Nearly ten years ago, when I was fresh out of high school, I drove myself down to Kentucky and enrolled in college. Of course, as you already know, that stage where you step out on your own is often filled with a pretty drastic learning curve, and I’m not just talking about the material you learn in school. For the first time ever, I was responsible for creating an income, balancing a budget, and making regular payments on bills. Some time during the middle of my freshman year, I dropped the ball and received a phone call from my bank informing me that I was over drawn.

As soon as I got off the phone with the bank, I immediately got back on the phone with someone else…my parents. When I called, it never crossed my mind to ask them for money to help me through the situation. Instead, I asked my father, who is incredibly good with his budget, to talk me through the situation and provide me with some advice for how to remedy it and how to avoid having it happen in the future. We talked for a while and came up with a solution. Then after that phone call (and throughout the course of the next couple of years), I began researching online and regularly reading articles about budgeting, saving money, and even investing.

Within the next couple days, I cleared the account back into a positive balance and now, years later, I have maintained that same account in good standing and have never over drafted since then.  I now own real estate, operate a successful and very profitable blog, and I’m enrolled full-time working on another college degree.

Are You Looking for Solutions or Handouts?

Please dont’ mistake what I’m saying here. It’s not my intention to brag or sound cocky. I look back at those years and feel blessed beyond all measure that my parents taught me an important concept about life, and truth be told, if you grab onto this concept, most of you probably have the potential to be 10x more successful than I am.

Here’s the concept: there are always two directions that we can take when trying to solve a problem or when trying to get ahead in life. The first, and most popular, approach is to look for a free handout. The second approach is to find a way to expand the way that you view the situation so that you can make the right decisions and take the right actions to accomplish success yourself.

I’m not here to propose that one is ethically beneficial or that you have stronger character if you follow the second route. I’m not hear to propose that I’m a better person than you are because I chose the second route in that situation. I would posit, however, that this second path, the route of education, is far more beneficial to an individual than the route of a bail out. Had I been bailed out in college, and not taken the time to learn to budget properly, I very likely would have been in the same situation a short time later. But since I not only wanted to avoid that negative situation but also wanted to be putting money into savings each month during those years, it was important to me to educate myself in the area of finances.

In any area of business, this concept rings true, and since this site is primarily about blogging and online business let’s look at one practical application of this principle.

Comments & Backlinks

An alarmingly spammy trend among bloggers is to leave comments using a keyword or a site name rather than a real name or pseudonym. I’ve even taken the time to identify to those who would comment here that I do not allow keywords in the name field by labeling it very clearly in the comment form. If you scroll down, you’ll see the phrase ‘no keywords’ in parentheses as a part of the name label.

I do this because there are two types of bloggers. First, there are those who browse around looking for a quick and easy link back to their site…a free handout. Second, there are those who browse around like a sponge trying to soak up information, and when they comment, it’s because they genuinely have something to add to the conversation or because they have a question and want to learn more. Those folks whose primary intent is that backlink…their comments aren’t welcome here, and I’m on a quest to get as many of those folks to jump ship and join that second group as I possibly can.

I know that your gut reaction is that I must be some sort of brutal monster to treat people like that, but, in fact, the opposite is true, and it amazes me that people don’t seem to get this. I wholeheartedly believe that I can help people far more through real conversations and discussions about tactics and best practices than by just throwing a link back to their site in the comments section. Besides, and this is somewhat irrelevant to this principle, I have CommentLuv enabled (but hidden prior to commenting) which provides users with a link back to their most recent article at the bottom of their comment.

This, of course, is just one example of this principle in action.

Often when I mention principles like this, I hear folks respond with sentiments similar to these, “What about when you are just starting? You need some time to get into quality writing and engaging.” This sentiment is nothing more than an excuse for mediocrity. I understand that folks are starting out and are just snatching up the spammy tactics that are being promoted across the blogosphere, but I’m not here to encourage folks to stay beginners forever. My goal is to challenge folks out of their beginner shells, through the intermediate stages, and on to advanced, incredibly successful kick-butt bloggers.

