In the podcast:
01:31 – Why this episode?
03:39 – The situation at time of quitting
05:19 – Post-job nightmares
06:39 – Surprising success in speaking
08:03 – From workshop to forum
10:22 – Globe-spanning experiences
11:39 – Continued developments
13:59 – Shifting perspective
14:47 – A rewarding pursuit
16:31 – A life of choice
17:59 – Is it really important?
20:31 – The good of helping others
21:43 – It’s up to you
23:08 – What can happen in a decade
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James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com.
In today’s episode, 593, it’s just me. I want to share with you a journey, a journey of a decade, and an important lesson that I’ve learned as a result of that journey.
If I think back to Sunday nights when I still had a job, they sucked. I mean, they were better than a few years before that when I was working seven days a week, but on these Sunday nights, I’d had the day off on the Sunday, and now it was time to polish my shoes, hang out my tie and my suit and grab a freshly-pressed shirt that I was getting from the laundromat so that I was ready to go in the morning.
In the morning, I dropped my kids off to school on the way to work. I remember my daughter actually rolling her eyes, saying, “Dad, this sucks.” And I said, “Yes, it does.” And I knew beyond the job there had to be an escape.
Why this episode?
The reason I’m doing this podcast episode is that it’s been 10 years since I quit my job.
I remember that pressure cooker of a dealership. It was a Mercedes-Benz dealership. I had all these managers and staff – there were over 70 people in three different sites that I was responsible for. And I still had to report to the owner of the business and to head office, who were pretty picky with their numbers and their standards.
I needed to get out because I was worried I’d become one of those bitter old car people. You’ve probably met one of them in your time if you’ve ever been to a car dealership.
I remember driving into work on the last day and handing in my keys and saying, “Thank you very much, but I’m leaving.” And this is pretty much unheard of, to hand in your notice on a $300,000 a year circa package. I was a little bit scared. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my entire life. And the now me can hardly fathom or comprehend how the then me had the balls to do it. It was crazy. And it was, even in hindsight, a little bit reckless, but I had managed to swing an equivalent income for myself from my own business. So I had some confidence in the ability for me to swing from one vine to another. But gee, it’s been a 10 years of unbelievable journey and growth and challenge and conquests. It’s been an amazing ride, and I just want to share some of the things and see what lessons are revealed.
At that time, I had a couple of properties and a share portfolio. Now I had to hand in the company Mercedes-Benz and my wife’s company Mercedes-Benz, and I borrowed a car from my mom and dad at the time to drive home, but it actually broke. So I remember walking into the used car manager’s office and I put down my credit card and I bought a trade-in. It was a little Saab Griffin Turbo, about the last car that I would ever imagine myself buying. I never liked Saabs. They are especially ugly and unreliable, and they probably should have stuck to making aircraft. No offense to any Saab drivers, but it is a four-letter word. And I guess, having been with Mercedes-Benz for over a decade, you do build a certain taste. In any case, I drove home in my newly acquired car. I did have another car on order, by the way, I just took a reasonably priced Toyota Kluger, I think they cost around $42,000 in Australia at that time 10 years ago, and it was on a loan as well. I had some finance on that.
The situation at time of quitting
So I really had to commit to being able to stay in front of the never-ending process of change. By this stage, half my income of my online business was from affiliate revenue from one product. And the other half was from two brand new clients who said, yes, they’d like to come on board with me to handle their online marketing, and they were paying me roughly $5,500 each, and I only had two.
“Stay in front of the never-ending process of change.”
Now, this came about from a recent trip to Las Vegas, which was part of a prize-winning entry into the Maverick group that Yanik Silver was running. And I got into that because I’d gone to the Underground Online Seminar number four in Los Angeles. So just over 10 years ago was the first time that I’d hopped on an airplane and flown to America since I was about 12. So it was my first trip overseas as an adult in some time, other than the achievers’ trips that I was going on with Mercedes-Benz. But I paid for that trip, and I did it in my weekend off. So it was quite a remarkable transformation from the beginning of the year to this point in July where I’m quitting my job.
