Jonathan and Brad talk to David Sawyer who just released his book, RESET . The book is aimed at helping people who feel stuck in their careers as well as an optimization strategy for Financial Independence in the UK.
Inspiration For RESET
David grew up in a home where his parents didn't follow the fads. He graduated from university without any idea of what he wanted to do. In his mind, he chose the least worst career option of journalism. However, he realized that 60 hour work weeks and very little pay were not what he had in mind. With that, he made a career switch into public relations.
I guess I had a bit of a head start in that I've always been a writer. Albeit, writing a press release is extremely different from writing a book like this one that gets the message across but also tells a story.
He wanted to create an accessible book for everyone. He wanted to reach people that had never heard about FI and people that were already on the path.
David worked as a PR consultant for 17 years. The first four years were at a small firm. The last 13 years were at the world's largest PR firm. Throughout his time there, he worked hard to earn raises, awards, and more responsibility. Eventually, he was placed in charge of the Glasgow office of the global PR firm.
With these promotions, he found no time for himself. In his dreams, he had wanted to be a writer and travel the world. But in reality, he had an interesting job but was not truly enjoying his life. After careful thought, he decided to start his own PR firm.
Immediately, my mindset changed and I committed to learning self-development. And started, well rediscovered, reading books but also blog posts.
As he started his own firm, he went on a crash course of learning digital skills. He sought out the best information possible to bring his skill set to the cutting edge.
The problem: Globally, one in four of us hate our jobs and a further six in ten are not engaged at work. When it comes to people in middle management, their biggest challenge in this hyper-connected world is learning new information, particularly digital, which is revolutionizing their profession. But there is no time to learn. To become the future, not the past, to fit the profile of the organization they work for, they have staff [with] atrophying skills and decreasing motivation are eating away at their pride. They are trapped in highly paid [jobs] with commitments coming out of their earholes and what's more there is no way out.
His Why Of FI
David realized that many of these people in high salary positions were only two months away from their lives crashing down. It really struck home to him because he was in the same boat.
He had a high salary but no emergency fund. Unfortunately, he was almost trapped in his job because he had a big mortgage, a cleaner, and kids with expensive hobbies. Realizing this was a life he designed that led to being trapped, he wasn't enjoying what he once had.
He realized that taking control of his money could lead to happiness. Essentially control over his money would equal the freedom to take control of his own life.
Listen: The Why Of FI
Awakening And Building His Business
The first two to three months of his business were strictly for learning. He wanted to be a one-man band, so he worked to understand exactly what he wanted to achieve in this business. David asked 15 close friends what they thought he stood for and saw some common themes emerge including trust, integrity, and results.
I wanted results. There is no use in just thinking about things, you have to put things into action. And if you don't see outcomes from that you are not going to keep taking the actions.
With that, he focused on getting better at PR through personal experience and learning more.
Writing The Book
Before he took the plunge and wrote the book, he had to tackle other people's objections. Many said he was too old. To that, he showed examples of many who achieved great things in their older years.
So many people that achieve things later in life. So if you are middle aged…you know, age 35 to 60, and you think your life is mapped out and that's it… Don't believe that, you are never too old.
David took small actions every day to create habits and routines that were effective. He determined what he wanted to do and made it happen. He believes even just working on something ten minutes a day adds up, and the benefits can be seen in the future.
When confronted with the idea that he was too busy, he realized that there was always a reason to not do something. Choosing to do something different is not always an easy choice.
The easy thing doesn't make you happy, it gives you immediate pleasure. But it doesn't make you happy in the long run.
For example, spending too much time on your smartphone can lead to instant happiness and a feeling of control. However, you might be happier in the future if you do things now that will pay off later.
Doing Hard Things
For David, doing hard things started with running. After picking up running in his late 30s, his mindset started to change. Since he started running, he has done several marathons and completed one under three hours!
Running has served as an experimentation ground in a similar way to running his own business. He has learned that through testing himself, he has really learned a lot. Reading all the books and researching can only go so far, at some point, you just have to give it try.
How To Go Digital
Technology has changed everything about our lives. Although many of the changes are good, there are also negatives.
In order to maximize the benefits of technology David recommends a series of steps:
- Get a fast laptop with long battery life.
- Find a comfy keyboard.
- Buy a fast smartphone with a good camera.
- Set up a file-syncing storage system like Google Drive or DropBox.
- Link your email to a digital calendar. You might be surprised how convenient this strategy is.
