Episode 49: Beginner’s Guide to Startups Part 1, the Basics with Ant Davies

Ever wondered if you should start a company?  New to all the lingo?  Wondering why startups are so hot right now?  This series is for you!

Several-time startup founder and economist Antony Davies joins me to lay out the basics of starting a company in part one of this four-part series.

Ant and I discuss what counts as a “startup”, who should think about launching one, what documents and data need to be worked out, and how to think through your market, revenue model, and plans for growth.

Here’s a slide presentation that contains visuals for much of what we discuss.

This episode sponsored by Praxis and the Foundation for Economic Education.  Check out their seminars to hear speakers like Ant this summer!

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Episode 48: How to Change the World

I wanted to make the world a better place and I tried everything from humanitarian aid to politics and education.  I discovered through both experience and theory that I was not changing the underlying causes of unfreedom. It takes ideas and experiences to alter beliefs and open up the possibility for greater freedom.

This talk is about my own experiences and how they affected my life and career choices, and was presented at a FEE seminar at Austin, Texas, in the summer of 2015.

Apply to attend a FEE seminar this summer to hear more talks like this live!

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Here’s the audio:

 

And here’s the video version with slides:

 

My Current Reading List

I asked three of my best go-to’s for reading recommendations when I’m in Ecuador.  I’m going to try to read ten books in the six weeks there.  We’ll see if I can do it.  To create my list, I took two recommendations from each of the people I asked plus four of my own.

First, here are the books I’m trying to finish this week before we embark:

  • Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn (Nearly done, but will continue to reread)
  • Flatland by Edwin Abbott (Rereading (actually audiobook) and nearly done)
  • Evolve by Chad Grills (Halfway done)

And these are the 10 selections I’ve loaded up on my Kindle for the time away:

I’ll be reviewing one of these selections in the next monthly newsletter.  If you’re not signed up for it, join today!

 

Four Options When Government Gets in the Way of Your Dreams

Four Options When Government Gets in the Way

Illustration by Matthew Drake

 

This article is adapted from a presentation given at FEE and SFL seminars.  Co-authored with James Walpole for The Freeman.

———————

We all want to live free, but we have a problem: governments don’t always want us to.

From seemingly mundane rules (like banning raw milk sales) to the truly horrific (like taking your house from you or throwing you in jail), the state is probably going to mess with you at some point in your life. It will throw taxes and fees and fines and rules at you and erect roadblocks and regulations inhibiting your progress — especially if you’re trying to do something new and innovative.

What can you do?

You do have options. Grave as the stakes may sometimes be, you must first accept this outlook: it’s all a game. If you treat it that way, you’re more likely to find a way forward rather than simply cowering in fear or trembling with anger.

Here, then, are four options when you’re faced with the game of government interference.

1. Play the Game

This is the strategy you’re probably most familiar with. It’s what we’re all encouraged to do. Whether through voting, lobbying, or holding office, you can try to take on the state while playing by its rules. You can try to change it from the inside. This is a strategy we cannot recommend.

In business, this strategy leads to the phenomenon economists call “regulatory capture.” Many companies become involved in lobbying and political action to prevent hostile regulations. It’s understandable. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign donations and dinners trying to sway politicians and regulators to delay a vote, join coalitions, or carve out exceptions.

It’s a tough, slow process, one that involves endless compromise of principle and decency, and the few who succeed end up with political power and the ability to gain more. They end up using that power not just to expand their own freedom but to crush the freedom of competitors.

But any changes you make will be temporary. Laws passed in one decade are easily repealed in the next, especially if they limit state power. The bigger loss is a personal one. If you play the game long enough, the game ends up playing you. You become a part of the power structure you were trying to fight.

2. Defy the Game

When the state crushes your dreams, you can fight back. History is full of people who stopped taking oppression for granted and started resisting. Look at the civil rights movement in the United States, the Hungarian revolt against Communist rule, or even Uber’s commercial rebellion.

Today, the ridesharing company is operating illegally in dozens of cities, and it’s already paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for its drivers who are caught violating local laws. The company is growing fast enough to absorb the damage, and while governments don’t like Uber, customers love it. In Uber-hostile cities like New York, riders are standing up for their favorite way to get around. The “rebellion” has been a huge success.

But rebellion plays out in more desperate ways in the rest of the political world. For people and companies without the money and reputation of Uber, successfully defying the game is hard. While you can get tremendous satisfaction from sticking it to the man, you might end up in jail. You might be killed. In other words, playing this way means you might run into the real power of the state in its rawest form.

