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01:19 – How James met Steve
04:40 – Going from rockstar to full-time caregiver
08:10 – How Rockstar Mind started
10:49 – Steve’s emotional transformation
15:21 – What VOID Cancer is about
17:46 – From zero to bestseller
23:57 – That lightning-in-a-bottle moment
26:37 – The importance of having a coach
29:35 – Steve’s book-writing process
31:17 – Typing or talking?
33:32 – Getting the right amount of feedback
41:11 – Some parting advice
Get your business moving in the right direction with James’s personal coaching
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 642. And today, we’re going to be talking about music. We’re going to be talking about cancer. We’re going to be talking about books and publishing and a heroic sort of transformation. And for that, I’ve brought along my special guest, Steve Mastroianni from Toronto, Canada. Welcome.
Steve: Thanks so much, man. Thanks for having me.
James: Love chatting with you. We’ve had a few great chats over the years, haven’t we?
How James met Steve
James: We haven’t published one before though, so this will be fun. A little bit of the introduction as to how we met. Simply put, the time that I was helping out Ryan Levesque with his business, he invited me over to Texas to attend his ASK masterclass. And I sat through the full-on workshop, it was a pretty intensive course, the thick workbook and USB stick of templates. And the goal was to go through and perform some of the ASK methodology on my own website, and to understand it, so that I could actually help him with tuning his courses and programs. And obviously, that’s been really successful for Ryan. And at that event, he had a lot of his supporters there, some students and people who are experienced practitioners at the ASK methodology to be in the room and to help out the attendees. And you were one of those people, Steve, and that’s where we first met, and you’re giving me some great insights as to how to approach the methodology.
It’s a simple idea, but it’s a little bit harder in execution, I found. And through the discussions that we had, we ended up refining what is now at SuperFastBusiness.com. That homepage chooser was from the initial deep dive survey. And the way that it sequences through was a combination of me going through the material, having some coaching from you, Steve, and also from Ryan himself, giving me some inputs on especially that second level chooser where we put an income or profit classifier. But the combination of all of that means that people have a more seamless experience through the way that SuperFastBusiness works.
Through that process of dealing with you, I got to learn your keen sense of humor, but also a very touching story of your own career trajectory of being a musician and on some of the big famous stages. And you’ll probably tell us a little bit about some of the artists you’ve worked with. And you have some cool stories around that. And also, you went into a phase of your life where you became a full-time carer. I’d love it if you could just sort of bring us into that part of your life because it gives us great context, you know, rock star with some crazy hair and tattoos and a brilliant skill, and then having to change paths. How did that all unfold?
Steve: Yeah definitely, man. And it’s interesting hearing you talk about the intensive and bringing me back to that. I think it’s worth noting that our first ever encounter, I was kind of looking around, and I think you described it as, sort of, like a puppy dog walking around the room at Ryan Levesque’s intensive, where you knew I wanted to help someone so bad. And I still remember, your hand being raised so far, like you reaching out your hand to get my attention, to start chatting about business, and how you could use the ASK method. It’s a memory that stands out in my mind. And I’m so grateful that you did because, you know, your guidance as I’m sure will be evident in this chat, has been just so huge for focusing me and inspired me to take action. So it’s interesting because that’s the main thing I think about James Schramko and the Ryan Levesque Austin sort of intensive is, that you had your hand out so far to get my attention. So I love that.
Going from rockstar to full-time caregiver
And yeah, I mean, my story is very weird because all my life I wanted to be a musician, and I’m a self-taught musician. One thing led to another, and I ended up getting signed by Gene Simmons. He had a record label called Simmons Records. And he was looking for talent in Canada, specifically, because his wife, Shannon Tweed, is from Canada. She was born in Canada. And so he spent a lot of time here, he knew there’s a lot of talent here. And the band that I was playing in, at the time, The Envy, we were the first signing. We just leveraged our skills from all the different bands we were in before. We formed that band. And one thing led to another, it happened really fast. We got into a major label deal with Universal Records and Gene Simmons. And we really enjoyed the process because Gene really loves music. And, you know, there’s a lot of, I guess, negative connotation to his character. I think he’s hilarious. I think that he’s a genius business person. And I was really excited to get to know them and start working with them. So one thing leads to another. We tour with Kiss, we tour with a bunch of really big bands and pretty much at the top of the world. That goes on for a while.
