Personal Finance

Self-made millionaire shares the No. 1 thing that made her rich today: Don't 'blindly follow trends'

In 2016, I was 36 years into a successful career as a financial author, podcaster, TV host and speaker. But it seemed like many of my peers were striking gold after creating virtual courses on investing and entrepreneurship. 

There were even popular courses on how to build courses. Some were priced for as much as $2,000. I, too, had valuable advice to share. Was I missing out on an obvious financial opportunity? I began to wrestle with some agonizing FOMO — fear of missing out. 

Initially, my FOMO sent me down a costly rabbit hole. I purchased website domains, hired pricey marketing “experts.” But after many months, I gave up. I just didn’t enjoy it. I also didn’t want to be responsible for a team of contractors to help me execute on the plan.

But my FOMO didn’t go away. 

As I write in my new book, “A Healthy State of Panic,” when fear shows up at a crossroads in your career and financial life, it’s important to face your FOMO. Don’t let it run you over.

What made me a millionaire today was listening to the fear and uncovering what it may be saying about what I value and want to protect.

How to not let FOMO rule you 

FOMO is a natural occurrence, and it’s in our DNA to compare ourselves to others. But it can evoke a herd mentality where we blindly follow trends.

When FOMO arrives, it’s better to ask yourself: “What is it about this [fill in the blank trend] that’s catching my attention and releasing this fear of missing out?”

I was drawn to the courses trend because it seemed to be a smart way to go directly to consumers and make substantial money. My business had been largely reactive up until that point. I would get a request to speak at an event, and I’d take it. I’d get a call that a brand was interested in working with me, and I would create a proposal.

But this felt like a vulnerable business strategy. 

My fear was actually telling me that I wanted to better optimize my time and revenue. I wanted to go straight to my audience and decide the pace, schedule and approach of how I made money.

Sometimes FOMO wants us to find our own way — not hit copy and paste. 

How my FOMO helped make me a millionaire 

This introspection ultimately inspired a big idea that led my business to grow to seven figures. The answer was intimate, hyper-focused in-person workshops that shared my secrets to publishing and building a personal brand.

I reserved these events for a limited number of guests, the antithesis of an online course that relied on having to scale up. But it turns out, audiences were craving IRL engagements. My events filled up fast.

And it was more in line with my skills as a producer, director, teacher and presenter. My profit margins were also better than building a course.

People were willing to pay four to five times more than what they would online, and I filled the events mostly through word of mouth — no need to spend thousands on online ads. Tickets for my events went for as high as $12,000 per seat.

Bottom line: The fear of missing out may initially seem to signal that we should follow the pack and mimic what the cool kids are doing.

My best advice is to try to get under the hood of what your FOMO really wants you to achieve. What is the feeling you fear missing out on? When you ask some pointed questions, you may discover a more fulfilling and self-aligned path to success.

Farnoosh Torabi is the host of the award-winning podcast So Money, which has earned over 30 million downloads, and author of “A Healthy State of Panic: Follow Your Fears to Build Wealth, Crush Your Career, and Win at Life.” She is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, with a degree in finance and international business, and holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram @FarnooshTorabi.

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