3. Change the Game

Changing the game is about recognizing the incentive structures and putting external pressure on the government to bend. Often, all you need to do to win is to hold the state to its own rules.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds, and the people who try to change the game in this way have to be heroic, if not martyrs. They’re taking the longest route. Game-changers lower the cost of information to the public while raising the cost for government to break its own rules or be thuggish. This group includes lawyers, journalists, public intellectuals, and everyday citizens.

Look at the case of occupational licensing. Municipal and state governments throughout the United States require entrepreneurs to give up money and time to comply with regulations. Many would-be entrepreneurs are stopped dead in their tracks by competition-killing regulations.

Before the Institute for Justice (IJ) challenged the regulation, eyebrow threaders in Texas were required to train for 750 hours before they could set up shop. Before another IJ case in 2011, Texas required bakers wanting to sell cookies to the public to rent commercial kitchen space and obtain food-handling permits.

Changing the game isn’t limited to the courtroom. Governments will break their own rules if they can get away with it. Both IJ cases included concerted efforts to raise public awareness about the unfair consequences of the regulations while simultaneously challenging them in court. These efforts raised the stakes for any judge who wanted to rule for the status quo. It also resulted in politicians jockeying to change the law before the court case was even settled so that they could take credit and benefit from the positive PR. Think about the state lawmakers who jumped at the chance to restrict eminent domain after theKelo outrage.

This is one of the biggest pros of changing the game: if you’re successful, you’ve kept your own integrity, and you’ve helped to protect others from the dream crushers in government.

The problem is that you may not win. You can spend years of your life fighting the battle to change the game and lose — plenty of people have, from the Dred Scott case to the Kelo decision. Even if you do win, the victory is too often short-lived: as soon as public awareness and scrutiny abate, courts will “reinterpret” hard-fought constitutional changes put in place to restrict government.

4. Ignore the Game

Entrepreneurs in the last decade have made international-trade and immigration restrictions less and less important. Today, anyone can telecommute to work in the United States from a call center in India, an Internet cafe in Bangladesh, or a personal laptop in Mexico. These innovations allow labor to move freely, and the inventors never needed to lobby politicians.

You can quit, exit, and opt out of the games government uses to stop you. You can move. You can pull your kids out of school. You can alter your business plan. You can quietly sidestep the obstacles placed before you.

There are major benefits to ignoring the game. For one thing, you don’t have to think about politics. Psychologists and philosophers have long told us to not worry about things not under our control. By ignoring the game, you can be politically ignorant and much happier. You don’t have to fight court battles or Internet comment threads. You can focus on creating, not protesting.

Ignoring the game isn’t always as satisfying as defying it, but ignoring the game offers an immediate sense of personal freedom. It allows you to create a freer life for yourself while providing an example that others can learn from. Over time, if enough people ignore the game, it begins to wane in importance and power.

How Will You Respond?

If your goal is to live free, first understand the game and know the rules. The way you respond to the game is then up to you. The strategy you choose will have more influence over your quality of life than any near-term victory or defeat will.

You may respond to the government in many different ways throughout your life, but if you treat it like a game, it will be less likely to ruin you.

Episode 47: Tam Pham on Life Outside the Classroom

Entrepreneur, author, and college dropout Tam Pham is working hard to introduce people to self-directed learning.

Tam and I talk about jumping off the conveyor belt, how to identify one’s goals and directions, what obstacles are in the way of anyone publishing a book, the ‘Steve Jobs Fallacy’ and failure in entrepreneurship.

Check out his website outsideoftheclassroom.com and get his bestselling book on how to build a network for free.

This episode sponsored by The Foundation of Economic Education.  Check out seminars for 14-26-year-olds and enjoy a mind-opening experience!

This episode is also sponsored by Praxis, for those who want more than college and think they have the entrepreneurial bug.  Apply today for a real world education.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Protest is a Poor Substitute for Living

You don’t have to be against something to be for something else.

You can like what you like without feeling oppressed by the fact that others do not share your preferences and proclivities.

Any felt need to combat those who don’t agree reveals a desire to gain their acceptance, which reveals a lack of self-acceptance.

You’ll never enjoy what you care about as much if you keep caring that others don’t.

Smart People Say Stuff About…Backup Plans

Are backup plans an absolute must, or can they actually do more harm than good? How can you think about and mitigate risk while not holding yourself back?