And it was during a really tough time in the music industry where rock bands weren’t really on the charts and we’re being pressured to write hits and, you know, Spotify and all the streaming stuff was starting to come out. It was a really awkward time. Anyway, we were kind of masterminding what to do in 2013. And at that time, I got a phone call from my father telling me that he’s been diagnosed with stage four Colon Cancer. And I mean, you can imagine my mind wasn’t on anything like that. Like, I was in a different city every single day. And I mean, people weren’t even calling me Steve. Like, my stage name is Void. And so, I was living this sort of life that was very, very different than what it ended up being soon after that. I mean, I had to put my career on pause. I mean, my dad has been up until that point, my biggest fan and so this is my chance to sort of take care of him. Like, he supported me and he was always behind me. And so, I put everything on pause. I became his primary caregiver. All of a sudden, I’m just Steve. I’m just in the same city every day. I had a bit of an identity crisis during that time. But I mean, realistically, like, that’s family first. I knew what I had to do. And so yeah, I became his primary caregiver at that time.
James: How’s that, I mean, that’s a very touching shift, like, to just abandon your dreams and your hopes and your new identity. I was just talking to Todd Herman recently about alter egos, that you actually transformed from Clark Kent to Superman, in a way, even though that’s not how it works. In Superman, Superman is the guy, and Clark Kent is his identity. You’ve gone from Steve to Void, and now you’ve just drag back. It must have been almost, I don’t know if humbling or humiliating, in some ways, like, to get knocked off the perch?
Steve: Yeah, it was tough. It was definitely tough. It was a lot of things. There were a lot of layers to process. It was all, you know, all that stuff was in my downtime, like I would think about it, or I feel something. I feel weird about being in one spot. I have this natural urge to want to create and to move fast, and all of a sudden, I’m sitting in an emergency room on my birthday, I was supposed to be in New York, and I’m in an emergency room with my dad. And it was this thing, he just called me that morning to basically, like, we have to go to emergency. And it’s like another emergency room. And it’s just there was a lot of unexpected turns that it was a lot to deal with.
How Rockstar Mind started
And so one of the main things that I had to do to kind of keep my sanity, because I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to anybody involved – myself, my dad, the band and the fans, it wouldn’t be fair to anybody if I was continuing with that, with my music career. Because at that time, it was just there’s so much unpredictability that I would have to cancel like crazy. There was so many cancellations, even for things that I plan to do at home. And so I needed to create something that wasn’t going to rely on me being elsewhere. Like I could pretty much operate from anywhere, even in an emergency room. And so I started an online business. And at this point, I was teaching guitar for years. I mean, this is how I originally made money before getting into bands. And so I just translated a lot of the things that I did to guitar and the guitar niche, and I learned marketing through having a company. So this company, Rockstar Mind, was my idea where I would help guitar players. It would kind of be my guinea pig to to learn about marketing and test different things. And I could operate this all while I was taking care of my dad.
James: And this is where you learned the methodologies that helped you create an income, that was more leveraged than having to show up and play a gig and then divide up the spoils if there were some. It must have been feast and famine when you were out on the road.
Steve: Yeah, it’s definitely tricky. I mean, there’s so many different ways to make money as a musician. But yeah, there are tough times, for sure, even as a major label act. It doesn’t mean that everything’s taken care of, you know, it’s just major labels are great at getting a ball that’s already rolling, push it further and faster. But yeah, it’s definitely tricky. And so when I have something like leveraging some of my, you know, IP, and I come up with a concept and I can record a video and then someone from across the world can buy that the same day. Yeah, I mean, that was really exciting prospect, for sure.
James: I’m learning more about this music industry as we accumulate a lot of music industry members of my own coaching world. We’ve got everyone from bass guitar through to saxophone these days. You’ve seen a few other members in the SuperFast community, even from the guitar space. And I think you know some of them but it, you know, seems to be expanding because we’re getting a lot of success with members.
You said you like to create and you like to move fast. And I think those skills have been coming in handy lately, especially since we’ve been chatting about how you progress Rockstar Mind. And that was a really interesting thing.
But just before I do that, I just wanted to reflect on this. How did your relationship with your dad impact the way that you feel about having a child? Because now that you’re a family man and you’re the dad, did that give you some sort of emotional transformation?
Steve’s emotional transformation
Steve: A hundred percent. So that’s a great question. Because taking care of my dad was a very, very intense experience. The two years that I spent with them before he passed, they were, you know, that guy was my best friend. I mean, he’s my biggest fan. And we just really stuck together and we had, you know, trials and tribulations, I promised him to get back on the golf course, that I’d help him get back, even when it seems super grim. And we got back onto the golf course on July 22, 2014.