So I was also pretty excited. And I remember the first morning that I woke up after I’d quit my job, and I really had to pinch myself and reconcile the fact that I don’t have to put on the suit and go to work. And it actually took a surprising amount of time for this to wear off.
In fact, even 10 years later, I will say that occasionally, I still have a nightmare, and my worst nightmare is that I’m working in a car job. And the nightmare’s bad now, because I can’t remember the names of the products and the model names and a bit foggy on the name of the staff, so it’s a frightening dream. And I really think it’s some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, and again, not taking anything away from people who have been in the military, but I can only imagine that something this strong has some pretty deep roots.
And speaking to my other friends from the industry, they also have the same situation. Just shows you how immensely dark and strong an organization can become when they make you feel as though in much the same way as a cult probably does. They make you feel as though there is no life outside of their organization. So I had to try and get out of that gravitational pull.
So I basically started up affiliate marketing some new products, and that went particularly well, until it didn’t. I’ve told this story before. And it was in my book, Work Less Make More, which is available on Amazon. I talked about the time when I ran out of money. This was the first December coming out of quitting my job. So only six months later, I had got defaulted on because the person whose product I was selling couldn’t pay me. They went out of business. So it was a big lesson.
Surprising success in speaking
And around about this time, I was visiting a friend of mine in the city who was speaking at an event and he had to go back home early, and he asked me if I’d like to take over his speaking spot, which I did, because I already had a presentation that I’d prepared and delivered to a forum meetup. There was this Warrior Forum online, and I had driven up to Queensland and presented a little topic called traffic and conversion.
Now I’m sure that topic would never become super popular or anything, but turned out, people were interested in that topic. And I presented at this event and the event organizer was the one taking the most notes. And he invited me to speak again.
So I contacted another event organizer, and he said, Look, you come and speak to my event up in Queensland. And if it goes well, I’ll let you speak at a big event. They used to run this big summit with over 500 people. And I got that speaking gig and I didn’t really know what to sell. So I asked my Maverick group when I was driving a rally car across Baja, Mexico. They said, “You should put on an event. Sell it a couple of weeks after the big event that you speak at.” And so I did. And when I was at this event, I pitched it, it was about $2,000, and I sold initially 30-odd tickets. And people found out about it, and over the course of the event it crept up to 70-something people, and a few people asked me if they could bring their partner, their business partner. And being a rookie, I didn’t realize this was a bit of a trap.
From workshop to forum
So I fronted up to my very first event, which was about nine and a half years ago. And there was 100-plus people in the room. And all I had promised was that in two days, we would research a product, we would join the affiliate program, we would choose a domain, we would point it to a server, we would build a website and write the sales copy and then publish it. And we were going to do that in two days. So people came along with their laptops. I had WiFi dongles and Ethernet cables running across the room. One guy even brought his PC.
And we set up, and it was pretty tough event. The first day we lost the audio recording, and luckily, one of my customers had sneakily recorded the first day’s event on his Livescribe pen, which we were able to synchronize back to the DVD, which was my first info product.
With the help of my friend Dave, the fantastic genius programmer, we built a script that could build a website by entering fields and pushing Submit. And I had this group of over 100 people build a website. And my guarantee was simple. If you can’t build your website, I’ll build it for you. So everyone will go home with their own website. And we managed to pull it off.
But I’ll tell you, I will never run a workshop where we’re sitting down building a website, because as you’ve come to know, I don’t teach people how to build websites. I’m a big fan of having other people build them now. But 10 years ago, it was a lot more hands-on. They weren’t really the same level of WordPress or ClickFunnels and all the various tools that do these things easily for you. And I wasn’t at the stage yet where I was building team.
So I started doing events. I got some clients. I decided to sell my car, I wasn’t really using it. And I moved into promoting recurring products. And then I set up my own forum. So about nine years ago, I set up my forum, and that forum is still in existence now. SuperFastBusiness membership was really founded from the SuperFast Results membership, which turned into the FastWebFormula membership, which is now the SuperFastBusiness membership. And SilverCircle actually came along just one year later. So it’s been going for around about eight years.
“Have a continual baseline.”
