• 01.24.2020
  • BY Louis Song
  • IN Hiring Managers, Job Seekers, Recruiters

5 free tools that changed my life

In 1992, I was 23 years old, broker than broke, and completely unsure of my place in the world. I graduated from American University in Washington, DC, and had $50,000+ in student debt. The only job I could land was selling Plymouths. For you millennials, that was the Tesla of my youth.

Back then, I couldn’t see a future where I wasn’t poor and struggling. It was a very uncertain time in my life and the lack of clear passion, path, or mentor only caused more anxiety.

It took me about 4 years to work through the self-doubt, but I eventually started to discover what I liked and didn’t like as I reached my late 20s.

Following are 5 free tools that helped me transform from constant self-doubt to being (more) comfortable in my own skin. 

1. Youtube and podcasts 

  • While many poo-poo Tony Robbins, I can honestly say that he – and others like him – changed my mindset about myself and my future. I started with books on tape back in the 90s and many of those same books are now available for free on YouTube and podcasts (or, if you’re feeling fancy, paid versions can be accessed via Audible). Les Brown and CT Fletcher are two of my favorites.

  • For podcasts, I’ve subscribed to TED, Simon Sinek, Law of Attraction Coaching, Joe Rogan and others to learn new things and, just as importantly, to keep feeding a positive growth mindset.

  • Yes it can be a complete time suck but Youtube and podcasts are also amazing resources full of videos and voices that can fight the negative voices – especially our own.

2. The local library

  • Not everything is on YouTube.  At least not yet.

  • It’s not entirely free in that our tax dollars pay for it, but your local library still has physical books as well as audio books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, and more.

  • Before I could afford to buy books (and before I got too lazy to go to the library), the library presented a cheap place for me to spend my Saturday and Sunday afternoons exploring all the things I didn’t study in school.  I dove into topics about leadership, health, entrepreneurship, etc.

  • If you want some suggestions: Start with Why, GRITTalent is Overrated and Shoe Dog are some good books to get you going.

3.  Handwritten thank you notes

  • When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note from someone? Maybe I’m a romantic or old fashioned, but I’ve kept most of the hand written thank you notes that I’ve received during the last 20 years.

  • Every now and then, when I’m cleaning my desk and come across the box of notes, I re-appreciate the thought and care that each individual took to write me. More often than not, it prompts me to reach out and say hello or to write some thank you notes of my own.

4. The 7 minute work-out app

  • I’ve wasted so much time driving to the gym, waiting at the gym, talking at the gym, and driving home from the gym.

  • No, these apps won’t get you ready for the NFL or UFC. But for the rest of us, the 7 Minute Work Out as well as similar apps can get and keep you in shape.

  • One session gets the blood pumping, two sessions definitely gets the sweat going, and three sessions a day will get anyone into pretty decent shape.

5. Written goals

  • This, like many other things, I learned from my father.  Starting in about 7th grade he had me schedule my days and I absolutely hated it. I couldn’t understand the point of writing stuff down I already knew I was going to do.

  • I eventually relented, mostly because of something I learned while listening to Zig Ziglar (on tape). He said that only 20% of people have goals and only 3% of people have written goals. People with written goals have a 40% better chance of success and earn 10X as much as the other people put together.  10 TIMES.

  • I won’t tell you I’ve achieved all of my written goals over the years but they’ve definitely provided focus and a sense of accomplishment, especially when I’m able to physically cross my goals off a list.

And one for those of you in, near, or coming to San Diego. Here’s a bonus:

 6. Staring at the ocean (especially at sunset)

  • If you take Del Mar Heights Road west from Interstate 5, in less than 3 minutes you’ll crest over the top of a hill that provides some of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

  • The water seems endless and the sight overwhelms me with a sense of awe, peace and gratitude every time I take the chance to experience it.

  • Add a sunset with the ocean and it’s a great way to reflect on one’s day, life, purpose. It’s one of the reasons why paying the sunshine tax is more than a bearable tradeoff.