Episode 8: Failure, Absurd Habits, and Other Questions I Stole From Tim Ferriss
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Hi, I'm Victoria Hefty and welcome to Activate Purpose, where I talk about finding purpose through action while balancing motherhood and career. Today is my eighth episode, and the last one that I will record before the new year. So, I thought I would have some fun and end the year answering some questions about me. I also included some questions that I borrowed from Tim Ferriss' latest book, "Tribe of Mentors". So stick around to learn six things that you probably don't know about me, including what motivates me, a purchase of $100 or less that has most positively impacted my life in recent memory, and the unusual habit and absurd thing that I love.
So when I started preparing for today's recording session, I realized that while the episodes this far have been a genuine reflection of my progress towards finding my own purpose, the short form structure hasn't really allowed for sort of any, you know, off the cuff moments. So, for today's episode I'm gonna share a little bit more about myself, by answering some of the questions that I've received both via email or through friends or, you know, sort of just I think people have indirectly asked, if they haven't said, "Hey Victoria, feature this question on your podcast." So, I figured I would just dedicate this you know, next episode to doing that.
But, I also want to include one of the books that I've been reading called "Tribe of Mentors" that's by Tim Ferriss. So, if you don't know who Tim Ferriss is in this book, basically in this book he interviews, or he sends out, I should say, a set of 11 questions to 140 of the world's most accomplished individuals and so they answer back. As for Tim Ferriss himself, if you don't know who he is, he's the author of this crazy popular book called "The Four Hour Work Week". I'm sure a lot of you have heard of it. He's also the host of the podcast, The Tim Ferris Show. Just to give you a sense of how popular this is, I think over, at least as of today's recording, over 200 million episodes of his podcast have been downloaded, so yeah that's pretty insane.
The thing is, he's also a white male, early-stage Angel Investor, fitness enthusiast, and self-proclaimed human guinea pig. So, I am none of those things. But, I'm still a huge fan, because Tim is, like again, I feel like it's weird talking in first-person about him like I know him but, I'm just going to continue that. He's admitted that he has a very driven type A personality that I can definitely relate to. And he always gives very practical advice that's really easy to act upon, which I strive to do in my work or in my podcast or just in life in general. So again, I'm an avid fan even though I might not be his target audience.
So anyway, back to this book. Clearly I am not, at least as of now, one of the world's most accomplished individuals that was interviewed, but because I have enjoyed reading and actually listening to a podcast version of all of the different answers that these amazing individuals have submitted, I thought it would be fun to try and answer some of the questions myself and again just have fun with it. So, I'm just gonna jump right in, and I'm not gonna answer all eleven questions because, again I just feel like that's probably aggressive, but I am gonna answer five, and hopefully be able to answer some of the other questions that I've received separately.
So question one, what purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in recent memory? So, when I read this the first thing, and I try not to overthink these questions, so I'm kind of going with like my first instinct here. The first thing that came to mind when I read this question was my pregnancy pillow, that I bought on Amazon when I was pregnant, obviously, for I think it was $75. It was called the Snoggle, or the Snoogle Total Body Pillow and it was absolutely glorious product. It really helped provide for me that extra support that I needed, so I didn't have to have like three or four pillows in the bed and I used it from pretty much my second trimester til almost a year after giving birth while my body was still healing, so I loved it. And funny enough, I would often come into my bedroom on the weekends and find my husband like snuggled up right on it and using it as his napping pillow. So to give you a sense of just how comfortable and multi purpose this pillow is, that is definitely one of the best purchases I've ever made and it's one of the first things I recommend, probably be first thing I recommend to pregnant women after the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book.
