Monthly Archives: January 2013

Step 1 to Getting Paid to Make a Difference


Last week I was talking about what makes us come alive and the steps that I have deliberately taken to move closer to designing my life in a way that works well for me. Keep in mind that this process is not an end game. It’s a constant state of deciding what excites me and making changes to align my life with what’s most interesting and exciting.

Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about?

I say YES!

So how is it possible to move towards this kind of living?

I don’t think there are any specific scripts and I wouldn’t want to imply that my path is the only option. The reality is that my path is exactly that – MY path. If I can share something that inspires others to move closer to their desired lifestyle then I will feel great about that.

Picking up where we left off last week, I had identified four steps that I had taken to bring me to this point of launching this blog (and I see launching this blog as the first step in a completely new phase).

  • STEP 1: Get on your feet financially
  • STEP 2: Simplify and prioritize
  • STEP 3: Create room for expansion
  • STEP 4: Launch a Legacy Project

Today I am going to focus on STEP 1: Getting on your feet financially

This step has to do with navigating our desire for safety with our desire to make a difference in the world. How do we navigate between our desire for adventure and creativity and our desire for some level of predictability in our lives? How do we reconcile our idealistic dreams with the harsh realities of the marketplace?

This is where I tell you that I am not a gambler and that there is a huge difference between throwing caution to the wind and taking calculated risks. I will not be advising anyone to quit your comfy corporate job right away to pursue your creative passions.

So, am I telling you to give up your dreams, stick with the societal program, and get that boring, safe job, and do just as your (insert relative name here) tells you? No. The problem is, there are serious risks to that path as well. If you’re not particularly passionate about accounting, corporate management, engineering, or law and you go into those fields to please society, or to placate your own fears about the risks of following your creative passions, it seems very unlikely that you’ll end up happy with your career choice. You will always be plagued by a nagging sense of “What if?”

Sure, there are a lot of risks of following your creative passions – the risk that you’ll not make it or that you will have to start over. But there are also many unacknowledged risks to not following your creative desires, of sticking too close to the beaten path in the name of safety and predictability.

These might include: the risk of working with people you don’t respect; the risk of working for a company whose values aren’t consistent with your own; the risk of compromising what’s important; the risk of doing something that fails to express who you really are. And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.

The biggest risk is what we classically refer to as the middle-aged crisis. You become forty-five years old and recognize that you’re not the person you wanted to be. The reality is that the vast majority of people today, even on their deathbed, say that their regrets largely center around things they didn’t do or try, not things they did do.

Is there a way to combine the relative safety and security that society advocates with the passion, meaning, creativity, and individualism that we dream about? Is there a way to get the best of both worlds?

Yes, I believe there is.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share a very specific plan for living a more meaningful life, making a difference and escaping the often predetermined societal script that says you must choose between safe & boring or exciting and risky.

This is about creating a career path that provides a high likelihood of financial security and allows you to follow your dreams and make a difference in the world.  It’s about bringing the spheres of money and meaning together and having them overlap significantly. After all, when was the last time someone took you aside and shared how to best achieve financial stability while at the same time making a difference in a way you care about?

We’re talking about creating a path where your work is you life’s purpose is your income is your meaning is the difference your making. Significantly more elusive – yet infinitely more rewarding – than the much-hyped “work-life balance.”

This process will require a great deal of self-inquiry into what, exactly, the difference you want to make is, and also a lot of creative, entrepreneurial problem solving to figure out how you could make great money while making your mark on the world.

You’re going to have to create a solution unique to you and your circumstances. No similar solution will have ever existed before and for a very simple reason. In the whole of humanity, no one has yet made the difference you want to make. How cool is that?

Since I’d never have you try something I haven’t applied in my own life, I will dedicate the final blog post in this series to sharing the story of how I used these very steps to go from being fairly miserable and desperate to building a flexible and rewarding career while starting a meaningful legacy project on the side.

Now let’s dive into STEP 1.

STEP 1: Get on your feet financially

If you are in one of the two following scenarios, then you must pay close attention to Step 1.

  • Scenario A: You would be happy spending the rest of your life doing what you’re doing because it feels so meaningful to you, but you’re barely scraping by financially.
  • Scenario B: You’re not happy with either the money you’re earning or the meaning of what you’re doing to earn it. In other words, life sucks!

