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Tam Pham on Getting Over Your Doubts, the Importance of Mentors, and the Best Way to Network – Cracking Creativity Episode 32

Tam Pham is an author, speaker, podcaster, and teacher. He has spoken to high school students on networking and entrepreneurship and wrote a best-selling Amazon book How To Network: Build Instant Trust & Respect With Anyone You Meet. In this episode, Tam talks about the getting over your doubts,  the importance of mentors, and the key to networking.

Here are three things you can learn from Tam:

Getting Over Your Doubts

No matter who you are, you will have doubts. Even the most talented and influential people in the world have to overcome that voice inside themselves telling them they are not good enough.

Tam believes that people do not give themselves enough credit for what they have accomplished. We are too busy comparing ourselves to others and what they think of us, that we begin to doubt ourselves.

Tam felt this way when speaking to high school students. What could a college drop out teach others? Instead of trying to give advice, Tam believes we should speak from our own experience. Tell your autobiography and people will embrace it.

Stop doubting yourself and speak and learn from your own experiences.

The Right Way to Network

Most people think of networking as this boring and unbearable activity they have to do. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Networking isn’t about making connections. It’s about making friends. You want to look for people who support you, appreciate you, and want the best for you. That’s what you should be looking for, not another name to add to the rolodex.

The best way to do this is by forgetting about the business aspect of networking and embrace people for who they are. People are more willing to help people they are friends with.

Once you are friends, you must be willing to give. No one wants a friend that always takes. Provide value for people and they will want to provide value to you in return. Don’t give expecting anything, just know it will come back to you in the end.

The Power of Mentors

When people think of mentors, they think of a guru who will sit down with them and show them the ways of life. Gurus don’t need to be someone you sit down with every day telling you how to maneuver your way through life. They are people who share their experiences with you and help you get where you want to go.
In his article, Tam talks about how he has many mentors in life. Everyone from James Altucher, to Peter Thiel, to Ryan Holiday. Their mentorship comes from books and podcasts.

You don’t need to meet with people for them to mentor you. You can learn from the lessons that they’ve shared, and employ them yourself.

Tam used advice from Chandler Bolt, James Altucher, Charlie Hoehn and Hung Pham to become a best-seller on Amazon. He then told his mentors the results he got from their advice. He is now a testimonial his mentors can use to show the validity of their advice.


  • about Tam
    • speaks, podcasts, writes, and teaches entrepreneurship
    • Summer Camp – teaches entrepreneurship to teens
      • create, design, and build business solution for real companies
  • getting started
  • college experience
    • was studying business/marketing
    • not taking relevant classes
    • explored passions/interests outside of school
    • led to creating his own product
    • dropped out 1.5 years in to work on startup
    • startup failed in 5 months
    • taught him more than all of college/high school combined

“If I just continue doing more startups, failing. If I continue to just experience more things, I’ll learn so much more than all of my peers or whatever college can teach me.”

  • Blockbuster as an example of failing forward
    • research showed people like browsing titles
    • because they didn’t innovate, they went out of business
  • Tam’s startup
    • Student Hero – connect high school students with internships and summer programs
    • main reason it failed was because it was a hobby, not a business
    • employers were not coming to him for high school talent
    • were forced to do things you normally wouldn’t do
    • as a business to business company he had to go to people and sell the product at 18 years old
    • had to get over the fear of getting out there

“Being forced to do something you normally wouldn’t do gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you grow as a person and an entrepreneur.”

  • next step after failing first start-up
    • asked himself what he could do next
    • tried to figure out how he could help young people
    • turned his eye toward motivational speaking
    • approached Margaret Jackson (radio host, business coach, podcaster) about how he could become a speaker

“After you fail. Fail forward. Move to the next thing. Fail forward again. Move to the next thing and keep on experimenting.”

  • contacting and approaching Margaret
    • used to work at school’s career center
    • loved his co-workers, including his friend Daniel who introduced him to Margaret
    •  didn’t ask for a job, just asked for advice
    • agreed to help him on his journey
    • quote about approaching investors: “If you ask for advice, they get you money. If you ask for money, they give you advice.”
  • other things he was involved in
    • was doing speaking and writing as well
    • has always had his hand in a few things
    • Margaret told him to focus on what he really wanted
  • fear when speaking
    • having imposter syndrome and invisible scripts
    • Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success – be genuine and authentic when helping people

“I know that not everyone is going to like me. I know that everyone is not going to resonate with what I have to say. I just have to go out, have genuine intentions of helping people and do it in a way that actually helps them.”

