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Should You Pay For That Certification?

By Toucan

When you are living in a job or situation it grates on your every nerve, you feel suffocated, your chest is heavy and it takes effort just to breathe. Just getting out of bed on time is a challenge you lose every morning and Mondays? Forget about it.

You start looking for a new job hoping for the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Even if it is harder, at least it is different! Maybe you are trying to start a side business and are trying to make yourself seem more credible in a new field.

Some people look into going back to school and get a degree. Some look for certifications. I did both! I wanted OUT!

Opportunity Cost

One of the most obvious issues is the cost. Any certification worth anything has a cost. A $97 “certification” up to a $60,000 2-4 year degree program. Nothing was as frustrating to me the day I graduated with my MBA. I realized that if I spent just 6 weeks and $3,000 I could have a PMP certification which would have given me more income potential.

Not all our wallets can take that kind of abuse. But that is not the largest cost.

The time spent racking up certifications and degrees can range from weeks to years, delaying the advancement we crave. What could you do in that time?

Most people could take that money they would have invested to actually USE the skills and learn in the real world.  After, they would end up with experience instead of certification.

Do You NEED It?

I have worked with many people looking to get degrees or certifications in Marketing.

…but why?

Marketing firms don’t hire based on degrees. If I was to hire a marketer, it would be someone that demonstrated they know how to write a blog post that converts. Or a person that have used ads to drive targeted traffic.

If you take $25,000 and spent it on a degree, you would walk out with a degree trying to convince a boss that you could handle a $50,000 a month ad budget with zero experience. Never going to happen.

If you took $500 and put up your own website, take a couple clients, your could EARN $25,000 building websites, managing social accounts, writing blog articles, and actually building experience that same boss will be chasing you for!

Occam’s Razor

Occam said that the simplest solution is often the correct one.

Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” Occam’s Razor

You could assume that the certification will add value.

You could assume that customers will know what the certification even means.

Let me ask you this, what certification does the guru have you are hoping to learn from? Chances are you are choosing them because of their experience.

Instead of putting off actually helping people, try applying the skills you already have. Stop spending money now, hoping to make more in the future. Start with small projects and build your experience.

As a bonus, make sure you record your projects on your LinkedIn profile. Much more valuable!

Fear: The Real Reason

If we get real with ourselves, it isn’t the certification we want. The certification is just an excuse.

Asking people for money is difficult. We were never taught that in school. The problem is that certifications don’t make that any easier.

We think that the certification will give us the confidence to talk to bosses and customers to make the sale. After spending thousands on courses, I can tell you most training and certifications don’t help.

The solution is to stop building obstacles and get started!

MindMaps vs Outlines? How to Organize Your Brain!

By Toucan

Your next big idea is trapped and going CRAZY in your head! You have to let them out so they can grow and flourish. As you start marking where these paths go, you will see that idea take shape. Even more so when your idea sees the light of day, and others can weigh in and add their feedback. Try these tools to let it break free, and see where it takes you.

MindMap Software

MindMaps are great tools to just mentally vomit ideas all over, then pull them together into an organization.

When I first start an idea or project, I just start throwing ideas on the page. With the software, it makes it even easier to take those ideas and re-arrange into groups. While I can’t add sketches as easily in the software, there are a ton of icons and design elements I can use to bring life into the ideas I create.

Often, this is where I start when I am creating content, planning out new functionality to develop, or when starting any new project. The key is I pull out the Mind Map when I don’t know quite yet where everything will go.



xmind-logoXMind was the first MindMapping software I found, and I have loved it for years! It is a desktop platform, so you are a little restricted, but it is super fast and keeps up when I am wildly trying to get ideas out of my head into a system.

The free version has a ton of features and is probably going to be enough for most, but the paid version exports into all kinds of crazy awesome formats like PDF, JPG, Text, Word, and PowerPoint!

I would definitely start out here to get a feel for MindMapping. You will be impressed at all the templates they have to get you started!


mindmeister-logoMindMeister is cloud based, so you can access it from mobile devices and other computers so your files follow you everywhere. I had a ton of issues with the apps though, so I recommend staying on the desktop browsers when editing.

A HUGE plus is the community! If you want to get an idea for ANYTHING there are people out in the community who have shared their mindmaps with the world and you can take advantage. Job hunting, gardening, business plans, you name it!

Outline Software

Outlines saved my life in college! A professor suggested it to me and I tweaked my system to the point where I was writing 8 page papers in just a couple of hours!

  1. First, if I don’t know the format I want to put something in, I will use the MindMap above to get ideas out and organized.
  2. Once I have some type of structure, I will create the outline of the main topics.
  3. THE $1 Million Dollar KEY – Under the main topics, I write down the questions I see people asking, or I was wondering when I was researching the topic.
  4. Finally, I just answer the questions! SUPER simple, gives GREAT information, and turns the resulting content into GOLD!
  5. Proofread & Submit

Try that formula the next time you have a new project, when you are writing your memoirs, or just making a new blog post.



notepad-pp-logoHonestly, Notepad++ is my Go-To application. I use it for just about everything. The only bad thing is that I leave too many files open in it all day!

The tabbed interface lets me pop between ideas quickly, they recently added a cache feature so if my computer needs to reboot I don’t even need to save the files, it will pop up right where I left off after I reboot!

The only downside is that I can only use it on one device. Really, most of that work is on my laptop so it isn’t too much of a show stopper. I recently had to submit ideas back and forth to a coach, so we used…


workflowy-logoWorkflowy didn’t seem to be as friendly as Notepad++ because it isn’t on my taskbar, but it does come with a lot of benefits.

  1. Cloud based and easy to share
  2. Ability to add “note” areas
  3. Exports to other file formats cleanly with subheadings formatted.

It is definitely worth a try, but while it is cloud based, I did have a lot of issues on mobile devices. Moving between devices caused a lot of state issues and I lost a few hours of work because it overwrote itself with an earlier version.

If you need to share information though, definitely a tool to have in your arsenal!


I know you are supposed to say “it depends” and waffle over answers like they all are great, but I don’t play that game. To be honest, I use them all so I am very familiar with these tools. That said, I use Notepadd++ EVERY DAY. It is always open for me to jot things into, clear formatting, and is like my little stash of information that I pull from.

Check them all out though. Let us know what you think in the facebook group! Are you a MindMap person or an Outliner?