October 22, 2013 | Posted in:How Life Works

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fincon t-shirt learn somethingThis past weekend I attended a conference for financial bloggers in St. Louis (appropriately named FinCon). It was a great experience, because I was able to meet and connect with so many other like-minded people and hang out with most of these great bloggers in real life.

The conference itself focused on bringing bloggers together to mutually exchange ideas about how to run better websites, blogs, etc. It was facilitated by means of classroom-style presentations, Ask Me Anything talks and breakout sessions. And there was no short supply of free coffee, bacon and booze. Mmmm bacon.

Most of the content I found to be extremely relevant, but there was one topic that was discussed ad nauseam that I care very little about: “how to make more money from your website”. That isn’t the point of this blog anyway.

I didn’t have to attend the conference. It isn’t a rite of passage to obtaining the best financial blog on the internet.  I attended voluntarily, because I realized that I want to make continual education from those that know more than I do a regular part of my adult life. The concept of meeting and learning from others who have come before me was a very exciting one.

How many people would get excited about a training session like this if it were for their 9-5 job? And what if it took up an entire weekend? It isn’t something that I’d be very thrilled about, because I’m not overly passionate about my day job. Sure, I like it, but I don’t want to spend my free time honing my military skills.

If the conference taught me anything it’s that I should be spending my free time learning, even if I have to lose an evening or an occasional weekend to do so. In my mind, you aren’t really losing or wasting time if you’re working on developing skills to help you in an area that you’re passionate about.

Why don’t more people think like this?

Members of the suburban Middle Class have a natural repulsion to filling up their off-duty hours with learning, because it’s outside of their comfort zone. They would rather spend their free time shopping, cooking “cheese”-filled-microwave dinners and enjoying the bluish glow of their overly-expensive-1000″-television sets. This is because most members of the Middle Class are small thinkers.

It’s easy to sit in front of a television night after night, smart phone in hand, scrolling endlessly through your Facebook feed. Reducing the amount of brain cells in use at any given time is sure to make a person feel pure relaxation. “Social interaction, and brain activity aren’t really that important anyway. Plus, I learn a lot watching the nightly news.”

Even though I try to use my free time as efficiently as possible, I feel like much of it ends up wasted anyway, especially the time that I spend aimlessly browsing the internet. Because of this, I decided that a better way to spend some of my evenings would be to learn stuff from other smarter human beings.

I sat down in front of a computer — with purpose  — and started typing my interests into Google to see if there were any locally offered courses or seminars in my area. It turns out that every single thing that I want to learn more about is being taught by somebody in my area either professionally, or informally. Writing, Speaking, Gardening, Carpentry, Automotive Repair; Everything Else.

We’re in an Age where we don’t need to formally enroll in college courses, or sift through various Encyclopedias to glean the knowledge we’re yearning for. We can simply hop on a computer, send a few emails and instantaneously be in touch with course providers, who turn out to be actual human beings.

Whether you’re attending an in-store course at Home Depot on how to install drywall or learning how to destroy the fear that causes people to shy away from public speaking, you’re doing something that most people aren’t doing: learning and taking advantage of the full range of abilities of your cerebrum. Your brain wasn’t designed to sit in front of a television for hours, which is why brain activity is almost non-existent while engaged in long periods of television consumption.

While most Middle Americans will continue their patterns of habitual small thinking, we can relish in the fact that we are Thinking Big. We want to use our free time for increasing our knowledge, and our skillsets. We can then use our new-found skills for making the world a better place for our children, and future generations.

Your job this week is to sign up for a class that matches your interests. And you are to attend, and enjoy this class thoroughly.

You can use this new opportunity solely for networking, or to increase your general understand and abilities. You could even use your new skills to make your own life better, or to aide your quest to becoming the next Johnny Moneyseed or President of the United States (yes those two positions hold a similar level of clout to be mentioned in the same breath). There is no limit to the power of Thinking Big.

Start your own Kick-Ass blog in less than 10 minutes.

I will help you via email for the first month of your blog’s existence, free of charge. You can bounce ideas off of me, ask me for tips on building up a following on social media, among other things. Whatever you need help with, I’m here for you.

How to create a Kick-Ass Blog in 10 Minutes

22 Comments

  1. Christy King
    October 23, 2013

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    Love this! At least once a year I choose to do something FAR out of my comfort zone, ranging from climbing skydiving to taking a motorcycle class. It has been life-changing. I recently noticed how much easier it is to take (good) risks now, almost second nature.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      Christy — I think my first class is going to be of the public speaking variety. I think that would be about as excited and nerve racking for me as skydiving. We did an indoor skydiving lesson not too long ago, which was pretty amazing, but it probably doesn’t compare to the real thing.

  2. Laurie
    October 23, 2013

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    Great post, JM! Although we couldn’t make FINCON this year, I’m definitely looking to increase my knowledge based on some of the things that were taught there, and that is a front-and-center goal of mine for 2014. Glad you had a good time!

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      Laurie — If you ever need help with WordPress, or anything of that nature feel free to contact me.

  3. Broke Millennial
    October 23, 2013

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    Well, said JM. But those cheese-filled microwaveable dinners sound enticing….

    I’m really disappointed I couldn’t make FinCon work this year, but I’m going to be there next year.

    One of my favorite classes I’ve signed up for is improv. It’s outside of my comfort zone and was a great way to meet some new people. It works your mind in a different way and makes you quick on your feet. I’d encourage anyone to give it a try.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      Erin — You better be at FinCon next year. Especially if you’re going to be winning awards and all that.

      Improv is amazing. I’m totally down for taking classes, or doing improve performances. Did you take that through school, or in your free time?