  • getting over your doubts
    • it’s always something that comes to the back of your head
    • people under credit themselves for what they’ve done
    • speaking from your own experience
    • don’t give advice, but share your story
    • James Altucher’s advice to tell your autobiography
    • people are there to hear your story, so embrace it
  • feedback he’s received
    • after one speech, people came up to the stage to talk to him
    • people resonate with his message and intentions
  • most important aspect for finding your passion
    • roadblock to passion is thinking you can only have one passion
    • people have many different passions
    • Calvin Newport’s advice on passion vs. interest
    • “Where your effort goes, your intention goes.”
    • you like things you put more effort into
    • why following the money is a bad way to choose a job
  • working with Stanford
    • at first entrepreneurship conference and met CEO exhibiting there
    • Camp Bismark involved both of his interests: teaching and business
    • Tam asked if he could work for him
    • is now an assistant director there
    • approaching the CEO
      • wasn’t scared but excited
      • didn’t ask for a job, asked how he could help

“Planting little seeds here and there will eventually blossom and bloom the more you water it.”

“Give, give give, relentlessly. Give and never expect anything in return.  The more you give, the more opportunities come back to you.”

  • why people network the old way
    • everyone comes from a self-interest model
    • they are looking for how you can help them
    • helping people instead of trying to help yourself
  • being influenced by James Altucher and his article on mentors
  • structure for Choose Yourself meetups
    • you can tailor meetups for member needs/problems
    • bring like-minded people together to help each other achieve goals
    • during one meetup, people would go up with a problem, and people in audience would provide action steps they could take
    • place to connect
  • other keys in networking
    • positioning yourself
      • be someone who understand another person’s problems and generate ideas on how to help them
      • helped someone with a problem and received free Skype consultation in return
      • don’t expect anything going in
  • getting past gatekeepers
    • make email so good that assistant will pass it on
    • it’s not about you, it’s about how you can help others
  • positioning himself to become #1 in Amazon
    • Amazon is a game
    • once you understand rules, you can win
    • within first five days of promotion, get as many reviews/downloads as possible
    • cycle of increasing rank and exposure through your rank
  • getting initial set of reviews
    • had people read book before he released it
    • beta readers gave feedback, and he made improvements from them
    • all you need is a push
  • experimentation and learning from others

“A smart man makes mistakes and learns from his failures, but a wise man learns the mistakes and the failures from the smart man.”

“Learn from people who’ve been there before because most of the roads have already been paved for you, all you need to do is just follow it.”

  • reaching out to people who helped you
    • he reached out to each of the people who helped him, and they showed gratitude for it
    • when you show proof that their systems work, they have the ability to use you as a testimonial
  • choosing who to study and learn from
    • he examines how people do their business
    • studies what they do, if he likes what they are doing, he tries to learn from them
  • podcast Outside of the Classroom
    • about hacking your education
    • teach you the important things in life that school didn’t teach you
    • getting internships, networking, mentorship, etc.
    • picks the brains of experts
    • favorite guests: Charlie Hoehn, Thomas Frank, Ryan Porter, Heath Padgett
  • favorite story
    • Charlie Hoehn – college graduate after recession
    • friend wanted him to join him at Verizon
    • reached out to influencers and pitched them ideas on work he could do for them
    • for Ramit, he saw his videos on Youtube and gave him advice on how to improve them
      • made a video combining Ramit’s videos into a demo video to attract speaking gigs
    • Ramit’s Zero to Launch
  • plans for the future
    • TEDx speech, writing a book, writing gigs, and spreading his message
    • speech about bootstrapping education/taking education into your own hands
  • morning routine
    • recommends having a routine
    • everything we do is based on habits
    • wakes up, stretches, drinks water, 15 min walk, meditate, and visualizes his day
    • NBA players visualizing ball going in before they actually shoot
    • “You win the morning when you win the night.”
    • plan everything you will do the next day in the evening
    • does creative work in the morning
    • being most productive 2-4 hours after you wake up
    • after lunch he does technical work that doesn’t require much brainpower
    • social media/email as being reactive tasks
  • books, podcasts, resources
  • creative people
  • definition of creativity
    • many ideas are a twist on existing ideas

“See something that’s already been done and try to find ways to innovate and improve that existing solution.”

  • ways to be more creative
    • 10 ideas a day, good or bad
    • it helps to exercise your idea muscle
    • be around kids
    • egg drop experiment
  • advice for people
    • develop habits

“If you want to make a change in your life, develop good habits.”

“If you internalize habits in your routine, and in your everyday life, then everything else will follow. It has to start with that habit though.”

OutsideoftheClassroom | Twitter

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