You buy something, maybe it’s a house, because you think it will make you happier. But then, you realize you need accessories for your house: a fancy garage opener, a beautiful garden, and sun-powered lights.
All of a sudden, you are overwhelmed by an infinite amount of products you can buy. You feel you need these to be happier and keep up with your neighbors. It’s a never-ending chase and businesses are more than happy to up-sell you on these to make more money.
You may be able to afford all of this stuff, so you get it. You end up with too much stuff, yet you feel no happier. In fact, you feel worse because these possessions own you rather than the other way around. Too many possessions clutter up your workflow.
A similar phenomenon can happen when it comes to your to-do list. There’s always something more you can do to earn more money, have a higher impact, or get better at a skill.
You may feel like you’re doing so much, but not accomplishing enough.
What if I told you all you need you already have.
This isn’t a theory. It’s based on years of scientific research. Listen to this podcast for more info:
Social media is an incredible way of marketing and making more money for your business. If you do it right.
After spending thousands of hours on social media content across very old (MySpace) and very new (Musically, Snapchat, Vine, Peach, etc.) platforms, I want to share with you what you need to know on social media to succeed in business and more importantly prevent failure.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the results social media can bring for a business. But when you simplify it, there’s only four.
1. Social Media Amplifies How You Treat Your Customers
If you treat a customer horribly or delight them, their experience will be amplified and spread much further thanks to social media. It’s the biggest revolution in the century for businesses.
In the old days, if a business pissed you off, you might might tell a couple friends or family. Now, that customer can tell 500 friends on Facebook, 5,000 on Twitter, or 100,000 on YouTube. You don’t know who’s walking into your store; it could be an influencer.
Notice how I didn’t say “millions of people.” While there are social media influencers who can do this, don’t believe the people who hype it up. It’s possible for posts to hit a viral reach that large, but it’s rare. Those events usually can’t be manufactured and numerous factors have to align. A YouTuber or Instagram influencer can have millions of followers but only maybe tens of thousands engage with an average post they release.
Here is an example of amplification in a good way:
Karim took a joke about his last name by the receptionist at the Hyatt the wrong way. He tweeted about his frustration, and the Hyatt responded with a handwritten letter and complimentary food and beverage.
Let’s put aside whether or not he should have been offended. The point is that he shared his story and how great he felt at their response. It quickly went viral and 13,580 people commented, 61,438 liked it, and many more probably saw this. Now, that’s incredible, free, positive PR that couldn’t have happened any time before in history because it was started completely by a consumer.
Here are examples of amplification in a bad way:
United Airlines offered money for passengers to get off an overbooked flight. When everyone refused, they had security guards forcibly drag a passenger off. Another passenger immediately caught the experience on his smartphone and shared it online. The video got millions of views.
Thousands of people reacted in outrage to the incident. PewDiePie, the most subscriber Youtuber with 55 million+ subscribers, parodied the video. It got over 3 million views. If you look at the video, there are plenty of Tweets bashing he shows in it bashing United that got thousands of likes. Plenty of other influencers like Ellen, Joe Rogan, and Jimmy Kimmel covered the topic, attracting millions of views.
Another parody on Facebook got over a hundred thousand likes. Just one comment expressing their disgust towards United got thousands of upvotes.
A day after the incident Emirates Airlines released their own video addressing (and maybe even poking fun) at the CEO of United Airlines and explaining why they’re better, which got over a million views. Emirates is known for its premium flying experience. Many of the comments praised Emirates and got hundreds of upvotes.
Thanks to the mass market of smart phones and 4G, any customer can capture a customer experience and upload it to social media or the Internet in a matter of seconds. That is huge for businesses. It essentially punishes horrible businesses more and rewards good businesses more.
He went from working as a janitor to the world’s most well known personal development speaker with a net worth of $480 million.
Similarly, Brian Tracy went from working dead-end jobs (like dishwasher) as a high school dropout to a multi-millionaire salesman.
Here’s one more: W. Clement Stone took the book Think and Grow Rich and followed it to a tee. He turned $100 into millions in the insurance business.
