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Summary: Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do by Chris Guillebeau

“Work isn’t everything in life, but we spend a great deal of our lives at work. Some people, it seems, really do have it all. These people take to their working roles as if it’s the absolute best possible fit for them—it’s as though they were born to fulfill a certain role. If you’ve ever worked on something you took great pleasure in, yet you also got paid for it, you know what this is about. And if you haven’t experienced this career bliss yourself, you may have observed it in others.” – Chris Guillebeau

“People who are most successful have found the perfect combination of joy, money, and flow. They’ve won the career lottery—and they don’t have to choose between their money and their life. Above all else, finding the work you were meant to do should be your number one career goal.” – Chris Guillebeau

People who are most successful have found the perfect combination of joy, money, and flow.

If you don’t like your job, how can you get a better one? You can update your résumé and send it out to potential employers. You can attend every available job fair. You can go online, look for job postings and respond to all the ones that interest you. After you do all that, you can cross your fingers and hope for the best. The problem is that every other job seeker is doing the same, and many share or exceed your qualifications. Side Hustle podcast host Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, offers a compendium of ingenious ideas for getting and keeping the job of your dreams. He suggests viable ideas for earning money on the side while you embrace your unique entrepreneurial pursuits. We recommend his idea-packed manual to those seeking jobs or entrepreneurial opportunities and to those seeking to improve their careers or boost their incomes.


  • Finding the right career takes effort and time. No career is one-size-fits-all.
  • Job seekers can find the special work they were born to do.
  • The best career plan follows the “Joy–Money–Flow” model. Find work you love (joy) that pays well (money) and leverages your skills (flow).
  • Everyone excels at something. You may be able to monetize your skills and, in the process, create a new career.
  • To discover your special skills, ask your family and friends for their input.
  • Develop a separate source of income besides your job. Nurture a “side hustle.”
  • Self-employment opportunities come along all the time. If you miss one, another will soon become available.
  • No one has to stay in career hell. Use “escapology” – the art of leaving – to bust out of your cubicle and find something better.
  • Helping other people solve their problems can open doors to a new job.

How to Win the Career Lottery

Work on Your Side Hustle

“Think you’re too busy for another project? Whether busy or not, ask yourself, “Do I have the right balance of joy, money, and flow in my life?” If you want an outcome different from the one your current path is leading to, somehow you’ll have to find the time. Being too busy may be the new social currency, but the real winners find time to do what matters to them.” – Chris Guillebeau.

Start your search for the career lottery ticket by using your spare time to focus on side projects. Select side projects that allow you to expand your skillset and your social network. Use your spare time to develop your ‘soft’ skills: writing (blogging), public speaking (Toastmasters), conflict management, and follow-up (volunteer for leadership positions).

Actively Listen

While working on your side hustle and developing soft skills, you’ll come across specific problems people need help solving.

  • Identify these problems by searching for common questions in your email inbox, social media feed, and during daily interactions.
  • Ask yourself: “How might I address these questions using my unique skill set?”
  • The best questions to solve are questions related to specific problems people struggle with on a daily basis.

“Here’s the core principle: when you’re not sure what your “thing” is—when you don’t know quite where to look to find that job or career that brings you joy, flow, and a good income—the people you talk to every day can help you find it. “ – Chris Guillebeau

If you can’t find a question worth devoting your time to answering, start interviewing and surveying people.

  • Set up 15 minutes Skype calls with 100 people and find out what they’re struggling with that relates to your current skill set.

Resign Every Year

Sometimes quitting is the smartest thing you can do.

“Once a year, on the date of your choosing, commit to yourself that you will quit your job unless staying put is the best possible choice for you at this time. If it is, that’s great—you can proceed with confidence, knowing that you’re on the right track. If not, immediately begin looking for something different.” – Chris Guillebeau

Don’t let sunken costs keep you in a dead-end job! If you were waiting in line at a store for 20 minutes and another register opens up, would you switch lines to check out faster? Most people know the right thing to do in a grocery store, but not in our careers. Once a year, ask yourself: “Is this the best opportunity for me to at time moment?” If so, stay committed no matter how hard it is. If not, take the leap


Multiple Paths Lead to Great Careers

In his famous poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost states that his decision to take “the road less traveled” ultimately “made all the difference.” Yet when it comes to careers, you needn’t take only one road. You can follow numerous paths to secure your ideal job or entrepreneurial opening. Regardless of how you get there, your path should lead you “to find the thing you were born to do.”

“Jobs and careers don’t fall from the sky to land at our feet, where we simply pick them up and accept them as the perfect fit for life.”

To break out of job prison, embrace “escapology” – “the art of leaving a job or situation that doesn’t meet your needs.” Crafting the right escape is one step in “serially resetting” – that is, living a pattern of altering the direction of your daily existence and your career after a certain interval of years.

