December 30, 2019

JF1944: 5 Step Clarity Strategy For Identifying Your Passion #SkillSetSunday with Tracy Timm


Tracy was dealing with the “Sunday Scaries” in her first Wall Street job. Knowing that she was going to have a difficult time being happy in that position, she started looking for another way to earn money and be happy at the same time. She was surprised to learn that there was not process to help people find something they are passionate about. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

Best Ever Tweet:

“I took all the best teachings from all the best mentors I’ve ever had and put it all together” – Tracy Timm

Tracy Timm Real Estate Background:

  • Tracy is the founder of The Nth DegreeTM Career Academy, a proven system that helps high-potential professionals define and discover work they love
  • believes that our unique purpose in life can be realized through our careers, and wants to help people come alive at work once again.
  • Based in Dallas, Texas
  • Say hi to her at

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.

First off, Best Ever listeners, I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Because today is Sunday, we’ve got a special segment for you called Skillset Sunday. On this episode we’re gonna be talking about a five-step career clarity strategy, so that as you’re looking at what you’re going to do in real estate, or perhaps you’re in real estate – which most of you are – and you want to identify something that’s a bit more fulfilling, and you can have more purpose in what you’re doing, this process will help you get clarity on that.

With us to talk us through that is Tracy Timm. Tracy, how are you doing?

Tracy Timm: Doing great, Joe. Thank you so much for having me.

Joe Fairless: My pleasure, and looking forward to our conversation. A little bit about Tracy – she is the founder of The Nth Degree Career Academy, which is a proven system that helps high-potential professionals to find and discover work they love. She believes that our unique purpose in life can be realized through our careers, and wants to help people come alive at work once again. Based in Dallas, Texas. With that being said, first, Tracy, do you wanna just give a bit more background on yourself? And then I would love to dive right into your five-step career clarity strategy.

Tracy Timm: Yeah, Joe. That sounds  like a great plan. I think it’s truly kismet, or irony, or whatever you wanna call it, that this is going live on a Sunday… Because Sundays used to be my least favorite day of the week, and that’s actually why I do what I do now. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term Sunday scares, but…

Joe Fairless: No, but I know the concept. I hadn’t heard it called that though. I like that.

Tracy Timm: Yeah, it’s a total millennial thing, but I love it. The reality was every Sunday you got this sort of deep pit of anxiety in your stomach knowing that the weekend was almost over and you had to go back to your job, done-done-done. And that was the reality for me right after college. My very first job out of college was working on Wall-Street, and I had a psychology background, and I loved people, and I had zero finance experience… But put all of that aside, I had really put myself in an environment where it was gonna be very difficult for me to be happy. It didn’t take advantage of any of my natural gifts, it didn’t allow me to go deeper into anything I was innately curious about or wanted to learn more about, and it put me in an environment with a lot of negativity and toxicity, and I happen to be a fairly positive person.

So the reason that I started my business is because I actually reached out to my university two years after graduating and said “Hey, I would run out the door  right now if I knew what I wanted to do. My only hurdle is that I don’t have clarity into what I would do instead of this job. Do you have any resources that would help me with the clarity process?” So not resume, not cover letters, not introductions, networking, not interview strategy, but actually just the deep confidence of knowing what I was made for and what I wanted to do.

There’s so many of us who don’t have that, and I was shocked to find that they really didn’t have anything that was strategic, any sort of framework that was proven, and that was really when the seed got planted to build one myself… And I figured “If I could figure it out for myself, then I could reverse-engineer a process that I could teach other people”, and that’s exactly what we have today. It’s a very logical, straightforward, five-step process that you can start on with knowing zero about what you really wanna do, and at the  end of the process you’ll know exactly what you want, why it’s perfect for you, and how to go find those opportunities.

Joe Fairless: I’d love to learn it.

Tracy Timm: Well, we’re gonna teach it. I try to tell people, too – nothing that I do is rocket science, and the fact that I didn’t make anything up from scratch, I didn’t invest something that’s never been done before… I took all the best teaching, from all the best mentors that I ever had, and then all of the self-discovery that I had done, and I just put it into a step-by-step framework that seemed to make logical sense.

So the goal was to take all of the — what I call puzzle pieces that are floating around in your head, and give them a literal frame for each piece to go into, such that it would reveal a masterpiece right at the end of the day.