So interestingly, and this is very important, I’ve had a continual baseline for almost the entire time since I quit my job, that has just gotten stronger and more powerful. So there is a lesson in that.
I continue to sell affiliate products. I did speaking all around the world. I spoke in Dubai and Atlanta and Dublin, London, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, all these different places. I spoke on a boat in San Francisco. I spoke in Cabo, Mexico, Dominican Republic. All these fantastic venues all around Australia, of course. And it was really a great way to build up my Rolodex of contacts to learn lots of information, to see other expert speakers, which is one of the draw cards of travel, and to open my eyes up to the world.
And I’ve had some tremendous experiences, you know, everything from surfing in the Maldives and Bali and Fiji and New Zealand through to visiting the underwater canyons in Belize and the Mayan ruins, doing zero gravity flight in Nevada, and checking out London and the royal family and all of that stuff. Paris, New York, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Germany, France, the list goes on. But it’s just been a wonderful experience. I’ve been doing laps of the world. I’ve been to the Philippines 19 times in the last nine years, just as an example. It’s like a second home to me now.
So this has all come about, which I could not do when I was driving a desk. So I’m truly grateful for these opportunities. Of course, I produced a lot of courses, and then I built up my service businesses. I started evolving my business from me doing the service provision to hiring a team, to then letting that team service other people, to then building it up to the point where the SEO business in particular was doing over a million dollars a year. And then a few years back, I sold it. And I also sold my website development business.
And eventually, I shifted from doing the night shift to doing the day shift, because I really found it hard to be working any other time than 9:30 at night till two or three in the morning. That just became my routine, and I was waking up at 10 or 11. But about five years ago, I moved to the beach, I started surfing, and I wake up early, and I go to bed early. And I’ve had a complete shift in my health and mindset.
And last year, I made significantly better profit than I have for a few years. But I also worked 50% of the time. I’ve pushed the needle on how leveraged I can get, to the point where I felt it’s a good time to publish a book about that. So that’s what Work Less Make More was all about, as an introductory book.
And I really liked the process of writing a book. It’s devilishly hard, but it’s also tremendously rewarding. And I do like the royalties, and with the Audible about to come online, I think this is a phase that I’m enjoying. And I’m going to be publishing book number two, and I’ve already penciled in three and four. I think this is a thing. So keep your eyes out for those.
So what else did I do? I ended up selling the house, because we moved into a bigger house. We ended up actually on five acres at one point. But now I’m in my dream home near the beach in Manly, and I’m very happy with how that’s worked out.
I ended up buying the AMG that I lusted after. I remember on my last day, it was in the wash bay. Someone started up an AMG C63, and it roared in the wash bay and I looked across and I thought, I want to own one of those. And it took me a couple of years and I did. I paid cash. And then two years later, I traded it for a brand new one, and paid cash. And it was nice to move from one side of the desk to the other. It was kind of like that chapter that I needed to settle for myself to feel like I’d completed something, and then the pressure went off.
And it’s really weird, but now, once you have things and you have some money and you have some time, those material things actually aren’t as important. You’re more likely to be looking at a Jay Shetty quote and smiling at that (you know, the former monk) than to be worried about getting a Bugatti so you can pose on some Instagram feed.
So isn’t it interesting that the people who don’t have these things want them desperately, and the people who have these things, it sort of wears off in a way? Kind of like the Mercedes were wearing off by the end of my time there. It wasn’t as interesting as it was when I started. So I guess I slowed down a bit, changed gears and got more leveraged, sold off the business, streamlined everything, got really, really focused, got my investments sorted out, and now I’ve honed in on my business model.
A rewarding pursuit
And I work with the very best students. In my SilverCircle group, the average, or sorry, the median income, revenue-wise, is approaching $3 million. It’s $2.9 million, I calculated today, the average of my members. I’m working with some fantastic people. And it’s amazing. I mean, 10 years ago, I was an absolute nobody online. I still had a job. Can you believe that? I’d look around that dealership thinking, oh, I wonder, if that person over there was building my websites, if that person was writing articles, if that person was doing SEO, if that person was writing the products, I could actually have a business. And I ended up creating that and then selling it, and ending up now, I’ve got a team of five, I’ve got a fantastic little coaching business. It’s very profitable, I enjoy it, and it’s worked out great.
