When it comes to asking questions about the way things are, I’m sort of like a two year old.
“Why?” I ask when I’m told I must show up to work at 8 am and not leave till 6 pm, even though I could have gotten my work done in half the time.
“Why?” I ask when I’m told I must write my essay in 8-10 pages, using size 12 font, double-spaced, on a predefined topic.
While most people accept the assumptions around them at face value, I like to give them a good challenge.
Which is why, while creating my new “NOT YER MOM’S GUIDE to Finding Your Career & Life Path,” I found myself asking what most people would think of as a silly question:
Is money always the most effective form of payment?
Consider this, guys: Every day, thousands of people purchase and consume valuable content that, if acted upon, could change their lives.
And every day, 99% of these people sit on their bums and fail to take action.
When they look back on their lives as old people, they’ll realize that despite all the great advice they consumed, they’d never taken any real action steps toward living out their greatest potential. They’d never discovered their true paths; instead, they’d silently lived the unfulfilling life of an imposter.
I wanted to find a way to change this, and I got to thinking: maybe there’s a better way to do things.
In fact, maybe there’s a way to guarantee that a full 100% of the people who truly want to make progress will take steps forward in discovering their paths, and maybe the way to do this is super simple:
Require them to pay with action rather than with money.
So today, my friends, I present to you an experiment in the world’s newest form of currency: Move-lah.
It’s more than just moolah; it’s Move-lah.
That is, you’ve gotta move your ass in order to purchase each chapter of my guide! That’s right– you must complete and submit each chapter’s homework in order to download the next chapter as it’s released each month.
Move-lah is the new dollar.
How come no one has tried this before?
If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.
- Tim Ferriss
A few weeks ago, I announced this unconventional payment method (sans the catchy name) along with the release of the first chapter of my guide, and people were excited about it:
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
That said, people have lots of questions about it, too.
Below, in what will certainly become the most epically long post of the decade, I will attempt to answer a jumble*&#$ of questions about the guide and about Move-lah, the NEW FORM OF CURRENCY.
If you haven’t read Chapter 1 yet, you can read more about it right over here.
Update (7/16/12): Sorry guys, but I’m no longer offering the e-guide in a chapter-by-chapter donation format. Instead, I’ve decided to turn the guide into a full out e-course that will be available in September of 2012. That said, although the exchange of Move-lah is an integral part of the course, many of the details below are no longer applicable.
THE LONGEST LIST OF FAQS IN THE WORLD
Q: I don’t have time to do the homework but I still want to read the guide. Can I pay you with money in lieu of doing the homework?
A: Nope, dude. (Although at your discretion, you may pay me with money in addition to doing the homework– more on this later.)
Q: Can I pay you a million dollars?
A: Nope. Well, I mean yes, but only if you also do the homework. I want my Move-lah!
Q: But I don’t have time!
A: You don’t?!
Well, let me ask you this: do you have time to sit on your ass and let your life pass you by? Or to read an entire guide’s worth of knowledge and information without ever moving a muscle?
Well, do you?? Because it seems to me like that’s where you’d be wasting your time.
Q: The “Move-lah” for Chapter 1 involves forming a “homework group.” Why do I hafta do this?!!
A: Guys, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing my blog, it’s that we’re all going through the same stuff, and yet we all believe that we’re the only ones.
We’ve somehow become a mass-of-people-all-alone.
THIS IS CRAZY TALK, and there’s absolutely no good reason for it.
This stops here, and this stops now.
We don’t have to— in fact, we refuse to— do it all on our own anymore.
So by forming a group, not only will you feel less alone on your journey, but you’ll also be able to see how others are progressing on their own personal journeys.
You’ll be able to brainstorm and to help each other, to encourage and support one another in whatever ways are necessary.
You’ll hold each other accountable, greatly increasing your chances of “success,” of continuing on the journey rather than giving up.
This is it, guys: this is the beginning of your personal path to greatness.
Don’t let it slip by before it even begins.
Take the first step, and take it now.
I’ve been lucky enough to form a group with five (and hopefully a sixth to come!) super amazing ladies who, bless their hearts, have agreed to share pieces of our experience publicly.
In our group, we have
- The wonderful Ashley, a 23 year-old student who’s in the process of figuring out what she wants to study and in which direction she wants to take her career.
