obviously impossible for a handful of superstar mentors to train thousands and thousands of young entrepreneurs. So reaching out to professionals from your town is a great way to get started and build necessary skills. The skills you learn there can eventually be used to build something on your own or hustle for an apprenticeship under an expert of your field.

2. Add value and be generous

The question that poses itself is: “How do you actually set up a mentor/mentee relationship?” Charlie has a very straightforward answer for this: come in with a present or a clear idea of what you can do that adds value to your mentor’s business.

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Most people approach the luminaries of a field with their hands out, trying to extract something from them. Even just asking them out for a cup of coffee is, as Charlie states, by itself a very selfish act. First think about what you can bring to the table in this interaction. This can be something specific and elaborated, similar to when Charlie landed the gig with Tim by offering to make a video for his “about” section on his blog and setting up a forum for his readers. However, it doesn’t need to be that sophisticated. Charlie thinks it is enough to just rid the person of some menial work, like carrying around equipment for a videographer like he did when starting out. Obviously the more famous the person is, the more competition you have from other aspiring apprentices and it would be smart to come in with a clear and valuable suggestion of what you can offer.

Though even if you don’t want to engage in an apprenticeship-like relationship and just want to genuinely connect with people, Charlie thinks, it is essential to be generous. “Try to help everybody around you. Try to get in a position where you add value to people’s life or business.” This will eventually payback and people want you to be in their lives as friends, partners or as trusted advisors.

3. Be proactive

Another thing that I learned from Charlie is to be proactive. If you are a freelancer don’t wait for customers to come in, go out and pitch them. If you are an entrepreneur go out and talk to customers. If you are a young and inexperienced marketer go out and proactively pitch a possible mentor.

As a fantastic example of such proactivity he mentioned the web designer who is responsible for the website of Disney and Apple among many others. She didn’t wait for them to eventually find and hire her. She redesigned their homepage, then reached out to Apple and Disney saying that she would like to redesign the whole website if they were willing to hire her. So she actually approached them with a sample of what she was capable of, which was so convincing that they couldn’t help but hire her.

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Charlie literally mastered this proactive type of finding an employer or mentor. He calls this approach “free work” and not only covered this idea in a TEDx talk which has more than 100.000 views but also wrote a whole manifesto on this called Recession Proof Graduate, which helped thousands of others to find a job or mentor and includes very actionable ideas on how to go about this.

4. We are all winging it

Many entrepreneurs or young professionals get upset because they are not sure if they are doing the right thing or because they have no idea where they are heading. Charlie says that this is normal. Even the guys who seem like they have figured it all out are just winging it.

In addition to this insecurity, if we are doing the right thing, our ego always tells us that the stuff we are producing is not good enough. This constant chatter of our ego is not very easy to overcome, because especially at the beginning of your career your execution is gonna suck and you don’t have a plan where you are going.

As Charlie says, these are typical struggles of being an entrepreneur, everybody has this and you need to accept it. Period!

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5. Relationships matter most

As an entrepreneur it is fairly easy to spend days and days just sitting in front of your computer either in some coffee place or in your home office. Even if you might make a lot of money and successes are coming in, this is not the stuff that will make you happy. Charlie has been there! So he emphasizes the importance of relationships over and over again.

He is serious about this – whenever I watched Charlie doing career coaching he asked people about their psychological well-being and especially their connections to others. When he then offered them a solution for their career issues he often included a nice twist, which made them come into more contact with other people.

Looking at a lot of my entrepreneur friends I think most of us should follow Charlie’s advice more often when he says:

“Make it a priority to build a social circle and to have friends. At the end of the day deep and meaningful relationships is what will make you happy.”

 

Featured photo credit: Edward Druce via charliehoehn.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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