Over the last few months, I’ve been interviewing amazing individuals about simple living, location independence, financial freedom and more. Every Thursday, a feature interview is posted on RowdyKittens. Last week I talked with Amber Zuckswert of Epic Self. This week I chatted with Matt Cheuvront. Matt is the author of Life Without Pants, an entrepreneur, and founder of MATTCHEVY – a Chicago-based online marketing consultancy and web design firm. He has a background in advertising, marketing, PR, and has a passion for the online medium. In short, he is an internet, marketing, PR, ninja. :)
Enjoy the interview peeps!
Tammy: What is Life Without Pants all about?
Matt: What is Life Without Pants all about? Wow...that is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Life Without Pants, in a nutshell, is a perspective on ‘less restricted’ life. It’s a metaphor for living a life more fulfilled and without the constraints of social norms. It’s not about doing what’s “right”, it’s about doing what you ought to be doing. I try to live my life with this mantra every single day, and the blog is a direct reflection of that mantra.
I started LWP in February of ’09 while I was working at a very corporate, very stuff advertising agency and I needed an ‘escape’ - a creative outlet to share my thoughts and ideas, and a foot in the door into the world of online marketing. In a year and a half, I’ve quit a job, moved to a new city, been fired from a job, started a business, got myself hitched, and now will be moving BACK to my hometown. The transitions have been a little crazy, to say the least, but throughout it all, if nothing else, it’s made for some pretty great writing material.
Tammy: How have you applied the concept of minimalism to your life?
Matt: Minimalism to me, until recently, always meant, “sell all your stuff, take inventory of your things, sell your car (Tammy I know you would love if I’d go ahead and do this), live in a treehouse...you get the picture.
However recently, minimalism has taken on a very different meaning. I read Everett Bogue’s e-book The Art of Being Minimalist and something just...clicked. In it, he says in so many words, “Your stuff is holding you back”. This can mean, physical things (you have a closet full of too many clothes) or mental obstacles (you have too many ongoing projects and your mind is scattered).
Minimalism is now a very important part of my life. I feel MUCH more focused because I’ve been able to get rid of a lot of that ‘stuff’ that was holding me back. I’m focusing on the things that matter most, personally and professionally, and eliminating the excess. I haven’t sold my car (yet) but I have taken many boxes to Goodwill over the last several months and we’ll be moving into an apartment in Nashville that’s less than half the size of our current place...Minimalist life here I come!
Tammy: Can you tell us about your tiny business? And do you have any tips for folks who want to start their own small business?
Matt: My business? Tiny? You mean it’s not an empire yet? :) - I only started MATTCHEVY as a full-time gig about 5 months ago and while it’s been absolutely lights out, I am still in the very early embryonic stages of building a business.
Here are three things I’ve learned very early on that I pass along to others looking to start their own business:
1. Say no...sometimes
I never completely close the door on any opportunity. I don’t have a waiting list and I will always sit down for an initial conversation. But, very early on I learned that while the money may be tempting, saying yes to everyone is simply something that cannot be done. Be honest with your incoming clients, set clear expectations, and if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. Bonus tip? Build yourself a supportive network of people you can recommend if the job doesn’t make the most sense for you to take on - creating a referral network or ‘tribe’ will pay back in huge dividends...
2. Know (and own) your value
One of the hardest parts of starting a business is figuring out what you’re worth and what you should charge. DO YOUR RESEARCH, set price points, and stick to them. Obviously, negotiation is important, but the more you waiver, the less legit you seem to potential clients. Sometimes you’ll be way over someone’s budget, sometimes you’ll come in way under. You’ll figure out what works for most over time, but don’t feel like you have to come down to accommodate everyone’s needs.
3. Know what your selling
I always tell wannabe entrepreneurs one thing: You must be offering something tangible. To be a ‘consultant’ from the get-go is a very tough road, because there’s a level of intangibility there that is difficult to overcome for newcomers. For me, this tangible product is web design. Over time, it’s my goal to focus solely on client relations and project management, but I know that to get there - I need case studies of past work, tangible things to point to, and the ability financially to bring on others so I can focus on what I believe I’m ultimately best at.
Everyone needs a foot in the door, everyone needs a key to the palace, it’s important and imperative that you figure out, very early on, what yours will be.
Tammy: I loved your recent post, Do Anything You Want By Figuring Out What You Need. In the article you talked about "The New American Dream." Can you tell us more about that concept?
Matt: I believe that there is no “American Dream” anymore. It’s not something our kids are going to read about in pre-school. How they have to grow up, marry a nice person, have a couple kids and a dog, build a white picket fence, and live in a nice surburban community. That’s old school. The new school is that there IS NO single American Dream - it’s now American Dream(s) - plural.
The new American Dream is to define your own dream - realize your own path - whatever it is, however you get there, it’s in your hands. Whether it IS to settle down and do the whole mansion, dog, and kids thing - or if it’s to travel the world, live from a different country every year, and never really settle...
The bottom line - you have to stop paying attention to everyone else’s dreams and start creating your own. That’s what the ‘new’ American Dream is all about.
Tammy: What books and blogs have made a significant impact on your life and career?
Matt: I’m currently reading “Selling the Invisible” by Harry Beckwith - which I highly recommend for all the consultants out there, because it really talks about the concept of consulting and selling something that isn’t tangible. I’ll be throwing up a review/recap over in my neck of the woods once I’m done.
As for blogs, I’m constantly inspired by a LOT of folks out there, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one, but most of my most inspired writing comes from reading. The takeaway? Read A LOT and writing will come naturally.
Tammy: Everyone has unique skills; skills that I call superpowers. What is your superpower?
Matt: My superpower? Well I can’t fly or any of that cool shit so I’d have to say, above all, I’m a ‘connector’. I have a passion for connecting people, sparking conversation, encouraging people to think outside the box, and introducing perspectives. I’m a very open-minded person and I share that trait with others I surround myself with. I like to think of my blog as a hub for connectivity - in my work, I am constantly trying to pass names along to encourage further collaboration...The return on my ‘investment’ has more than spoken for itself. Not a bad superpower to have, I’d say.
Tammy: What’s next for Matt Cheuvront/MATTCHEVY/Life Without Pants?
Matt: I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately.
I don’t know about others out there, but I’m the type of person that needs to be working TOWARD something. I need a project. I need a challenge. I’m insanely busy right now, I barely have time to think (this is a good thing...no complaints) but I still feel stagnant if I don’t have that ‘big thing’ on the horizon. I’m the kind of guy that is ALWAYS thinking ‘what’s next’? It’s a blessing and a curse.
The project doesn’t have to be professional - it can be a ‘life’ project. So for me, the next big thing is moving my wife and I back to Nashville. I’m pursuing my passion right now. I’m 24 years old and running my own business - something I never ever thought I’d be doing two years after graduating college. But, my wife...she’s not passionate about what she’s doing - but I want her to be, she needs to be, it’s not fair for me to be the only one getting gratification form the work I do.
So, we’re packing our bags and moving back to Nashville. So we can live a more fulfilling life, so Lierin, my wife can find that ‘something’ she’s passionate about, and to...yep, you guessed it, see what’s “next”.
Thanks for having me Tammy - this was fun. I respect the heck out of what you’re doing here and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to selling at least one of our cars :)
Tammy: Thank you Matt!