“Finding the work you were born to do is rarely a linear journey. But when you get there, it’s totally worth it.”

Over time, you can land the perfect job. Attaining the career you were born to have isn’t a matter of luck. This transition demands focus, determination, hard work and persistence – critical personality attributes for those seeking the perfect career. To achieve your career dreams, take responsibility for your work accomplishments or your lack of them.

“Finding your dream career isn’t about what you can do; it’s about what you should do.”

A dream career can take a million different forms. No single perfect job suits everyone. Each person has his or her own fit. With the right mind-set, your options for a dream career are unlimited. Even if you have a conventional job with a conventional employer, you can apply a variety of tactics to turn your ordinary job into your dream job.

“When you’re starting out in the world of work, you probably don’t know exactly what you want, at least not right away – and that’s normal.”

However, no matter what your ideal job or career may be, the path won’t be easy. Working through trial-and-error experiments is the price you must pay to get the career that will make you happy. Don’t buy into the accepted but flawed wisdom about what constitutes an ideal career. For example, discard the idea that you must carefully pick one career niche and stay within that specialized field forever. Today, many people pursue multiple careers. You can do the same.

The “Joy–Money–Flow” Model

Winners of the “career lottery” follow a model for building their careers that mixes the three pivotal elements of this formula:

  • Joy – Most employees spend at least 40 hours a week at their jobs. That’s a lot of time to devote to something you don’t like or may hate. Make your happiness a primary job requirement.
  • Money – Earn enough to pay your bills routinely without worry and to have money left over when you’re done.
  • Flow – Look for work that lets you leverage your special skills and talents to maximum advantage. This type of work provides a sense of flow; it places you in the zone where you can focus and relish what you’re doing. When you’re in the flow, you’re not merely good at what you do; you’re great. A job with flow is the job you were born to do.

“Stop Playing the Numbers Game”

Résumés flood companies today. You must stand out from the crowd, though that’s nearly impossible. Stop playing the numbers game. Apply only for the best jobs for you and do it in the right way. Implement five tactics to differentiate yourself and your job search:

  1. “Decide on the job title you want” – Apply for a particular position at a firm that will make it available. This is a great way to cut down on the competition. “Chief happiness officer” is an example of this type of new job. The strategy of deciding your own job title ideally matches who you are with a job that’s right for you.
  2. “Create an artist’s statement” about your “future self” – An excellent example is, “My weekly podcast explores how the world of work is changing, especially for baby boomers and others who are more accustomed to traditional careers.”
  3. “Ask five people for help” – Ask friends, colleagues, work partners, relatives and social media connections for specific job leads.
  4. “Use ‘demonstrated interest’ as a strategy for life” – Show that you have a particular interest in a certain open job at a specific company. This concept derives from college admission strategies, and it can prove remarkably effective.
  5. “Decide to just start working and see what happens” – Believe it or not, this unusual technique sometimes works. It’s how a consultant won a plum assignment to work for his company in its Tokyo office. He flew to Japan and showed up for work one day. The people in the Tokyo office didn’t know what to do with him, so they put him to work. He ended up staying for six months, at which point, the lead partner asked him to work permanently in Tokyo.

What About a “Side Hustle”?

It’s never smart to derive all your income from just one source. A side hustle is a good insurance plan. It protects you financially a little or maybe a lot in the event that your single income source unexpectedly dries up. A side hustle usually delivers a maximum degree of satisfaction for a minimum amount of labor and days at work. Almost always, side hustles are “low risk, low commitment,” but they can sometimes turn into bigger ways to make money. To get going, nail down several significant issues: Figure out what your side hustle will be. Determine if your deliverable will be a product or service – or a hybrid. Establish who your customers will be. Plan your budget.

“Everyone makes mistakes, and what matters is how you recover. Eventually, though, you want your mistakes to bring you closer to the work you were meant to do.”

Identify the primary benefits of your new enterprise. Compute how much you will charge customers. Create your own simple side-hustle website with product or service descriptions and sales information. Add a FAQ section and a PayPal button. Secure feedback about your new income idea from people you trust. After this essential prep work, launch your new venture. Let your friends and everyone in your network know about it. Use social media to promote your new business. Find out from your customers what they like and don’t like. Adjust your offering accordingly. Once you tweak your new service, hold a relaunch. No matter how hard you work, take pleasure in your fledgling enterprise.

