My Favorite Job Was When I Was 12

I’ve had eight jobs, and my favorite was a paper route, when I was 12. I delivered newspapers for the Daily Californian, from the late summer of 1997 through the late summer of 1999.

After school, I rode my bike a few miles around central streets of El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, CA. The freedom and independence, combined with self-organized effort, gave me experience that I’ve benefited from ever since.

I mapped out my route from memory. The best way to remember a house was from how it looked, because few houses looked alike back then. For apartments, it was the apartment number, or the subscriber’s front / back patio.

I had the trust of my employer and subscribers that I would deliver the newspaper, and not an overbearing boss or camera spying over my shoulder. Sometimes I would miss delivering a newspaper, but it was rare.

I earned roughly $60 every two weeks, which was great for a 12 yr old. It was a direct reflection of my output and efforts, instead of a market-based average hourly and salary employees are paid today.

When I needed a break, I could simply stop and take it. I didn’t need many, and I did attach a bottle filled with water to my bike. Knowing that I wouldn’t be timed, or allotted a number of breaks, was a great freedom to enjoy.

I had to be organized: my boss, who delivered the papers in a stack each day to my door, didn’t tell me how to do everything. When I had a new subscriber, or one cancelled their subscription, I wrote it down on paper, and kept it with me until I memorized it.

I had to roll the newspapers myself, and tied plastic bags on them when it rained. Delivering newspapers in the rain was a lot of fun – especially during a thunderstorm!

The skills, the lessons, and the experience, of working independently was very enjoyable and rewarding. I suggest it to anyone who wishes to break their minds and potential from the chains of traditional employment.

You Don’t Need a Job Title to Be a Leader

Leaders get results through influence built on trust, guided by truth. Neither of these traits and behaviors are granted by a job title, require permission, and as far as I know, aren’t listed as qualifications in job ads.

Getting Results

Effective leaders get results that lead to benefit the whole. They focus on the outcome, the actions to get there, and with truth in mind.

A focus on outcome means a leader knows what they want, and why the want it. They also know why their followers want the result.

A job title doesn’t guarantee the person will achieve results, nor does it guarantee they have achieved results its responsible for. You can register your own LLC, grant yourself the title of CEO, and never earn a profit.


A job title can grant power, and it can be stripped away just as swiftly. Influence can be timeless, lasting decades, centuries, and millennia.

Influence is, according to its definition at least, “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.

Power granted by a job title is direct, granting a person some control to ensure they can carry out their responsibilities. Influence is indirect, and doesn’t need control control.

Power granted by a job title is tangible; it can be changed by policies and laws. Influence is intangible, which requires a greater deal of effort that can’t be destroyed simply by decree.

Trust & Truth

Trust is built from evidence that actions taken were done with truth in mind, and truth as the result. One can execute power through force, but this leads to fear, and when those fears are overcome, it leads to resistance. That resistance, fully realized, strips the person from ever retaining power again.

Decisions guided by truth never fail, even if the results did not materialize. Trust in leadership is stronger than the result so long as the leader was truthful. The antithesis to this is manipulation: people who promise one thing, and deliver something that is to the detriment of those who helped them.

Leaders influence excellent, qualify character and decisions in others. You don’t need permission, and you don’t need a job title, to influence others. Stick to the truth, and do it with integrity, morals, and you will see, in time, how far your influence reaches. It may be timeless.


How to Get Past the Experience Catch-22

You can’t get a job because you have no experience. Does that sound familiar? I’ve been there; we’ve all been in that catch-22. I’ve also found a way to get out of it!

Here are reasons why it’s a pain in the ass to get a job without experience, and what you can do about it.

Your Hand Was Held

You went to school, took the course, studied books, articles, and papers, and feel you are the most intelligent being on the planet!

You’re ready to change the world!

Then I say, “Your education isn’t good enough.”

You fall flat on your face in disappointment.

In school you’re allowed to make mistakes, and try again. A teacher held your hand along the way, guiding you to the answers. Hell, the answers were in the book you were reading.

In the real world, nobody holds your hand, especially the person paying you to do the job. You don’t hold the waiter’s hand as he returns to the kitchen with your order, do you?

I hope not, that might be unsanitary. Also, don’t invite me to lunch if this is what you do.

Show You’re Capable

Showing you’re capable of doing the job so the employer can assess the risk they take to hire you.

The distinction between someone who is capable and not capable is their level of confidence.

Example: You learned how to handle sexual harassment complaints from a book, but you don’t feel confident you can handle such a sensitive issue.

How do you get confident?

Simple: do what you don’t feel confident in until you feel confident about it.

It really is that simple.

You did this when learning to walk and talk. It’s no different an approach than anything else. Unless that anything else is a robbing a bank, in which case you shouldn’t do it in first place.

Do Spec Work / Volunteer

As corny as it sounds, it helps tremendously.

Spec, or volunteer work, is work performed without a contract or agreement of payment or hiring. Basically, no promise that you’ll get the job. It may lead to the job, or it may not.

Artists, architects, and anyone in a creative field knows that spec work is the best way to get your foot in the door.

If you’re in a non-creative field, such as management, where there are laws, regulations, and the ever present factor of other humans, then volunteering. Your ‘spec work’ will be references from people involved.

(Note: If you’re doing spec work with other people’s trademarks / logos, then you must put ‘spec work’ or ‘ad-spec work’ on the piece, so people know it’s not from the company.)

Getting Experience Without a Job

Do the following things to create experience for yourself.


Create a portfolio of your spec work (or several portfolios if they’re not related). This shows you are capable of organizing yourself, which means you’re capable of organizing an employer’s or client’s project.


You also need to present that portfolio. If it’s possible, put it online; even in a place that is free, such as Make sure the presentation is easy to access, use, and understand: this in turn shows you are capable of doing the same for your employer.

Don’t send USB or Flash drives, email attachments, or printed copies, of your portfolio, unless requested. (I’ve done this before to Sony, and was promptly ignored.)

Work Without Supervision

Your school teacher supervised you while you learned. In the real world, you’ll receive little supervision from the person hiring you because they expect to pay you to do the job without guidance.

When you’ve put the portfolio together, and presented it well, you’ve shown that you can work without supervision. You did put it together yourself, right?

Accept Criticism

Criticism on your portfolio is a chance to learn what the client wants. It’s valuable insight, and it may even land you the job.

It’s excellent to show you’re willing to take direction away from what you believe is best, and accept what others believe is best for them. This is essential to success, either as a freelancer, employee, or business leader.

Put it Together, and You Have Experience

When you’ve created the portfolio, without supervision, presented it, and accepted criticism from others, you’ve taken the crucial steps to gaining experience.

By the way, these are the same steps every business owner takes when creating a product, with the first additional, all important step:

  1. Find what customers want and why they want it.
  2. Organize: Design and produce what they want.
  3. Present: Make it available for the to buy it.
  4. Accept Criticism: Make changes so the product becomes and stays what customers want.

That’s invaluable experience.

My Real Life Examples:

  • I have a web page design that’s still in use since 1999.
  • My first job was a paper route, which was being an unsupervised 12-year old.
  • I do graphic design, for fun!
  • I create ad copy, for fun!
  • This blog is a portfolio of my writing, for fun and for you!

What is your experience and advice getting over the catch-22?