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This is where I share occasional musings on all things type, design, and business.
Hi, I’m Jen Wagner

Whenever my husband and I would talk about the most transformational time in our careers, it wasn’t when we were taking the “big shot.” It wasn’t the big swing, the public win, the hit song.

It was at 6am, every morning, in a dark studio investing time into ourselves before we went to our day jobs at 9am.

For years, we’d heard about the magic of the “5am Club” but never committed to actually doing it. And when we finally did? Magic.

We discovered the same almost a decade later. We had two very young kids and careers that demanded a lot of time and focus; now, the issue was that we didn’t feel great physically. So we decided to give the “5am Club” a shot again; this time for exercise, meditation, reading, and self-care. We’d heard waking up before your kids was a game changer; why not give it a try?

Turns out, they were right – game changer. And not only that, but consistent exercise completely transformed our lives mentally, physically, relationally. It was as impactful as the proverbial “they” said.

So that leaves one question – Why on earth didn’t we start sooner?

We live in an age of abundant information; every bit of knowledge we could possibly want is literally at our fingertips. But despite that, we still oftentimes refuse to take any action until we’ve figured out a way “that is guaranteed to work.”

Screw that. Follow the formula first. It’s a formula for a reason.

Want more energy? The basic formula is eating better and moving your body. You can fine tune and elaborate and adjust once you master the basic formula, but if the formula is too basic for you to even start, you’ll never start.

Want to start a business? Find a market, create a product that solves a problem, put it out before it’s perfect, and iterate as needed. Don’t wait.

Want to be the best at what you do? Work, practice, commit. Michael Jordan was the most talented player in the league, yet he still spent more time in the gym than any other player. Talent isn’t a free ride if you want to be great.

Or, how about this one – No formula for what you want to do? Find a similar one and start there. 

When I started making and selling fonts, there was no script on how to create and sell type. I searched high and low for textbooks, online courses, YouTube videos – literally everything was reserved for college courses, and very few colleges had type design programs (from what I could find at the time, fewer than five and none online).

So I did what another formula taught me: Create something that, at a minimum, works; present it in a way that solves a problem for your target market; put it out for sale and make another one.

It’s like wanting to make a specific type of cookie that you can’t find a recipe for. Are you just going to give up on the idea because there’s no formula? Or can you find another relevant recipe that adapts well to your needs and can translate (i.e. another cookie recipe, not a recipe for beef stroganoff).

Don’t know the formula to get what you want? Find it. Read books about or written by people who are where you want to be. Look at history. Observe what people at the top are doing, how they spend their time.

Then, follow the formula. Take action.

And once you master it, break the formula in whatever ways get you closer to your goals.

The “formula” is the key we all have access to in an age of abundant information; we just have to choose to try it on the locks we want to open.

Apprenticeship is not the time to reinvent the wheel – you’ll never start. Follow the script. Improvise later.

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