And, you know, when the cards are stacked against you, and you have a victory like that, it feels really great. We didn’t know how long he’d live after that. But that was a very, very important day. I’m naturally a coach and so I was his rock. And so when he passed, it was a very definitive time in my life, where it’s kind of, I was lost, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, that very strong male figure in my life was gone. And, you know, when I met my wife, and we start talking about having kids, I’m this guy who wants to, like, you know, I’m sort of forever young and thinking like, being a dad, that’s sort of, that’s weird. And I’m thinking about like, that, it’s going to limit me and all these things. And then I have this other thought that seems more like a deeper, you know, like, low-level thought, where it’s like, I feel like I’ll fully understand my relationship with my dad, I’ll fully understand myself when I become a father. I mean, there are things that I just can’t understand, unless I’m a father. And it was one of the things. That might sound weird that that’s one of the motivators to, you know, to procreate, to have a child. But because of that deep relationship that I had with my father, I felt like that would be transformative, to be a father myself. And it totally has been. I mean, it comes with challenges, for sure, especially trying to operate a business at home with a newborn. It’s just challenge after challenge. However, those challenges are nothing compared to, you know, being able to bond with your kid, and be able to just in those early stages, and just the lessons that you learn and how you thrive, despite some challenges, like, you know, distractions, every five minutes.
James: Kids teach you so much about life. I mean, before they’re even here, they’re already manipulating you into creating the right environment for them. You have to go and acquire things to be able to care for them. You have to go and do training to understand.
Steve: Yeah, basically, you have to level up.
James: Basically, it is next level. I’ve often joked about, I don’t take the advice of 25-year-old book authors too seriously until they’ve had a few kids. You don’t know anything about life, really, until you’ve had kids. They’re next level. It really is, like the bigger boss in the game compared to the entry-level screen.
“You don’t know anything about life, really, until you’ve had kids.”
Steve: Yeah, and it’s also, it’s very cool because you’re simultaneously tapping into your parent mode, and you’re tapping into your child mode, where you are kind of, you sort of feel like, Okay, well, you know, cool it. Like, just have fun, like play like a kid, and you can loosen your grip. But then at the same time, you have this utmost responsibility that you’ve never had before. And, and it’s happening, you know, concurrently, right? So this is, again, another identity crisis, kind of figuring out that, negotiating that. But again, I mean, if your experience is anything like mine, even in the most stressful times, it could be the littlest thing, whether it’s a smile, like a little fart, or something, it can make your day. Every day, I was laughing hysterically. And that’s what would really keep me sane.
James: Yeah. The fact that you can be at home to bond with your child, that is just quite rare. Still, it’s often been something for the mother. I remember the first four kids, I was out grinding away. I had to produce, I had so much pressure. And when I look back, I just think, you know, that pressure, luckily, it created the diamond of the business that I have now. And the experience that I have, and all the battle scars I have make me quite helpful for other people who are yet to experience some of it. I had to go through all of that to be who I am now, and to have what I have now. And I’m good with that. But being at home with the baby, that’s next level life achievement, really. It’s something to be astonishingly grateful for.
What VOID Cancer is about
I’m interested, you know, you are in this phase, like, you went through the caregiving phase, you sort of popped out of the end of that. I imagine there was sort of a somewhat sad ending, and it gave you the drive to set up a foundation to really support people who are going through a similar thing. You call that voidcancer.com is your base for that. And that’s been a bit of a driver for you for some of your future projects, right?
Steve: A hundred percent. Yeah, VOID Cancer, it’s a fundraising initiative where I would use proceeds from sales of my guitar products, and really, you know, a lot of the different things that I would create as a way to create new programs for cancer patients and their caregivers. I’d hook up with different charities and offer profits, and just have programs that help educate people, just giving them an easier time than we had. And it goes hand-in-hand with what you just said about how, you know, the trials and tribulations, that you go through, the pressure you’re under, all those things at the time, for sure, it’s stressful. But naturally, being a coach, I think that those are really important experiences where people have it either the same or worse, that you can help them through that through actual experience. And so I always zoom out whenever I’m in a really tough situation. And I think you know what, this is really going to help someone because I naturally will persevere like, I’ll naturally figure out a way to come out on top. And when I always do that, I always aim to help people who are in a similar or worse situation,
James: You just got a huge heart. That’s one thing I know about you. You’re quite slim in reality, but a big heart must be taking up your whole chest.
Steve: Thank you, man.
James: I love talking to you about this because you’re a deeply caring person.
Now, when you and I started working together, you wanted to expand your sort of creative reach, and to produce more momentum in your music direction. And one thing I think you became aware of, you know, we’ve had a series of great guests. In Episode 599, we were talking to Scott Devine about how he built a 30,000 member bass guitar site. And one of our other members, James Eager, in Episode 615, he’d come back from the Maldives and he was talking about how he published his first book and put it on Amazon. And I think that sparked something for you perhaps, and you set about going from absolutely zero to publishing your book on Amazon within six weeks, from idea to complete production. And then, tell us what happened when you launched it on to Amazon, and the pre-launch phase. Where did it end up going?
