When I got the idea to do interviews on my site, I knew one person who I would definitely have to bring on for a chat. And that is James Kerti. I’m going to be honest here, James has been one of my best friends since high school, so maybe I’m a little biased. For a few years now, we’ve constantly had chats on how we can improve ourselves, how we could escape the rat race, or how we could live a truly meaningful and purposeful life. All biases aside, I think you will find his information valuable. You can check out his musings on basketball and entrepreneurship here. Otherwise, enjoy the interview.
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My Interview with James:
Ryan: Ok, hello everyone. This is the second interview for the realworldmyth.com. And I’m here with one of my best friends in the world, James Kerti. Me and James go way back. A few years ago we used to [meet] every Wednesday [night] and talk about escaping the rat race or just things entrepreneurial or anything we could do to avoid the 9-5 lifestyle. James used to be a software engineer and I was a bank teller so he was making a little bit more money than me. But now here I am in Seoul and he’s in Las Vegas. So, welcome James, and why don’t you introduce yourself to my audience?
James: Hey Ryan. First off man, thanks for having me aboard. We’re gonna have a lot of fun with this and I hope it will be a really good experience for your readers, too. So I’ll just tell everybody a little bit about myself. Ryan and I actually went to high school together, so we go back quite a few years now. Hard to believe how quickly time goes by, Ry.
Ryan: Yeah, I know.
James: But, yeah so I have a background in software engineering and about two and a half years ago I decided to leave that behind to pursue more of an entrepreneurial path for myself. Right now I’m living in Vegas and working mostly as a high school basketball scout. My business partner and I have a scouting service where we watch high school kids play and kinda get to know their families a little bit and give that information to college coaches who are interested in offering the kids scholarships. You know we are trying to help the kids out, help the schools out, and in addition to doing that, my partner and I are also launching a high school recruiting magazine this fall covering the west coast which is a project that nobody’s ever really done like this before so we’re really excited about that and I also do a little bit of freelance web design on the side. That’s something I can get into a little bit later in the call and that’s pretty cool too.
Ryan: Yeah. Great. I should mention that if you guys see my design and you think it’s really good, James was the one that designed it for me and you can see his website, there’s a link on the bottom of my website in the footer there, but we can talk about it a little later, too. Thanks James. So I kinda know this answer but a lot of people might not: Why don’t you tell me when you realized that being an entrepreneur was something for you?
James: Good question, Ryan. I think it’s one that every entrepreneur really remembers for his or her self. I know for me it was, ya know, I started working at Oracle after graduating from Villanova University in Pennsylvania back in spring, 2009, and I had already taken the job at Oracle by the time I graduated and at the time I was really excited about working there, because it’s a big corporation, I got a good paycheck, it was work that I had trained for and I never really questioned before that it was something that I wanted to do. But after working there for a few months I realized how miserable I was with it, that it just wasn’t giving me the kind of enjoyment and fulfillment that I hoped for even though the paycheck was pretty nice, and I really started looking for other opportunities out there, other ways of looking at the world, because I quickly admitted to myself that my existing philosophy of life, and how you’re supposed to have a career, and everything like that. And I had to admit to myself that that wasn’t serving me. That that wasn’t getting me the results that I wanted, and wasn’t making me happy. So, at that point I decided that I was going to go to a Steve Pavlina workshop. Actually, the first Conscious Growth Workshop that Steve did. Because that just was one of the first things that struck me and I thought I’d check that out and I did, and I ended up going to a few of those and it really kind of opened my eyes because going to those workshops was one of the first times that I’d ever really been exposed to people who were more entrepreneurial and open minded. It’s kind of silly to say that now for me because all my friends and everybody in my close social circle for the most part is some sort of entrepreneur, but at the time I really didn’t know anybody like that. So, one of the big changes for me in my life has just been building myself a new social circle in which a lot of the people I rely on and count on, and consider a close friend are entrepreneurs. So, yeah it was about three years ago I guess.
Ryan: Ok, great. You mentioned Steve Pavlina. Who are some other bloggers who have inspired you, or what are some other books that have inspired you?
