Here’s the formula for getting paid to do what you love

What if there was a formula for getting paid to do what you love?

Well I reckon I've cracked it.

Drawing on all my work with people over the last decade I came up with the Playcheque Formula.

The formula has just 4 elements and once you've unlocked it you too can get paid to do something you love.

It's the second of my series on the 5 things I've learned in the 5 years since my book was published.

Watch my video to unlock the Playcheque Formula:

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have you cracked the formula or are you still playing it out?


How to run a multi-million dollar company with (almost) no rules

Recently I watched a video that blew my mind. The speaker Ricardo Semler runs a Brazilian company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars and yet has almost no rules at all - no set hours, location, holiday time, management structure, or business plan.

Want to go to the beach or to see a film on a Monday afternoon? You can.

And it was all inspired by Ricardo's take on life (and death):

"On Mondays and Thursdays, I learn how to die.

I call them my terminal days. My wife Fernanda doesn't like the term, but a lot of people in my family died of melanoma cancer and my parents and grandparents had it. And I kept thinking, one day I could be sitting in front of a doctor who looks at my exams and says, "Ricardo, things don't look very good. You have six months or a year to live."

And you start thinking about what you would do with this time. And you say, "I'm going to spend more time with the kids. I'm going to visit these places, I'm going to go up and down mountains and places and I'm going to do all the things I didn't do when I had the time." But of course, we all know these are very bittersweet memories we're going to have. It's very difficult to do... So I said, I'm going to do something else.

Every Monday and Thursday, I'm going use my terminal days. And I will do, during those days, whatever it is I was going to do if I had received that piece of news."


Watch the video to see how he built the entire company around this idea:

Starting early

As Ricardo reveals in his talk, he discovered that a lot of new employees had a hard time adjusting after working somewhere else - and after the way education prepares us to be a passive employee. He realised they needed to start this more natural way of working earlier.  So they started a school. That way people would never be brainwashed to be workers, instead they would become 'players' right from the start.


What do you think?

What do you make of Ricardo's ideas? Even for me, they were pretty radical! But I believe this is the vision for work for the 21st Century.

Leave a comment and give me your thoughts...

How to deal with excruciatingly dull meetings at work

Office Space GIFThis week I was interviewed by The Telegraph newspaper on that bugbear of corporate life, the meeting.

My main focus is always on how to avoid the whole world of pointless meetings by exiting corporate life but I've also picked up a few strategies for better meetings along the way.

The piece includes the story of my worst meeting ever:

The Telegraph – How to deal with excruciatingly dull meetings at work

Telegraph Meetings article

Radio interview

The Telegraph article led BBC Wales to give me a call to speak on their morning radio show - listen below...

How to get established quickly when you’re just starting out

When you're starting out on your own, it's hard to imagine how you can compete with the big players in your field. How can your idea for a book on personal finance possibly stack up against Rich Dad Poor Dad?

How can your idea for a time management app succeed when there are so many other apps out there? How can you get noticed as an NLP practitioner in a sea of similarly qualified people?

Well I have a strategy I teach in the Screw Work Academy IDEA LAB to solve this exact problem.

I call it superniching.

Don't take on the big players at their own game, instead choose a very particular corner of the world and set out to provide the very best service/product/event/blog for it.

“If you want to be the best in the world, 
make your world smaller”
– Seth Godin

A superniche can be a very particular kind of person. Your time management app could be designed entirely for visually-minded or 'right-brained' people (a group very poorly serviced at the moment).

Or your superniche could be a very particular problem you solve. If you've got yourself out of personal debt and learned a lot along the way, your finance book could be focussed purely on that.

Don't try to emulate the giants

If you look at the giants in your field and try to copy them you won't succeed. That's because those giants usually started out by superniching too.

Facebook may be the #1 global social network now but when it launched it was strictly only available for Harvard students (you had to have a Harvard email address to register). Then it was rolled out to other US colleges, then UK colleges, and finally the general public.

Oh and it looked a little different back then:

Facebook - Harvard

Starting out with a very particular niche didn't slow down Facebook's progress, it sped it up. It allowed Facebook to spread quickly throughout Harvard and go on to dominate other groups even though there were several other more well established social networks available at the time.

How can you superniche?

Which specific group of people could you help? Or what problem are you best placed to help people with?

Whether you end up providing a service, writing a blog or book, launching an online business, running events, or creating an app, the same principle applies.

Find out how to positively impact one very particular group or problem. If you can do that, then you can expand from there – or you might just find you can make a great living with your favourite little niche.


