There are jobs, and there are obsessions.
You know how you tell the difference?
Whether or not you care about the craft.
I’ve been holed up in my hometown at a cottage with 20 acres and a pond in rural Pennsylvania for the last month—land of beers & blue collar jobs—and you know what I’ve noticed?
A guy laying stone cares more deeply about his work than many of the white-collar professionals I know—including the lawyer getting paid $425 an hour, the influencer with a million followers, the health coach with the blockbuster program. My career has led me to know many of the latter. I have one foot firmly in that world: book deals! programs! keynotes! But, I also grew up in the countryside and you can catch me running circles around you on a dirt road in a Dodge Ram.
And, you know what I like about that?
The perspective it offers. I am not an outsider in either camp. I’ve got split screen vision—and a front-row seat to arguments on both sides for most things, politics very much included. And, I spend a hell of a lot of time listening.
That’s one thing I’m doing here right now: listening.
Which laws don’t make sense here? Which ones do? What things do we need? Which businesses would benefit the community? How can we get started? And, what can we do to turn an economically-depressed area into a thriving powerhouse of joy, health, cashflow, and pride?
Instead of renovating a house on HGTV, what would it take to renovate a whole town? Not merely aesthetically, but economically?
What would it take to make a community healthy again?
These are the questions I am obsessively asking. Studying. Looking at through an entrepreneurial lens. And, in doing so, one thing keeps popping up:
There are jobs. And there are obsessions.
Jobs are hourly factory work at Frito Lay, right over the New York State border. Jobs are checking people out at Dollar General. Jobs are the things you do to get by, because no other opportunities exist.
Obsessions, on the other hand, are jobs plus desire. They’re the kinds of jobs you’re proud to do. They’re the kinds of jobs that let you express your humanity. They’re the stone mason perfecting the exact spacing of the mortar, painstakingly arranging each and every one so they work in harmony. They’re the contractor who will take it apart 100 times to make sure their craftsmanship is impeccable. They’re the maple syrup farmer who tends to their trees as if they were their children. They’re the landscaper who won’t use a zero turn because they don’t give the lawn as close a shave.
In the city, obsessions take a different form. They’re the novelist who labors over her characters, the photographer who insists on film, the agent who encourages you to stretch yourself into something new.
What these things have in common are craft.
Whether you’re shaping a saw blade, or shaping a novel, craft is the difference between whether or not you consider your work a job, or a joy.
The question becomes: how can we make craft profitable?
How can we take the things you love to do, and turn them into income streams that work?
How can we monetize our obsessions in the modern economy so we can prosper and find happiness—no matter where you are? In today’s world, you shouldn’t have to live in a big city to have a big career.
This is one reason why I created Selfish School: to give people with a beautiful craft a way to create a modern income stream out of it. A way to take what you love and create a more scalable product out of it, from anywhere in the world. A way to keep doing what you know, what you enjoy, what you crave every day—without having to throw in the towel. (Or suffer from low profits.)
My best friend from high school, for example, runs a dog kennel on a million acres of farmland out in between two lakes on a dirt road.
She doesn’t have a job, she has an obsession.
She obsesses over every last detail when it comes to those dogs. She’d do it even if she weren’t paid. But, that’s not the goal, of course. The goal is to get paid WHILE doing something you really, actually love.
And so, we’ve got the first income stream: the obvious one. The actual service.
But, there’s another one that most people aren’t taking advantage of yet: the experience and knowledge you have that other people want.
Alas, I am teaching her how to document what she knows, so she can share it with others, and get paid for her knowledge.
Knowledge is the product you didn’t realize you had.
Knowledge is one of the best, fastest ways to take your obsession and turn it into a kick-ass living from anywhere—even a cottage in the woods.
The other day I volunteered to pour concrete with an old high school buddy of mine. Why? Because I want to know. I am curious about everything. I want to know how the world works. And, I’m willing to pay someone to show me. (Even though he refuses to take my money.)
This is a great example of how every craft now has two marketable layers:
- The craft itself
- The knowledge behind the craft
And guess what?
There’s a market for it all.
You can teach an author how to pour concrete.
You can teach a concrete worker how to be an author.
The only thing you need?
Is to understand that the knowledge you have is worth money.
And, when you learn how to leverage that? You open all-new income streams that were previously invisible.
After all, it’s better to be ahead of the curve than 20 years behind.
Unless you’re in a Dodge Ram with me, that is—in which case, the curves are gonna be real fun, so you’d better hold on tight.