Second question, how has a failure, or a parent failure set you up for later success and do you have a favorite failure of yours? This one was kind of hard because I've been trying to move away from the term failure to really look at things in a more positive spin. But again, the first thing that I could think of when at least, something about the favorite failure resonated me with me was, actually not completing the analyst's program when I worked for an investment bank in New York City right out of undergrad. At the time, I loved New York, but I really hated banking hours and culture. In many ways I still do. At the same time, I knew that I needed that quote, unquote stamp of approval of a prestigious firm on my resume. So, I just kept at it and was like, "You know Victoria, you'll be fine. Just keep on going. I know you hate it but you'll be fine."
The thing was, after a year and a half, when no lie, and I've told this story to many people, I almost got hit by a cab, and at that moment, my first thought was, "You know what, maybe getting hit by a cab won't be so bad because I wouldn't have to go to work." And I realized that, obviously this is not a healthy thought at all. So I made the decision pretty much right there and then to leave banking. But, I was smart about it and I said, "Okay. Hold on, hold on. Reel it back. You can leave but only after your bonus hits," and at the time, I mean I don't know, I'm assuming they still are, but at the time, the bonuses were a pretty significant portion of your salary, so I wanted to be smart about how I left.
The reason why it's my favorite failure was because the day after my bonus hit, I actually left the company, I bought a one-way ticket to the US Virgin Islands, and was essentially a bartender, a beach bum, a scuba diver instructor for a year. I just did nothing of urgency, nothing that was important in a corporate setting, and I just got to meet the most amazing random set or people, and religious enjoyed my life for a year. And I didn't have to worry about finances, which I realize even more now, that what a privilege that was and even without a baby or rent, even any real responsibilities. The big things were paid for. And I think in many ways, that experience even as I think about it now, made me realize that, the world didn't end right, when I left banking, and I didn't ruin my career.
So, Instead, what happened was you know, I came back after my year, I did set some boundaries, so I wouldn't completely go off the wall or off the grid I should say, but I switched into health care. So I started working for healthcare companies, and I continued progressing, right on up the, you know, corporate ladder. And actually in fact, most of my interviews since then, for various positions have, when they see this gap or sometimes I've had it as a footnote on my resume, they always ask about it. And when I tell them the story, almost every single interviewer wants to know more and they all say they wished they had done something like this when they were young. So, it didn't turn out to be as devastating as everyone thought, including my mom, and I think it actually made me a much more interesting person. So that to me is definitely my favorite failure, so far.
The third question, if you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere, with anything on it, what would it say and why? An alternative way to think about this is, are there any quotes you think of or live your life by. So this was a hard one because I love quotes, but I think the one again that immediately came to mind was a quote that I now use often, and this quote I directly took from Tim Ferriss because I heard him talk about it and for me it's been extremely helpful. So the quote is, "What would this look like if it were easy?" So, like a lot of type A, or I think just people in general, forget about type A, I think most people tend to over think how to go about completing either a work-related object, a creative project, or just life in general, like decisions. We over think it, we make it just too difficult. Or, we make an idea or task so complex that it quickly loses it's fun and I think becomes burdensome and overwhelming. So, whenever I have those moments which for me is at least once a week, I ask, "What would this look like if it were easy?"
And by immediately doing this, I'm forced to strip away some of the complexity in say, you know creating a consulting presentation, or if I have a topic for my podcast, it forces me to simplify that topic. Or, let's say, most recently if I have a new idea, "Like ooh, that would be great to create," I say, "Okay, before you get crazy Victoria, what would this look like if it were easy?" So, I think for me the question has really been a game changer because, you know we all struggle, especially if you have some of these jobs, you're problem-solving every day, and so it's a really healthy way of I think, of facilitating, problem-solving, and for executing simple but very effective ideas. So, I recommend everyone try and, at some point over the course of the week, think that as they're going through a struggle.