So The Nth Degree is five major steps – we call those the steps that take you from stuck to unstoppable, and they’re called Now, Nature, Nurture, Network and Navigate. So you can probably see where I’m going with the Nth Degree. Because not only is it a fun play on words and it’s also your limitless potential, but it’s the degree that we’re all really lacking, the degree in ourselves. The degree in knowing what we really value and what moves the needle for us, and how we define success, as opposed to everybody else in the world.

And for your listeners too, especially when it comes to markets like real estate, things that are getting more and more saturated… How many TV shows are there about real estate advice, how many people say they have the proven methodology to flip a house, and so on. And then as you said, there’s so many ways to get involved in the industry as well, that it can be very easy to get in at some point, because it’s the only part you know, it’s what your mentor does, it’s what you read about in a book, it’s what Rich Dad, Poor Dad said to do… And without a really deep and solid understanding of yourself, it can be very easy to get lost, and very easy to lose your own sense of self and sense of direction, because you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people.

Joe Fairless: Right. So the first step is Now…

Tracy Timm: The first step is Now. I’m a huge fan in beginning with Now, because now is really all we have.

Joe Fairless: Yup.

Tracy Timm: It’s the reality of your current situation in life; so what are your life circumstances – we usually do that through a really extensive life audit. We look at the eight major components of somebody’s life and help them figure out what’s going well in each area, what could be even better… And actually, what that creates is a nice foundation from which to move forward. Because most people who come to wanna work with me are at a point where they’re pretty miserable doing what they’re doing. Or they’ve been working at something for so long and they’re just not seeing the success they hope for, and now they feel like they’re not reaching their fullest potential.

So we start with Now to set a foundation of “This is what you really do have going for you right now, that you can lean on.” But then we also use that as a springboard to talk about how what you’re doing now really differs from the values that you hold true right now.

Joe Fairless: Okay.

Tracy Timm: Because you and I know, anything that we physically do in a day – where we spend our money, or our time, or the people that we surround ourselves with, those are a manifestation of our values. But how many of us actually took the time to set those values in “stone” if you will, ahead of making all those choices?

Joe Fairless: Right.

Tracy Timm: Very few. And that’s what I realized I was doing  – my move to Wall Street spoke to some very specific values that I had at the time: security, fear, living up to other people’s expectations, being able to take care of myself thinking that I had a certain set of standards I had to live up to, being an only child… There were all these things that I identified with and values that I realized looking back were the value set that I was making my choices using, but they weren’t the value set that was ultimately gonna serve me in the long-term.

One of the very first things we do in the Now phase is once we’ve done your life audit we go back to the basics and figure out what your core values are at this stage in your life. Not five years from now, not what you wish they could be, and not what they used to be, but in a perfect world, if you were living completely true to who you are, what would those values be? And as any person knows and any company knows, you can set up a set of values, put them on the wall, and never talk about them again.

Joe Fairless: Right, yup.

Tracy Timm: So what we do is we crank those up a notch to Core Values 2.0, which I call commitments. And if you take each of your values and you ask yourself “How can I make a yes or no decision using this value?”, then it becomes a commitment. That value should speak to what you are willing to do and not willing to do in order to live up to the standard of that value.

Joe Fairless: Oh, wow. You really put your money where your mouth is.2

Tracy Timm: Absolutely, yeah. Because think about it – if you’re not willing to say yes or no to an opportunity, a person, a job, an investment because of a value that you have, then it’s not really a value.

Joe Fairless: True. That’s one example where someone might be — after they do those actions, they’re like “These are my values”, and they’re like “Okay, yes or no to this?”, and like “Um, no.” What’s an example of that?

Tracy Timm: I will give you a great example. For instance, when I first started my business — there are a lot things inherent to starting a business that are scary, like “How am I gonna make money? How am I gonna take care of myself? Who is gonna buy this?” or what have you… But I started to realize that once I set those values, it held me accountable to the commitments that I had already made. So a really good example of that would be one of my core values that year was freedom. I just had this big desire for a locational, situational, financial — just freedom in and of itself. I actually called that core value Braveheart… [laughs]

Joe Fairless: Okay.

Tracy Timm: [unintelligible [00:10:37].16]

Joe Fairless: Yeah, yeah.

Tracy Timm: The fun thing about core values too is you have to make them make sense to you, and that one made sense to me. Anyway, I tell this story all the time – let’s say Google, which I love and worship at the altar of, called me and said “Hey, we would love to buy your business, to have you do exactly what you’re doing for people, but for people who work at Google. You get to live in California (which I would love to do), we will take care of a ton of these expenses for you (which sounds really sexy), and you get to work with the smartest and brightest people…” and Google has an incredible people department. They are pushing the needle in people analytics, they’re doing some really cool stuff with culture… It’d be a cool place to work, right?