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How to create a PayPal button and add it your website or blog

One of the very simplest ways to start making money on your website or blog is to create a PayPal buy button.

Here's my short video showing exactly how to do it:

Want to learn more?

Sign up to get more tips and strategies to get paid to do what you love.

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Making your first 10k doing something you love

When you make your first £10,000 (or $ or €) doing something you love, you never forget it.

It's one thing to make a few pounds/bucks here and there but it's another altogether to make that first 10k.

And that's because, as I discovered earlier on in my career, that the activities that could make 10k go on to become significant income streams or even 6-figure businesses.

12 years ago this month I quit my job and declared publicly that I never wanted another job for the rest of my life.


The first thing I did as a stepping stone was to land myself a short consultancy gig at the BBC and walk away with £12,000. I knew then that consultancy was going to work out for me (and indeed it made me more than my previous salary but in a quarter of the time).

Similarly at Screw Work Let's Play HQ when my first group programme made £10k in a few months I knew that the only way was up. I then launched my first large scale programme that made £15,000 in a few weeks. (The same programme later went on to make £50,000 in the same timeframe)

So that threshold of 10k is an important landmark.


How do you get to 10k?

If you're not already there, how do you get to the point of making your very first 10k from something you love doing?

Well I've boiled it to down to a progression of 6 steps - right from the beginning when you don't even have an idea of what you're going to try to make money out of.

The key is to focus on just one of the steps at a time.


Here are my "6 Steps to 10k":

1: Generate dozens of candidate ideas
(this is actually very easy when I show you how to do it properly)

2: Evaluate your options quickly & choose your basecamp idea - a starting point for something you'll enjoy doing and that can make proper money 

3: Take your basecamp idea & make something of your own out of it - something that stands clear from all the competition

4: Choose one of a dozen easy monetisation methods for your idea

5: Make your first thousand - when you know how, you can do this without elaborate marketing strategies and without even having a website. Make a £/€/$1000 and you know your new thing is something that people will pay for

6: Your 6-figure strategy - choose your strategy for recurring income and scaling to 6 figures, build your platform of prospects/readers/raving fans and hit that all important first 10k

Because when you can make 10k, you can make another and another and another...


When you know how each step really works it is a lot simpler than you would imagine. That's not to say it's effortless of course; you'll learn a whole heap of fascinating stuff at every step and develop yourself enormously.

But the payoff is profound.

You feel like a different person when you've been through the whole process of finding something to pursue, making it happen, and making some proper money out of it.

At that point, freedom is in your sights - making a great income from something that you care about and that really excites you.


I've got to be honest though, getting through these steps on your own is hard. Most of us have been misinformed about how this whole process works and on top of that it's difficult to maintain the motivation and discipline when you're doing it alone.

Fortunately you don't have to.

I've seen the transformational effect on participants of my programmes from being in a like-minded group and from having a clear plan to follow with regular expert input.

So I decided to create something new to lead people through the 6 steps to 10k

It's called IDEA LAB and it's the result of my work with 150 people over the last two years in the Screw Work Academy – people who have gone on to create hit blogs, get paid for their creative work, write bestselling books and quit their jobs.


Read all about it on the new website - click the logo below:



If you need to ask something before you book your place on IDEA LAB, there is a chat button on the site where you can leave a message for the team or even speak to me live.




PS. There are currently some specially discounted places available for people who take action quickly. The details are on the IDEA LAB page

If you’re trying to choose an idea, STOP!

To start making money without a job you need an idea for something to do, right? Some kind of business idea or other money-making idea.

And if you can't think of a specific idea to start then there's nothing you can do until you happen upon one.

At least that's what we're taught to believe.

Well I'm here to tell you to STOP looking for an idea.

Call off the search for a fully formed idea that's ready to fly.


Because that's not how ideas are found. And believing that you should wait around until something falls out of the sky (or the deepest recesses of your subconscious) leaves you completely stuck - as you might have noticed  :)

Here's what to do instead

base-campDon't look for a specific business idea or book idea or blog idea or anything else ready to go.

Focus instead on finding a basecamp idea.

A basecamp idea is a step in the right direction. It's simply choosing which mountain you want to climb.

Then you can choose the specific route you're going to take to the summit later.

Your basecamp idea will probably sound too vague if you said it aloud to other people but that's OK because it's simply a means for you plot a path you want to explore some more.