This was all thanks to personal development.
Now, there is a lot of fluff and bad advice out there on personal development and I want to set things straight. You may be (rightfully) skeptical of personal development because of all the useless articles and books out there. But real personal development, at its core, can help you. And I will prove it.
Most people aren’t as plugged into the personal development space as I am. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to create a comprehensive list of all the top active personal development influencers across the web. The list covers the most impactful leaders for all content platforms, including social, podcasts, and blogging.
As a note, these are modern leaders that are currently active, who have a face and have the largest influence on a raving fanbase.
Evan has one of the top Youtube channels to help people achieve success. Evan is most well known for his “_______’s Top 10 Rules of Success”, which are video montages of a successful people giving success advice. He covers successful people of every domain and skillset, including entrepreneurs, talk show hosts, actors, athletes, world peace leaders, marketers, motivational speakers, philosophers, and martial artists. Here’s an example of one of his videos:
Evan has over half a million YouTube subscribers and posts numerous videos on a daily basis.
There are two qualities I like most about Evan’s videos. First, he spends a lot of time to create curated content in a form I appreciate most: video interviews of top achievers. Second, some of his videos are really well curated and obviously require a lot of digging to find each clip. The video below is the best example I could find. He made a montage of dozens of billionaires and other successful people talking about why you should follow your passion.
I was flabbergasted after watching this. His team probably had to manually watch and dig through a hundred hours of lectures to find the one moment when they talk about the topic.
Joel Brown of Addicted2Success.com
Joel started his site addicted2success.com on the side while working a full-time office job. At first, the ads on the site barely paid for lunch. Slowly but surely, his site became one of the most visited self development sites in the world. He was even offered $1 million for it, which he declined.
Joel runs a podcast with the same name. He has many high-hitting guests on his podcast, including millionaire entrepreneurs and meditation gurus. Joel’s content has a flavor of general self-development advice, covering everything from habits to vision boards. There is an entrepreneurial flair to this content, as most of the role models and podcast guests are successful businessmen (Steve Jobs, Grant Cardone, etc.), though he does occasionally add in other big figures, like Gandhi.
Andrew Ferebee of Knowledge for Men
Andrew started with humble beginnings. He was completely broke and emotionally affected from a breakup with his girlfriend. The podcast he ran on the side, Knowledge For Men, saved him from homelessness. He grew a large audience and leveraged that into a business to help men become the best, masculine versions of themselves.
His podcast is one of the top podcasts in the world for this market. Every episode, he interviews an expert in the men’s dating or self improvement industry. Andrew’s flavor of personal development has a clear focus on a dating, relationships, and returning to your masculine, ancestral self.
James Clear of Jamesclear.com
James Clear runs a high traffic self development blog that gets over 1 million visits per month at jamesclear.com. His articles have a focus on habit and behavior change with scientific evidence. Therefore, he covers topics like dealing with procrastination, habit formation, breaking bad habits, focus, and creativity. He is well known for his writing ability. He often adds scientific and historical evidence in the footnotes of his articles.
Jaime runs an audio and video podcast called Eventual Millionaire where she interviews millionaires. She has already interviewed over a hundred millionaires and is still going strong. You can learn a lot about how to make money from these interviews, but that is not all you will learn. The millionaires interviewed often talk about other tips, like productivity, mindsets, goal-setting, happiness, purpose, fulfillment, and setting up automated systems.
Jaime started from scratch with no connections to any millionaires. Over time, she grew great networking skills and created a rolodex network of influencers and entrepreneurs. She’s often mentioned by other top influencers.
One thing you should know is that her podcast had a clear entrepreneurial focus. The advice is geared towards other entrepreneurs. This is the one of the only unfortunate things about her content, since not all of us want to become millionaires by starting a business. However, it seems like that’s how a majority of her guests made their money.
