Podcast – Episode 0224 – How To Figure Out What To Do With Your Life (with Nii Codjoe)

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Nii Codjoe (COO at Personality Hacker) about how to figure out what to do with your life and his experience in navigating his own career as a millennial.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Nii Codjoe – ENTJ
  • Adaptability is one of the essential skills needed in the world today.
  • People who are graduating from school today struggle with adapting to the changes in the world.
  • Emotional & psychological adaptability.
  • Create an educational program to survive in the world today.
  • Invite successful people to coffee and ask them questions about how they became successful.
  • At the end of the “coffee chat”, Nii would ask, “Is there anyone else you would recommend I talk to?”
  • This is how he built a tribe of people who were more successful than him.
  • Learn how to learn.
  • There is a process to learning things and turning knowledge into wisdom.
  • Understanding persuasion, sales and marketing, and communication are potent tools to have.
  • These people aren’t larger than life. They are human.
  • What is the formula for turning knowledge into wisdom?
  • The first level is awareness and exposure – there are things out there you aren’t aware of. Keep seeking.
  • Accelerate learning by getting into action and implementing new ideas immediately.
  • Get your hands dirty.
  • Gain data from multiple mistakes.
  • Fail as much as you can to learn the fastest.
  • Books can’t teach you everything.
  • Read a book then take the knowledge and immediately test it in the outer world.
  • Refine the knowledge.
  • Go back and reread the book and see how your understanding has changed.
  • Passion project = 1-3 month projects
  • Approach someone who has some knowledge you can use to improve your data.
  • Patterns start to emerge.
  • Begin to see the same principles emerge over a wide array of concepts.
  • Career paths are often an emergent we discover over time.
  • Adaptability is important.
  • The wrong question: “What should I do with my life?”
  • Some jobs we may excel at don’t even exist yet.
  • Instead of focusing on passion focus on developing skills.
  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You” Cal Newport?
  • Focus on developing rare and valuable skills.
  • Career capital.
  • We tend to be passionate about the things we are good at.
  • The most effective way of landing a job is through these coffee chats.
  • Write down a list of people you know who are in a situation about which you are curious.
  • Start with your parents or family friends, former professors, classmates who are in the field you are interested in.
  • “I’m just exploring my options…”
  • “I’ve noticed you have a really successful career in…. I would love to buy you a quick cup of coffee to pick your brain and find out how you got into your career.”
  • Create an email template and mail it to a few people on your list.
  • Write down questions you would like to know:
  • How did you figure out what you wanted to do with your life?
  • How much education did you get?
  • Always buy them coffee at a location convenient to them.
  • Build a relationship.
  • Ask them how they got where they are.
  • Take notes.
  • Review.
  • “Who are two other people you would recommend I talk to learn more about this subject?”
  • People are more open to passing on a legacy than you think.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of relationships.
  • You are the average of the five people you hang around.
  • Write down the five people closest to you.
  • You are the average of those five people.

In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Nii Codjoe (COO at Personality Hacker) about how to figure out what to do with your life and his experience in navigating his own career as a millennial. #podcast #goals #careeradvice

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Showing 18 comments
  • Tiffany W

    Question: Nii mentioned a couple of journaling questions he uses daily. I went back and listened a 2nd time and still missed them. Anybody write them down? *problem with listening while driving*

  • Debbie N

    I liked this episode! As most of the other commenters, I’m an INFP and struggling finding a job. I’m 29 and work one on one with autistic kids. That does align with my psych degree but I want something more. My problem is maintaining relationships. How to fix that? I’m pretty sure I know the answer but am just dreading using my emotional energy.

    Also I wanted to be a real estate investor and had a really great idea and did what Nii said and talked to someone, learned more about it and just dived right in. I had never put too much effort into something… Ever! But after 6 months it wasn’t baring fruit so I left it alone, thinking it wasn’t meant to be. I was thinking on going back to it again.
    We will see…

  • Kelly S

    There was so much emphasis on being an extrovert in this episode. I ended up just feeling depressed about being an introvert over 30.

    • Antonia Dodge

      That’s one way of looking at it. An alternative perspective is that an extravert has already done the legwork to find a high leverage activity that works, so that an interested introvert won’t have to expend energy in the test/iterate process.