I asked seven smart, interesting people to give me their take on the concept of backup plans.

None of them heard each other’s take and I gave no further instructions, just whatever came to mind. It’s pretty cool to hear the results!

Responses from:
Cameron Sorsby
Levi Morehouse
TK Coleman
Jeff Till
Albert Lu
Derek Magill
Zak Slayback

There is a wide range of takes on the idea of backup plans, but some clear themes emerge. Enjoy!

This and all episodes are also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Ask Isaac: Goals – Hate ’em? Love ’em? Use ’em? Shove ’em?

I’m not big on goal setting, yet I think consistent structure is key to achieving what you want (even if what you want isn’t perfectly defined).

I discuss this and a few other items on this episode.

Check out the episode sponsor, The Foundation for Economic Education to apply for an amazing experience learning about economics!

This and all episodes are also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

A New Approach Next Month

After daily blogging for over a year, I’m going to try mixing things up for February and March.  In part because I’ll be in Ecuador most of the time, in part because I want to make myself write longer stuff more often, in part because I’m curious and I like change. 

I’ll still be writing or creating something every day, but I’ll be posting to the blog less frequently. My current plan is:

  • Weekly podcasts on Mondays
  • Special/Ask Isaac episode a second day per week
  • Longish article once a week

I might add some shorter posts in between as well. We’ll see how it goes. Honestly I’m more scared of not blogging every day at this point than I was of doing it in the first place. I fear I’ll become an illiterate slob or forget how to live a normal day without blogging or stop trimming my fingernails or something.

Time will tell!

My Ceaseless Quest to Make Myself Useless

I’m on a ceaseless quest.  This quest it based on a belief about myself and the world:

For everything that I do there is someone somewhere who can do it better.

When I start doing something new my quest is always to find the person who can do it better and hand over the reins as soon as possible.

Where and when I’ve succeeded at that, I’ve succeeded.

I fully believe the maxim that you’ll be most successful when you find and do the things that no one else can do as well – the things that are uniquely you.  But if I always believe there is someone who can do everything I do better, and I’m always trying to find them and hand it off, what does that make me uniquely good at?

I don’t really know.  Here are two possible answers.  One is that at any given time I might be the best person for something.  So that’s what I’ll be doing.  But that time is limited.  In the long run, even though I might be uniquely perfect for something at first, someone else might be better.

The other possible answer is that my most unique and valuable skill is replacing myself.

Maybe I’m best at breaking new ground, getting the basics figured out, identifying nascent talent in someone else, and transitioning things to them so they can blossom in a way no one else – including me – ever could.

Whatever the answer I am totally confident that, given enough time, I can find someone who can do everything I do better.  This doesn’t threaten or bother me.  It fills me with excitement!  Where are they?  How can I find them?  How soon can I get them catapulted to heights I could never reach?  When can I replace myself with someone better?

If you share a similar disposition know you’re not alone.  If you know you’re a jack of many trades but master of none don’t fear.  That’s its own kind of mastery.  At least I hope so.  It’s worked pretty well for me so far and I’m having fun.

How to Get Ahead

Want to get ahead in your life and career?  Here’s a really simple way to think about and approach it:

Find something someone is currently doing that you can do better.  Convince them to hire you to do it for them.

That’s it.  That’s pretty much how every job and customer has ever been won.

So how do you do it?  First you need to observe.  Look around and see what people are doing.  Look within and discover what you do well.  Look for places where the quality gap between what you can do and how most people are doing it is large.

Then you need to convince.  This part seems pretty hard.  It’s actually fairly straightforward, though it takes a lot of grit and determination.  There are really only two ways to convince someone to give you a chance to do something for them:

  1. Demonstrate beyond a doubt that you can create value for them.
  2. Be so cheap they’re willing to take a chance on minimal evidence.

Many people get stuck on number one.  They think it’s a catch 22.  How can you prove your ability to create value if you need proven ability to get the chance?  That’s where number two comes in.  Make yourself so cheap – minimal to no money, minimal instruction and maintenance – that it’s hard to say no.

Once you get the chance to create value for someone for free, you’ve got a calling card.  You’ve got proven value creation.  Now you can go to the next opportunity and prove that you can do whatever they’re doing (or paying someone else to do) better.

Every one of the best people I’ve worked with began working for free.  I had a hunch they could create value for me, but it was a risk.  They mitigated the risk by offering to work free until they demonstrated how valuable they were.