  4. Stephen
    October 23, 2013

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    I always enjoy reading post like this. I too thoroughly enjoy learning, both online and from other people. In my area, I actually have the ability to take classes from the local university for free. It is pretty incredible the scope of the teachings and the topics that are covered. It is even funnier to attend the classes and learn things without simply trying to ‘get a degree’. I’m working my way through all the financial planning and behavioral economics classes. They are pretty entertaining. I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to take classes the rest of my life simply to just learn new things.

    I’m looking forward to attending something like fincon in the future to simply be able to hang out with lots of other people who share a similar mindset than I do. There are a few in my area but seem pretty few and far between.

  5. This Life On Purpose
    October 23, 2013

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    I’ve completed a few courses through Coursera online. There seems to be something for everyone. I’m also taking a photography course online. I wouldn’t mind looking for a classroom setting course though, as I see the interaction with like-minded individuals just as valuable as the course content.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      I really enjoy watching the Khan Academy videos, especially now that they’ve really started focusing on personal finance material.

  6. Jamie V
    October 23, 2013

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    A couple months ago I finally signed up for a class to learn a hobby that I’ve wanted to learn for years. It was 6 weeks long, Wednesday nights for 3 hours (my Wednesdays started at 7 am, and ended at 9:15 pm) and after that was done..I signed up for the next one and chose a bigger project! I thoroughly enjoyed it (class is over now), and it’s the only thing in this world right now that stops my mind from zooming around (and worrying) on pointless crap because I HAVE to focus on this task at hand, otherwise I mess up. It’s so nice to have a break from my mind. Of course now that winter is here with all the holidays and breaks and such, the class doesn’t start again until January. But I met new people (social anxiety), spent some cash (stingy) to learn something new (frustratingly lazy) at a new place (yearned for new sights and sounds) that is great to calm my mind (always worried), and might possibly become something that I can use to make and sell in the future. I’m so proud of myself!

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      Jamie — That’s amazing that you were able to get so much out of taking a fairly short class. I feel like having a weekly class to attend becomes another part of your life. Especially if it’s something that’s outside of your professional field. Like if I took a knitting class, I could tell people that I’m a Marine, and a knitter. I probably won’t take a knitting course, though, and instead choose to do something infinitely more badass like lumberjacking or bareknuckle boxing or mustache growing.

  7. Justin
    October 23, 2013

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    I’ve never understood the aversion to learning or appearing smart. Learning things make life so much more interesting, and I imagine makes you more interesting to other people (as long as you aren’t an obnoxious know it all).

    I’d like to revive a modern version of the French “salon” – a place to have polite discourse on a variety of topics of general interest. I seem to find friends that have interests that go beyond the mundane (sports, pop music, what was on TV last night, the weather), but there aren’t any general “discussion clubs”. Unless I’ve been lazy and haven’t adequately searched out these discussion clubs.

    This past weekend I was lucky to host two dinner parties with friends, and topics of discussion ranged from programming, SQL databases and content management systems, local wildlife, the origins of the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the month naming conventions (with a lil help from ole Google), and the consolidation of Italy and other European nations out of city states around the Renaissance period. A nice, intellectually fulfilling weekend. Those kind of discussions don’t happen enough unfortunately.

    I imagine FinCon would provide some interesting discussions. Maybe next year I’ll make it.

  8. Alicia
    October 23, 2013

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    I’m a lifelong learner. I recently finished a PhD, and so I am trying to keep my thinking/learning skills up by teaching myself new topics, but also because I enjoy it. The first one is learning about the financial game. Then I’m going to learn more about the political system here in Canada. After that… who knows. But those two should keep me busy for a good amount of time.

  9. Ashley B
    October 23, 2013

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    Great post Johnny! I am actually currently rereading “The Magic of Thinking Big”, which ties in nicely to this post. Definitely going to take that tip and look up a class or seminar of interest to attend in the next month! Learning is a life-long process, and it’s so sad knowing that many people think it stops after college.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      Ashley — I bought a cigarette-smoke stained copy of that book a few weeks ago at the Thrift Store for $1. I haven’t really had the opportunity to crack it open. Yet. But it’s on the to-do list, and I’ve heard that it’s a life changer.

  10. Micro
    October 23, 2013

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    Wait, there was BACON at this conference? Man, had I only known…maybe next year. I am always amazed that people can find learning a new skill to be a chore. Especially when you think about how we act when we are kids. They constently want to learn more about the world around them and learn how to do things llke their parents. Somehow though, that desire withers away. It’s kind of sad actually.

  11. Mrs. Pop
    October 23, 2013

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    Life gets too boring if you’re not learning something new… Luckily it’s easier than ever. I’m enrolled in a free Stanford business school course at the moment through the power of the interwebs. =)

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      October 24, 2013

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      Oh wow, that sounds pretty awesome.

      For anyone who is as interested in this as I am here’s a link to what Mrs. PoP is referencing:

      https://class.stanford.edu/

  12. Tara Zee
    October 24, 2013

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    I am a big believer in the power of true boredom. Boredom sparks creativity and deep thinking. With so much technology, it’s so easy to avoid that boredom and so those eureka moments can be few and far between. It’s in those moments that you can find out, man, I really want to take a sewing class!

    So I’m with you on the education. I would love to sign up for some advanced sewing classes as I am only limited to basic things. I also would love to get into a non-matriculated foreign language course at a local college.

  13. Mo' Money Mo' Houses
    October 25, 2013

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    I completely believe that you should constantly be learning. It’s funny, after I graduated university I thought that would be it, and I would be done with school and learning, but flashforward 4 years I’m back taking courses and learning as much as I can so I can be the best I can be.

  14. Ryan Hart
    November 13, 2013

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    I’ve been tempted to sign up for a Ruby on Rails class for the past few months. Thanks for the extra push – I’m going to signup tonight!

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