      One doesn’t have to be an extravert to implement the suggestions.


      • Kelly S

        It’s an extroverted solution that I’m sure would work well for other extroverts as well as some introverts. I just know that it wouldn’t work for me. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just felt like another case of an introvert needing to become an extrovert to succeed. Society constantly asks that of introverts, and I was just a bit bummed that I didn’t connect with the advice in this particular episode. It left me wondering about other ways to explore interests and discover career interests that don’t involve an extroverted mode of approach, which is where I was anyway. All that said, I love Personality Hacker and Nii Codjoe seems like an excellent addition to the team.

  • Steve

    I’m a 59-year old professional who mentors young people (from 22 to 54) whenever the opportunity presents itself, which is not entirely infrequent since ’round about 120 of them cash the checks I sign. Some of you will regard what I’m about to present here as naysaying, but it’s really not offered in that vein at all. In fact, I think “Coffee Chats” is an about-face made into a long-overlooked direction–our glorious past. It also advances a perspective I’d dare say would resonate broadly among my fellow sun-setters (many of whom sport boring STEM degrees and rose through the ranks applying elbow grease, overtime, and–brace yourself–used mostly traditional communication means). Nii, my only problem with what’s presented here is Joel and Antonia not reminding listeners up front that there used to be another name for “Coffee Chats”, which was something called “face to face interaction”. This most basic of social concepts is seemingly being reintroduced in this podcast as the latest Millennial career selection strategy, which is not at all surprising at a time in our history when devices and their inescapable ubiquity have robbed a generation of the ability to simply communicate face to face with other human beings. My advice to listeners (and readers) is to enthusiastically embrace Nii’s concept and then resolve to elevate it to the next level. Put down your phones, step away from your keyboards, and go out into your communities (churches, pubs, Lions Clubs, Kiwanis, the VFW, etc.), look each other in the eye and communicate. That’s the first thing. The second is a more generic comment relating to career selection and all this angst-ridden introspection over what we’re going to do with our lives (e.g. should I chase my passion or chase the money, should I get a STEM degree or go for that music therapy major, isn’t it evil to work for a company that’s building compounds used in the components of components that go into drone components, etc.) It’s literally enough to drive anyone bat-**** crazy–no wonder kids are so confused. Try this and see how it works for you: instead of “Discover your passion and then find a way to get paid for it”, let’s go with “Look around at what needs to be done, and get busy doing it”. The money will follow–every single time. A plumber I know (we were interacting at the time, face to face–weird, right?) commented that his was to be the last in what had been generations of tradesmen because he and his brothers had all educated their children to become white collar professionals. None of his progeny, he lamented, were the least bit interested in the family business, which is still booming and earns him and his partner solid six-figures per annum. Why? Manual labor and butt-crackery, entry-level pay at entry level, messy work environments, bad smells, that sort of thing. Contrast this with my 50-something educator friend down the street who shared with me (during yet another unscripted face-to-face interaction) her own career paradigm-shift to that of “tradesman”–she was no-kidding dropping her teaching gig to accept a welder apprenticeship in the local shipyards. And why? Bone tired of dealing with youth who are basically non-communicative, incorrigible, narcissistic, and who seem firmly convinced that their only possible contribution to society must earn them six figures out of college or they’re simply cheating themselves. I could go on, but suffice it to say that there’s much to be said for following a maxim from the past: “Let your work fund your play time, and let your play time be spent pursuing your passion”. Old school, I know, but there’s a lot of real, lucrative work to be done out there during those eight to twelve hours in the day when we’re not out chasing our dreams. All you have to do is look around you–it’s literally everywhere.

  • Mandee

    As an ENFP, I love the valuable information Nii talks about in this podcast. As previously mentioned (by a few INFPs), I also put a lot of stock in finding and developing my passions. I think it’s why Nii’s advice is equal parts painful and exhilarating. I appreciate his practical and concrete advice when so much of the rest of life and my mind are made up of anything but this.

    I do however have a question more on behalf of a few INFPs in my life struggling to know how to find passion and how to create change in their lives. I know fully well that while this episode invigorated me, to my INFP spouse and sister, it would terrify them. I just observe that while completely valuable, coffee chats are much easier to seek and participate in for extroverts as opposed to introverts. I can hear my husband now speaking to that this advice is completely within my flow state, while it would make him anxious beyond belief. What advice do you have for introverts wanting to make a change, but also still grappling with the fact that Nii’s advice is much more easily suited towards an extrovert?

