Heyo from Los Angeles, CA! I just came back from an unforgettable Europe trip. It was both amazing and totally exhausting... Planning to hibernate for the rest of the year. ✌️
I’m back with this month’s issue of Tam’s Jam: my curated collection of resources and lessons around living a meaningful life.
In this issue: how to go on a sabbatical, why job titles are a bad north star, chess drama, me dancing bachata for six months, and more!
Day-to-day > job title
When we get asked what we’d like to do when we grow up, our answers typically default to some sort of title.
Entrepreneur. YouTube influencer. Famous singer. NBA player. Food critic.
It feels great to declare a cool job title like this. But as we grow older and start working in these jobs, we realize that expectations don’t always match reality.
Because behind every job title, there is a list of key activities that people overlook.
An entrepreneur, for example, has to hire and manage a team. Build a product from zero. Raise money. Keep the company afloat. Sell like crazy.
So if you’re a designer thinking about starting a clothing brand, are you doing so for the title? Or because you genuinely like the work involved with being a business owner?
As a teen, I wanted to be a full-time YouTube creator, something that 29% of kids today dream of too (in other studies, the % is higher).
I wanted fame. The status. To make money in my sleep.
There was only one little problem: I didn’t like creating videos.
Filming and editing bored me to death. Not including scripting and presenting to the camera. Or dealing with trolls. Or figuring out what the YouTube algorithm wants next.
I could do it. But I didn't want to.
Compare this to Mr. Beast, one of the most popular YouTubers in the world. As a teen, he had a hyper-obsession to understand how YouTube works.
For an entire year, he’d studied YouTube from 7am - 10pm, to see what videos performed well and why. He formed a mastermind group with other creators to share trade secrets and level up together. He reinvested nearly all his money back into making better videos.
It’s remarkable how much Mr. Beast loved the process and his work + results speak for themselves.
I got the same feeling after reading my former boss’ book, Stop Asking Questions, about learning anything from anyone through interviews.
Andrew Warner has interviewed 2,000+ entrepreneurs for his podcast and has been hyper-obsessed with doing the best interviews in the world. The book shared tactics and strategies that I'd never even heard or thought to consider.
When I had my own podcast many years ago, all I cared about was having a big audience. Andrew cared about perfecting his craft as an interviewer. No wonder why my podcast ended after 25 episodes vs Andrew's 2,000+ episodes.
I can go on but these people are masters at their craft. They cared about the process. I only cared about the outcome.
Instead of asking, What do you want to be? the question should really be about,
“What would be exciting or meaningful to do every day?”
Your work comes in the day-to-day, not the job title. For me, I want to continue:
- Community Building/Friendships
- Play, Dance, Perform, Workout, Meditate
If I did some form of these activities every day, I'd have a pretty awesome life.
Now back to you.
What activities do you want to optimize your life around?
It could be teaching, singing, designing, selling, etc. Once you have your list, you can use it to make better decisions.
- If spending time with your family is important, should you accept the promotion that requires you to work more?
- If you want the freedom to travel, should you take an office job that requires you to stay in one place?
- If you don’t like meetings, should you move from an individual contributor to a manager position?
This may sound elementary. But the greatest truths in life lean towards simplicity.
I’ll end this mini-essay with a quote from author and artist, Austin Kleon.
Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without the work.
Let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun), and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb).
Doing the verb will take you someplace further and far more interesting than just wanting the noun.
I Took a Bachata Sabbatical For Six Months. It Was Awesome.
My newest article! The title speaks for itself.
Read on if you're curious about what a dance sabbatical looks like.
Hint: a lot of fun, growth, and adventure. 💃
Now time for me to find work again. If you know anyone looking to hire a badass community builder, writer, biz generalist... my DMs are open. 😉
What I’m reading/watching
😯 Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life (Article - The Atlantic)
“Five pieces of career advice, shaped by economics, psychology, and a little bit of existential math.” My favorite one: Your career is not your life.
🤓 Becoming an Expert Generalist (Substack - The Jungle Gym)
I’m a generalist and really loved this post on what distinguishes between expert and novice generalists. Also, this job board is a gem for generalist roles if anyone else is looking.
💼 How to be the best Operator (Website - RPBBX)
A guide on how to be an excellent Chief of Staff from someone who has walked the walk. I randomly found Regina Gerbeaux on Twitter and loved her writing. Her team user manual is also very human and professional–I need to write something like this.
🏖 How to Sabbatical (Substack - David Spinks)
My friend wrote about his recent sabbatical experience and put together a simple guide on how he recommends approaching sabbaticals if you’re considering one. My version looks different from his and I hope to write about it one day!
🍃 The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection (Book - Amazon)
I just finished this book and I honestly don’t really know what to make of it. It’s the journey of a hippie dude who accidentally started a billion-dollar company because he kept surrendering to whatever was in front of him. I love the spirit of surrender but I must say that I am still skeptical. Well worth the read though. Has anyone else finished this?
♔ Magnus Carlsen: Greatest Chess Player of All Time (YouTube - Lex Fridman Podcast)
There have been 10 years of chess drama (yes, you read that right) in the last two months alone. Magnus Carlsen decided to not compete in the World Championship. A recent cheating accusation to player Hans Niemann who is now filing a $100 million lawsuit against Magnus, Hikaru, and Chess.com. Anal beads.
Anyway… Magnus gives a great long-form interview that I really appreciated. For more about the chess drama, Lex's interview with GothamChess will give you the full scoop.
🐤 Tweets of the month
All tweets can be found on my Tweeter (@MrTamPham)
🙂 Before you go
🙏 Support Tam’s Jam:
- Become a member (and get perks) or make a one-time donation here! My goal with writing is for you to live a more meaningful life. A contribution makes the blog more accessible to amazing readers like yourself. Thank you in advance!! ☺️
📚 My books:
- How To Network: Build Instant Trust & Respect With Anyone You Meet (112 reviews - 4.5/5⭐️)
- How To Land Your Dream Internship: Proven Step-By-Step System To Gain Real World Experience (42 reviews - 4.9/5 ⭐️)
Thanks for reading! See you again next month.
Tam Pham's Blog
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