Ep341: Russ Johns – Build Skills That Will Carry You Beyond Your Job

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Guest profile

BIO: Russ Johns is a producer at The Pirate Syndicate. He helps people be SEEN, be HEARD & TALKED ABOUT… using LiveStreaming Media.

STORY: Russ spent 15 years dedicating all his time to his job at the expense of his family and health. The company went through a merger and acquisition, and Russ’s role was made redundant, leaving him jobless. Russ’s biggest regret is spending so much time building someone else’s dream instead of his.

LEARNING: Build skills that are marketable outside of work. Build your dream, not someone else’s. Invest in what interests you and brings you the most joy.


“The worst investment is the one that you do not make. The time that you do not invest in what you are doing.”

Russ Johns


Worst investment ever

Investing everything in his job at the cost of his family and health

Russ invested 15 years in an organization that he thought was amazing. He invested a lot of time at the cost of his family and health. He truly loved his job and had no desire to stop doing it.

Getting phased out

As fate would have it, the company went through a merger and acquisition, and Russ’s position was no longer needed. And just like that, he had to leave an organization he had dedicated his life to for 15 years.

The loss of his job was a tragedy that changed Russ’s life completely. It took him a while to recover from it.

Picking himself up

Russ had no choice but to pick himself up, recover from the loss, and come back in full swing. He had to learn new skills to keep going, but this time around, Russ decided to dedicate his time building his dream and not someone else’s.

Lessons learned

Do what interests you and brings you joy the most

Explore and understand some of the things you might be interested in and learn about them. Learn what brings you joy and gratitude.

Build your dream, not someone else’s

Be cautious about how you spend your time and about investing in other people’s dreams. Instead, work on your own dreams.

Add value to your life every day

Always wake up with gratitude and create something of value every day. Be okay with who you are and where you are. As you go forward and create something new, you become something new.

Andrew’s takeaways

Take advantage of the opportunities in front of you

Thanks to the internet age, you can take advantage of numerous tools and opportunities to build yourself. Make sure that you do.

Build skills that are marketable outside of work

You have got to build a skill that is marketable outside of your job. Just devote a couple of hours every weekend or throughout the week to learn a new skill. If you do, you can secure your future income and happiness.

Actionable advice

Pay attention.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Russ’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to grow The Pirate Syndicate and help over 100 people produce their own shows, their own events, and their own activities to be seen, be heard, and be talked about.

Parting words


“Kindness is cool, smiles are free, and you enjoy the day.”

Russ Johns


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever, stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk. But to win big, you've got to reduce it. And I bet you're exposed to investment risk right now. To reduce it, go to my worst investment ever.com and download the risk reduction checklist I've made specifically for you. And it's based upon the lessons learned from all of my guests. Fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests, Russ, John's, Russ, are you ready to rock?

Russ Johns 00:45
I'm ready to rock Andrew.

Andrew Stotz 00:49
All right, well, let me tell the audience a little bit about you, Russ, basically, listen to this, ladies and gentlemen, you can be seen, be heard and talked about using live streaming media. Let's face it. It's not always easy. It feels like 10,000 details and technology is daunting. technology's overwhelming when you want to produce content, especially if you don't have the time. Work with Russ John's to create your on line impact without the technical overwhelm. And I love the three words that he focuses on are the three sayings show up. Go Live, build authority. Russ, take a minute and fill filling in further tidbits about your life.

Russ Johns 01:41
Yeah, thanks, Andrew. And first of all, gratitude for all you're doing, and assisting people in supporting the community and learning about their investments. And just to give you a little background of my, my journey into this episode is the idea that I started out as a musician. I played music up until 1987, where I fell three stories off a billboard and shattered my arm, my wrist, and I was in rehab and reconstructive surgery for two years. And coming back, and investing time in the journey to learn a new skill, learn a new attitude, enjoy and appreciate life and raise a family and work in and out of corporate America. And one of the things that I love, and I appreciate up till this day and is brought me to this point is the creative process. So that gives you a snapshot of where I came from and what I'm doing today.

Andrew Stotz 02:53
It's interesting about the creative process, because obviously a musician has that at the heart. Right. And I'm just curious, when once that fall happened and you went through the rehab, were you able to get back into playing or just was never going to be the same?

Russ Johns 03:10
No, I interesting question. And I was already in volved. In media in the media arts. I tell people I fell three stories to get into advertising, which is kind of true. However, I was already in advertising. I was already in media. And one of the things that changed my direction was the fact that because I fell, it prompted me to learn a new skill and learn a new approach to playing music. So I started recording, I started doing recordings for film, I did music for some indie films. I learned how to perform and do DJ work and actually performed. I started multiple communities around that I performed in Houston as a dubstep artist in and now I'm starting my third career in music as working on the iOS platform and doing that as part of my creative outlet as I continued to develop the live streaming approach that I'm working on with buyer broadcast.