    • Nii Codjoe

      ​Hey Mandee,

      It’s Nii, here. Thank you for your ​thoughtful comment and question. I’m ​happy you enjoyed the podcast.

      And you bring up a fair point: broadly speaking, extraverts are going to be more comfortable setting up coffee chat than introverts are. You’re right.

      So let me offer another perspective: I believe coffee chats are well suited for introverts.

      Here’s why.

      The most common alternative for ​exploring your career option​s​ ​is to go to a networking event — where ​you’re locked up in a​​ room with hundreds of extravert​s​ that are eagerly ​​​passing out ​their business cards and resume.

      And asking you for your 30-second elevator pitch…as if you were a guest on Shark Tank​.

      ​For most introverts, or those with social anxiety, networking events are hell on earth. ​
      The loud music. The small talk. The frenzy.

      So instead of attending a networking event to explore your career options and cultivate new friendships, have a coffee chat instead. They’re more intimate. Less overwhelming. And more fun.

      I could be wrong, here, but I bet having coffee with someone is ​easier ​than ​sparking up small talk with ​a ​stranger​​ at a noisy business event​.

      Which would an introvert prefer?

      Going to a networking event or grabbing coffee with someone.

      I’ve noticed that introverts have fewer coffee chats than extraverts when exploring their career options. And that’s okay. If you’re getting career clarity, at a pace you’re comfortable with, that’s a win.

      But here’s the leverage point. If an introvert can muster up the courage to have their first coffee chat, having a second one doesn’t feel as scary as it once did.

      Often, their responses are, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad. I kind of liked it. And I learned a lot.”

      Luckily, those coffee chats will lead them to new jobs, purposeful career paths, relationships, mentors and a more interesting life. And introverts can have this without ever setting foot at a networking event.

      You asked a fantastic question. I loved your insight!

      And I hope you find this perspective helpful.

      So what do you think, Mandee?

      (And to anybody else reading this…)

      Does this make sense?

      How does it resonate with you?

  • Jess Visher

    Loved the truth that you just have to get your hands dirty to really gain wisdom on it. Great podcast!

    • Nii Codjoe

      Hey, thanks for your kind words, Jess! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Jacob

    I know the advice given in this episode is wise and will work wonders for anyone who follows it. Without really paying much attention, I have done similar things in my own life on a much smaller scale that has accounted for almost every job I’ve had as an adult. But nothing like the numbers he is suggesting. As an INFP, even thinking about it makes me exhausted. Networking has been essential in obtaining information that is pertinent to me and my situation.

    Like a couple of people in the comments have already stated, still trying to find your right path as someone who is already into their 40s is disheartening and discouraging. In my 20s I just jumped around from job to job trying to figure out what I like. I couldn’t decide so I went to grad school in my late 20s studying media research. The semester before I graduated, the economy tanked and media research as a profession disappeared. So I had a worthless degree, no job, and was getting married. I managed to get a position in medical research at a university that has paid the bills (barely) and enabled me have two kids. Face to face interactions with subjects is rewarding, but that only makes up a small portion of my job. I want a new direction in my career but am petrified of not being able to provide for my family. When your older the stakes are much larger. I have no idea what I even want to do as a career.

  • Caroline

    Coffee chat with you two!!!

    I’ve recently been told that my PhD research is no longer getting funded and to basically take a hike. Before then, I had really started getting into personality development (thank goodness or I would have probably had a mental breakdown), and it has really become a passion for me, so much so that I would be interested in trying to make a career out of it.

    I’ve picked up from snippets here and there that you guys both took circuitous routes to get here and I’d really like to pick your brain about what you learned in previous (mis?)adventures.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be interested in this, so a podcast version would be great, but, of course, I would be willing to send you a gift card for coffee and skype with you guys 😉

    Thanks for the excellent podcast, keep ’em comin’!