James: Good question, Ryan. Well one guy I really like it Ramit Sethi from iwillteachyoutoberich.com. I took Ramit’s Earn1K Course when it first opened up two and a half years ago. And in short, that course teaches you how to earn your first $1,000 as a freelance worker. And it just takes you through the whole process of figuring out what you should do and how to find a market and how to market yourself and how to sell yourself and how to package your offerings. And it was just a really good complete way for somebody like me who had a corporate background and never even really thought about working for himself, to learn how to be more entrepreneurial so that was one really great thing. I do like Tim Ferris quite a bit of the fourhourblog.com, author of the 4 Hour Workweek.
Ryan: And the 4 Hour Body.
James: And the 4 Hour Body and the upcoming 4 Hour Chef, and wow this thing is turning into an infomercial for Tim Ferriss! I hope your readers don’t turn this off now.
Ryan: This is actually the 4 Hour Interview….
James: Oh, God. That would be a long interview, man…Yikes!
James: I like those two guys. One book I read recently which was really good and I would highly recommend to anyone listening who wants to me more entrepreneurial is The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg. In short, in that book, Ellsberg explores the lives of a lot of his close friends who are entrepreneurs. Especially people who didn’t get a higher education, either college or sometimes even high school. Guys like Richard Branson, for example. And he explores the way that these millionaires and billionaires–because everyone he interviews is a millionaire or billionaire– and he explores how these people educate themselves and learn how they handle the process of learning and self-education. I thought it was a really fascinating read and I could highly recommend that to anybody who wants to be more entrepreneurial because, from my perspective anyway, higher education these days doesn’t really prepare you to be more entrepreneurial. Maybe there are a few institutions out there who have a really good entrepreneurship program, but from what I’ve seen, most higher education trains you to be a corporate worker.
Ryan: I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m gonna write a little more on that. And also the rising costs of college. Everyone—including me, I have a lot of debt. And a lot of people can’t get jobs so it’s just really chaotic now. I’ll have to check out [The Education of Millionaires]. I haven’t checked it out yet, and also I love Ramit, too. I referenced him on my blog a few times already. Great stuff, James. What are some difficulties you’ve had during your journey so far either starting a blog or [breaking into the basketball industry]?
James: I’ll start with the blog. I actually have a very strong opinion about this. One of the things I’ve seen a lot of people do when they’re starting a blog, is they just start writing some content and sending it out to a few of their friends, and this process continues for maybe like a month or two, and then they still don’t have any traffic and they get bored. One of the things in my experience that’s really helped me grow my audience really quickly, even though I don’t have a huge audience on my blog right now. I have a bigger following on twitter and around that world. Especially in the world of basketball right now. One of the things that I’ve done is I’ve tried to do either guest posting or writing on other people’s sites. People who already have an existing audience. Because for me, when it comes to blogging, there are two specific things you have to separate. There’s the actual blogging—there’s the writing of the content and putting it up on your site, and then there’s the marketing. And a lot of people kinda trick themselves into thinking that these are more or less the same thing. One of the quotes that I keep on hearing in the blogosphere is that content is king. And that’s meant to suggest that if you just write really good content, that eventually people are going to start reading it. And I don’t really believe that. I think that you do have to write great content for it to start getting around, but you also have to make that content shareable, you have to get it in front of the right people. So, from my perspective, the best thing for a new blogger to do is to start writing for an audience that already exists. And then, direct them, direct those readers back to your existing blog. That way, if you’re writing on a blog like copyblogger, or something, which is actually surprisingly easy to write for, although I can’t say I’ve done that myself. I’ve heard the process to write for a blog like that isn’t that difficult. I’ve written for some big blogs out there, I’ve written for one of the ESPN true hoop blogs, for example. And all I did was, I sent the guy an email with a blog idea and how I thought it would serve his audience and he just really went for it and it worked out great. So, to a new blogger, that’s the number one thing I’d recommend.