Andrew Stotz 04:17
And for the listeners out there that can't see the video. Russ has a beard, a lot like the ZZ Top guys. So I'm picturing this guy spinning through the air with a guitar in his hand falling off the Billboard and I'm asking myself, wait a minute, what were you doing on top of a billboard anyway?

Russ Johns 04:37
I was actually working. If you recall, Andrew, you may recall the downfall in the housing market around 85 and how that impacted a lot of the industries and I had just recently moved to Seattle. And one of the jobs that I acquired was as a build poster which installs outdoor adventures. So, as a result of being on a, on a job and looking for, you know, music to play, and places to play in bands to create, create and explore, I actually ended up in Portland. And I was on a billboard. And it was a cold day. And all of a sudden, I was cleaning off this billboard, and inadvertently fell. And as I fell down, I grabbed a hold of this ladder on the way down and broke eight rungs of this aluminum ladder and just started a new journey for me. And one of the things that I learned from that journey was, you know, we have to reflect on what we have, and what we can do with what we have. And, you know, take what happens to us and, and appreciate the fact that we're still here. It's like, I wake up with gratitude every single day, Andrew, yeah, and I really enjoy it. And I thrive on helping others enjoy it as well.

Andrew Stotz 06:01
So for the listeners out there, you know, that dream you occasionally have of you falling off of something? Well, Russ actually live that. One last question. Before we get into the question of the day. Tell, tell the audience a little bit about what you do, as far as you know, streaming podcasting in this whole world and how they can follow you.

Russ Johns 06:21
Absolutely, thank you. I host, the pirate broadcast five days a week, every single morning, on multiple platforms. 7am, Arizona time. And I also operate and run the pirate syndicate that has multiple producers, people that can help and build your show, live stream your content, create live events, and activities around that subject. And it's a result of that, that fall so many years ago, that allowed me to create and explore and generate this thing. And, and so the worst investment is the one that you don't take, you know, the time that you don't invest in what you're doing, and the results, and the investment, take what you have, use it to your advantage. Learn what you can help others add value, and continue to grow as an individual in this day and age.

Andrew Stotz 07:19
So maybe before we get into the question, I got more questions, because I'm so interested in what you're doing. And let's maybe we could use myself as a little case study. Because I know a lot of my listeners, they have something to say. Now these days, we've got clubhouse that's come on the scene where you have audio, you know, I've done a little bit of that have been playing around with that to try to understand that. And one of the benefits of clubhouse is that the audience is there, you just got to bring something interesting to that audience. And I know that's one of the hardest parts of media is getting the audience. But I'm just curious, like, for instance, I've thought about getting up every morning, which I get up very early reviewing the news of the day, thinking about what you know what what's happening around the world, how that's going to impact Asia where I am, and then look at markets and other things, commodities, inflation, all that maybe talk for a while about those topics, what would be your if I came to you, what would be your, you know, process advice, thoughts on that?

Russ Johns 08:21
Well, after interviewing, over 300 interesting people doing interesting things, one of the topics that I love to talk about is exactly what you're doing, Andrew, you're interviewing people, and listening to stories. And what I would really like to share with individuals is a story that brings a lesson to life. You know, how you can actually use tragedy and use that as fuel for your future. You know, if you don't become a victim, and you don't allow yourself to be stuck in the same location that you are, invest in yourself, invest in time, you know, the worst investment that I ever made was spending too much time on the wrong subjects on the wrong people and the wrong skill set, you know, something that I didn't really enjoy and I didn't really thrive in as soon as I let it go, you know, their doors closed and doors open. So anything you can do in your life that allows you the opportunity to grow a new skill and create abundance in your life in terms of how you spend your day and how you enjoy life is an investment worth living.

Andrew Stotz 09:39
Alright, well, now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one ever goes into their worst investment thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it then tell us your story.