In terms of brand exposure and traffic, Todd Herman is not well known. However, behind the scenes, he is a superstar. Todd works directly with many top influencers and entrepreneurs on the web, including Kimra Luna, Pat Flynn, Ryan Lee, Amy Porterfield, and Jeff Walker. He is well known to the audience of these influencers since he coaches them as well.
Todd started his journey as a mentor to the well known motivational speaker Jim Rohn. From there, he started and grew his coaching program for athletes. He has helped Olympians and billionaires reach higher levels of mental toughness and performance.
Todd has a podcast called the Grit ‘N’ Hustle Show where he brings on successful people to interview. You can find more content from him on his blog http://toddherman.me/blog/. Todd’s current focus is on helping entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs improve their goal-achieving ability, productivity and mindsets. He has a flagship program called the 90 Day Year.
Jordan and AJ Harbinger of the Art of Charm
Jordan is a cofounder to one of the oldest personal development podcasts in existence, The Art of Charm. This podcast is over a decade old and still running strong. It’s now one of the top podcasts of all time in iTunes. It gets over a million downloads a month. It started out as a dating and pick-up artist podcast, which slowly morphed into a comprehensive men’s improvement podcast. The flavor of Art of Charm development is all-encompassing, though there is a focus on men’s networking, communication, body language, and dating skills.
Their network of contacts in Silicon Valley has allowed them to get some high-hitting guests, from top entrepreneurs to scientists. You can get advice from everything from how to build a network to how to improve your emotional intelligence to how to get matches on Tinder.
Pay special attention to advice they give on networking, social skills, and emotional intelligence because that is their specialty and what they leveraged to achieve their success.
Other than James Clear, Mark is one of the only top self help bloggers who writes longer form, personal articles. He has one of the world’s top read blogs at Markmanson.net which gets at least a million readers a month. Mark started out blogging about dating advice as a pick up artist. He soon transitioned to general men’s dating, and then, to self development in general.
He calls his material “life advice that doesn’t suck” and has positioned himself as the “anti-B.S.” self development guy. His flavor of topics focuses on:
Not caring what other people think.
Mid to long-term relationships.
Life skills and knowing yourself.
Lately, Mark has lately been expanding outside of these topics and writing on what he pleases, which often includes politics. He also offers a subscription service for his premium articles and authored a book called The Subtle Art to Not Giving A Fuck, after the success of his blog post with the same name.
Charisma on Command
Ben and Charlie started Charisma on Command as a blog. They were self-help junkies and gravitated towards social skills topics, like making friends and confidence. Over time, they experimented with different types of content, like LinkedIn articles and YouTube.
YouTube worked really well for them. They skyrocketed to over 800,000 subscribers in a very short time. Today, Charisma on Command focuses on helping men become more charismatic and magnetic to help their relationships. They post consistently on their own blog and their YouTube channel.
Mike Dillard of Self Made Man
Mike walked into work one day and told his boss he wanted to quit to start his company. Although his boss doubted him, he became a wealthy entrepreneur. Mike runs a podcast called The Self Made Man, which interviews some of the world’s top CEOs. His mission is to empower men who can change the world. The podcast is business-focused, but any man can benefit from the general lessons of mindset, happiness, and goal-setting that are also discussed. I like how the show often dives into Mike’s personal life, mistakes, and struggles because you learn how money does not guarantee happiness and what healthy mindsets you should have to stay resilient no matter where you are in life. You can find more at http://selfmademan.com/.
Menstrua is a Youtube channel run by Shwetabh Gangwar. It boasts over 400,000 subscribers. The channel covers a variety of higher-level self help topics, specifically around living the best life possible, social skills, dating, doing well in school, choosing the right job, and motivation. Here’s one of his videos:
James runs a personal development podcast that focuses on more broader range topics including health, wealth, love, and happiness.
Thanks to his background in sports reporting and interviewing celebrities, he has gotten interviewees including doctors, retirement experts, relationship coaches, nutritionists, fitness experts, New York Times best selling authors, and millionaires.
Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Ramit is the best-selling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and a blog of the same name. He built a multi-million dollar business of his blog. Ramit’s blog started out as a personal finance passion project. It has evolved into a blog and business to help people in their 20s to 40s with earning more and becoming successful CEO’s.
Ramit’s flavor of personal development blog posts are hyper focused on getting raises, freelancing on the side, automating budgets, networking, and starting online businesses. The techniques he teaches has an undertone of “mastering your psychology.” He has a distinct, outspoken style to his writing.
There are a lot of animated self-help book summary YouTube channels out there. But the biggest has to Fight Mediocrity (also sometimes known as Phuck Mediocrity). What he does is simple: He creates animated book summaries of top self-development books that last around 5 minutes long. And he will inject his own review of the book at the end (and sometimes sprinkled throughout the summary).
There is a definite focus on quality over quantity. Unlike most other YouTube channels, he will not upload a new video for 1 to 4 weeks. Here is one of his videos to give you an idea:
He covers a lot of the most well known self help books, so they get a lot of popularity on YouTube. There are a few up-and-coming YouTube channels that do something very similar, like Obtain Eudamonia (same thing, more colors).
Practical Psychology is very similar to Fight Mediocrity except his animated videos focus on scientific studies rather than book summaries, though he does the occasional book summary as well.
Mimi and Alex Ikonn
Mimi and Alex were self-help junkies even before they became 7-figure entrepreneurs. Back when they were broke, they practiced visualization. After they got married, they started a hair extension to solve a need of their own. By effectively using YouTube and Instagram, they grew their following to millions of fans. In the process, they effectively marketed their business, Luxy Hair.
Unlike many other CEO’s who claim to have 7-figure businesses, Mimi and Alex actually pocket 7 figures after all expenses are paid. They both have personal YouTube channels where they release vlogs and occasional personal development advice themed around self-love, starting a business, earning money, visualization, and social media marketing.
Marc and Angel of Marc and Angel Hack Life
Marc and Angel are a couple. They run the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. They have a large audience of 130,000 email subscribers and over a million monthly readers. They have been blogging for many years and are well known in their space. Their topics cover a broader range of self development. Their articles are more generalized and list-based, with a focus on improving happiness, relationships, motivation, and dealing with overwhelm.
You will like them if you prefer “listicles” and a conversational tone. They tend to bounce around many general self help topics and give advice from the heart, like Zen Habits, rather than focus on data or scientific evidence.
I would prefer if they gave more evidence for most of their posts rather than just give me 10 tips on how to be happier. I get skeptical when they do that since it could just be their opinion on what makes you happy. Nonetheless, they have achieved quite a large blog following.
James run his blog Jamesaltucher.com and his podcast The James Altucher Show. Both are wildly popular. His blog attracted hundreds of thousands of readers a month and his podcast attracts millions of listeners a month, rivaling the audience of a lower quality HBO TV Show.
James’s writing is unique. Every article pulls you in with shocking, and sometimes offensive, curiosity. He reveals embarrassing and evoking stories and feelings from his past. And occasionally, he gives you some advice. The topics he writes about can range quite a bit, but often, the advice is a small tip based on daily life, like how to persuade better.
His podcast has a format where he brings a successful guest on to be interviewed. His guests range from successful entrepreneurs to authors to spiritual teachers (kind of like Addicted 2 Success). What makes it unique is that James sometimes spends weeks preparing for his guests. He reads all of his guests’ books at least once.
John Lee Dumas and Kate Erickson of Entrepreneur on Fire
John, and his wife Kate, erupted onto the podcast scene a few years ago with a new style of podcast: a daily interview series of top entrepreneurs. With thousands of episodes already releasaed, they forged one of the largest beginning entrepreneur tribes online. Their podcast is a great free resource for you to learn from wealthy, happy CEO’s.
Their personal development content has a focus on male 9-to-5 employees who want to start a business. While there is a lot of business strategies, Entrepreneur on Fire also has a lot of general self help advice as well, including goal-setting journals like The Freedom Journal and advice on building habits.
Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.net
Top blogging experts like Pat Flynn and Corbett Barr have claimed zenhabits.net as the most popular personal blog of all time. Still run by just one person, Zen Habits attracts over two million readers a month.
If you start reading the blog, you will quickly realize it has a focus on minimalism, simplicity, meditation, and building good habits. His articles (and entire site) has a minimal design and only features text — no images, social media, or graphics. Similarly, his writing style follows this theme.
I personally would prefer if he gave more evidence for some of his advice. But pay particular attention to his advice on writing, blogging, simplicity, minimalism, or meditation. He has quite a lot of experience and success in those areas, as you can tell by the popularity of his site.
Andrew Warner of Mixergy
Andrew is a successful entrepreneur who sold his company for millions of dollars after the Dot Com Bubble of 2000. After getting tired of retirement, he returned to the scene with his interview site Mixergy.com.
Thanks to his network, he has interviewed over 1,000 entrepreneurs, ranging from startup founders to CEOs of billion dollar companies like AirBnB. Andrew offers some of his interviews as free videos or audio podcast episodes; he sells some of the as premium content for a monthly fee. He has covered interviews on nearly every topic related to entrepreneurship, from copywriting to scaling a business.
Although his content has a clear entrepreneurial focus, there is plenty to learn about general self-improvement, earning more, mindset, habits, productivity, or goal-setting.
Brendon has a large presence on YouTube, his Facebook page, and his blog Brendon.com. He runs a multi-million dollar training company and the site Growth.com as well. Brendon covers a wide range of general personal development principles, including leadership, peak performance, goal-setting, meditation, staying positive, and productivity.
If you want to learn from him, his YouTube should be your first stop. He gets tens of thousands of views for each of his weekly videos. The next stop would be his Facebook page, which has millions of fans. He posts tons of Quote cards and other inspirational content on there frequently.
Leo has one of the largest personal development presences on YouTube. Leo’s flavor of content has a meditation and spiritual-focus, though he keeps it objective enough so that you can learn from him even if you are not religious.
Leo draws from the large amount of books he has read and the science he has learned to back up his points. Here’s one of his videos:
Most of Leo’s content has an undertone of “becoming the best actualized, higher level spiritual version of yourself.” There is a clear focus on moving towards enlightenment.
Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and 10x Talk
Dan has coached coaches of successful entrepreneurs through his program Strategic Coach. He runs a podcast called 10x Talk. Although his target audience are ambitious entrepreneurs, many of his podcast episodes focus on habit practices, techniques, and mindsets that are beneficial to everyone. He has very specific strategies with coined names from his program that he teaches you to help you feel more fulfilled, happy, and defeat procrastination.
Michael Hyatt is a well known player in the online space. He runs a podcast and blog at michaelhyatt.com and calls himself, “Your Virtual Mentor.” Michael has authored best-selling books like Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want and Platform University: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
There is a definite focus on helping people stop drifting through life, discover their passion, and turn it into an online business by building an audience. If that is not for you, he also touches on how to shift your mindset for success, productivity, and leadership.
Tony got his start apprenticing under an old self development and motivation legend, Jim Rohn. Starting out as a broke janitor, Tony rose through the ranks. Decades later, he runs a billion dollar set of training companies. Tony started out in the infomercial business but has sinced transitioned to in-person live events for thousands of people.
He is still mainly an offline guy. He is well known for his book Awaken the Giant Within and live events Unleash the Power Within and Date with Destiny. He is the most well known self development man to the mainstream market.Top celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Maria Menounous, and Usher have attended his events. Tony’s content is focused on general personal development principles, such as unleashing your full potential, discovering motivation, rekindling relationships, improving your energy levels, and becoming wealthy.
Steve is known as one of the first personal development blogs to ever be created on the Internet. He is still around to this day. His articles focus on a more general, non-spiritual, daily-life style form of personal development. Steve blogs at stevepavlina.com.
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings
Maria started her blog for fun. Originally, only her friends read it. Over time, it grew to be one of the largest personal blogs in the world. Brain Pickings is borderline not personal development. I would not recommend it for a beginner.