Fourth question. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you have ever made? And so this could be an investment of money, time, energy. I think for me, especially in the last probably two to three years, I would say taking online courses to learn about what I don't know. So, for example when I wanted to launch my blog, Philly Baby Bump, or create a magazine for that blog, it was a local magazine, or write my book, for each one of those projects, I think the initial task was to go to YouTube and figure out, alright what I'm getting myself into? But then even YouTube has, obviously, it's limitations. And then once I felt like I had just like the minimal knowledge, it gave me enough to figure out, "Alright what online courses should I take and invest money in?" And I used these online courses to really help me bridge that gap between not knowing and actually being able to start this sort of DIY projects and actually executing and completing those projects, which is important. Lot of people can start of they either burn out or they don't have the knowledge to complete.
So, by taking these online courses I was actually able to hold myself accountable and complete a lot of these projects. So my favorite resources to do this, and I never know how it's pronounced, Udemy, Udemy, either way it's U D E M Y. And it's this portal where they thousands of online courses that are available on pretty much almost every topic that you can imaginable. And the best part is that, because I think millions of students have taken courses on there, you, each student can rate an instructor so, you will have a very good sense of, you know what courses are popular and you can start there. And my favorite part of, the prices for the vast majority of the courses, especially for the best sellers, are actually very reasonable. So, I don't think I paid more that $50 for a course, and when I say course, I mean this can be like up to eight to twelve hours of instruction, you can watch it on your phone, a lot of them have quizzes, but it's really great content and most of the pricing is anywhere from $20 to $50. So, I highly recommend that you check that out. And, I've also taken online courses, like for example, in marketing from people like Amy Porterfield.
The the point is, making an investment of time and energy to really learn the fundamentals, for me the price of one dinner has saved me thousands of dollars, and I didn't have to pay someone to do every little thing for me. So now if I do pay someone, I know it's for a very specific skillset that either I can't learn in a short amount of time or perhaps I don't have the time to learn. But more importantly, I think taking these online courses have really just, you know, fed my love of learning and deepened my knowledge and opened me up to a whole new set of possibilities of what is out there, creatively, professionally, I think which is all good things. So, that was definitely the best investment so far.
And then, second to last question, when you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? So I think this one was like a multi-response thing. So, if I'm feeling overwhelmed, what I tend to do is I usually take a break of some sort to get some distance from whatever is bothering me. So, this break can involve not working at all that night, or maybe it's I listen to a fun podcast or I watch a lighthearted movie. If it's like really bad, I will break out some music, usually you know, African music, dance hall, soca, you name it, and I will dance like crazy with my little daughter to just break up the negativity, to laugh, get my body moving. And then I'll usually ask myself the quote I talked about before. What would this look like if it were easy? And then I'll start writing down my thoughts. And without fail, within a day or two I'm usually right back on track.
And then what I'll also do, I'll add that a good girlfriend of mine actually, another good girlfriend asked me recently how I stay motivated, and I actually told her it was talking to her and some of my other close friends that keep me going. You know this can be a very, I think entrepreneurship, being a mom, working remotely, or in a flexible role as I talked about in the last episode, episode seven, it can be lonely and so I think making sure that I'm talking to people is important because it's easy to get caught up in your head and forget that you're probably surrounded by at least one if not more people that can be a sounding board and help you think through whatever problem you are struggling with. I think sometimes people get caught up in, you know, "They're not my target customer," or "I can't talk to Mary, she's not a specialist in my field." But I think more importantly, just the mere act of, sort of saying out loud what is bothering you to another human can, and I think often will, make you feel better, and more importantly I think it'll actually help you identify what was bothering you, because it's hard to solve problems when you're in your head too much.
And then lastly, it's a bit cliche├⌐ but I am not above searching for a good quote or a scripture to help keep me motivated. Sometimes, the right quote can really spark a new way of thinking so I like having all options available to me. You know, what works on Monday may not work on Friday, so I think it's important to have like a whole, you know portfolio of things that get you motivated. And then, last thing, I find that if I'm really struggling to get motivated about something like, you know, a week or two after and I just can't, I don't know, I'm just not feeling it? It usually means that something is wrong with the goal. So I need to ask myself, one of the things that I ask myself is, after you know what would it look like if it were easy, if this is like a couple weeks later and I'm still not doing what I need to be doing, I talked about in episode six, am I committed to or just interested in achieving this goal? Is this goal even fun? Like, why do I want to devote precious time and energy to it, and if I don't have a compelling answer, I usually end up changing my goal.