Tips for Job Hunters

To secure and enjoy the job and career you were born to have, consider these ideas:

  • Regularly strive – and learn – to enhance your soft skills – People have two kinds of skills: hard and soft. For example, hard skills might be the methods a nurse uses to administer medications or the way a mason lays bricks. Soft skills could include communicating with the people on your team or negotiating with rivals on the other side of the table. You need both kinds of skills to find and keep a good job.
  • Develop backup plans – When it comes to finding the best career, develop backup plans in case your first plan or subsequent plans don’t work out. Plan backups for your backups. Structure these plans using an “if this, then that” planning scenario. If your first plan doesn’t pan out – or your second plan, or your whatever plan – move directly to the follow-up plan. Sooner or later, you will hit pay dirt.
  • Schedule a regular “Mo’ Money day” – Periodically, set aside six to eight hours to brainstorm about how you can increase or improve your income. Think of this as a Mo’ Money day. Some possible cash-infusion tactics include selling your unwanted stuff, since you probably have many items sitting around collecting dust. Audit statements from your credit and debit cards to see if anyone overcharged you. Cancel services or extras you seldom or no longer use – for example, your cable TV or cellphone provider. Careful life maintenance activities will always produce a little extra money.
  • Write everything down – Don’t expect to remember everything you need to remember; you won’t. The brain’s design doesn’t help it work as a good library. When you make notes, include all the necessary details. List the steps you want to follow in your job and career quest and all the goals you want to hit. Once you have everything on paper, study your notes to discover what you can do immediately. Writing everything down lays the basis for effective follow-up. Create deadlines for the goals that you list.
  • Face your career dilemmas – Problems at work can take many different forms. No matter what your dilemma is, one guaranteed tactic can help solve it: “Expand your options; then limit them.” Some of your options might include “continue what you’re doing now, search for a new job in the same field” or “search for a new job in an entirely different field.” Eliminate the options that won’t bring you happiness, that won’t produce sufficient income or that won’t leverage your skills. Take action on the workable options to start moving along your more preferred path.
  • Leave your current job every year – Quit your job every year. Set a special date on your calendar as your “resign day.” Remain in your current position only if this is your best option at the time. If so, great; stay where you are. If not, move on to something else. Go through this exercise annually until you find the perfect situation for you. In this scenario, don’t worry about sunk costs – for example, the time you already invested in your current job. Such costs aren’t recoverable, so don’t let them restrict your ambitions.
  • Negotiate better – Worthy negotiators get the best deals and the most pay. The best negotiation tactic is to be “assertive but not…aggressive.” Top poker players advise: Playing your hand well is only a part of the puzzle. An even bigger part is to know the specific poker table at which to sit down and play. In poker, if you are in the wrong game, you can lose everything – and quickly. In negotiations, understand what the other party wants based on your discourse and know what you want. Make win-win the goal for every negotiation.
  • “Don’t think like a CEO; think like a janitor” – Many business books advise their readers to think like a CEO. They claim that “you’re the CEO of your life.” This is terribly impractical advice. Yes, you’re the CEO of your life. However, you’re also the CFO, COO, in-house counsel and chairman of the board of your life. On top of all of those tasks, you’re also the janitor and the mailroom worker of your life. Get your thinking out of the executive suite; get down in the trenches where the real action takes place.
  • If something isn’t working, give it up – The accepted wisdom is “winners never quit.” Nothing could be further from the truth. If no matter how hard you try, you are getting nowhere in your career, quit banging your head against the wall over and over. Stop what you are doing, and try something else. Winners follow this strategy all the time. Don’t keep playing a bad hand. Shuffle the cards, and deal yourself a new hand. Maybe this time it will be better.
  • Ask questions during a job interview – Focus on tangible concerns: “What’s the greatest problem your team is currently experiencing?” “What’s the most valuable contribution I could bring to this role?” “Could you describe a general ‘day in the life’ in this role?” “How will my performance be measured?”
  • Don’t fear mistakes – Making mistakes is part of life. So don’t worry when you make them, including the mistakes you make as you move toward attaining your ideal career. When you err, do your best to remain on a sensible path to move your career to where you want it to be. Don’t let your mistakes knock you off your path for long.
  • “Hack your job” – Your goal is to develop the specific working conditions that are just right for you. To achieve this, do all you can to become indispensable at your current job to gain maximum control over your work – and career.

“Work isn’t everything in life, but we spend a great deal of our lives at work.”

Plan to do exceptionally well in the new economy. To succeed in the fast-moving future, you need four elements:

  1. “A body of work (product)” – Make something other people can use.
  2. “A group of fans (audience)” – Stay connected with people who love what you do.
  3. “A means of sharing the body of work (platform)” – Use social media to your advantage.
  4. “A way of getting paid for their work (money)” – Create an income stream.

“Those who will thrive in the future…are those who will have the skills to use technology to make their lives better and more productive.”

Use four strategies to make yourself indispensable:

  1. Be great at your job, and help others be great at their jobs as well.
  2. Eschew “rent-seeking” behavior at work. Always engage only in productive work. Don’t take on tasks that make you look busy but don’t add any real value to your position.
  3. Don’t confine your great work just to your own area. Do everything you can to help increase your firm’s overall profits.
  4. Help your company prepare for the future. Ask your boss, “Will people still want our products and services in five years?” and “How can our business continue to be relevant in changing times?”