From zero to bestseller
Steve: This has been the craziest experience of my life. That day with James’s podcast all the way to February 5th, has been an absolute sort of dream. It doesn’t seem real. I hit the send button on the announcement for the pre-order. And we hit number one bestseller in 30 categories across five different countries. And it was, like, I can’t even believe that that happened. I’ve had a lot of support along the way to help with the result. I’ve constructed a lot of different support systems and launch team and things like that. But to think that this book did not exist two months ago, and how fast everything has been happening. Idea to bestseller in six weeks, even for me, who I like to operate like a really fast pace. Even for me, that’s sort of shocking. I’m very proud of it, but it’s very, very shocking to me.
James: It was quite exhilarating, for me, like watching our private coaching discussions. Each time I would check on you, you’d made progress. And you are very excited about the next phase. It was like you’re pretty much moving at a rapid pace, but all by yourself. It was major, sort of giving you high-fives and encouraging you and supporting you that way. And of course, it was a pleasure to share news of this book.
The book is called “Practice Less, Play More”. It does have a good sound to it. It seems like a musical version of my book, “Work Less, Make More”.
Steve: There you go. That’s no accident, James. You are a huge inspiration in my life. When I am faced with a problem, I think, what would Schramko do? Because I know that that question comes with systems, simplicity, a lot of experience. And so when I thought to write the book that day, on the 21st, you were my sort of framework. It wasn’t even that you created a framework, you were my framework. And man, I have to say that, like, I’m used to working quickly. In 2018, I felt like a Ferrari that turned into a broken-down Chevy because it was very hard to work fast with a kid and a wife on maternity leave. Something that usually takes 45 seconds would take 45 minutes.
On the 21st, during the worst possible time that you could possibly start writing a book because of Christmas coming up, I ended up writing the book in five days. And I was just possessed. I wasn’t even writing it all the whole day. It was Christmas. It was Christmas visits and things. But I basically, any random time that I’d have, like, any idea I got or any chance that I got, I would just start writing. And it almost felt like cathartic. It felt like I’ve been wanting to write this book for years, and it just started happening.
James: You know, as you say that, it gave me this vision of one of our previous guests and someone who I’ve had the luxury of coaching, Chandler Bolt, who is this bright young kid I spotted at Traffic and Conversions many years ago. And he just put out his first book and he went on to build a bit of an empire in publishing. But in his stories, he writes about his brother who’s a musician. You’re like a mash-up between Chandler and his brother, you’re the musician who became the writer, like two characters in one. I think they actually did write a book together, one side of the page is white and the other was black. And they were simultaneously writing through the book. It was quite an interesting read.
Steve: That’s awesome.
James: So “Practice Less, Play More” just hit the charts and went berserk. You obviously hit a sweet spot in the market and you’ve gotten so excited about it. I think you’re already working on the next one.
Steve: Yeah, there are a lot of things that are happening from the excitement of this. The next book is in the works. I’m inspired to help people write their first book. I mean, I’m naturally a coach, and I follow sort of the model of “learn, apply, teach,” and I can’t help it. Even if you didn’t want to write a book, I’d probably talk about my book and talk to you about wanting or something that you do, and then the whole of that could turn into a book. I just naturally promote things that I’ve experienced. I know how much it lit me up. And so that’s something that I now want to focus on to help other people because I know how important it is. It’s already been for my business. People get so excited about the book, people are talking about ordering multiple copies when it comes out on the 26th and, you know, there’s so many things that stem from this book that I just want people in their own businesses to have that same experience.
James: Yeah, that’s what I like about you. You do document it and systemize it and you’re in a great position to help other people create their own thing. I’m like a huge fan of having a book. It’s definitely been pivotal for my last year or so since I published my book and my Audible. Even though I’m really strong in many areas, I still needed help to get my book out of me. I couldn’t have done it without Kelly Exeter because I was resisting certain aspects of it. I think putting that book out there can be really difficult because you have a big expectation on it. There is a lot riding on it. It does shift the needle and it could fizzle and that could be a bit of a hard hit to take, too, if you’re not a bestseller. Thankfully, you and I both did reach bestseller and that’s terrific. I’m even having Alan Dib speak at SuperFastBusiness Live about publishing your own book, as well. Because even though he doesn’t actually teach that or help people do it, he’s very busy with his one-page marketing plan empire. He did go through that process, as well. So I’m just so joyful to be surrounded by all these book publishers, especially people who haven’t considered themselves to be the person who’s going to be publishing a book. Probably on the 19th of December, you weren’t really thinking about publishing a book.