Ryan: Ok, great, James. You mentioned some really great ideas and the one thing too about that is, a lot of people are scared or intimidated just to send an email to someone, to try to post on their blog, but with that, the worst thing that can happen is they say no, and the best thing that could happen is they can say “yeah, sure, go ahead” and, it’s not really a big deal. So the worst that can happen is they say no. But you’d be surprised how easy some of these people are approachable online, on twitter or email, so that’s great. Excellent. And, we’re going to wrap this up pretty quickly, but is there anything else you want to add?
James: Yeah, I think there is. I guess I kinda only answered the first half of that question you asked me. I’d like to give a little advice to people who are just starting out on the journey of entrepreneurship, maybe even who are still working the corporate lifestyle. I just wanted to share a couple of the difficulties that I’ve had. I think one of the biggest challenges for me early on, was in the idea of “what should I do?” because this is something I especially realized after I started going to the Steve Pavlina workshops. A lot of people, when they’re thinking about being more entrepreneurial, they’re thinking about…”Ok, everybody’s telling me that I have to do something that I’m passionate about.” And then you start asking yourself the question, “Ok, what does it mean to be passionate?” “What is passion like?” “What is my passion?” “I don’t know what to do. I’m confused. I’m just going to stay here and do nothing until I figured this out.” A lot of people, myself included, I don’t want to speak in just a generality here, myself included, I took my time. I thought for a while about what it was that I felt passionate about and I tried a few things. But I didn’t put the kind of effort into those things, the kind of effort needed to be successful, because I wasn’t fully committed because I didn’t really feel like this was the thing that I was supposed to be doing. It feels like there’s one thing that your passionate about in life that you’re supposed to do, and until you really figure that out it’s just kind of a trial process, and I’ve come to realize, for me at least, and I think for most people, that’s not really true. The advice that I’d give to anybody that’s just starting out is don’t worry about what your one overriding passion is, because I think that’s kind of silly, instead just worry about, what is it that feels fun to me? Take the Joseph Campbell quote, “Follow your bliss.” Just do a few things that feel exciting to you, that feel inspiring. Ask yourself in the moment, what makes you feel excited and inspired and alive, and try to do more of those things and see where those take you. Because when I finally—after seven or eight different failed entrepreneur ventures—I’ve found a couple things that are working really well for me. And that’s how I got there, man. I just started doing some things that felt fun to me, and opportunities started opening, doors started opening, opportunities came up, and life just feels a lot more fun now. That’s the advice that I give to anybody, is just try a few things that feel fun, and don’t worry about the pressure so much. Don’t worry about the one thing you’re supposed to do, cause that pressure is just overwhelming, it’s not worth it, don’t deal with that. Just do a few things that feel fun, and doors will open.
Ryan: Ok. Great advice, I wholeheartedly agree. One other thing I want to add to that besides fun, is some people might not be actively thinking about their passion or what’s fun to them, they might just be doing what we were kind of doing early on, and that’s doing what everyone else was doing, and getting a job and things like that. But one other thing, too, is, you can stop and ask yourself, “What do I do already for free?” or “What would I do for free?” So that’s a really good idea, too. Like for example, I really enjoy blogging. I am doing this for free and it’s fun to me, pushing that publish button and getting my content out to the world. So think about that. What would you do for free? I spend hours on this computer, every week and every day in a coffee shop basically, so people can think about that. What they would do for free and what is fun for them.
James: Right on, Ry.
Ryan: So I think we’re going to wrap things up here. Thank you for coming on the call today, James.
James: Thanks for having me, Ry, it’s been fun and I hope this has been helpful for your audience.
Ryan: I hope so too, I think there were some good gems and nuggets in there. Ok so one last time, thanks James and you can check out James’ basketball/web-design/life/entrepreneurial, but mostly basketball, blog at jameskerti.com. And you can also follow and connect with him on twitter at @jameskerti. Ok, thanks a lot James, and see you guys later.
Resources Mentioned in the Interview
James’ Blog: http://www.jameskerti.com
James’ Twitter: http://twitter.com/jameskerti
Steve Pavlina: http://www.stevepavlina.com
Tim Ferris: http://fourhourworkweek.com/blog
Ramit Sethi: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com
The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg: Find it on Amazon
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