About the Author

Chris Guillebeau is The New York Times bestselling author of The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit and The Art of Non-Conformity. He’s also the creator of Side Hustle, a daily podcast.



In “Born for This,” Chris Guillebeau offers a comprehensive guide to discovering and pursuing one’s life’s work. The book is based on the author’s own experiences, as well as stories of successful individuals who have found their purpose and made a living doing what they love. Guillebeau emphasizes the importance of identifying one’s unique strengths, passions, and values in order to find fulfilling work. He also provides practical advice on how to explore various career paths, network with others in one’s desired field, and take calculated risks to achieve success.


Overall, “Born for This” is an inspiring and practical guide to finding one’s life’s work. Chris Guillebeau’s writing is engaging and accessible, making the book an enjoyable read for individuals at all stages of their careers. The book is divided into four parts, each of which focuses on a different aspect of finding one’s purpose and pursuing it.

Part One: Discovering Your Gifts and Passions
Guillebeau emphasizes the importance of identifying one’s unique strengths, passions, and values in order to find fulfilling work. He provides a variety of exercises and prompts to help readers explore their interests and skills.

Part Two: Exploring Your Options
In this section, Guillebeau advises readers on how to research and explore different career paths. He provides tips on how to network with others in one’s desired field, attend conferences and events, and use online resources to learn more about potential careers.

Part Three: Taking Calculated Risks
Guillebeau encourages readers to take calculated risks in order to achieve their goals. He provides examples of successful individuals who have taken risks to pursue their passions, and offers advice on how to mitigate risk and increase the chances of success.

Part Four: Making It Happen
In the final section of the book, Guillebeau provides practical advice on how to turn one’s passions into a career. He discusses the importance of setting goals, creating a plan, and taking action to achieve one’s dreams.

Key Points:

  • The Importance of Purpose: Guillebeau emphasizes the significance of discovering one’s purpose in life. He argues that having a clear purpose can lead to greater fulfillment, happiness, and success in both personal and professional life.
  • Identifying Your Passions: The author provides practical exercises and questions to help readers identify their passions, values, and strengths. These exercises encourage readers to reflect on their past experiences, explore their interests, and connect them to their purpose.
  • The Quest for Meaningful Work: Guillebeau encourages readers to pursue work that aligns with their purpose. He stresses the importance of finding work that is not only fulfilling but also financially sustainable.
  • Exploring Unconventional Career Paths: The book challenges readers to explore unconventional career paths and alternative ways of earning a living. Guillebeau encourages readers to be open-minded and embrace unconventional ideas, as they may lead to a more fulfilling and purposeful career.Overcoming Fear and Doubt: The author acknowledges the fears and doubts that often accompany the quest for purpose and meaningful work. He provides practical strategies for overcoming these obstacles and taking action towards one’s goals.


  • The book is well-researched and based on the author’s own experiences and those of successful individuals.
  • The writing is engaging and accessible, making the book an enjoyable read for individuals at all stages of their careers.
  • The book provides a variety of exercises and prompts to help readers explore their interests and skills.
  • The book emphasizes the importance of identifying one’s unique strengths, passions, and values in order to find fulfilling work.


  • Some readers may find the book’s focus on entrepreneurship and self-employment to be too narrow.
  • The book’s emphasis on taking calculated risks may be uncomfortable for some readers.


Born for This is a well-written and inspiring book that provides valuable insights into finding your passion and purpose. The book is based on Guillebeau’s own experiences, which gives it a strong sense of authenticity. The book is also practical and provides concrete advice on how to implement the four steps to finding your passion and purpose.

Overall, Born for This is a must-read for anyone who is looking to find their passion and purpose in life.


Overall, “Born for This” is an inspiring and practical guide to finding one’s life’s work. Chris Guillebeau’s writing is engaging and accessible, making the book an enjoyable read for individuals at all stages of their careers. The book provides a variety of exercises and prompts to help readers explore their interests and skills, and emphasizes the importance of identifying one’s unique strengths, passions, and values in order to find fulfilling work. While some readers may find the book’s focus on entrepreneurship and self-employment to be too narrow, the book’s overall message of finding one’s purpose and pursuing it is universal and applicable to individuals in a wide range of careers.

Here are some additional thoughts on the book:

  • I appreciated the way that Guillebeau emphasized the importance of taking risks and following your curiosity in order to find your passion.
  • I also liked the way that the book included stories of real people who had found their passion and purpose. These stories were inspiring and helped me to believe that it is possible to find a job that I love.
  • Overall, I thought Born for This was a helpful and inspiring book that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to find their passion and purpose in life.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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