Michael Fuchigami’s classroom teaching career was derailed by his mental health crisis. A setback that opened the door for new opportunities instead of ending in disaster.
Making a living while doing what you love; few careers offer this kind of fulfillment. If you were lucky enough to enjoy that lifestyle, imagine how emotionally and financially crushed you’d be if it all ended.
Michael Fuchigami loved his work. Teaching Grade 8 at Longfields Davidson Heights Secondary School in Ottawa gave him the ability to help students connect technology, literacy, and diversity. He was able to lead students to challenge stereotypes and explore global inequalities through analyzing data.
Beyond the classroom, Michael engaged in workshops and professional development opportunities. Throughout his career, he was even able to collaborate with Garfield Gini-Newman–an important thought leader around Critical Thinking.
This all came crashing down when Mike had a mental health crisis as a result of something that happened at school; he resigned. No longer fit to teach in a classroom, he was determined that his story wouldn’t end in tragedy.
How do you deal with serious setbacks? Do you accept a popular narrative and live a disempowered life? Or do you resolve to work towards a more fulfilling future? Mike knew he needed to enhance his mindset and take control of his life.
“I can have a fixed mindset and believe that I can’t change. Or, I can have a growth mindset and as hard as it seems, try to find a way to make the worst moment of my life into the greatest moment.”SOURCE: My mental health crisis…, by Michael Fuchigami
Coping with mental health issues is a serious struggle. Popular narratives and sensational stories online and in the media can make this more difficult. They can simplify a complex situation into a single story that often ends in violence and tragedy.
When you are dealing with something difficult, does what you read or listen to help or hurt you? Popular media often puts a spin on real stories to engage people but doesn’t necessarily provide positive support. The approach that gets the most views, likes, or clicks doesn’t always provide the best information to people suffering through real challenges.
Mike knew that many mental health narratives end in tragedy. He needed to take control of his mindset and plan a new path forward. During his teaching career, he was introduced to affiliate marketing by a student. Through this side hustle, he was able to earn around $45,000 (Canadian) over 12 years. Most of this money went to classroom supplies, but these earnings would help point him in a new direction for his future.
He needed to earn an income, but it needed to serve something bigger than himself. Mike decided to follow a path of Internet entrepreneurship and would donate 10 percent of his earnings to help Mental Health for Children. Ultimately, his goal would be to donate 1 million dollars to children’s mental health organizations.
In order for me to donate one million dollars to children’s mental health organizations, I need to make ten million dollars.SOURCE: Grit, Tenacity, Resilience: Change your story. by Mike Fuchigami
Earning 10 million dollars is a tough objective, and Mike knew it was essential to change his mindset to get there. Taking an idea from Steve Siebold, a self-made millionaire, Mike needed to associate with other successful people. Like attracts like, copying and duplicating the mindset and activities of rich people would help him break from middle-class mindsets that would hinder his earnings.
His first goal would be to make $100 per month online. Next would be $1000 per month and so on. These ever-increasing goals would give Mike targets to strive for and a standard that he would need to apply real effort to meet.
I’m a very shy and private person.
And yet, I need to become a brand.
The reason why some pro athletes get paid so much is because they have a huge audience.SOURCE: Grit, Tenacity, Resilience: Change your story. by Mike Fuchigami
Mike launched a personal brand website and SEOT to “help students build grit, tenacity, and resilience.” He followed this up with other sites and products, including Growth Mindset resources, then Reading Strategies and Pivot by Educircles.
What started as a huge career setback didn’t stop Mike from working to achieve his goals. Maybe it even opened the door to something better.
Internet Entrepreneurship From a SEOT Perspective
What can we learn from how Michael Fuchigami handled his career-ending mental crisis?
He didn’t let narratives get in the way of his future ambitions. He used his challenges to provide a framework for his future success. Not blindly accepting negative stereotypes can help a person plan for the future with a clear view of their true strengths and weaknesses.
Mike’s pivot to Internet entrepreneur has lessons for how to use strategies, effort, optimization, and tinkering to achieve your goals.
A strategy helps you decide how to reach a goal or overcome an obstacle. What do you want to achieve? What are some ideas for the best path forward? Once you have a logical plan, you can begin carrying it out to reach your goals.
Mike needed to employ strategy to handle the obstacle of being unable to work as a classroom teacher. Working in education gave him clear strengths he could use moving forward. What he needed was a strategy to take what he knew out of the classroom and share it with the world.
Launching digital products targeting educators could help students learn strategies for achieving goals and developing positive mindsets. This strategy allowed Mike to leverage his educational background to create value and earn money online.
A new endeavor doesn’t always mean a clean slate. Your existing strengths and experience can help you succeed in a new environment.
Having a great strategy isn’t enough. You need to apply plenty of effort to achieve your goal. Too little effort, and you may not make enough progress toward what you want. You might even begin questioning your strategy. Put a great strategy to use by applying enough effort to make it succeed!
Mike needed to start building his brand and producing products that would help students achieve their goals. He needed an online presence to serve as a focal point and an outlet for products.
He could have set up one or two websites and stopped there. But this might not make enough impact to build a thriving business. Mike didn’t do that. He applied effort to create new products and sites serving different needs. SEOT was his first offering, but it wouldn’t be his last. He introduced new products like Growth Mindset resources, then Reading Strategies and Pivot by Educircles, and more.
You’re reaching for your goals. Make sure and reach far enough. A small amount of effort might not take you to where you need to go.
Optimization happens when you check what you are doing and decide on what can be improved.
How are you progressing? Come up with ideas about how to optimize and increase your results. Build a list of new tactics and work through them to see if you can achieve a better result.
Mike’s first product was his SEOT framework which he sold on Teachers Paying Teachers. But was this the only way forward? Could SEOT work as well for the general public as it did for students? He decided to launch SEOT Mindset Inc. to capitalize on his success in marketing the product to educators. Now individuals outside of education could have the tools they need to overcome obstacles and improve their lives.
When you have something that works, decide on how to improve it to get a better result. Can the same thing be used in other contexts? What you produce may have greater uses than you thought possible.
Not all improvement comes from careful planning. Often innovation can result from making small changes and seeing what happens. This is called tinkering.
When Mike earned money through affiliate marketing, this was a form of tinkering. Would he earn a lot of money or a little? Even if he earned zero, he would still have learned something. That is how tinkering works: little changes that may make a big difference. Even if they don’t, these small changes don’t cost you much. It’s best to think of these as little experiments.
Would Mike have decided to earn a living on the Internet without that early introduction? Maybe, but maybe not. You can never tell where a little tinkering can take you.
What small changes can you make that might help you achieve your goal or overcome an obstacle? It’s fine if these changes are small. Tinkering doesn’t involve major overhauls of planning or changes to your life. Try something different and see how it works!
SEOT can help you build a pathway to your goals. Want to achieve an objective? Has a setback thrown your life off course? You can build a great future from wherever you’re at right now! Mike’s story is full of big ideas for improving your own life. Here are four important keys from his story:
- STRATEGY: Design a plan to overcome an obstacle or achieve a goal.
- EFFORT: Produce or perform more than you think is necessary. Over-deliver if needed.
- OPTIMIZE: Observe how things are going. See what you can change to get a better result.
- TINKER: Change something about what you’re doing. You may unlock something new and wonderful!
What obstacle is holding your life back? Is there a goal you want to achieve?
Go over the four ideas above and think about how each one can apply in your own life. Is there one that could help unlock your potential or aid you in overcoming a setback?
For more information about SEOT, check out the SEOT Wheel of Success goal-setting lesson for students.