- The amazing Élan, a 23 year-old bank teller and mortgage processor who’s passionate about many things and who knows there’s got to be more to life than this– but what, and how?
- The kind hearted Nicole, a 24 year-old preschool teacher with a BA in Elementary Education. After a recent breakup, the path she once thought was somewhat certain has been thrown into question, & she’s now left wondering where she wants to go with her career and with her life.
- The lovely Sarah Goshman, a 29 year-old (soon-to-be ex) Assistant Director at a nonprofit who’s about to quit her job and move to New Mexico to begin a life working on her own terms– but what, exactly is that gonna end up looking like?
- The quirky 28 year-old Therese, who quit her job in corporate finance to write some weird blog and to push out a new form of currency. Where will this path lead her?
After our initial meeting, I got back together with some of them to recap our experience. IT WAS AMAZEBALLS!
In fact, I betcha can’t watch this video and not be instantly inspired to join an Unlost homework group right this second!
Q: OK, you’re right– that was super inspiring. But how are you gonna ensure that we actually do the homework? How will you hold us accountable for payment of the Move-lah?
A: Over the past 6 years and using millions of dollars of venture capitalist funds, I’ve developed a complex online system that will track and verify each of your required action steps. After performing each of the homework assignments, you must log into the system and record evidence of the actions you’ve taken. Each week you must upload the signatures of 3 people who were witnesses to the homework steps performed. All signatures will be audited and verified to ensure their validity. The system will track your progress and once validated, the following chapter of the guide will automatically be emailed to you.
JUST KIDDING, dudes.
In fact, I’ve made it as simple as possible: when I release Chapter 2 on my blog (release date of Monday, June 25), I’ll ask you to submit your results in an online form, including the following details:
Date & time of your initial group meeting:
Number of group members present:
Personal reflection on the first meeting: (Share any reflections, observations, comments, etc., that you are open to sharing– if you want to write about your experience in a blog post, feel free to submit the URL of your post, and with your permission, I’ll share selected peoples’ experiences with my readership.)
Once you submit your results, you’ll be directed to the download page for the next chapter. That’s it. Simple, quick, efficient, and it took me 5 minutes to design. Also, it didn’t cost me anything.
Take that, million dollar startups!
Q: Um, earth to Therese, can’t people easily cheat by just submitting fake answers, or by putting BS into the form?
A: Woah, you are smarter than I thought. Um… let me think about that one for a second.
OK, so… you know what’s even better than developing a foolproof system?
Realizing that a foolproof system isn’t necessary.
Here’s the deal, guys: we’re not in junior high school anymore trying to get an A on a test. No one is “forcing” you to find your truest career & life path– no one, that is, except yourself.
And “cheating” is only an issue if people aren’t inherently, intrinsically motivated to reach a goal. In our case, it’s fair to say that you all have loads of intrinsic motivation– after all, if you’re motivated to read the next chapter, then you’re also motivated to discover your personal path to greatness. And if you’re motivated to discover your personal path, then you’re also motivated to do the homework. In fact, you’re actually grateful for the homework, because the entire process has been deliberately designed to help you evolve your way into your truest life.
Which means that “cheating” is a non-issue. It wouldn’t even make any sense.
But if you do exploit the loopholes, then… well, you’re only cheating yourself, because in 20 years you’ll still be sitting on the couch watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey as your life continues to pass you by. Which basically means that THE ONLY PERSON WHO’D END UP LOSING IS YOU!
Q: The homework assignment for Chapter 1 involves forming a “homework group,” but you don’t tell us *how* we’re supposed to do this or with whom. WTF???
A: That’s right– I don’t tell you how many people you should have in your group or how you ought to find your group members. In fact, I don’t tell you a whole lot of anything.
This is for two reasons:
One, it’s because I don’t freaking know. Do I look like I’ve done this before? Do I look like an omniscient knower-of-all-things? (Please say no.) In other words, although I know where I’m headed with this guide, I don’t know exactly how we’re going to get there– that’s where I’m gonna need your help.
Secondly, it’s because– well, because I’m not here to give you all the answers. Instead, I’m here to challenge you to come up with your own answers. If you thought this was gonna be like school where you’re spoon fed step-by-step instructions and facts for memorization and regurgitation, then you are delusional. Being told exactly how to do everything is soooo last millennium. I really want you guys to think for yourselves.