If you would be happy spending the rest of your life earning what you’re now earning, but it doesn’t feel meaningful, then you can stop here and wait for STEP 2 next week.

There was a period a little over three years ago where I was stuck in a combination of Scenarios A & B big-time. I had left my career in technology to pursue some other ambitions and I ended up at a job where I provided coaching services to college students. This job seemed like the ideal fit at the time but I soon realized that if I was going to be coaching people, then I needed to be doing it on my own terms and charging my own fees. I am not saying this was a bad job. It was the job I needed to wake me up to the realization that I needed to leverage my skills to get back on my feet financially to be able to pursue something I truly wanted to do.

I could have gone on for several more years coaching college students on how to be successful but the money simply wasn’t good enough for me and my heart just wasn’t in it.

If you are in scenario A or B, leverage your skills to get on your feet financially, however you can. Contrary to many of the glorified stories out there, this is the way that most people start out. They get a good job, a corporate job, a boring 9-5 job, any job that will support them financially. Give up your “art,” “purpose,” or ‘meaning” for a little while and know what it means to be financially stable. Get a kinesthetic feeling in your body of how it feels to have enough money to pay rent, to pay all of your bills on time, to take your loved one out to a nice restaurant. This is so important to building a foundation of financial stability so that you can eventually pursue your legacy work without the energy of fear and scarcity lurking in the background.

This is how I did it and how many of the entrepreneurs that I will be showcasing have done it. I will share exactly how I did this in the final post of this series.

Again, if you already have a solid income that feels good to you, consider yourself that much further along and tune in next week for STEP 2: Simplify and prioritize.

That’s it for now. Keep your sights on the legacy work that you are meant to create and I’ll be here   again next week.



Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity



One of my goals with Launch a Legacy is to learn from other peeps that are making a living doing what they love. Nobody does this better than Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity.

Chris Guillebeau has been a big influence in my decision to start Launch a Legacy. I have followed his popular blog and attended his World Domination Summit for the past two years. While I don’t recall exactly when or how I first heard about Chris Guillebeau, his writing has been influential in the evolution of my own desire to do something that makes a difference. Oh yeah, and he is a fellow Portlander too. Pretty Cool!

The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World is a guidebook for anyone that wants to lead a more unconventional and fulfilling life. One of my favorite themes throughout the book is that you can do good things for yourself while helping other people at the same time. Chris blows up the idea that these two ideas are mutually exclusive.

Chris does a great job of laying out a roadmap for anyone that craves a life of adventure and the experience of being alive.  One of the great quotes from early in the book is:

“Life planning begins with an unfortunate fact: many people have no idea what they really want to do or accomplish over the course of their time in earth. Instead of moving toward a destination, they become mired in “life avoidance” by ambling around without a clear sense of objective or purpose.”

I love how Chris challenges us to think about what we really want. For me, this challenge goes a little deeper because I believe that we each need to take responsibility for the direction of our lives even if no one ever taught us to think about what we really want. This lack of self-awareness hurts us because it holds us back from our greatness and as Chris states, “keeps us living unremarkably average lives”. To break out of this sleepwalking pattern, we must get clear about what we want and then find a way to start making it happen.

My Three Favorite Ideas

My three favorite ideas from the book are:

  1. The Search for Meaning and the Two Questions – Chris encourages us to ask two very important questions: “What do you really want to get out of life?” and “What can you offer the world that no one else can?” I encourage you to explore your own answers to these questions and explore how you can make the world a better place by offering only what you can offer.
  2. Your Legacy Starts Now – Here is where Chris initiates an important reality check for those of us wanting to build something that will provide value to others. Chris says that if you want to create legacy work then you have to be able to clearly answer the question, “How will this really help people?” A way that you can quantify this is by answering the following questions:
  • Vision – how will the world be different because of your legacy project?
  • Beneficiaries – who will benefit from your legacy project?
  • Primary Method or Medium – how will you do the work?
  • Output – what will be produced as a result of your work?
  • Metrics – how will success be measured?

This was thought provoking enough that I took a swag at providing my own answers that I will share with you.