And I’ve been able to guide and coach some of the industry heavy hitters, the bright sparks like Ezra Firestone and Ryan Levesque and Keith Krance and Kevin Rogers and Tom Breeze. These people have been really interesting to work with. Andre Chaperon is another one. And they’re out there, and I’ve been able to help out people who were starting out as well, like Jarrod Robinson and Clint Paddison, Greg Merrilees – these are people who have had massive transformations.
But it’s the most satisfying to me because it reminds me of when I was back at the dealership. I used to hire salespeople and I’d train them up and I’d watch them get married and have kids and get a nice house, and I’d be a part of that journey. But it was sad when I left the dealership, because I didn’t get any benefit or residual from the work that I’d done. And now, I’ve been able to align my passion and my interest and my skill set with something that’s fruitful and sustainable.
A life of choice
So here I am. I’m writing books, I’m surfing, I’ve got a lot more freedom and enjoyment and satisfaction. And I’ve crafted a routine that I like as well. Importantly, I don’t work Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Mondays in terms of external appointments, and I’ve guarded those days for me. And that means I stack my work week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and I’m okay with that. That’s the deal that I’ve made. I’ve set the rules for my own game, and that’s how I prefer to play. And that’s where the leverage comes into it. And it’s a choice.
It wasn’t a choice in the beginning. Believe me, I was working harder than Gary Vaynerchuk. But the thing is, I realized that that is not a badge of honor. It’s not something to aspire to permanently, because it’s going to have an effect on your health, or your happiness, and also even your profitability. Scale for the sake of scale is probably not a meaningful goal.
“It’s really confronting to have so much available spare time.”
And there’s been so many changes. But the addition of extra time, the time to ponder and contemplate and think, is when you actually get the biggest challenges. It’s really confronting to have so much available spare time. And the thing is, if you don’t have that much scheduled, your day can actually feel like you’ve got so much time. And I know this might be hard to relate to if you’re in that first phase, because I wouldn’t have listened to myself and thought it was possible, but it really can come if you get that leverage and you’re disciplined with your routine. You can get to the point where you have all the time in the world. It feels like it, anyway.
Is it really important?
And you realize that not everything is that important. So many of the things that I worried about, or was concerned about, ended up just not being important. They weren’t significant, and I was probably worried about doing things that didn’t matter in the end. The amount of old products and domains – I mean, I had over 2000 domains. Can you believe that? The amount of notes and things that I wrote and listen to, and emails that I consumed, and posts that I’ve made that I’ve ended up just hitting Delete on – phenomenal, really phenomenal. And I realize more than ever, it’s really just a few vital things. And like I was saying earlier, things like my coaching community, I’ve just accelerated on that and leveraged it and let go of all the other stuff. And it’s become easier, but also a lot more profitable, which is counterintuitive, right?
“What’s different at $10 million than, say, $5 million?”
So I’ve really realized that I’m the boss of me, and I do question the way people do things or why they do things, and it’s a big conversation I have at the higher level in my programs. It’s why? Why $10 million as the goal? What’s different at $10 million than, say, $5 million? Or even $2 million? How will that make you a different person, and what would have to happen for you to achieve that, and are you happy once you get there? So these are interesting things.
The other thing is, you have more time for relationships, more tolerance, more compassion, more empathy. And of course, in that 10 years, I’ve watched my four children grow up into, predominantly, all but one of them are adults now, only one of them left at home. And it’s really quite fascinating to watch that journey.
So a few other things. It’s really important that you get your sleep. Sleeping better has been a massive priority for me. And I know that there were many years where I was drinking too much coffee, getting not enough sleep. I was probably irritable, overweight, unhealthy and a bit unhappy. And I fixed all of those things with better sleep and, of course, surfing.
Imagine if your life, you got to win, say, a $50,000 lottery every week or every month, or a million-dollar lottery each year. If you could win the lottery each year, what would life look like? Because that’s what it’s a little bit like, except that you don’t get to lose it all, you can keep some of it. Because the resources and the mindset that you’ve developed to build a business that is that profitable is something that helps you also retain some of it and make better decisions. And as you can afford the things that you couldn’t have before you don’t really need them or crave them as much. It’s quite bizarre.
