5 Tips For The Unrelenting 20-Something Newsletter

Hi everyone,

Happy February. I can’t believe another month has gone by, which begs the question…what is time, anyway?

I’m glad you’re here spending some time with me and I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter.

Financial Stability Tip: Summer Festivals and Credit Card Debt

In the summer of 2000, I had an opportunity to study at a summer festival with the professor I wanted to work with in graduate school. The festival was six weeks in length, I had zero dollars in my bank account, and it cost me over $2,000 to attend. I put the entire festival on a credit card, including over $1,000 in additional expenses, plunging me further into debt. The investment paid off and I was accepted into my graduate school of choice but it took me over 17 years to dig out.

Tip: Don’t allow current actions to put the future version of you at a higher risk for success. My rational was that going into a little debt ultimately provided more opportunity down the road. This is similar to Warren Buffet’s famous quote about investing in yourself. I didn’t consider the toll that going deeper into debt would have on my long-term financial stability. The more you can consider the financial implications of your decisions up front, the better off you’ll be.

Work/Life Balance Tip: Setting Due Dates

I am a procrastinator. In light of this, I know that setting due dates allow me hit my deadlines with consistency. I build my work flow by looking at everything I need to do and then placing a higher level of importance on the things that are non-negotiable, like grant deadlines and this newsletter. Without self-imposed due dates, I get overwhelmed quickly.

Tip: All tasks are not created equal. The action items that require a due date on your to-do list should be your top priority. Instead of setting due dates on all of your to-do list items, accept that some items will be pushed further down the list until you tackle the top priority work. Khe Hy over at RadReads has a great process for thinking about due dates.

Tips On Finding Meaning: Am I A Part Of The Problem?

Empathy is an artist superpower. Our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and immediately relate to their situation enables us to listen, react, and ultimately engage in ways that bring meaning for all involved. Empathy also helps us quickly understand how our actions might be negatively impacting someone else.

Tip: Use empathy as your guide to understand not only why you might have negatively impacted someone’s life, but how you might take steps to find resolution. Engaging in the second step of how you might take corrective action to fix the situation is often the most difficult. I love this little game by Elizabeth Sampat that helps you get to the bottom of any problem.

Field Notes: Non Profit Boards Are Broken

When I coach artists on their entrepreneurial ideas, they often see a non profit organization as a way to build long-term financial stability. The problem is that artists launch their non profit only to spend countless hours and money trying to keep it a float and often aren’t able to focus on the programs that inspired them to launch the organization in the first place.

Tip: Before launching a non profit, explore whether the proposed work can be done under fiscal sponsorship or even as a for profit venture. Doing so allows you to continue to have complete control over the idea. The moment you become a non profit, you cede power to your board of directors, which as Michael J. Bobbitt states in this article, takes hours of your time and becomes a separate program all to itself.

The Way Things Work: Avoid Hustle Traps

I’ve been writing on a regular basis for the past five years. Establishing a daily habit of writing has helped me focus my ideas and develop a clear understanding of who I want to serve. It also allowed me to cut out a lot of noise. I constantly feel pressure to adopt a new way to get someone’s attention, which quickly overwhelms me. Thankfully, I have my writing, which has become my north star!

Tip: On his blog, Boundless, Paul Millerd describes the above mindset as a hustle trap or “something we fall into without asking why?” Save yourself a lot of time and ask why you’re about to tackle the new thing before you go in head first. Also, the time is now to adopt that writing habit! (I promise this isn’t a trap, ha!)

Things I Loved:

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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