Thursday, September 28, 2017

First Subscriber Submitted Article!

Find a Mentor!
By John McMenamin

The goal of any do-it-yourselfer, maker, homesteader, or artist is achieving independence or self-sufficiency through the skills we possess. Do-it-yourselfers gain skills so they can fix things without calling and paying for a professional. Homesteaders learn how to grow food and generate power so they can be off-grid and independent from big agriculture. Artists develop material and technical know-how so they can uniquely express their aesthetic vision. In all these examples it is the acquisition of skills that enable us to develop personal, creative, or financial independence and freedom. But what is the best way to gain these skills?
Welding a sculpture.
Learning new skills and acquiring information has been made significantly easier with the internet. However, as makers, the best way to acquire new skills is still through trial and error with hands-on practice. You’ve got to get your hands dirty and get in the shop! And who better to guide you through those trials and errors than a trusted mentor? By aligning yourself with a mentor, you avail yourself to a fountain of information. A good mentor will help you learn your craft more deliberately by steering you clear of pitfalls and giving you access to their network. Finding a trusted advisor is not always easy, but these ideas may help.

To acquire new skills we have to surround ourselves with people who will teach us and put ourselves in situations where we are bound to grow. The first step towards doing this is asking for help! Figure out who the experts are in your field of interest and reach out. Set up a meeting with them, shoot them an email, or see if they are presenting in your area. It is amazing how generous people are with their time when you reach out in a courteous, concise manner. Another way to find mentors is to search out places where experienced teachers might congregate. Visit your local makerspace, technical college, or hardware store. Insert yourself into communities where you are likely to find mentors. Be sure to talk to people and keep your eyes and ears peeled for opportunities. Remember, mentors can be any age!
Mentor Paul at work.
One of my most influential mentors is named Paul, and he is only four years my senior. He taught me how to use an Oxy-propane torch and how to weld, run small equipment, and rig heavy objects. He also reinforced less tangible skills, like the importance of anticipating the needs of a crewmember on the job site. He’d say, “always pass a brush,” meaning, never just stand around on the job, always find a way to help out, even if it just means passing a tool or sweeping the job site. Sustaining a productive relationship with your mentor is crucial to your success as a student.
The mentor-mentee relationship can be a rewarding experience built on the joy of sharing knowledge and learning together. Build this relationship on a solid foundation! Here are five tips for sustaining a good working relationship with your mentor.

5 tips for a successful mentorship!

  1. Close your mouth and open your ears! Careful and patient listening skills are vital to being a good mentee. You’ll probably get to hear some cool stories too!
  2. Be humble. Remember, hubris always leads to embarrassment.
  3. Be respectful of the teacher’s experience and knowledge - regardless of their age.
  4. Be open to learning lessons that aren’t directly related to the skill you are pursuing. A thoughtful and observant mentee will build his character and work ethic based on the example of the teacher.
  5. Pay it forward! Be sure to use your skills and become a mentor to someone else.

A large sculpture by artist and mentor Jim that I helped build.

Mentor Timeline

Thus far I’ve urged readers to find a mentor, offered tips for finding one, and given advice for sustaining a strong relationship. Below I’d like to offer my own story as an example of how I found mentors, learned desired skills, and discuss some of the lessons I learned. Think of this as my “mentor timeline.”

Age: 26
Education: Bachelor of Arts: Painting and Drawing
Goal: Learn hands-on skills so I can earn money and be self-sufficient as a car-owner, future home-owner, and human.
Fall 2014 - Spring 2015
Valvoline Instant Oil Change

I wanted to learn more about cars and how to change oil, so I got a job at Valvoline with zero experience. As a national company, Valvoline had the resources and training system to teach me basic car maintenance. Through their online training course, I learned about different parts of the car and what they do. I also learned a lot from the guys in the shop. They taught me how to work efficiently and how to perform various auto maintenance services. In five months I serviced around 930 vehicles. It was a grueling, fast-paced job with a steep learning curve, but I learned my way around a car and gained a massive amount of respect for anyone who works in the service or retail industry.
Spring 2015 - Spring 2016
Franconia Sculpture Park