If my core value of freedom was really true, and they go through all that really shiny stuff in trying to get me to work there, and then the last thing they said was “Oh, by the way, we do require that you work at our office, five days a week, from 9 AM to 5 PM. And if you want to not be there, you have to request time off and you have to go through all these hoops, and what have you. There is no remote working option for this job.” Then literally because I had taken the time ahead of time to set out my values and to know what I really care about – and not only that, but to know what moved the needle for me and brought me joy, I could easily, without losing a wink of sleep and without questioning it, say no to that opportunity… Because I would know that that environment would not give me enough freedom to feel happy working there, despite all the other things.

Imagine the business that you’re running right now in real estate, whatever that looks like. If you were being really true to your values, there are probably some clients you would have said no to, there are probably some investments that you would have said no to, there’s probably some times where you’ve stretched and gone after that extra penny because of whatever shiny reason – maybe it was expanding into a new market, or you got to make extra money that month, or you got to take on a new kind of client that you’d never worked with before, and all of that seemed really sexy and awesome, but at the end of the day that client ended up being a pain in the butt, or that investment territory ended up not aligning with the whole rest of your portfolio, and now you have this thing that you can’t get off your books…

There’s all these things that in the moment we’ll justify to ourselves, but if we had set our values ahead of time, it’s a very easy decision-making process in the moment. And I don’t know about you, but I really like making things easier on myself. [laughs]

Joe Fairless: It makes sense. Being very intentional about how you set things up.

Tracy Timm: Yeah, yeah.

Joe Fairless: Okay, so that’s Now. What’s the second one?

Tracy Timm: So now, once you have your commitments and you know where you are in your life, and you have this vision for what you want it to look like, that really creates the outline of the vision, if you will. You know, painters — most people don’t know this; I didn’t even realize this… When somebody’s gonna make a painting, they actually draw on the canvas first an outline of what they’re eventually gonna fill in with paint. So your core values and commitments kind of create that outline or that template, if you will.

Joe Fairless: Got it.

Tracy Timm: That nature and nurture is what gives that image color and texture. And nature and nurture are just opposite sides of the same coin. It’s all the attributes that make you the unique individual that you are, except half of them come naturally to you, and those things are your gifts, your talents, your behavior and your personality, and then the other half are things that you’ve learned. I like to say that those are the things that you put in, that God left out.

So that’s your knowledge, your skills, your expertise, experiences that you’ve had over time, education that you’ve had over time… Anything that you’ve added to your toolkit since you were born. And if you can get really honest and appreciative of your natural gifts and talents, and then you can mine your history – whether it’s work or education or things that you did outside of those formal learning environments for skills and knowledge and expertise that you can leverage going forward, and if you put those two items together, your nature and your nurture, that is all of the amazing juiciness that makes you a unique value-added individual. Because nobody in the world is gonna have your same set of learned skills and abilities, and things that come naturally to you.

And the best part is that where those two things overlap with your values is not only something that you’re naturally good at, but you’ve also learned how to do, and likely love doing… Because it’s value-based, right?

Joe Fairless: Yup.

Tracy Timm: I like to say that where your nature overlaps with your now is kind of like what you were born for. “I love doing it, and oh, by the way, it comes naturally to me.” And then where your nurture and your now overlap – that’s what your were bred for, or built for… See where I’m going with this?

Joe Fairless: Yup.

Tracy Timm: Those are the things that “Wow, I really love them, and I’ve invested the time, the energy etc. in getting better at them.” And marrying those two ideas creates what we call in the N-the Nth Degree your niche. It’s your sweet spot in the career marketplace. So if you do this for yourself in real estate, you can immediately identify where not only you naturally add value, but where all of your learned abilities overlap and align with that marketplace, and because you’re personally invested in it from a values perspective, you’re gonna give more and get more by working within that sweet spot.

Joe Fairless: So is your niche, where you naturally add value and what you have nurtured – is that the fourth step? Because I’ve got Now, Nature, Nurture… Is Niche the fourth?

Tracy Timm: Niche is not the fourth step. It’s kind of this little bonus–

Joe Fairless: Okay, it just happens to start with an N. Got it.

Tracy Timm: Yeah, I had to keep the magic going with the Ns.

Joe Fairless: Right, of course.