This advice, if you take it to heart and really apply it, will get you further than any degree or credential you can buy.

Episode 46: Counseling the Counselors, with Joe Sanok of Practice of the Practice

Joe Sanok is one of the most enterprising people I know.  We are old friends who started a band and a nonprofit together a decade and a half ago.  We both went our way and haven’t regularly kept up.  But Joe hasn’t stopped finding creative ways to build things and provide and capture value.

He started a counseling practice of his own on the side, grew it into a full-time gig, then started hiring people to help, and now he’s launched a podcast, website, conference and series of products aimed at helping other counselors do the same.

This episode is not just about counseling practices.  It’s a great exploration of mindsets for success.  We talked about his beginnings in Kirby sales, starting his own counseling service, keeping his finances in control and how to look beyond the zero-sum-game view.

Joe also states what he sees as the biggest obstacle people face when they want to launch something of their own into the world and shares his E-Course with listeners:

Moving From Being Paralyzed by Perfection to Getting Things Done

This episode sponsored by FEE, where 14-16 year-olds can check out amazing conferences and apply here. Tell them you heard about it here.

We’re also sponsored by Praxis, where you can get off the conveyor belt and build an entrepreneurial career today, no debt, no waiting, and no credentials required.  Apply today.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

What the Heck Are ‘PDP’s’ and Why Are They So Awesome?

I’ve written before about the power of daily challenges, about how simply eliminating unwanted elements from your life is often better than trying to achieve some lofty goal, and about how identifying and overcoming obstacles one at a time can be better than plotting a perfect long-term path.

All of this, as well as concepts like deschooling yourself and creating your own structure are wrapped into a very tangible tool we at Praxis call a Personal (or Professional) Development Project (PDP).

My colleague Cameron Sorsby writes about PDP’s:

“A Praxis Personal Development Project (PDP) is a short-term set of challenges with the goal of gaining self-knowledge, overcoming obstacles to success, and gaining mastery in areas of value to the individual and the marketplace.

For the majority of a young person’s life they are told where to be, what knowledge they need to gain, and what skills they need to develop in order to be successful. Their day-to-day structure is designed for them, which makes it an incredible challenge to transition to professional life successfully.

Creating and completing a PDP helps you instill creativity as an everyday habit, develop marketable skills, and provide tangible evidence that you can create value for others. It helps you overcome those unproductive habits you developed in over-structured institutions like school and start deciding for yourself what knowledge and skills you value.  Ultimately, the purpose of a PDP is to become a superior version of yourself within a short-time frame.

Praxis participants complete a series of 12 PDP’s throughout their program experience. With the help of their program advisor and access to resources like the Praxis Curriculum Library, each month they create a PDP and follow through with completing it.”

Check out a few recent Praxis participant PDP’s here.

Check out the Praxis Teen Entrepreneurship Course, which includes a 30-day PDP built into the program.  If you can successfully complete it (harder than it sounds), you get a free coaching session with Education Director T.K. Coleman.

The Power of Broke

Yesterday I listened to an episode of the James Altucher Podcast with FUBU founder and Shark Tank star Daymond John.  It was awesome.

John talked about his new book, “The Power of Broke”.  What a great title.  The subtitle is, “How empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage.”  The concept is as straightforward as it sounds.  Being broke is an advantage in many ways.  The power of broke is the power you harness because you have to.  It’s the creativity you employ when you can’t buy your way to the next step.

I’ve written before about the advantages of being broke (with a much lamer title, “Your Lack of Income Can Be An Asset“).  While I focused on the freedom and flexibility to experiment and the low cost of failure, John talked in the podcast more about the clearer decision making and enhanced hustle when options are constrained.

One particularly poignant example was when he was selling hats on the streets of Queens.  LL Cool J would come to the neighborhood frequently, and John would stalk and harass and beg him to wear his hats.  He finally did, and it resulted in an explosion in demand.  John said if he had $500,000 to spend at that time he would have spent it all…on getting LL Cool J to wear his hats.  Because he didn’t have the money, he found a way to do it without.

One of my all-time favorite TED talks is called “Embrace the Shake“.  It’s about how creativity can often be unleashed if you give yourself constraints.  An artist who lost his ability to do his favorite technique was forced to find other ways.  He eventually began a series of experiments in creating art with ridiculously tight constraints.  He could only use paper cups and ink, for example.  The results were as much about what it did to his mindset as about the art he produced.