At the same time, I’ll admit that it’s ineffective to reinvent the wheel with every single group. I don’t want to make it more difficult than necessary for people to participate, and I don’t want the process to be ineffective.
So instead of living in the tyranny or “either/or,” I’m choosing both.
Based on peoples’ experiences so far, today I’ll lay out some “best practices” you can use if they serve you & your situation well. Keep in mind that these are guidelines rather than strict rules. Please break them if they don’t work for you– and if you come up with better (or different) solutions, feel free to share them in the comments or in the Facebook group (see below) so others can learn from your experiences.
GROUP FORMATION “BEST PRACTICES”/ GUIDELINES
NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN GROUP: From what I can tell, 3-4 seems to be an ideal number of groupmembers. This provides more accountability and more of a sharing environment than a partnership, while still being small enough to allow for sufficient depth and connection. My group has 5 (and a sixth will hopefully join in), which has worked well but makes for longer meetings and more difficulty with coordinating everyone’s schedules.
HOW TO FORM A GROUP: Several readers have let me know that they’ve sent off emails to their friends, inviting them to participate. Others posted up invitations on their Facebook walls. Udoka at Girl After College posted up on her blog and successfully recruited a group.
Maja Gray emailed me and suggested creating a closed Facebook group in which readers can connect with each other and form groups/share ideas. Great thought! I’ve created one below– just request to join the group, and once you’re approved by the admin, y’all can connect away!
>>”The Unlost Facebook Group“<< connect with other readers to form groups here :)
Anyone else have thoughts or ideas? Try them out and share ‘em with us.
HOW TO HOLD AN ONLINE GROUP MEETING: I am the least technological, least internet-y blogger in the world, so I was really worried about how to pull off an internet-group-meeting-that-still-felt-personal. That sounds really complicated, I thought.
Except it wasn’t.
Turns out there’s this super easy thing called “Google+ Hangouts” that allows up to ten people to video chat with each other at the click of a button (it was soooo freaking easy, you guys, and this is coming from a technological dummy). I highly recommend G+ Hangouts if you’ll be connecting with people online. All you need is a Google+ profile, a webcam and an internet connection. Here’s more about what it is, and here’s how to use it.
GROUP MEETING BEST PRACTICES/GUIDELINES:
I outline the guidelines for your initial group meeting on page 18 of Chapter 1. There are four “exercises” I suggest doing during your first group meeting, and today I’m going to share some video clip examples of the first two exercises (using my group!) to help give you a better understanding of what I hope the meeting process might look like for you guys. I want to give a HUGE shoutout to the ladies in my group for their courage and willingness to share themselves with the world. These are truly amazing women, and I couldn’t feel happier (or luckier) to be going through this process with them.
WARNING: The watching of these videos may cause laughter, tears, and the weird feeling that MAYBE YOU AREN’T CRAZY AND ALONE AFTER ALL! Watch with caution.
Group Exercise #1: INTRODUCTIONS
“Unlost” introductions are a little bit different than the norm. Watch & learn how they’re done.
Group Exercise #2: COMPLETIONS
In this exercise, we delve a bit deeper beneath the surface and get an even clearer picture of each group member’s current career/life situation. IF YOU WATCH JUST ONE VIDEO, IT SHOULD PROBABLY BE THIS ONE. IT’S POWERFUL.
Q: But I don’t like your homework.
A: That’s cool; you don’t have to do it exactly how I say. You’re free to do your homework a different way as long as it meets the homework’s objective.
I repeat: you don’t have to do it my way— you just have to do it in a way that works.
For Chapter 1, what matters most is that you aren’t on your own— that you have another (or others) around you with whom you can share, relate, and complete assignments. The objective of the exercises is to hear others deeply, and to be heard deeply– in essence, to really connect with each other. As long as you achieve this objective, I’m not too caught up in the specifics.
If you decide to do “alternative homework,” just explain what you did within the Chapter 2 submittal form and explain how your “alternative homework” meets the objective. It’s that easy.
Sucky homework problem: solved.