Russ Johns 09:50
Thank you, Andrew. I really appreciate that. My worst investment was staying too long in a corporate job that proved To be less than enjoyable. I invested 15 years in an organization that I thought was really an amazing organization. And grew my skills invested a lot of time at the cost of my family and the cost of my health, the cost of my time. And what ended up being one of the pivotal moments in my life that changed and shifted again, was the fact that the company mergers and acquisitions went out. My job was no longer necessary or needed. And I was disposable. And because I had invested so much of my life and my identity in that position, when it ended, it was a tragic change in my life, my lifestyle and everything. And it took me a while to recover from it. And just like the fall, the first time that got me into that position, I had to take up, pick myself up, recover, go through recovery, and come back in full swing, and continue to work in that adventure. So my advice for everyone out there that is thinking about, should I change my job, should I think about doing something else, learn a skill that you have some interest in, go explore, and understand some of the things that you might be interested in, learn about them, learn a craft, play music, talk to other people, join a community, learn what brings you joy, and gratitude in the day, something that as a musician, I used to play for hours and hours and hours and lose track of time. And those are the kinds of those are the kinds of tasks that you can actually generate and enjoy and learn from. So be cautious about how you spend your time and investing in other people, other people's dreams, when you need to work on your own dreams.

Andrew Stotz 12:11
Can you remember the day or the time that you got the message or that you know, your first day that you left the job? You are now out of work? What were the feelings that you felt at the time

Russ Johns 12:26
to feelings, I felt devastated. And I felt relief. And the reason I say that Andrew is because the relief was from the process of I was exhausted, I'd invested so much time and effort and energy that I wasn't sure that I had I was actually suicidal at that point. And so it was a gift to me, and a curse at the same time. week later, I ended up getting divorced as well. So that's a different story in a different investment. However, the time that I invested in this organization was attached to my identity, which is the real story behind the messages. Make sure that you have your own identity that makes sure that you utilize the skills and the gifts that you bring, because I believe that everyone has a gift. Everyone has a message. And everyone has an opportunity to share that value with the world. And when you find those identities, and you find those things that bring you joy, and you want to share it, that's something that everyone has the opportunity to do and bring to the world.

Andrew Stotz 13:44
I'm reminded of that song by I think it was maybe Soundgarden where the guy says that what you wanted to be yours has made it mine. And it's like the harder that you cling to something like I got this job and I'm giving everything and actually, you know, you're losing something from that. So and also, you know, I appreciate your discussion about the suicidal thoughts. Because, you know, I think a lot of the listeners out there have either friends or relatives that are really struggling or themselves so struggling. I know for myself, a lot of people see me as a very positive person. But there have been times during this crisis right now that we've gone through where I literally have been kind of knocked to my knees, and to just ask for help. And so it's a good reminder to everybody that sometimes life gets so heavy, that you know, you do need to ask for help. So I think that that's, you know, an important, important message out of that. So maybe you could talk to us about what did you learn from this, let's just list out the main learnings because there's a lot of people out there that are just losing their job, or maybe there's really investing themselves in their company thinking it's the right thing. And they need to hear what you have to say.

Russ Johns 15:07
Absolutely, Andrew, we live in the most amazing time. In the world right now, where, just as an example, you and I are on screen, having an interview, creating a podcast for two sides of the planet. A few short years ago, this was not even possible, let alone something that we would consider doing every day. Yet, you and I are both doing this every day. We're adding value to the world. We're sharing stories that people can think about, reflect on and grow from. So my advice to anyone is to always wake up with gratitude. learn a skill, create something of value every day, and help someone in your life. Maintain your community, your integrity, and be okay with who you are, where you are. Because it's only this moment in time. And as you go forward and create something new, you become something new.

Andrew Stotz 16:19
Well, maybe I'll summarize a few things that I take away from that. I think the first thing is, I remember when I moved to Thailand in 1992, the way we communicated was through letters. And there really wasn't any easy way to do anything except letters. Eventually, I can remember maybe it was 1994. I got a mobile phone. And it was, you know, a huge device. And, and it was extremely expensive to call my parents. Yeah. So if I could have one call every three to six months, that would be my treat. Of course, we also used to use landlines for that. But I remember getting that mobile phone in late 1994 1995. So yeah, it's amazing. You know what we can do right now? And for the listeners out there. That's the challenge. You got the tools? You got the tools right here? Yeah, what are you gonna do about them? And I think the other thing that I want to highlight is, you know, you mentioned about skills, crafts, community, joy, helping others, you know, these are really great things. And but I want to hone in on one. And this is the one that I think is most important, in my opinion. And that is, you've got to build a skill. And that skill is got to be something outside of work. Yeah, it may help you at work. But it's got to be something that's marketable outside of that job. And that skill, could be Facebook ads, I skill could be Excel modeling, that skill could be writing, that skill could be talking, it doesn't matter what the skill is, it could be art. Yeah, you know, but you've got focus in I think that's where a lot of people end up, particularly in the corporate world. Basically, you're just doing tasks. And with so many tasks, you actually end up with not a huge amount of marketable skills. So my advice, based upon what I've learned from you, is to all the listeners think about what is that thing you want to learn, learn how to program and Python. The point is, it's all available to learn, if you just even devoted a couple of hours every weekend or a couple of hours throughout the week, in a very short of time, amount of time, you could get, you know, a skill. And the reality is, is that most people aren't doing that. And therefore, you can secure future income and future happiness by doing that. So that would be kind of my biggest takeaway. Anything that you'd add to that?