An example basecamp idea would be to explore non-fiction book topics, or to experiment with possible iPad apps, to develop some kind of event, or to find ways to help people in a particular situation, or a fun way to use a particular skill you have.

Whatever it is for you, it's a million times more useful than sitting and doing nothing because you "don't have any ideas". Once you're at basecamp and immersed in exploring the area, that's when you'll start to get real inspiration to create something great.

What's your basecamp idea?

What could you choose as a rough direction to head in? What's the basecamp you're heading for? Leave a comment and let me know.

Finding your basecamp idea is step 2 of 6 in IDEA LAB - my new programme to find your 6-figure idea and make your first £10k out of it.

Read about the other steps and check out the earlybird offer on IDEA LAB here


What to do when you want to start doing what you love but you need money now

So you want to start doing what you love but you also need money - you know, for rent and food and similar luxuries. What do you do?

This comes up a lot and the most pressing version of it is when someone has just left their job. The freshly escaped 'player' rushes headlong into writing their book or blog or starting an online shop. But as time goes on and little or no money rolls in, they start to panic and lose faith in what they're doing - perhaps they're being unrealistic and should go back and beg for their old job?

The next day they read something inspiring and, feeling emboldened, double their commitment to their new line of work... until the mortgage is due and they lose their confidence again.

What's the solution?

The solution to the panic and flip-flopping is to stop thinking of your choices as either/or.

Start thinking in terms of two tracks running in parallel, at least for a while.

Two tracks by Triviaking one is the thing that makes you money right now.

It's something you can win work in fairly quickly (in a few weeks) because you have skills, experience and a proven track record you can point to.

Track two is the thing you love that you might need to learn new skills and establish new contacts in.

So it's likely to be a while to get to the point you can make money out of it - months rather than weeks. And probably longer than that before it makes enough to completely replace your current source of income.

The less this new work bears in common with your career to date, the longer it is likely to take.

That's why you need track one to keep you afloat in the meantime. Then you can take that paralysing pressure off yourself.

What does track one look like?

If you've already got a job then this could be your track one. You might be keen to get out of the job but unless it's really terrible (e.g. a toxic working environment / very long hours), you might be surprised how your attitude changes once you see your job as supporting you while you launch your track two on the side. Now rather than being a burden it's part of your escape plan.

If your job is in danger of burning you out or if you've already jumped (or been pushed) then one option is to find what Barbara Sher calls 'a good enough job' - something that pays you enough, doesn't demand excessive hours, and suits you well enough that it doesn't drive you crazy or leave you drained at the end of the day.

It's surprising how often people give up on their dream and then get what seems like the worst imaginable job almost as if they are punishing themselves - for instance creative people taking the most mundane office admin jobs. Instead, think of what is the best possible version of your old work and go hunt for that.

Aside from a job you could also try temping, freelancing or contracting in the field you already know.

Once you've got that sorted you can turn your attention to starting what you really love on the side. And you'll be in a much calmer and more creative state of mind when you don't have to worry how you'll pay the next month's rent.

At some point down the line when you're making good money from your track two you'll be ready to finally give up track one. Or you might even find an interesting way to merge the two tracks using the best of both.


Has this been helpful to you? What are your two tracks? Leave a comment and let me know...

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Fancy a little bit on the side? (The easier way to start a business)

Last week I asked Screw Work readers a question: "What do you most need help with now in your journey to get paid to do what you love?". I received hundreds of responses that fell into a number of clear categories - from "I don't yet have an idea to start" to "I have several ideas but can't choose" to "I'm making my main income from my own idea, how do I make even more?"

Over the next few weeks I want to answer the biggest and most common questions here on the blog. I'm sure wherever you are, I'll be able to help.

So let's start at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start apparently).

What if you don't have an idea yet?

If you want to escape the world of jobs and make a living doing what you love you'll need to choose something to do. That might be freelancing, consulting, advising, blogging, writing books, speaking, an online shop, creating app, running events, or any number of things that you can start without sinking a lot of money into it.

But what if you don't have an idea for anything to start?

Well you're certainly not alone for a start. In the survey, Tara in London said that what she most needed help with was, "Working out what I would enjoy doing for a living" and Anne in Australia said, "Deciding what I want to do with the rest of my biggie" (Ha!). Rick on the south coast of England said his concern was "Breaking away from current role without the fear of risking family security".

And there were many others in a similar position.

To address these issues we need to tackle two deeply embedded myths drummed into you by school, careers counsellors, employers and many others.