  • Vision – Empower people to leverage their strengths, skills, and talents to create legacy work and help others in a way that no-one else can.
  • Beneficiaries – A group of at least 10,000 people that want to pursue launching a profitable legacy project that matters.
  • Primary Method or Medium – Blogging, launch a web show (coming soon!), coaching/consulting, and eventually adventure mastermind retreats where people will launch their own legacy businesses that will change the world.
  • Output – One blog per week, one video interview web show per week.
  • Metrics – Site visitors, subscribers, unsolicited positive responses, revenue from any programs/products that are created.

3.    Income-Based Financial Independence – This interesting idea was proposed as an alternative to measuring financial independence by wealth alone. Basically, Chris questions the traditional goal of having a “Number” that we shoot for in order to achieve financial independence. Instead of trading your time for dollars in a job you hate,  just for the sake of stashing away a million dollars, he suggests creating income by doing work that you love that supports your ideal lifestyle. It’s a fairly simple concept to grasp, but one that I thought deserved a shout-out because there are so many people who are wasting their life energy doing jobs they don’t enjoy in the hope that they can buy their freedom later.

If you are interested in the idea of living a remarkable and unconventional life, this book is definitely worth a read. It will encourage and inspire you to work toward building your legacy and that the best time to start is today!

Okay, gotta go grab a plane to Southern California for a work trip. Have an awesome week and watch for my first step on launching your own legacy this week.




What Makes You Come Alive?


Yep. That’s me. Doing one of my favorite things. I LOVE to ski!

Skiing inspires me. Skiing makes me feel fully alive. There’s nothing better than shredding the mountain with a fun group of my favorite peeps!

And that brings me to today’s topic. How can we spend more of our lives doing the things that make us come alive! While skiing is not my legacy work, it does provide massive inspiration to create work that fits around my life rather than a life that fits around my work.

I know that some of you may be thinking it’s fantasy to converge doing what you love and getting paid really well for it. It’s a bold idea, but one that more and more people are embracing and accomplishing. These are the people that I will be interviewing for my upcoming Launch a Legacy Show.

Now….how can we move closer to living more fully?

I propose filling your days with the things that you enjoy the most and that leave a legacy. At the end of the day, I want to be “good tired”. That’s my term for laying my head on the pillow with a sense of wow.

We have all had those days where we have given it all and we sleep so well because of the laughs we’ve had, the people we’ve touched, or the personal goals we’ve reached.

How many of these days are you having? How can you have more of them?

In Mihaley Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow, he states that the moments in life that we are most proud of happen when we stretch ourselves.

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing time…the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

I love these words!

And I want to live more of my life trying my best to accomplish something meaningful and worthwhile. I want to run half marathons (maybe even a full marathon someday!), write, talk with fun people, ski, start businesses, practice yoga, travel, spend time with friends and family, enjoy great wine and coffee.

So how is it possible to move towards this kind of living?

I will tell you what’s worked for me so far. It can be broken into four steps.

  • STEP 1: Get on your feet financially
  • STEP 2: Simplify and prioritize
  • STEP 3: Create room for expansion
  • STEP 4: Launch a Legacy Project

There’s another step that I have not yet accomplished. STEP 5 would be to turn my legacy project into something successful enough that would give me the financial option to quit my job and pursue my legacy work full time. This is one of the main themes that I will be exploring in my Launch a Legacy Show interview series.

In the coming weeks, I will write about each of the four steps that I have accomplished. I will give you my insight into each one including what worked, what didn’t, what sucked, and what moved me closer to living a more full life.

Meanwhile, think about your own life and what it would look like to be living it fully with no regrets.

In Gratitude,


Launching a Legacy: A Good Blueprint For A Life With Meaning


The first time I heard the term ‘Legacy Work’ was a little over a year ago. I was enjoying some time off during the holidays and catching up on some reading from some of my favorite authors. Chris Guillebeau is one of my favorites and his book The Art of Nonconformity is a continual influence on this project. In this book, Chris champions the idea of creating legacy work. Legacy work is something that makes a difference in the lives of others while leaving a lasting impact. My extension of legacy work is that we can monetize it and be rewarded financially for doing work that matters.

Once the seed for legacy work had been planted in my mind, I started to get curious about what that might look like for me. Guillebeau’s idea of legacy projects resonated deeply with me and I began searching internally for something that I could offer to others that will have a lasting impact. Writing this blog is the first small step in that direction.