If you launch a startup with no money, you’ll figure out how to move forward with no money.  If you raise $1 million in venture capital, you’ll figure out how to move forward spending $1 million.  The activities you engage in may even be the same.  Or worse, the money blinds you to problems with your model or assumptions and creates a lag in the feedback loop.  Test small and quick, fail small and quick.  Money often makes that harder.

This is obviously not about any kind of moral superiority to poverty.  It’s not about pretending fewer resources always provide an advantage over more.  It’s about a powerful mindset shift that occurs when incentives and desires are tightly connected.  When you don’t have a backup plan or the ability to give up after the first setback or buy your way into the next step, you have something most of your larger, better funded competitors don’t.  You have the power of broke.

Since it’s a mindset, you can employ it even if you are rich, but it’s definitely harder.  Take advantage of the time you have now as a young upstart and get every drop out of the power of broke.

As Long As It’s Interesting, It’s Good

I wrote on the Praxis blog about how silly it is for young people to worry and stress about working in or studying a specific industry:

“Many young people think they know what industry or category of job they want.  They’re mostly wrong.

We’re trained by the school and university process to think in terms of big career categories and majors.  Marketing.  Hospitality.  Management.  Financial Services.  But these categories are so generic and ill-defined that they offer almost no value for an individual trying to forge a path to life and career success.

The truth is, you have no idea what industry or job will make you happy.  How could you?  You’ve barely seen any of them up close.  The roles within these industry labels can be more diverse than you can imagine.  Many jobs and entire industries have no label.  Many more will emerge that don’t yet exist.

The good news is that this is good news.  Opportunity abounds, and what major you pick or what label you spit out when someone asks what you want to do are of little importance.  You have massive flexibility and a chance to explore and experiment.  You can even create new roles that no one ever thought of.

Stop stressing about it.  Don’t fret over getting an internship that perfectly aligns with your imagined industry of choice.  As long as you’re not doing something you hate, you’re heading in the right direction.  You don’t know what you’ll discover.  You can’t learn it from a course catalog or guidance counselor.  You’ve got to engage the world and see what you respond to and what responds to you.

Not only that, but it is well documented that ‘outsiders’ are most likely to innovate.  If you go directly from a finance major to an investment banking internship and then job, you’ll have experiences and knowledge identical to nearly everyone you work with.  If you first spend a few years working at a software startup, building a network of owners of financial service businesses, then transition into investment banking, you’ll have a persepctive and paradigm that makes you truly unique.  You’ll have a network that most of your peers lack.  You’ll be able to do that thing which is the holy grail of the creative process, and create a new instersection of separate matrices of thought.

Your theories about what industry or job fits you are like all theories.  They need to be tested.  Go try some stuff.  Anything you don’t dislike is fair game.  You might discover new roles you never thought of.  You might invent and new industry or join it as it emerges.  You might gain a distinct advantage and a unique outlook, network, and experience set by working somewhere unlikely first.

Don’t try to pick your industry yet.  In fact, don’t ever pick one.  Just do interesting stuff.”

I stand by this advice.  If you want to get started doing interesting stuff, apply to Praxis!

Some Great Bucket List Items

Last week I asked for people to send me some bucket list items – things they want to do before they die.

I got some great stuff in response.  Matthew Hartill won the books via the random selection process (my ten-year-old kid picking a number).

Thanks to everyone who played!  Here’s a compilation of submissions.  I’ve anonymizes, slightly edited, and combined similar items.  Maybe you can take inspiration from a few of these…