  • Rowan

    A lot of the info here is about young people, out of college, trying to find their path. I’m old. I’m a young 49, of course, but still old. I have several careers behind me, and a current one, writing, that I am still capable of doing and enjoy. Being an impulsive youth, I have no material gains to show for my hard labours. But I do have a life rich with experience, and the knowledge that comes with such a life. So, I love writing. It’s a passion. But writing is often difficult to rely on as a money earner, and my motivation is frequently hamstrung by my worries about earning a living. Vicious circle, catch-22, blah, blah, blah. I feel like I have found my path, what I want to do with my life. I want to continue writing. But obviously I have to either make my writing pay its own way, or find another side path, an alleyway, where I can earn money to fund my passion. But it’s late in the day for me. Did I mention I’m old, and don’t have a lot of room for further mistakes? That kind of pressure really messes with your mind. And your motivation. It’s a passion killer. Currently I’m sitting on a tree stump along the side of my chosen path, wondering what the hell to do. What I should do. What should I do?

  • V

    As an INFP, I feel the practical nature of this podcast is probably more appealing to NT and SJ types. Perhaps I am just too idealistic and expect a single, correct answer (i.e. googling ‘what should I do with my life’, which I’ve probably done multiple times before) to fall out of the sky and into my lap. I know finding a career that clicks with me will take using and developing my Ne, but I never thought about this in terms of networking (probably because that word conjures up a mental image of a stuffy old business person). I’ve only thought about using my Ne in terms of taking on different jobs, volunteer opportunities, etc because it’s hard to gauge how much I will like a certain kind of work without actually doing it.

    I think part of my disconnect is that I put a greater weight on passion than skills, or passion in conjunction with skills. It’s hard for me to concentrate solely on skills (if it wasn’t, I’d probably work as a programmer now, as I majored in computer science in school). Nevertheless, I will give So Good They Can’t Ignore You a shot. I have read some more practical career books which have disappointed me on one level or another (perhaps because they actually describe the world as it is, haha), but I usually find one or two key points that I can take away and utilize.

    • Nick

      Fellow INFP here – I sympathize (strongly) with your sentiment about focusing on passion rather than skills strongly. It’s quite difficult to summon the motivation to work on a skill that doesn’t feel like it matters. Personally, I’ve taken the approach of putting aside more “practical” skills and moving towards whatever I’m passionate about and developing skills there. The way I see it… if you aren’t following your bliss, what’s the point in continuing down that path?

      Anyhow, just wanted to drop in and say you’re not alone! 🙂

  • Jessica Martinez

    I decided to share OUR story because well I felt a need to share our voice. I am 28 my husband is 27 and we have 3 kids together. Growing up and trying to fit in with another generation has been challenging, however, the MBTI has helped us beyond ways I could explain. Friends and family tell us it’s all BS but for us, the MBTI bridged the gaps between our relationship and the relationship with ourselves and finding ourselves — that to me isn’t BS. After hearing this last podcast I realize how much it resonates with me because of the new generation we fall under. Some of the jobs that will be in demand in 10 years are jobs that have not even been thought of yet and that gives me so much hope that I don’t have to have my life completely figured out yet (despite the fact that I have a 10-year-old and 6 year old twins). So to wrap this up thank you Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge (LOL those names are so engraved in my head from hearing your intros on the podcast) thank you for all the wisdom and guidance you share with your listeners.

  • Kathryn A.

    As I am nearing towards the end of my undergraduate career, this episode really resonated with where I am in life. Stress over finding an entry level full time position looms over my peers and me. I have been practicing the art of informational interviews these past few months, and it can be intimidating to talk to an experienced working professional with decades worth of experience as a college student. But as y’all were saying, people are typically willing to help/answer any questions we may have, as long as we do so in an appreciative, intentional way.

    We need to focus more on the importance of generating career capital, and to reiterate what Nii was saying: “You can have all the passion, but what good is that passion without a skillset?” Going to analyze the gaps in my skillset and re-frame the question of, “What do I want to do with my life?” to “What skills do I need to and what small projects could I partake in to hone in those skills?” Thank you so much Nii, Antonia, and Joel!

  • Cathy E.

    This was so great! I’m switching careers later in life ( I’m 54), but I’ve learned so much more about my chosen field by interning and talking with professionals than I learned in class. Nii gave a great interview, and I’ll be listening to this one again.

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