Russ Johns 18:50
No, you're spot on Andrew. And the diversity in your skills allow you to decide what you enjoy. You know, because there are a lot of things you think you want. And then once you get them, there may not necessarily be what you want. The Dream may turn into a nightmare. So learn what you enjoy and just increase improve that skill every day, like you said, you know, that is a transferable skill that you can use in the future, almost anywhere nowadays. And it's just, it's amazing what you can learn, and the things that are opening doors for people right now. And it's an incredible adventure. And so go live it.

Andrew Stotz 19:36
You know, I remember when I was out of high school, I didn't have any money. And my parents had basically said to me that they spent my college tuition on my drug rehab. And then, and I really did exhaust all of their, all that they had by going through three different rehabs but so when I was a teen they were like Alright, time to make it on your own. And so I went out into this big world. And I thought to myself, you know, I can do this, I don't even need education, I'm a smart guy, I can figure this out. And I got a job in sales working for a company trying to sell stuff. And, you know, it was so hard, and eventually, you know, and they would pay me to draw, meaning I had to pay basically, when the pay day would come, it just meant that they, I'm just paying back the money they paid me. And then at the last moment, after I got one of the big sales, they basically refused to pay me. And as a young guy, without any knowledge, without any, you know, education, I found that what I had could be taken from me. And that's when I really realized that education is the one thing, it's the development of my mind, and you cannot take it from me. I think one of the best movies about this is the story of Hurricane Carter, and how he was falsely, you know, found guilty and falsely accused, and spent, you know, decades of life in prison. And if you watch the movie, hurricane, which I think it was Denzel Washington in it, the whole point, from his mind, his perspective was, they can take away everything, but they can't take away my mind, I have to protect that I have to grow that. And that is the way I feel about whether it's being bombarded with media and negative news and all that this mind of mine is my territory. And I want to protect it and grow it, and nobody can take away what I accumulate in that mine except for time, you know, eventually, you know, old man time will come and take me but you know, until then,

Russ Johns 21:47
so we call it wisdom. And the reality is, is we have an opportunity every single day to improve who we were yesterday. And if you take that mindset, and you take that attitude, and say, okay, rather than doing something that's going to spend my time and start investing in my time, you know, it's the same with health, it's the same with your knowledge, it's the same with anything that you look at, if you're investing in yourself in this way. It's just, it's something that's going to carry you forward. That's something that you can't, you know, it's not going to, you're not going to lose it, it can't get stolen from you. And realistic, realistically, it's, it's an area that you can actually thrive in and grow from. And with YouTube, and all of the educational opportunities that are out there. learning a new skill is very easy. One of the challenges though, Andrew, and I just want to caution people about this is, there's, there's so many opportunities out there that a lot of people get overwhelmed by that. So find a community, ask questions and get some answers from people that I've been there, done that and understand where the roadblocks are, and where the potholes are, and the things that could disrupt your learning experience. And then also be patient with yourself. Because,

you know,

Russ Johns 23:14
we all start out in the same place. And, you know, the musicians and the artists and everything that you look up to started out at zero, everyone starts out at zero. So we're all born crawling. So, you know, give yourself some patience.

Andrew Stotz 23:30
Yep. So based upon what you learn from this story, and what you continue to learn, what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?

Pay Attention.


Andrew Stotz 23:50
It's critical, what's going on around you what you're doing pay attention. Last question, what's your number one goal for the next 12 months.

Russ Johns 23:57
My number one goal, Andrew is to grow the pirate syndicate, and help over 100 people produce their own shows, their own events, and their own activities, to be seen, be heard and be talked about.

Andrew Stotz 24:12
That's awesome. And for the listeners out there, just go to the show notes. And you can get in touch with Russ, and you'll have all the links there. And why don't you work with him to get your voice out there in this world. Alright, listeners, there you have it. Another story of loss to keep you winning. Remember, to reduce risk in your life, go to my worst investment ever.com right now to download my risk reduction checklist to see how you measure up as we conclude raw Russ. I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of a stats Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Russ Johns 25:00
Kindness is cool. smiles are free, and you enjoy the day.

Andrew Stotz 25:06
Beautiful. That's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz saying I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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