I have no problem changing goals if I feel like it's going to get me motivated and excited out of bed. There's no reason to anchor on goals because you feel like you're disappointing someone. You need to make good decisions for you and there's absolutely no shame in changing your mind and changing your goal so I think that it's important to understand why you're not motivated and to think through that, and then also like I said, to have a portfolio of different things that get you motivated on any given day.
And then the final question for today's episode and for the year. What is an unusual habit or absurd thing that you love? So I think my husband is going to be terrified when I share, well he knows it, he just thinks it's the craziest thing ever. And I almost didn't answer this question but he said it was fine. I actually just think it's quirky, I don't think it's bad at all, but, so I'm going to share. So, at least two to three times a week, it used to be much more frequently before I started being intentional about my evening routine, but when I used to start off, go to bed, watching, you know reading, articles on my phone or being on Facebook or watching something on YouTube, I used to watch YouTube. But that's not unusual right? The unusual part is that I love watching wig reviews on YouTube. So, the crazy thing is, I've only worn two wigs in my entire life and both of them were clearly on Halloween. I mean they were Halloween wigs, right? I mean I was not walking in the street with these wigs to work.
So there's no reason for me to watch these videos because I have no plans to ever purchase a wig, like I just don't. But I watch them anyway. It's the most absurd thing but I find it oddly soothing. I mean I'm partly ashamed, partly not. I mean I own this. I think it's fun when like these people, like usually women will give their opinion on this wig, like they take it very seriously, they'll give the specs, they'll show how it looked like coming out of the package, the styling cut, they usual have like weird names, like you know, the PL70 and you can even hear me get excited about this. This is wrong. She'll talk about like what she like's about it, what she hates. You know, it's a proper review like someone put thought into this, and I just find it soothing when I, like if I watch one, I will be asleep in like five minutes.
It's just weird but it is my thing and every time I tell someone that, like they laugh at me and then I think I've made two people watch it so far and I see them kind of like relaxing inside their soul. And so I know I'm onto something. You may not be, but I know I'm onto something. So, I know it's weird but, again I can't be the only one. So with that, that brings me to the end of the show before I embarrass myself anymore.
And so the final challenge of 2017, and if this is not the end of the year when you listen to this, just for maybe like a month, is to take a few moments and I think really ask yourself, "What do you want from either 2018 or for the next year of your life, starting today?" And I think if you don't know or can't confidently answer that, maybe your goal or challenge can be to spend some serious time going through the process of finding out what you want that to be. I think one of the biggest gifts that this whole journey has been, even in the last three months has been, just giving myself the grace to ask like, what do I want Victoria? Like what do I want to think about? What do I want to dream about? What do I want to achieve? And again, this can be work related but it doesn't have to be. Just bigger than that. What are the things that I want to do outside of the traditional, "You know I want to go on vacation. I want to get a promotion." What are the bigger things that drive you and take some time to really think about that. Again, not knowing what you want is completely okay but, I think after this process what I've learned is failing to do something about not knowing is probably not okay.
You have a lot of places where you can start. If you have any questions on where to start, you can listen to episodes one to six of this podcast, or you know, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com and I've read so many things and I've just, I think even just I'm at the beginning of this journey but I do have a wealth of knowledge of resources about what is out there and you know, let me try and help and guide you to something that may resonate with you, so if you have any questions, again send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you want to find show notes and links to everything I've talked about, including the set of questions by Tim Ferriss or his book, visit activatepurpose.com/episode8, and lastly, if you enjoyed today's episode, make sure to leave a review and subscribe to receive next episode. Until next week, thank you.