The topics Maria writes about are often philosophical, esoteric, and intended to make you think. Occasionally, she will profile a recognizable successful person. But usually, she just picks interesting people. Her topics are all over the place. They include storytelling, history, love, powerlessness, courage, crisis, self-pity, and creativity.
Her articles usually are not “How to” or intended to specifically teach you a specific way of doing something. The beautiful images she chooses for her articles make them really stand out.
Marie worked as a bartender, fitness instructor, and for NASDAQ, but never felt fully fulfilled. She started a fitness event-based business online, which grew into a seven figure business. She chose to shut down the business completely because she still didn’t feel passionate enough about it. Her next venture, a life coaching business, slowly grew into a multi-million dollar business that teaches beginners how to succeed in life and start their own online businesses.
Marie is one of the longest enduring influencers on the web. She started making weekly Youtube videos in 2011 and has never stopped. As she’s gotten better, her production technology has increased.
She calls her content, Marie TV, and she releases a blog version and a version on her Youtube channel every week. The topics she talks about focus on general self-development tips that her female-dominated audience struggle with, which are usually psychological shifts. These shifts include dealing with imposter syndrome, feeling overwhelmed, getting over perfectionism, why you should embrace gratitude, and adopting an abundance mindset.
She often interviews top experts (scientists, speakers, authors, and entrepreneurs) on Marie TV.
You will not get any technical tactics on starting a business for her content because she is more focused on overarching beginner strategies. She has two taglines, which she says in every episode of her videos. These are, “The place to be to create a business and life you love.” and “The world needs that special gift that only you have.”
Tim is the undisputed heavyweight. His name and his 4-Hour Work Week brand is the most well known in the self development and tech entrepreneur communities. Tim’s book The Four Hour Work Week launched him into the scene from nowhere. Its focus is on optimizing your life and business to get the most return in the least time possible. An interesting fact is that Tim’s book was not an instant success. It was turned down by a dozen publishers and it required a lot of smart networking to spread the word.
Tim is known as the “human guinea pig.” He tests weird techniques, supplements, pills, and drugs to optimize his sleep, performance, energy, and fitness so his audience knows what’s best. Tim’s style of personal development content is more focused on lifestyle design, outsourcing a business, medicines, and weird techniques.
Tim’s podcast is one of the most downloaded of all time, hitting over 100 million downloads. His podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, started as a fun experiment to document the conversations he was having with top performers, thanks to his connections as a tech investor. Over time, his guests have gotten increasingly interesting, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Foxx. His podcast is focused on deconstructing the performance of high achievers so you can optimize your life. Each episode is usually a long form (one hour) interview or question-and-answer session.
Brian Tracy is a motivation, sales, and self help legend. He is spoke of on the same line as other legends like Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, and Jim Rohn. Brian started as a high school dropout working odd jobs. In his early 30’s, he discovered self development and sales, which transformed his life. In the next couple decades, he became a top salesperson and motivational speaker in the nation.
Brian creates content every week on his Youtube channel, Facebook page, and blog http://www.briantracy.com/blog/. The content is high quality, high production, and actionable. It may be too high production and cookie-cutter for some people though. Brian is a great person to follow because he has decades of actual experience negotiating, selling, and improving productivity in business to back up what he says. His content focuses on time management, earning more money, improving as a salesperson, public speaking, and running a business.
Brian is most well known for his “Eat That Frog” productivity concept, which pushes you to finish the task you dread the most first.
Gary burst onto the Internet scene a few years ago and has become one of the most followed social media influencers with the most engagement. He mainly gives entrepreneurial-themed advice and his main topic of interest is emerging social media platforms. Topics cover everything from staying motivated, productivity, growing a business, and growing a following.
He primarily operates on YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat. But his team creates offshoots of his content on Instagram, Tumblr, podcasts, and every other social media or blogging platform.
