Michelle Phan has an estimated net worth of about $50 million. Thirteen years ago she had to drop out of her second semester of college due to financial setbacks.
She liked design, colors, fashion and makeup. It was 2006. The idea of makeup tutorials and beauty guru channels on Youtube didn’t exist. She had no idea what she was doing. She created a video called, Natural Looking Makeup, to share her everyday makeup routine with whoever was interested.
That same week, 40,000 people were interested. A year after that, the same video reached 1 million views.
Michelle can be deemed of one of the pioneers of the makeup and beauty vlogger niche. A lot of people look at her story and say she got lucky. Or that she was born with talent that is hard to mimic. I think Michelle is just very intuitive. She caught onto something that has been repeated many times through history with much success.
She took a common interest, makeup, and she combined it with something new. Her interest became a hobby. It was then transformed into a passion, where she learned by doing (creating Youtube videos), and later converted it all into financial freedom (her company, Ipsy).
Andy Warhol took ordinary known subjects like a Campbell’s soup can and Marilyn Monroe, then he added his unique style. He created art that made classics new again. It worked and everyone was endlessly fascinated.
These are ordinary people with an eye for idea sex. They find the intersections in the seemingly unconnected areas of life. They plan the combination, create something new and break boundaries.
When we look around, most of us have the spirit, art and zest for life sucked out of us. We’re conditioned to think big ideas can’t be acted on without more classes, more experience, a boss, a mentor, permission from others, money, etc.
A lot of people don’t even know what they like anymore. They think interests and hobbies come secondary to all the other priorities in life.
I think we have it backwards. Without acting on our interests, we lose the opportunity to develop passions. Passions that turn into projects, more opportunities, and overall life satisfaction.
Today I want to share with you something that has helped me realign with who I am today, and what I want to do tomorrow. I call it, The Interest Exercise.
HOW TO DO THE INTEREST EXERCISE:
A) Take a big sheet of paper and write everything down you like or would like to do. It’s okay if you’ve never done an item before. The point is that it INTERESTS you. Take your time with this. (Mine includes things like salsa dancing, meditation, skincare, web design, and cinematography)
B) If you did step 1 right, you should have a giant list. Look for common themes and categories among your items. Some items will fit in more than one category. Start grouping them. Remember, these are your interests and your own categories. There is no bad way to do this. (Art, communication and videos are some examples of categories you may find, but you can get as specific as you need to.)
C) With a clearer visual of how your interests line up, you can start finding intersections to pursue. Even though I’ve never seriously pursued design and all its concepts, I like writing. Maybe next month I can start a project on blogging all I learn about design. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to dance. You can draw or design pretty infographics about different styles you learn. If you’re not into graphic design, maybe videos grab your attention more. Document your progress through a YouTube channel. There are many avenues to explore.
D) Once you’ve settled on some projects, you need a plan. Skill building will take you time. Especially since you’re most likely combining two tasks that you don’t have a lot of practice in. A plan should answer the questions, “How often will I do this?” “What do I need to do this?” and “How will I do this?”
E) The thing about the interest exercise is that it only works if you’ve been true to your plan. Being consistent with a project’s growth will gather so much growth potential for you as a human being. You will be able to confidently answer the questions, “Who are you? What do you like to do? What fascinates you?” Your interest projects will lead you down more avenues, where you refine and niche your work to an even deeper level. From an opportunity perspective, people are impressed by authenticity and discipline. You will be succeeding at documenting both those things.
Every pursuit of an interest, passion and goal results in a personal evolution. The things that call out to you, are giving you cues. Listen to those cues. Ignore the mind that tells you, “It’s too late to learn that. You weren’t born with that talent. That will be impossible for you to figure out.”
That is all fear and bullshit. You can do anything. Start today. Start with your interests.
P.S. This blog post is an example of Idea Sex. I took James Altucher’s blog post and concept, and then made it new through an extension exercise.