Through a series of serendipitous circumstances, I was invited to be an artist-in-residence at Franconia Sculpture Park outside of Minneapolis, MN. Over the course of a year, I lived at the Park for four months and built a 17’ steel sculpture. Mind you, I had never made a sculpture before and had never worked with metal. But the collaborative and creative community at the Sculpture Park nurtured me. I asked wood sculptors to take me into the woodshop and show me how to use the table saw. My friend Kelly gave me an hour-long demo on angle grinders, and in return, I taught a class on changing oil. This is also where I met my mentor Paul, who took me under his wing. When teaching me how to stick weld, he showed me the basics and then said, “get to practicing!” It was this combination of giving me initial guidance followed with a hands-off approach that gave me the confidence to experiment and learn on my own.
Summer 2015 - Fall 2016
Fine Art Preparator

Erecting mentor Jim's massive sculpture.
Through the network I built at Franconia, I became involved with the art community in Minneapolis and found work as a fine art preparator. As an independent contractor, I worked with many private clients, contractors, and museums. It was a great lesson in what it takes to work for yourself and manage everything from scheduling, billing, and taxes. During this time I found three mentors, James, Andrew, and Joel. James was a sculptor who taught me about different metal working tools and rigging. I also learned more about what it takes to make a living as a working artist. Next was Andrew, a master rigger, and art transporter. He taught me how to rig heavy objects and drive a forklift. Lastly, Joel was an art preparator and a carpenter. He showed me how to use a router and many other woodworking tools. Most importantly, he modeled professionalism on the jobsite and when interfacing with clients.
Fall 2016 - Current
Maintenance Man

Learning my way around a forklift.
After living in Minneapolis for two years, I was eager to get back to a Summer Camp in Wisconsin that I had gone to as a kid and worked at throughout college. I leveraged the skills I learned at Valvoline, the Sculpture Park, and as an art preparator to get a part-time job in the maintenance department. This camp is where I currently work and have learned so much from my co-workers. Most of all, I’ve learned the importance of patience in the mentor-mentee relationship. I am grateful for the patience they show me as I master new skills and I try to be patient with myself too.
2017 and Onward

I still have a lot I want to learn! Luckily I have built up a community of mentors who teach me things every day, and I always keep my ears open for new opportunities to learn.

Take Action

Our thirst for self-sufficiency drives us to seek out knowledge and gain new skills. How we do this is what makes our stories unique. While the path we take varies from one person to the next, what seems to be a similarity across the board is we need others to pour time and knowledge into us. This person is who you are looking for, the mentor. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity of working with many influential mentors in my life; I can only hope that I too will have an equal impact on others, as a mentor, in the future. My suggestion is this, don’t waste time, find a mentor.

John McMenamin

September 28, 2017

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Debt Free Real Estate Investing - $12K House - DEMOLITION - Full Renovation

Working hard is hard work, whether you're mining coal, fishing for lobster, sit in a cubical all day, dig holes or renovate houses. I'm no stranger to working hard and it has earned me some great opportunities, but working hard alone is a fools game. You've got to add some "working smart" into the mix. Trading hours for dollars is a great way to get money, but don't just spend it on your bills and toys, invest as much as you can towards creating passive income. Real estate is a great vehicle for creating wealth. It offers so many options, selling and renting being the obvious choices. I'm currently buying inexpensive (dirt cheap) properties with a goal of building a rental portfolio that replaces the need for me to work daily to make an income. Once I have enough monthly cash flow, I plan on shifting my attention towards more expensive properties either commercial rental or flipping nice homes. For now, I'm building the foundation that all the rest will rely on. In this project, I purchased a cinder block house for $12,000. I'll put around $10k in the property and either rent or sell it once the renovation is complete. If I rent I could gross $6k - over $7k a year. If I sell I could profit around $20k, maybe more. The decisions are still in consideration. The video below shows the first major step of the renovation, gutting the house. The demolition took several days, this video shows it in only a few minutes. Enjoy.

Wait, don't go anywhere! If you enjoyed this video there's more. First, if you could share the link to this page or the video it's self I would be very grateful. I've also posted some links below that you would also enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
Suggested Reading Mystery Link-