Lewis Howes of The School of Greatness
Lewis has been in the online business space for several years. He became a millionaire by teaching other entrepreneurs how to sell more products by leveraging webinars. Lewis started his podcast The School of Greatnessearly on to help listeners become the best at what they do. It’s now grown to be one of the top self-help podcasts in iTunes. Although his business is for entrepreneurs, his podcast, and the book with the same name, covers topics that can help anyone succeed.
The show interviews everyone from successful entrepreneurs to billionaires to Youtube stars to scientists to coaches. There are also episodes with just Lewis talking on his own on self improvement concepts.
Topics you will hear about in the show include earning more, motivation, generosity, self-belief, taking time for yourself, burning out, mental shifts, persistence, and standing out. There is a focus on more psychological and “internal game” topics.
Pay attention to Lewis’s advice on networking and digital marketing because that is his specialty.
Will’s Personal Development Blog
This is me. I’m an up and coming blogger, podcaster, and YouTube on personal development. My unique spin is that I filter all my advice through two filters: is it science-backed and/or is it coming from someone who has achieved massive success in the field? A lot of the content nowadays isn’t backed up with evidence. For more info on what I have to offer, check out my About page.
As you can see, personal development comes in many flavors. Differing interests, personalities, and delivery create different content. Choose who you think will help you and suits you best.
Did I miss anyone? If you know of a huge personal development influencer that is not mentioned, leave a comment to let me know.
It is Day 5 of my “Less things, more happiness” challenge.
As mentioned in previous days, I wanted to volunteer to experiment with this science-backed happiness-boosting practice. After many weeks looking for something I’d like, I finally went through with it.
I spent a good portion of a day volunteering my time for a beer festival. The festival was not charitable. If it was, they did not make it the main selling point. This was a good fit for me because I am selfish person.
Although I would like to think I am kind and selfless at times, I rarely do things outside of my own interest. I learned this by being brutally honest with myself and examining my behavior. Therefore, other volunteering events would have been too much of a stretch for me.
Serving food to the homeless just would feel like too much of a chore. I wish I was a bit more kind, but that is just how it is. Maybe in the future, I will try a volunteer event that is more selfless.
As for my experience during the event, I had a decent amount of fun. I was assigned to pour beer into people’s cups. There was a large truck parked behind me and around twelve taps of different types of beer built into the side of the truck. I enjoyed the process of seeing tangible progress. I probably poured over three hundreds glasses of beer that day. And as the day progressed, I got faster at pouring.
Looking back on the event, I am not sure if I felt happier after it. There may have been a slight increase in happiness, but I was definitely not overflowing with joy.
It may be because I knew the event was commercial and so the benefit I was giving people did not really seem like much. They had already paid for the event. Having said that, I did meet a nice elderly couple who volunteered with me. They said they had done this every year for years because they liked the community and wanted to give back. So maybe there is some value to volunteering for a corporate event.
The other volunteers I worked with were all friendly and upbeat. It was a cool little community. And it was fun seeing so many young guys so excited to drink endless beer, especially since I was the one who could give it to them.
In the future, I would like to try a purely selfless volunteer event like helping homeless people to see if there is a greater impact on happiness. I will have to work my way up to it though. I have done it before though and suspect there not to be a huge difference (at least in the short term). I did spend time with old people in a retirement home when I was young and I do not remember being that much happier having done it. I remember getting a bored after listening to one person talk for a reaaallly long time. Some of the old folk there really are bored.
When I get to that age, I want to make sure to be like Warren Buffett and other old entrepreneurs. They have a career, lifestyle, and network of friends that they love and love them back. They have so much fun, even in old age. They do not have to wait for someone to come visit them every few weeks.
The final notable was the mean lady. Towards the start of the day, I did not know you had to pour beer in a special way. You have to tilt the bottle almost sideways to let the foam pour out or 80% of the cup will be foam. I did not know this so I handed this lady a glass of foam. She gave me a nasty look and said something like, “You obviously do not know what you are doing.”