The good of helping others
It’s also really good that you can support and help others. I think that’s something I really didn’t care that much about 10 years ago. If I were brutally open, I’d say helping other people was not on my list of things to do. And when I say people say that their motto is to create 100 millionaires by, you know, whatever, what I think, really, is that really the goal? Because I don’t buy it.
“Once you get to a better position, it’s great to help people.”
I think once you get to a better position, it’s great to help people. And I know now, I get tremendous satisfaction helping people out. I love going on to podcasts, trying to make some good content for the podcast owner. I like helping my members. I log in and I post answers every single day in SuperFastBusiness, in that membership. And it’s a passion. It has to be, because of how many posts I do. And just for the numbers, I do around about 900 posts in a 30-day period, like 900 posts answering questions, so that’s my main job. But I do it in my own time. I don’t have to turn up at a set time; there’s no prerequisite to do X number per day. I do it when I feel the energy, when I feel that it’s the right time; when someone needs me, that’s when I’m there for them. So hopefully some of this is useful for you.
The other thing I’ve learned is I’m absolutely responsible for my outcomes. I have to take ownership of it. If I want a book to happen, I’ve got to drive it. And if I want to speak somewhere, or prepare a presentation, and there’s a deadline, it’s up to me to do it and get it done and turn up. So I have to turn up, and I’ve turned up to a lot of calls. If you think about eight years of doing two or three group calls a week, right, that’s eight times 100, it’s like 800 group calls that I would have turned up for and predominantly on time. No matter where I am in the world, no matter what time zone, that’s something I’ve committed to. And there’s still individual stuff around that as well.
The other thing is, you can eat better, because I actually spend quite a lot of time planning and preparing food. I cook a lot, I source good ingredients, I think about what I’m eating and it’s benefiting me.
Of course, I go to the beach every day. It’s a part of my soul. It’s moved from something that I do more into who I am. And I want to just put this out there, that you do not have to do this alone. You don’t have to be alone. The whole time, I’ve had a group. Now, even if it’s my own customers, I’ve had my forums for nine years now. I’ve always had people around me, sharing, collaborating, going on that journey together. And I really like that. I think that’s something that is special. And I love it when people post successes, because I know that they’re starting to experience some of these things that I’m talking about.
Here’s the big takeaway for me, and this is sort of a quote that I put on my Instagram during the week, but I think it’s true. You can change almost every aspect of your life over a decade. Think about that. No matter where you’re at now in life – because if you go back in my life 10 years ago, I was putting on a suit and tie every day, driving into someone else’s business to build it up, under enormous pressure, with mortgages, with young kids, I’m not sure about what I’m going to sell or where. And I went from that to having a good degree of freedom and satisfaction and reward and recognition and fun.
I’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve built things that I’m proud of. And I have amazing relationships and it’s been good. So the then James took action that benefits me now. And what I’m trying to do now is take actions that benefit the future James, the James in the future.
So if you’re listening to this, I’m not trying to piss you off or get you annoyed at how amazing my life is. I’m here to say, no matter where you’re at, no matter what struggle you’re having, no matter how overloaded or overwhelmed you are, or how difficult it seems, if you give yourself 10 years, you can really make a difference. If you enlist my help, I’ll make sure that you do it in five or three or two. I’m really passionate about that, because that’s what I do now.
Anyway, this episode was about the 10 years. I know other people like to celebrate big time and have special launches and sales or whatever else. I guess I’m a little more low key, but I really was reflecting a bit. What a 10 years it’s been. And would it be interesting if I can do another episode on this topic in 10 years from now, and we’ll listen back and see where we went in those 10 years. I hope I’ve improved my surfing a bit and published a few more books and been able to help a couple more business owners succeed in their business.
I’m James Schramko, you’ve been listening to SuperFastBusiness.com, and I want to thank you for your support and I really appreciate you listening to these podcasts. It means a lot to me.
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