The Fervent Desire for Knowledge

My good battle buddy, Ryan Critchet (check out his blog here), often criticizes the need for college. His mindset is that he sees no point in formal education when he has it in his own power to study and learn as much as he can every single day. And he really does. He spends his days studying, working, and expanding his businesses. Now I personally think that he takes it to an extreme, but I can’t begin to express the respect that I have for that ‘dig in and figure it out’ attitude. I wish I saw much more of that in folks I come across.

I just finished an advanced composition class at DeVry University. After almost every single class, I found myself asking questions to the teacher trying to understand the best ways for writing in every possible situation. It amazed me that most students just stared off into space during class and then wandered out the door as soon as we were released. I want to learn as much as I possibly can, and I want to spread that fervor to as many folks as possible.

Show Me What You Can Do

I may sound harsh, but my intention is to come across the same way my big brother might challenge me with something like, “Hey! I bet you can’t throw a football farther than I can.”

“Oh, yeah!” I’d respond even though he may or may not be right, “I’ll show you! Watch me!” And then I’ll proceed to throw my arm out if necessary trying to show him up.

So come on, bro (or sis). Show me what you’ve got. Let’s step up our game, dig in, and learn what it takes to be successful.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

23 Comments

  • Mike Haydon says:

    Awesome “call to arms” Nicholas. More people need to read this (*ahem* Governments of the world…) and put it into action.

    • No kidding. That’s a good point. Most governments just assume that they can raise taxes so they don’t make decisions the way that a business has to. But I digress.

      I’m just becoming absolutely convinced that folks could really improve their business models from studying, discussing and working than from running around chasing links and calling folks names who won’t give them.

  • Ava Jae says:

    I don’t think you were too harsh at all, in fact, I think you make a really fantastic point. Too many people go around looking for handouts, but you’re right–it’s infinitely more useful to learn how to improve rather than receive a handout.

    As the Chinese proverb says: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    • Exactly! What an appropriate expression for this topic. Except what I seem to face a lot is folks who come and ask you for a fish day after day, and when you try sit down with them and teach them how to fish, they get upset and say that you must not care about them when, in fact, the opposite is true. It boggles my mind.

      Sometimes I wonder if it’s laziness or just the mindset that modern culture seems to embed into folks. I sometimes think that folks are trapped with this mindset not even realizing that there is a much more profitable and fulfilling approach to life.

  • Nicholas,

    I am one of those second-types. I blame it on learning how to use the library’s card catalog system at a young age. At that point I learned how to look things up on my own, rather than go ask somebody.

    This has lasted throughout my life – when faced with a new challenge in work or in life, I try to find as much information on my own prior to discussing with others.

    Discussions have a valuable role as well, but having done some “homework” first helps move it to a deeper, more informative level.

    And the phrase I heard (it is on a t-shirt I got for a birthday) is “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, and he sits in a boat and drinks beer all day”

    • Ha ha. That’s a great twist on that old proverb. I love it. Very funny.

      When I was in the Army, I used to tell my guys, “Observation before Interrogation.” In other words, sometimes they would come running out to formation, everyone would be in a certain uniform and they would ask, “What’s the uniform for today?” I’d be like, really? Just look around. There’s a hundred men standing there in the same uniform and you couldn’t just take a glance and see the answer?

      Of course, not all answers are in plain site, but some are, and a little observation, attention to detail, and desire to figure things out can really take you far in life.

      Again, I love that twist on that teach a man to fish thing. Did they get that shirt for you because you fish a lot?

      • I married into a fishing family who also enjoys beer!

        Your story reminded me of a guy I had to train once. The role involved lots of account reconciliations. He had the habit as soon as something didn’t come out right to ask me about it. After a while I got annoyed by this tendency.

        The next time he had an issue he said “I can’t get this to work, do these numbers over here mean anything?” and I replied with my best Buddha-in-a-cave-meeting-the-exhausted-mountain-climber-searching-for-the meaning-of-life attitude “Alllllll the numbers mean something”, and said no more about it.

        Well, he actually was able to figure it out with no further assistance from me, though it took him awhile.

        But I think this is where part of the learning occurs, when we tackle a problem from a lot of different perspectives we get a better appreciation for what works and what doesn’t, and the “pain” of the experience makes us remember it better.