One of the volunteers kindly explained the process to me and the lady demanded that someone else pour for her. I would have felt a lot worse a couple years ago, but meditation, improving empathy, and studying successful people has helped. I understand how she might feel about poor service after paying real money for an event. I also realized this was a minor incident and I was still healthy. Nothing had actually hurt me unless I let the words affect me. I put my ego aside because logically, I was a beginner. Quickly, I moved on from it.
Hours later, I had gotten the hang of pouring to the point where one person told me I was the fastest beer pourer out of several volunteers. Another volunteer who just arrived thought I had been doing this for ages. The same lady came up in line and I tried to help her. She did not give me eye contact and told me she wanted someone else to pour for her.
This did not affect me that much (though it did affect me slightly). I am still not to the point of perfection where it does not affect me at all. I do not know if that is humanly possible, but it does seem like I am moving in the right direction and can improve even more.
After my reflection, here are the key takeaways (which might help you on your happiness journey):
A change of attitude to enjoy and appreciate the mundane things in life more. After reflecting on my childhood visit to a retirement home, I was reminded of Dan Sullivan. He is a successful entrepreneur and podcaster. When he was young, he had a lot of time to develop his conversation skills with people who were over sixty years old. Rather than be the guy who clearly does not want to be there, I believe I can have more fun and improve myself even in boring situations. Don’t disregard elderly women, for example. Many of them used to be pretty girls at one point.
Loosen your expectations. I think going into an event thinking it will be lots of fun or guarantee you lots of happiness can lead to disappointments. Unless you can consistently find stuff that tickles your fancy.
Don’t let small things get you down.
Feel out what is fun for you and move towards it. This event helped me feel out what I enjoy most and it taught me that I am probably not going to have the most fun in the world getting drunk based on my personality and interests. Nonetheless, I did have some fun and it was a lot more interesting than sitting at home bored.
Selfless volunteering (that is charity based rather than commercial) may lead to more happiness?
You may not see short-term results of happiness exercises, but they may come over the long term (months out)?
Fun facts of the day:
I cut my fingers twice (on the outside) and hand them bandaged. I am not sure what cut me. The glasses I were handed were smooth with no sharp edges. It may have been from a ring someone was wearing since they were tiny cuts. It still remains a mystery.
One guy kept calling me “THE MAN” because I was the one hooking him up with all his drinks (by default – since I am the beer pourer). Another guy told me I made a friend. A small confidence boost. I never saw him again after the event so it was more like a friendly acquaintance. Nonetheless, happy times.
Another guy asked me if I would pour him a second round if he immediately shotgunned the first cup I poured him. I was not told I could not allow this so I did. And he chugged the whole thing like promised. He returned to the line numerous times and did the same thing. Some of these people really could drink. Surprisingly, I did not see any violence or really stupid behavior during the event despite there being at least 200 people there. Most of them seemed to be able to control how much they should drink.
If you are wondering, the volunteers were not allowed to drink at the event. This does not bother me since I am not into alcohol that much (though I do respect the craft and all the thousands of variations there are).
Did Volunteering Help With My Happiness?
Yes and no. I think it did feel good helping out so many people in such a high volume, high turnover place. Overall, I was surprised that no fights or really rude people came about (except for that one lady) given such large numbers. I felt proud that I was able to re-adjust my emotional state when that lady got me. It’s an important part of happiness to celebrate your wins.
The reason I say this was so-so was because it was a “fun” event. I didn’t really feel like I was helping someone in need or in a worse off situation from me. The value I gave was low to medium. The amount of fun I had was also low to medium. I don’t drink much, though I did appreciate all the different varieties of alcohol that was there.
Ultimately, my experience was maybe a 6.8 out of 10 because I didn’t have that fun of a time or feel like I was helping someone worse off (which I feel may improve my happiness more). Though the studies that I found support this assertion say a simple thing like giving five dollars to a stranger has an effect. An arguably, volunteering my time for a few hours is worth more than that.
Maybe my attitude or outlook on the whole thing is the problem. Or maybe I need to just give a few strangers five dollars, preferably people who really need it. This was a fun experiment to run and maybe I’ll run these other experiments in the future.