  • Become fluent in one romance language, and one language with a (very) different alphabet
  • Live in 4 foreign countries for a period of 6 months or more
  • Create, launch, and flip a business from start to finish
  • Create, launch, and maintain a business from start to finish
  • Hike sections of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail
  • Vastly improve my skills and be a ____ bum for my three favorite extreme sports (rock climbing, surfing, and skiing)
  • Get good enough at code and computer programming to keep up with my imagination
  • Make a crucial impact in one or more charitable organizations that I admire
  • Reach a place of spiritual comfort; whether that be through meditation, religious practice, or anything else
  • Travel
  • Fall in love
  • Create a successful business that changes the world.
  • Have a child, and/or adopt a child
  • Meet Bob Dylan
  • Meet Mike Rowe
  • Live in the house of my dreams
  • Be a pilot
  • Participate in Praxis
  • Graduate high school a year early
  • Stay frugal, stay giving, despite income growth
  • Reach 50,000 hits on an article
  • Drop acid with Tim Ferriss
  • Legitimately learn Spanish and maintain fluency
  • Finally write my stand-up comedy sketch and prove to myself that girls can be funny
  • Do a scorpion shot a la James Bond in Skyfall
  • Deadlift twice my body weight
  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro (and post-Kilimanjaro, complete a Bang Bang Bang in the style of Louis C.K. — three consecutive full meals, consumed all in the same timeframe)
  • Visit Meteora Monasteries
  • Start a ministry in a city that has never heard the Gospel before
  • Visit a country currently listed as “3rd world”, then visit it when it becomes 1st world
  • Write a novel
  • Give a sermon
  • Be a part of a metal band’s album or tour
  • Buy something for my child, in cryptocurrency, from a major department store
  • Win a baking competition
  • Travel to space in a commercial flight
  • Slam dunk a basketball while in my 30s
  • Watch the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team win the Rose Bowl

 

 

 

 

How to Not Let Your Parents Control You

This post is not just for young people.  I’ve known plenty of grown adults with kids of their own who cannot live, act, or think free from their parent’s emotional control.

This is not an anti-parent post.  Most parents mean well.  Many are unconscious of their own forms of manipulation and if revealed to them they’d prefer to change it.

If you are to create a meaningful and enjoyable life you must break the power of parental control.  It’s a massive pyschological burden and it’s sapping your energy, freedom, and fun.

I knew a guy once who dated two very different girls.  At some point in both relationships, things become pretty serious.  Maybe this was going to be a long-term thing.

In the first relationship the girl was smitten but her parents were not.  Not even close.  They did not approve of her dating this guy and they made that clear.  Things were icy.

He’d go with her for family holidays and it always ended the same.  Afterwards, she’d cry and share with him how hard it was to have them so unhappy with her choice.  Even if he wasn’t there, every time she’d visit home this guy knew there would be fallout when she came back.  She’d confide in him just how much it meant to have her parent’s approval of the relationship.  This put tremendous pressure on him to live up to some standard that lived in her parent’s head.

The relationship eventually ended.  It wasn’t too pretty either.

Time passed and he eventually began dating someone seriously again.

In the second relationship the girl was smitten but her parents were not.  Not even close.  They did not approve of her dating this guy and they made that clear.  Here we go again.  He was nervous. He knew he couldn’t take another situation like the last.

But this time things never got icy.

The very first time his girlfriend’s father voiced his displeasure she said, “This is who I’m dating.  This is who I want to be with.  If you want me in your life you’re going to have to accept the choices that I make.”

Her dad did not disown her.  Instead, he had to overcome his own prejudice and work to get to know they guy.  He did.  Now they’re in-laws.

Consciously or unconsciously, parents can sense your need for their approval.  The stronger and more desperate it is, the more leverage they have to control you.  But the thing is, you’re parents don’t have that leverage in reality.  They want to have a relationship with you just as much or more than you do with them, and this feeling increases as they age.  That’s why if you are definite in your purpose and you make that clear to them, they will nine times out of ten see that earnest resolve and adapt to it.

This makes knowing who you are and what you really want paramount.  If you’re unsure you’ll just end up issuing a constant stream of threats to your parents, which isn’t healthy for anybody.  But if you really know what you want, you are fully prepared to live the consequences with or without your parent’s support, and you can calmly and clearly let them know, they are very likely to end up supporting you.

You don’t need to disown them.  But let them know their threat to disown you will not stop you.

They’re not as stubborn as they may seem when it comes down to it.  They want you to be happy, and if it’s clear that you will only be happy pursuing things your own way – and you’re aware of the risk and willing to take it – they’ll stop trying to resist you.

There is no amount of parental approval that’s worth your dignity, freedom, and power as an individual.

For some specific applications, see here

Episode 45: How to Be a Free Person, with Jeff Till

My good friend and fellow rabble-rousing podcaster Jeff Till joins me to talk about his experiences freeing himself from the chains of obligation.

We go from his schooling ups and downs, pursuit of an artistic career, navigation through the corporate world to breaking out of his corporate suit, building a family, launching a company and moving out to a different place.

Jeff writes and does podcasts about things that will affect the future, and he also wrote two books on homeschooling – follow up on him at fivehundredyears.org.

This episode sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education.  Check out their summer seminars if you are between the ages of 14-24!  Tell them you heard about it here.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.