Six years out of college and here’s the six things I know for sure

At first, it was a cold.

Then, the hard coughing exacerbated my already-existing acid reflux, which made it nearly impossible to eat. Then, I was laid off from a reliable source of income. All in September 2016. Safe to say, life sucked. Not from a financial standpoint, but just mentally and emotionally. It’s hard, I think, to have your worst health scare, and, at the same time, be relieved of your duties. The bills will get paid, but nothing shoots your confidence more than a layoff that makes zero sense.

But many amazing things happened this year, too. My book, Get Your Life!, has seen month-to-month growth through Amazon sales. My voiceover client list isn’t the biggest its ever been, but the healthiest its ever been. For the first time, I got paid to write. My speaking engagements went from 0 to 100. I went out of the country three times to London, Johannesburg and Cape Town. This includes new trips to cities in the USA like Boston and Oklahoma City, with returning visits to Atlanta, New York and New Orleans. There is much to be proud of. Oh yeah! For the first time, my mom thinks I actually have a real job.

I think about my life in direct relation to life after college. Why? Because when I earned my Bachelors degree, it meant I was closing one door and opening another. So, when I think about my journey it’s: before college, during college, after college. Six years later, dozens of jobs, layoffs, firings, lots of cash, hard times, big wins, losses later, here’s six things I know for sure.

You are responsible for your career. I must admit, I had other thoughts. When I first graduated, I got a huge check from voiceover. Six months later, I was sleeping on the floor eating fast food Chinese for dinner. I blamed everyone, until I realized I was the one responsible for my own career.

Money is the easy part. Earning income is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out what to do with it. It’s easy to land a job and to convince them to pay you large sums of cash. But if you think this will last forever, think again. Consider this: YouTube influencers are getting $200,000 to share brands with their followers. That influencer believes they’ll still be hot in 2018, and will spend their money. What if, for example, they opened up a print shop or coffee shop, to create a scalable, sustainable, business for themselves?

School is for suckers. College in the USA has the price tag of a house. Makes absolutely no sense, considering there’s really only two jobs hiring right now: Tech Engineers and Data Scientists. Sure, there are other roles open but they are scarce and competition is ugly. Colleges need to catch up to the demands of the economy and think ten years ahead instead of right now. This should reflect in majors and curriculum and professor expertise.

Airbnb, Facebook and Uber can make you a lot of money. Yes, you can host on Airbnb and you can drive for Uber. But you can also create a scalable business that is part of the Airbnb ecosystem by offering to clean homes or drop off keys. The reason I’m thinking about this? I met the cleaners of my Airbnb in Cape Town, and it made my wheels turn. Because far too often we aim to be the next Facebook or Uber without considering what we can create without building the platform itself. Just capitalize on what already exists. Will save you a lot of money.

The way people get information is changing. Yes, the stigma of millennials is that they know technology because they grew up with it. It’s TRUE! Recently, I was gifted an Amazon Echo Dot. If you don’t have one, it’s basically a smart speaker that gives you the news, plays music and tells you the weather. It does a billion things. As an author, it makes me wonder. Do I need to create an Alexa skill? For example, I can create a daily message for readers who enjoy what I have to say. Think: “Alexa, what is on Kareem’s mind today?” These are the kinds of things I think about. Sure we can write a book and put out another e-book, but how are people actually consuming content? These are the questions we have to ask ourselves. We must consider all the tools available to us.

Life can be short. I’ve felt invincible all of my life. But then August 2016 happened when I got a cold and then, acid reflux. I could barely eat or drink and when it didn’t go away, I went to the doc. I had a few x-rays and it turns out I have a more serious form of acid reflux. Either I take meds for the rest of my life or change my lifestyle and lose weight. It’s the first time in my life I felt mortal. I couldn’t sleep throughout the night, due to regurgitation. And when I did sleep, I was plagued with nightmares. What happens is oxygen is not fully able to get through when the throat muscles relax, causing both regurgitation and bad sleep.

In the last three months, I’ve switched up my diet by eating healthier options, developed a healthy gym schedule and lost twenty pounds. The joke is when guys get sick, they become infants. Unfortunately, I’m that dude. I’m just 28, but this scare had me wonder if I’m doing what I’m capable of or if I’m just getting by. All of this and more prompted me to sign up for dun dun dun… therapy. It’s the first time in life I’ve truly felt overwhelmed with drastic changes, coming from many directions. I don’t want to be a poster boy for therapy, but it’s a service I hope every Black man can sign up for. I think it’s just as important as going to the gym. Like on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs it needs to say: food, safety and therapy.

Whoa! This post covers a lot. But since I have faithful readers, I’m sure there is a lot of value to be taken from this. I just hope it helps you!

Kareem