(Maybe this is how schools should assign homework, too. It allows people to think for themselves and keeps them from adhering to “rules” or “solutions” that are ineffective or make no sense.)
Q: What if the objective of the homework is off base?
A: Then for gosh sake, don’t just sit there; do something! Challenge me! Debate’s not only welcome, but encouraged.
Q: You aren’t requiring monetary payment for this guide. Does this mean you’re gonna go broke?
A: Oh yeah, that whole money thing…
After all, I *did* quit my “real job” back in April because I wanted to focus my time and energy on this right here. And believe it or not, there’s no magical fairy who’s paying me to write or create this stuff. I do it because it’s what I love and because it’s who I am. I do it because I can’t not. But to tell you the truth, right now I’m an “unemployed” vagabond who’s living off her savings, and I’ve got six months to go before I crash & burn.
It’s not that I can’t make money off my content– I know it’s in demand, and I know it’s valuable. It’d be super easy for me to slap together an e-book or an e-course and charge “regular dollahs” for it.
It’s more that– well, my ambition is not just to make a living. My ambition is to make a life– to make a real difference, a real contribution. My ambition is to live out my truest path and to become my truest self, and I choose to do that by giving this crazy payment model a try.
That said, I don’t believe in either/or thinking.
With the release of Chapter 1, I announced that you’d also have the option of donating “real money” (“buying me a latte”) if you so desired:
“From the beginning, I’ve provided all my content free of charge and free of crappy advertising for one simple reason: It’s what I believe in. I believe that non-sucky advice should be accessible to just about anyone who seeks it.
You know what else I believe?
I believe that if they have the means to do so, people are more than willing to pay for that which they truly value.
So here’s what’s up: If what I’m doing here on my site and with this guide has been valuable to you, then you’ll have the option each month to donate an amount of your choosing to help support what I’m doing here at The Unlost.”
I was blown away by the number of people who donated for the first chapter of the guide. To all my monetary supporters, thank you x 1,000,000.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I’m rich or anything. It was nowhere even close to what I’d be making if I were back at my “dayjob,” but still, it was a start. It’s refreshing to know that people are behind me and that their humanity is intact, so thank you. That said, I’m still honing and refining my monetary strategy– more to come on this with the release of Chapter 2.
Q: You are crazy.
A: That’s not a question, you douche.
Q: I guess it isn’t, is it? Ok, so, are you crazy?
A: Just crazy enough, but not totally delusional. There’s a difference.
Q: What if everyone starts copying you with this whole “behavorial payment” system?
A: Uh, that’s kind of the goal.
In fact, that would be freaking awesome and the world would probably change as a result.
Because if this works as planned, not only would we have a much more effective way to create change within individuals, but we’d also have a better way to ensure that the stuff in the “marketplace” is as valuable as possible.
That is, by default, only the very most effective products can survive within this model. Because no one is required to pay monetarily, the creator will go broke if his or her stuff isn’t super impactful and relevant.
So um, yeah, go ahead and use the “Move-lah” model. I hereby CHALLENGE you to create content so valuable that people will pay you money without being required to do so. It better be ridiculously AMAZING, or you’re SOL.
And if you are truly amazing at providing value, then you actually have the potential to make a million times more than you otherwise would have.
And so if all works out as planned, it results in a massive win/win.
That’s a good thing, right?
So please, use away. The more people who copy me, the better. Let’s get this experiment started.
All I ask is that I’m given credit— that no one takes this idea and claims it as their own.
If anyone needs proof, then it’s right here, published on the world wide interweb. I, Therese Schwenkler, put my crazy NOT YER MOM’s guide out onto the interwebz, requiring payment of Move-lah, on June 4, 2012. The end. If you fail to credit me, then I shall unleash the wrath of my small army of Monday Clubbers upon you, and they shall make your life miserable to the max.
OK guys, that was a whole lot of information (and it was only the very beginning :-/). I’m pretty good at coming up with ideas, and not quite so good at figuring out how to structure/organize stuff. That said, I try my best and I hope this was helpful. I’ll refine/restructure as I go along… thanks for being my “experiment” :-).
If you haven’t read Chapter 1 yet, go do it now.
Then form your homework group.
In two short weeks, I’ll be releasing Chapter 2— go forth and be awesome.
# # #
[Image by cayusa]