- Find a computer specialist that lives in your local area.
Once you have yourself ready to use technology, it might be time to brush up on your digital skills. You do not necessarily need to learn how to code everything yourself. However, you should learn how to leverage online tools, apps, and add-ons.
You don't have to be technical to make technology work for you.
Learning these digital skills can help to future proof your career. In his book, David outlines a 25 step program to bring your resume into the present.
You can start by building a digital presence, learning new skills, and building an audience that is interested in what you have to say. With these skills, you will be more marketable for new jobs should the need arise. Things like company bankruptcy, aging out, mergers, and competitive coworkers could lead to you needing to put this backup plan into action.
Being dependent on one salary, or even two salaries if you are with your partner, it's a risky place to be. And the process that I'm outlining in my book is all about using, learning a new set of skills to raise your profile and those skills are digital skills. Learn those skills and you'll be much more valuable as a potential member of staff for another employer; and, in addition, you'll be much more valuable at your current job because they'll know that they could lose you.
How To Start Building New Skills
Building new skills start with finding the right information.
The first step you need to take to make a commitment to reading. A few places to start reading include:
- Blogs. You can find an expert's immediate take of the latest information.
- Email newsletters. Usually more to the point and packed with information.
- Books. Since books take a long time to produce, the information is typically more refined and polished.
Another way to learn is through listening. Try audiobooks or podcasts like this one to expand your knowledge base.
Find a system to catalog what you are learning. David has a nondigital approach in which carries around a set of notecards and writes down ideas along the way.
You should make the distinction between grazing and learning. Make time to sit down and learn from a resource. Try to be intentional about your learning.
Should You Start Your Own Blog?
Not everyone needs to start a blog. However, if you want to follow this plan of learning to explore what you think and connect with others in your genre, then a blog is a great way to do that.
Plus, starting a blog can help to supercharge your digital development. With a blog, you'll need to write and format posts, collect and organize your thoughts, learn SEO, learn about promoting your blog and make connections with others in your space.
If you are committed to using digital to raise your profile, there are many ways you can do it. But as an entry point, I can't think of a better one than starting a blog.
For David, starting a blog led to the confidence to write a book. His book is very similar to his weekly email newsletter in terms of writing style. The weekly email gave him a place to collect his thoughts and stretch his writing muscles.
I feel like an email newsletter is a safe space to organize your thoughts, say what you really think.
Related: How To Start A Blog
Additionally, your blog will help you connect to people in your space. If you follow the idea of being nice without any expectations, you might be surprised at the opportunities that come your way.
One of the benefits of producing content, so in my case blogs or newsletters or books, is that you meet all sorts of different people.
If you are afraid of being an imposter, don't worry about it. Many people struggle with imposter syndrome. You should not avoid starting a blog for this reason alone.
If you just sit there and do nothing, intimidated by all the people that have written all of these amazing blog posts, produced these amazing podcasts and you could never do anything like that…Well, you know, that is a very very self limiting belief…if you don't put in those hard miles at the start, well, you're never going to know if you have this talent to write…or to do anything.
You might not be good at first, but you never know until you try.
Be Nice To Others
As you head down this new path, make sure to proceed with an abundance mindset. Be nice to others, establish connections, and create situations that are beneficial for everyone.
Sharing your thoughts to help other people is a great first step. Do not be afraid to give away your help to others, typically, that nice gesture comes back to you.
If you are good to people, you know, good things will happen to you. And if you produce good material, you know, people will listen and hopefully, you know, eventually your star will rise.
David came back to discuss the UK path to FI! Check that out here.
How To Connect
To get in direct contact with David, sign up for his newsletter. Plus, you'll get the first 8,000 words of the book for free.
The Hot Seat
Favorite Blog: Monevator
Favorite Article: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person
Favorite Life Hack: Karma. Be nice without expectation of anything in return because what goes around comes around.
Biggest Financial Mistake: Got into investing in 1997. Everything was skyrocketing until the 2000 crash dropped most of his shares but he was still being charged a few pounds a month to hang on the worthless certificate. That experience put him off investing for around 15 years.
The advice you would give your younger self: Don't be so worried about what could go wrong in the early days of my career.
Bonus! What is the purchase you have made over the last 12 months that has brought the most value to your life? The money he is investing in producing the audiobook version of Reset.
New to FI? Be sure to check out Episode 100: Welcome To The FI Community!