Tracy Timm: That’s really the result of the first three steps. If I get my now, my nature and my nurture, if I put them together in a triple Venn diagram, which is how we do this in our program, then what pops out of the middle is your niche.

Joe Fairless: Okay.

Tracy Timm: What happens next is how you put your niche into action. And this is why we actually have two programs… Because there are a lot of people that come to me and say “I really wanna do what I love, and I’m so done with this” etc. What they really want is to just know what they wanna do, and then they wanna decide if they wanna do the hard work of actually getting it by making it a reality. So we have that niche program for the people who are testing the waters and trying to figure out what they wanna do.

The second half of our foundational program is Network and Navigate. That’s really putting that niche into action by sharing it with the right people, and by testing-driving all of the assumptions surrounding your niche.

Joe Fairless: Okay.

Tracy Timm: Those are the last two steps.

Joe Fairless: So Network – what are some tactical things that take place in that stage?

Tracy Timm: That’s a really good question. Networking is a four-letter word for a lot of people, right? It’s cheesy, it’s like handing over business cards, it’s that awkward community business group that meets at a happy hour and everybody is there for themselves. That is not how a good network functions. A good network functions by you telling the people who care about you exactly what you’re looking for and asking them for help, which means you have to leverage your current network, and then you have to try to grow a network that includes what I call career advocates – people that are going to go to [unintelligible [00:18:08].10] for you when you’re not around. And it’s really that simple. Actually, Business Insider says that 75%-80% of jobs are secured through networking… And I guarantee you that’s probably a low-ball number.

Think about any of the previous jobs you had if you’ve ever had a corporate job, or if you had a full-time gig, or maybe even the last deal you did in real estate, or the last piece of business that you closed – relationships are really what move the needle, even in today’s insanely digital environment. So you have to be out there, talking to the right people, saying the right things, at the right time, so that you become top of mind when that person is off having conversations that may have something to do with you. Does that make sense?

Joe Fairless: It does.

Tracy Timm: For some reason, the networking thing came really naturally to me. I even had — maybe not even a half-baked;  like a quarter-baked idea of what I wanted to do for a business… So I just started telling people, “Here’s what I think it is. Does that sound like something you’ve heard of before? Do you know somebody in that industry? Do you think you could help me get a little closer to a full-time gig, or should I be starting my own business?” And I would just ask questions… And people LOVE talking about themselves, and they love – this is the best part – being helpful. I don’t think we realize how much other people want to help us; they just don’t know how.

Joe Fairless: Right.

Tracy Timm: We’re just not giving them enough information to help us in a really positive way. So the scariest thing for the people that I work with has thus far been the transition from knowing your niche, to telling it to another human being.

Joe Fairless: And then what’s the Navigate part?

Tracy Timm: Yeah, so then as you’re working through your network and you’re building your network strategically, and you’re creating career advocates, you’re gonna start revealing some opportunities. And as soon as opportunities come onto your plate, that’s your opportunity to test-drive those opportunities, to see if they’re actually gonna be the fit that you were hoping for. A lot of the world operates in black and white, and this step is very grey. This is instead of taking a full-time job only to find out on day three that you have it… It’s actually going and shadowing at that office, or informational-interviewing somebody who already works there. Or saying that you’ll volunteer some of your time working nights or weekends to see if you even like the work environment, or the people who are there.

They’re so easy, and there’s so many opportunities to test-drive your assumptions about what you wanna do full-time that I still, to this day, am just — arrghh! I don’t even know how to voice the frustration that I feel when people tell me “But I’m just so afraid that I’m gonna get a new job and I’m gonna hate it.”

Joe Fairless: Right. It’s not all or nothing.

Tracy Timm: I’m like “You can avoid that!” [laughs] And it is not difficult. So we always say that the Navigate part of the strategy of the Nth Degree is taking action to get yourself to a place of leadership. It’s all about action. There’s a really great influencer online that I follow – her name is Marie Forleo…

Joe Fairless: Oh, I love her. Out of Jersey.

Tracy Timm: Yeah, I love it. She actually has a book to her going on here soon, because–

Joe Fairless: Oh, really? I modeled my website, my first version of it, after her website.

Tracy Timm: Yes, same. I know, I bought her B School program… I mean, this is gonna become a total commercial for her, but one of my favorite phrases that she says is “Insight comes from action, not thought.” And there’s so many who think that they can just sit and think through something like their career, and the answer is just gonna drop into their head or pop out of the computer screen, or what have you… And the reality is it’s through really targeted conversations, and then being willing to test-drive (which means fail) quickly, in order to get there faster.