#1: The Career Myth

You've been taught from a young age to think in terms of careers - a full-time vocation that you are dedicated to long term. But the career is a concept from the last century.

It's time to let it go.

Almost no one has a job for life any more and very few stay in one field for their whole working life. And starting something of your own is even more flexible. So you're not choosing for life – or even for a year. You're just choosing for right now.

It is however worth building skills and knowledge that you can use in other projects even if you change direction. Developing skills in an area like writing, speaking, managing projects, handling finances, marketing, using online systems, or working with others will stand you in good stead wherever life takes you.

#2: The Big Leap Myth

Because our model of work is based on jobs and careers we think starting something of our own works the same way - quit your job, dive head first into something new and pray that it works.


If you want to start a traditional business that requires funding, premises and staff that might be true but there are so many easier ways to make a living - and they're safer too.

Here's a better way to approach it.

Start a little something on the side

Write down everything you think you might enjoy doing and have some ability for (even if it's a bit of a guess).

Choose your favourite based on 3 things: it excites you, you bring some skills, knowledge, talents or other assets to it, and you think it might be interesting or useful to others. As for making money, if other people are making a successful living out of something very similar then that means people are willing to pay.

Then find a way to start experimenting with it on the side.

Don't quit your job, or wait until you know what you want to do with the rest of your life. If it turns out it's a bad fit for you change it and try something else. If it's working for you you can scale it up and try to make your first money from it.

Even if you change your mind completely starting something on the side is almost never a complete waste of time. You'll be flexing your entrepreneurial muscles and practicing putting yourself out in the world and those are skills that will benefit pretty much any project you pursue next – even if later you decide you want to create a much bigger business like a tech startup.

So what are you going to start on the side? Or what have you already started?

Leave a comment and let me know...

What story is calling to you in 2015?

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 has started well for you. I've just returned from a month-long holiday in Singapore and the Philippines, where I had a great time exploring both remote islands and big cities.

John at Ku De Ta

No holiday of mine would be complete without an excessively large collection of books to read. I managed to narrow my selection for this trip down to a mere 5 books (not including 4 travel guides!)

One of these was Donald Miller's A Million Miles In A Thousand Years - which I saw in author Barbara Winter's list of "25 books I could never part with".

Barbara is one of the best storytellers I know so it was interesting to discover that Donald Miller's book is all about stories - how they work in movies and how they work in our lives. And this turned out to be a great topic to explore at the beginning of a new year.

Donald's story

After writing several books (at least one of which had been quite successful), Donald Miller found his life had gotten into a bit of a rut. One day some film-makers call him up and tell him they want to turn his bestselling autobiographical book Blue Like Jazz into a movie. After he gets over his initial shock, the film-makers come and stay with him for several months to work on the script together.

This inspires Donald to learn more about how stories work. He attends Robert McKee's famous Story Seminar for scriptwriters and realises that everything he is learning also applies to his own life. One of the most important rules of stories is that a character "is what he does". You can't tell a reader of a novel or the audience of a movie that your protagonist is heroic, they have to do heroic things. You can't say they're a good person, they must do good things.

Donald realises he has been spending too much time sitting at his computer, or on the sofa watching TV. This is not a good story for a movie – or for a life. So he sets out to live a better story and takes on some big challenges. He gets in contact with his father who he hasn't seen for decades, he hikes the Inca trail (despite being quite unfit), and he cycles across America. He learns to notice whenever he feels "a story calling to me".

A good story is not an easy story

Donald MillerDonald also makes the point that interesting stories are not meant to be easy. Think of any great movie or novel and there is hardship along the way. The same is true when we set out to make something important happen in our own lives.

His analogy is of an arduous boat trip. And to me it perfectly echoes those early stages of starting to do what you love and get paid for it:

It's like this when you live a story: The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative, and you're finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The distant shore doesn't seem far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach. You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you'll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch.

But the truth is, it isn't going to be over soon...

The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It's about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.


I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.

This is what I see so many people do when the going gets tough in their journey to make a living doing what they love; they go looking for another story – only to find that it too gets hard in the middle. But the rewards only come to those who keep going:

It's like this with nearly every crossing, and with nearly every story too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat onto the sand.

What story is calling to you?

So in 2015, what story is calling to you to be lived? What story is important enough to you that you're willing to stick at it even when it takes longer than you hoped and has more setbacks than you would have wished? Because that story is the one that holds the real rewards - both for the life that awaits you on the other side and for who you will need to become along the way.

I'm here to help.