While I am sure that my legacy project will shift and change over time, my current vision is to create a web based interview show where I will interview others that are living examples for taking an idea and transforming it into their life’s work. These will be experts that have navigated the process of blending their creative genius with making a living. A mandatory requirement for everyone I interview will be that they are currently creating a minimum of $50,000 per year doing something meaningful, either full time or on the side.

The Launch a Legacy Show will be dedicated to:

  • Bringing your greatest ideas to life via a side project that will allow you to make a difference and get paid to do it
  • The discovery of your deepest desires
  • How to leverage your natural strengths, skills, and talents
  • Embracing your absolute uniqueness
  • Aligning meaningful work with making a BIG difference in the world

I am so freakin’ excited to be launching this project and I hope it will inspire others to start a legacy project and make a difference in the lives of others.

My Challenge To You

I want you to start thinking about starting your own legacy project. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just pick something you feel passionate about. It could take the form of writing a book, starting a business, volunteering, starting a charity…..whatever. The questions that kept coming up for me over the last year were, “What if I don’t try? How will I feel then?” If I didn’t try something, I had no doubt that I would regret it. More than anything else, my answer to these questions is why I’m starting this site.

Know that you can create something beautiful that will inspire others.

Know that you can help others in a way that is unique to you.

Know that life is short and we all have the same 24 hours in a day.

As far as I know, we all get one shot at this life. You might as well take it seriously and begin thinking about what you can do to ensure that your contribution is the best representation of the unique genius that is YOU!

I want to end with this inspiring (too me) performance that is a great reminder of what it means to live and express your greatness. I WAS HERE

Dream Bigger….BE More!

Dustin Eli Brunson Photography

Well….this is it! My first blog post for Launch a Legacy. Some of you may be wondering what the hell I’m up to so let me explain. I have always dreamed of making a bigger difference and serving others in a way that leverages more of my talents, skills, and desires. To be clear, my life is really good. I have an amazing wife, a wonderful family and many true friends. I have a great job that I enjoy. I live in a nice house in a great neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Some might say that I am in a really good spot in life.

While I am grateful for all of these things, I know that I have more to give and that I can BE more. Throughout my life I have always thought of myself as a visionary yet I have been playing it pretty safe. Why rock the boat when things are pretty good? Five years ago all of that changed when most of the things I thought were making me happy came crashing down. There’s another time and place for that story but let’s just say that the past five years have been all about realizing what’s most important and reorganizing my life around that.

So what’s this ‘Launch a Legacy’ thing? I guess I could say that it’s something that’s been in the making my entire life. It’s the culmination of so many life lessons, experiences, relationships, inspirations and desires. But it’s mostly about making an Impact! At this point in my life it’s important for me to begin sharing my ideas and using my talents and strengths in a way that brings remarkable value to other people.

Launch a Legacy is an idea dedicated to the art of aligning meaningful and purpose-driven work with financial security. This idea was born of my own desire and interest to pursue a meaningful project outside of my regular job. It’s really about exploring the possibilities of creating your life’s work…and doing it in a way that is sustainable and gives you the greatest chance to succeed.

The way I intend to do this is:

1)     Write about it! I will share the very best ideas I have about creating a project/experiment/side business that is meaningful and profitable. I will not share ideas unless I feel they will be life changing.

2)     Start a web show called ‘Launch a Legacy’ where I will video interview remarkable people living extraordinary lives. I will share the stories of these brave souls who are making waves  and having a big impact on the world (more on the target launch date later).

3)     Be an example. I will share my progress of creating a meaning project that earns income. I will share all of the ups and downs along the way so that others can learn from my victories and my mistakes.

The Bottom Line

I care about one thing. I want you to wake up inspired and fall asleep fulfilled because you’re fearlessly giving your gifts to the world.

At Launch a Legacy, I want to wake-up people that are sleepwalking through life and inspire them to live more fully.

As the ‘Launch a Legacy Show’ goes live, I will publish a weekly video interview to challenge you to trust your gut, break all the rules that don’t matter anyway, and be brave in the pursuit of your dreams and desires.

Are you ready to Launch a Legacy?

Micheal Knouse