  • […] [toread] Are You Looking for Solutions or Handouts? – […]

  • Jeff Baldwin says:

    Oh, the good ol’ days of college budgeting. I remember them quite well! But, as I was raised, it was ill-favored to ask for money in a pinch. The day I didn’t account for all the expenses related for a new vehicle was the day my funds dried up–and the last day I would let that happen again.

    Awesome post today. Keep up the great work (between classes, of course)!

    • You weren’t my roommate yet when I caused that over draft. I’m pretty sure that was during my very first semester. But you were my roommate when we used to listen to Jim Cramer together and bounce our budgeting and investing ideas off of one another. I learned a lot about finances from you and with you. Those were the days.

      By the way, I love that gravatar. It’s very creative. Did you make that yourself or did you get it made somewhere? And, by the way, how’s the coupon site coming along?

  • Jeanie says:

    That’s right! We always need to fight for our future,for excellent results etc. And to take handouts is a deal of weak people.

    • I can’t believe that you actually read this article since in it I specifically mentioned that I do not allow keywords in the name field and you still placed a keyworded link to your site on here. You are the free handout mindset that I’m talking about. I wish you all the best of luck spamming your keywords across the blogosphere, but as for me, I’m going to stick with engaging people as a real person among real people and I guarantee that I’ll learn more and go farther. Not because I’m better or cockier but because I actually read articles before commenting on them.

      It’s incredibly obvious that you didn’t read this article as you basically slapped me in the face with your comment. I’ve removed the keywords from your comment and left this here only to make it clear that I don’t allow comments from people who clearly didn’t read the article and are only chasing the link back to their sites. If you think I’m being harsh then take the time to read this article, which you obviously didn’t, and you’ll understand why as this article literally addresses this specific issue.

  • ah hong says:

    Not long ago I read one financial article which mention that American college student who graduated last year owed an average $24,000 in debt.

    Same goes to my case though the amount is smaller, I never asked for anyone’s help and work part time for few years to clear my debt.

    My point of view, it depends on a person’s attitude to solve a problem. Self initiative is the key. Help youself and don’t just sit duck and shout for help.

    • That’s a controversial example. Some would view a business loan, not as a handout, but as a business investment. Someone who graduates from law school owing $24,000 will be set for life with the education they got on that loan. They’ll be able to pay it off quickly and easily.

      Although, like you, I don’t personally want to take any student loans. I worked a full time job through my first college degree and never took a loan. I know that it’s possible.

      You’re absolutely right about self initiative being the key. It really is.

  • Noel Addison says:

    I can see myself in your friend named Ryan Critchet. Like him I used to believe that enrolling in schools for formal education is pointless because I can learn things by myself. But as I grow older I realized that going to school is still necessary because we have teachers/ professors in school to guide our learning. Also, in a formal school we meet new and different people, and we learn more from them.

    • Ryan’s a really cool guy. He’s incredibly smart and hard working. I’m the same as you and sometimes get frustrated taking these introductory courses at school because I sometimes feel they don’t challenge me enough. But that’s only because I’ve spent my entire adult life studying, reading, and learning. But now that I’m getting past the introductory classes, I’m starting to have a blast learning as much as I can in these design classes. I just want to learn as much as I possibly can.

  • Mel Melhado says:

    There is truly nothing like learning from experience we come across in life but it is also wise to be prepared to handle certain situations. The Internet is a great place to find all the guidance we need though I agree that there are also lots of crappy contents.

    • Right. There certainly are a lot of lousy comments, but, of course, that was only a very small example of this principle in action. The truth is that many of us are quite often too lazy to learn. I know that I am sometimes. I want to challenge myself to constantly keep growing and learning.

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  • Duy says:

    “Fortune favors the bold”

    I agree with you totally Nicholas! When things get tough, we have two simple choices. The first one is to let it be and be satisfied, the other is to try our best to make it better.

    It’s really good to hear that you’re now in both real estate and make money online, and you’re learning another major. I love it because that’s exactly what I’m planning with my journey. Even when I make a decent amount of money online, I won’t stop there. I will go invest them in other businesses and help people. That’s what I want to become.

    Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I really love it man!

    Have a nice day.

    Duy.

    • Thanks, Duy, for the engaging comment. Like you, I want to stretch myself as far as I can and reach the highest heights possible. I don’t believe I can do that if I’m not working hard and exploring the world around me.

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