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Montoya family celebrating Jason's college graduation

Student Loans Finished! Lessons Learned, The Cost Of Borrowing, & My Loan Forgiveness Thoughts

It's done.

We made it happen.

Our student loans are now paid off.

$154,771.83 In Ten Years.

  • Base Loans: $95,993.38
  • Capitalized Interest (while attending college): $13,028.59
  • Accruing Interest (post graduation): $45,749.86

We’re incredibly grateful for the people, opportunities, lessons, and development that have been a part of this journey towards greater financial freedom in our life. 

But, this complex journey comes with a bit of anguish.

Explore our journey through college, student debt, and thoughts on loan forgiveness

Matthew J. Diaz

The Last Day Of Regret: Interview With Matthew J. Diaz

"I don't want to live anymore!"

Those were the words, Matthew heard from his younger sister. It was a milestone moment he'd later recognize as part of the tragic unfolding over the following decade, ultimately leading to the death of his younger sibling. As part of my inspirational people interview series, I explore Matthew's story in this discussion below.

Click to listen or watch the interview about the Last Day of Regret

boy pushing large round object

Fall In Love With The Process Required To Sustain Your Business

In the Greek mythological story of Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra is punished by the gods for overly promoting himself as powerful and vital, and for his greedy and deceptive nature. For eternity, he's forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down when it nears the top. For all time, he's cursed to push and re-push the rock up the mountain.

And, I can relate. When owning and operating Noodlehead Marketing, I felt this burden, specifically when it came to our new project sales. To survive (make payroll, among other things) required a large amount of effort each month. But at the start of the next one, we had to start over from zero. It was brutal, and a process that consistently overwhelmed me.

Interesting enough, accepting the reality that this is how life works, is our stepping stone out of the curse. For visionaries who hate the mundane, this drudgery is the path out of the eternal cycle.

Why we should turn the curse of maintenance into a process we love

arrow in the white sand

How To Effectively Transition From Freelancer To Small Business Owner [For StartupNation]

After launching a small business, and effectively tackling freelancing, I've discovered a powerful way to position a business from strength. Not wanting to build another company was the constraint that illuminated this strategy.

Debt is a great parallel to this reality. When we buy things with it, we are doing so with a short and long-term disadvantage. Not only do we pay interest, but when we finish paying for it, we start from scratch financially. This usually perpetuates us leveraging debt to get what we want, causing us to pay significantly more for everything. It doesn't have to be this way, and you don't want to start your business from this position.

In this guest article for StartupNation, I explore how I'm uniquely positioned now as a freelancer to build a strong business (even though I don't intend to), and how you can learn from that dynamic to do the same. Or, to discover how wonderful freelancing can truly be.

Click here to visit their website and read the article.

passion led us here, sign with feet

Memorializing The Small Business Transformation Process From Chaos To Clarity

Ideally, we prevent a chaotic and rogue oriented business from ever happening in the first place, but the reality is most of us won’t. And, sometimes this rogue approach is the very thing needed to pioneer in an uncertain and competitive marketplace.

But, it should be our mission to translate that chaos towards a state of order. That is where to find the value, and where we maximize profit. 

Continue reading the highlights of what's required to transform your small business

4 pillars of a building with people around

The Four Pillars Of An Effective Small Business Strategy

The mission is how you move your business forward, live out purpose, and trek towards the vision. Within this mission lies the strategic guidelines directing us forward. And these guidelines contain four key ingredients for an effective small business mission.

  1. Offering Strategy. (Our Solution to the Problem)
  2. Positioning Strategy. (Our Unique Target Audience Focus)
  3. Leverage Strategy. (How We're Uniquely Tailored To Deliver)
  4. Promotion Strategy. (Our Ongoing Acts of Persuasion)

As we explore these four facets of our mission, it’s helpful for me to first visualize them in a metaphor of changing a tire on a car.

In this visual, we’ve got a problem, a flat tire and need for a working one. We have a wrench to tighten the bolts and switch it out for the spare in our trunk (offering).

When we use the wrench on the lug nuts, the position we choose determines if and how easy the process of loosening the bolts will be (It's hard to do so when the end is near the ground).

If I’m loosening the bolt and I place a long pipe over the wrench, I’ll have significantly more leverage to loosen the lug nut. What may be doable but hard with the wrench (even with good positioning) is easy with the pipe.

The final of the four pillars is the promotional piece. How do we effectively communicate the problem we solve (offering), who we solve it for (positioning), and how we're able to uniquely address that issue (leverage)? The answers to these questions are what transform a small business from a mediocre to top tier.

And when you as a small business can answer these four questions, you'll be far ahead and tremendously more focused than any of your competitors.

Let’s practically explore these four ingredients using my consulting practice as a living example.

Explore the four pillars of a strong business missional strategy

boy leading a girl, pointing out to the horizon

The Benefits Of Operating As A Visionary & The Case To Move Beyond It

On the horizon of possibilities, visionaries see all of the potential visions. And this is their Achilles heel. They see all the paths they can take, but they struggle on the choice of which one to take. Starting everything (with good intentions), and finishing nothing is their hallmark. 

They are chronic abandoners, with a wake of broken promises on their path. They seek to shape reality as opposed to accepting reality for what it is. And the great clash ensues. 

Explore the different aspects of visionary leadership

typing on a computer on a table

An Update On Writing My 2nd Book & The Blogging Challenge

In the middle of February, I launched into another weekday blogging challenge with a group of friends. The first week, I knocked out five new articles, but quickly dropped my frequency in the subsequent weeks of the challenge to one or two posts per week. Including this article, I've now published a total of thirteen new blog posts as the challenge comes to an end this Friday. By week's end, I'll have two more posts to add.

This blogging challenge has been a valuable catalyst to help me finish writing the last few sections of my book for striving small business owners (It's hard to finish this project!). When I began the challenge, I listed out the articles I needed to write. I ended up consolidating some of them and discovering a few other sections requiring write-ups. Publishing sections of the books as blogs has forced me to write with a sense of self-containment on each one, making these sections of the book even stronger than they would have been otherwise.

Continue reading how this unexpected blogging challenge helped me finish my second book

butterfly and cocoons

A New And Better Business Requires A Transformed Founder

Whether it's directly the case or not, you must accept responsibility for the state of your small business. It is because of you that the company remains stuck. And, it will always regress to your level of incompetence. So, unless you change, nothing else will. Your frustration will play out perpetually, and it'll become a state of hell for you, and those in your orbit.

Your first step forward is acknowledging this reality, your responsibility, and moving through the process, not just to pay lip service, but to fundamentally go on a journey to change for the better. To see yourself as others do. To see who you really are, not how you idealistically perceive your self. And to get the raw words from those around you, about what it feels like being on the other side of you. 

Read my summary thoughts of the journey of personal transformation for small business founders

Water, boat in the wake

As Business Owners, We Impact Many Lives: Let It Be For The Better

When we start our business and relentlessly pursue a goal, we entrepreneurs miss how many of our authoritative actions negatively impact those around us. And we usually fail to recognize along the way the wake we leave behind. 

The wounds I inflicted on others is what I most regret from my time leading Noodlehead Marketing. It's an important lesson learned because of how it drives me to interact and lead people today. But, this lesson took me some time to recognize it. And to truly solidify it meant rectify it with those I hurt along the way. 

Explore more about how I took responsibility for the broken relationships in my life

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Grow Your Life With Jason Scott Montoya, Atlanta Georgia
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