You’re a business owner, you get it, right? How many times have you had to put something out there before you thought it was ready? How ready did you feel for your very first podcast? How much better is this podcast than the very first podcast, because you were willing to go back and try again, and again, and again, and get better, because you were taking consistent action?

Joe Fairless: Yeah, one thing that — I was also working on Wall Street, but I was working at an advertising agency…

Tracy Timm: No way!

Joe Fairless: …and I was doing what I call sampling life experiences – other areas of life where I was teaching classes and I was doing all sorts of things… Interviewing people for a book, and a bunch of other things. Just sampling different experiences that I was interested in. That way, whenever I left the advertising agency world I knew based on that sample size what I was most interested in doing, and then I doubled down on that.

Tracy Timm: That’s so great, Joe. It’s those little, easy things that people think “Oh, I have this full-time job. I can’t do anything else.” Or if I’m gonna do anything else, it has to be a full-blown starting a business.” Well, no. You can learn so much just from your extra-curricular activities. I call these your ninja skills; it’s like, all the things you learned from extra-curriculars, hobbies and travel.

I’ve had one client go through our foundational program. We did his Now, he was not super-impressed. We did his Nature – not super-impressed. We got all the way through his Nurture – his work experience, his education… Still, he was like “I just don’t see it.” And it wasn’t until we got to his ninja skills that he realized the only reason he couldn’t put any of the pieces together prior to that is he had never had a job he liked, and he didn’t really align with his education very much. I was really lucky that I love what I studied. I love psychology. Finding a job in it was challenging… [laughs]

Joe Fairless: Right. Well, you’ve found it.

Tracy Timm: Yeah, exactly. So I get to do that now, which I love…

Joe Fairless: You created it, I guess I should say…

Tracy Timm: Exactly. So the poor kid — I say kid; he was 25… He literally just had never had any job he liked, and he’d never studied anything that he found really interesting… But everything he did outside of work – his travel history, all of his hobbies, all of this extra-curriculars from high school and college, he loved. He had just never opened his concept of “work” to include those types of activities.

It’s the same thing — we all get indoctrinated into these ways of thinking, like “This is what work is, this is not what work is. This is what life should look like, this is not what life should look like.” And he had just never thought work could be fun, or “Work could be something I’m naturally good at. Work doesn’t have to be a slog all day, every day.”

For me, unlearning from my time on Wall-Street was just as challenging as starting a business, because there were days and weeks where I would beat myself up that I didn’t start work at 6 AM, or that I took a lunch with a potential client, and because that client didn’t close, I didn’t consider it work… You know what I mean? I thought I had been wasting time, and we all beat ourselves up doing stuff like that constantly, and I think the Nth Degree has been a really great way, even for me to go back — I do it once a year, the entire process, on myself and on my business, to make sure that I’m living on purpose, that I’m feeling my way through my business, and that I’m choosing my business model and strategy constantly, to make sure that I don’t build a cage of my own making and a monster that I can’t control, but my business serves me, and that I love working in it and on it.

Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’re doing?

Tracy Timm: Absolutely. is where we live online. We actually out together a great little landing page for your Best Ever listeners, so it’ll just be We have a bunch of goodies there. You can download our five-step guide on how to feel less stuck immediately, you can sign up  for one of our coming webinars that are all about the five steps to take your career from stuck to unstoppable. We actually go even deeper in that webinar than we could today… And then if this is really resonating with you and you know you wanna build your life around it, your business around it, you like me, you like Joe, and you wanna have a conversation, then you’ll actually be able to book a slot on my calendar for a free clarity call, and we can figure out if we’d be a good fit to work together. But other than that, there’s gonna be all kinds of other fun goodies there for people to download and go deeper with if they wanna explore the Nth Degree and if they wanna talk with me.

Joe Fairless: Tracy, thank you so much for being on the show, walking us through your five-step process for getting career clarity and just having a conversation about it. It’s something that is necessary for all of us to focus on, but it’s something that the majority of us (I imagine) do not intentionally put focus on… And it can have a ripple effect of positive or negative consequences as a result of focusing or not focusing on it.

Thank you for being on the show, I really enjoyed our conversation. I hope you have a best ever weekend, and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Tracy Timm: Awesome. Thank you so much, Joe. I appreciate you having me, and I wish you and your listeners all the best.

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