Steve: Oh my god, I sent you a message. I think it was on the 20th about how I was feeling kind of stuck, that I have all these things that I know how to do. I don’t feel like I’m aligned with what I’m like, okay, I actually I’m going to just stop right there. And I am doing things that I love doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love coaching. I love writing music and producing music, I’m having success with all these different things. But I don’t feel like it’s to the best of my ability. Like, I don’t feel like I’ve reached my potential in helping people and having a bigger impact.
That lightning in a bottle moment
And so I remember sending you a message about how, you know, we have these expenses coming up and I’m just thinking about all these different ways and it’s not red alert but I don’t know what to do. And there’s a little bit of desperation inside the message, as well. And I remember, because of the timezone difference, that you sent a message back kind of asking about, you know, why don’t you help business owners like you and you know, doing like what you used to do? And all I remember, I read that and that was right as I saw that podcast 615 with James Eager about the book. And then lightning hit, basically. And I remember sending you an update right after that, that had to do all with the book. Oh my god, I’m excited about this book. And oh my god, I wrote this outline. And oh my god, I have the first chapter and the cover designed. And it was just complete shift. And ever since that day, the 21st, I was just in full-pledged book mode.
James: Right. And you actually listened to the episode with James Eager, like, three times.
Steve: Yeah. And the crazy part, James, is that he reached out to me when I joined SuperFastBusiness. He reached out to me just because we’re musicians, and we had a chat for Friday at 11 AM. It was 11 AM Eastern. All this stuff happened at like 10 AM Eastern. And so, I listened to the podcast super, super fast and then I wrote the outline all before the meeting with him. It was just serendipitous that it all happened the way that it did, because I never knew he wrote a book. I didn’t even know this guy. But by the time we got on the call, I just had the biggest smile on my face. And I said, “Dude, you inspired me to do something crazy right now. I just had to tell you.” He had no idea what I was talking about, because I was so excited. And I was probably just stumbling over my words but it was just crazy how that happened. And ever since then, yeah, I mean, me and him are, you know, close friends now. And it’s just funny how it all pans out.
James: Yeah, it’s like you came alive. You went from that moment of, you know, pressure, and it’s really common. Like, a lot of the private coaching that I’m doing, I will see this a lot. People have got bits and pieces and they know they want to do more, they feel like they’ve got ability, they’re not quite stretching in the right place. And then my job is to help them, you know, remove the obstacles and get going forwards.
From that point on, you just came to life. The discussion thread we’ve had just like, took on many, many more posts and just got more and more exciting and interesting. And I think once I found out that you’re donating all of the proceeds from this book to VOID Cancer then I just knew, firstly, what kind of human you are. But it also made me want to share this with people who are in my community and a lot of them have come on and supported. I mean, I’ve even bought the book and I don’t play guitar but I think the idea of practicing less still sounds appealing. I might have to borrow my wife’s, who knows?
Steve: I appreciate that.
James: You might see me on a stage yet but I doubt it. But it was a pretty easy decision because it’s a great way of supporting something that’s useful. You’re creating something valuable.
The importance of having a coach
How was it for you in terms of that? Like, putting yourself, you’re there at the home, you’ve got probably cold weather time of the year where you live, I imagine. You’ve got a baby, the wife and thinking like that creative frustration. How important is it for you to have somebody who you can actually have a conversation with and to mull over ideas with, and share with in our private conversation?
Steve: Oh, you mean chatting with you about things like business and life and all that, that’s what you mean?
James: Yeah. Like, how important is that when you’re in that zone?
Steve: Unbelievably. Unbelievably important. Crucial. Whatever it is, it’s ten times more than crucial. It sounds ridiculous but I’m telling you, that last year was trying in so many ways. It was special and I cherish the time because I know how important that is for the bond that I created with my daughter, with my wife and our family, I know that. But I’m also a natural creator. And so chatting with you about whatever it was we were chatting about, whether it’s business, whether it was fatherhood, just that sanity that I was able to kind of get back and also the belief in myself. I mean, like I said before, I felt like a Ferrari that kind of turned into a broken down Chevy, because I used to work so fast. And I knew that that was what I had. And I remember one of my friends, Robert Michon, he told me, listen, you have to start doing what you really love doing (this is when I got back into music). He’s like, you have to do that now, because you’re never going to have this amount of energy again. And I thought, yeah, whatever, Robert. I mean, like, yes, of course but I never believed it until when I was, you know, six months or seven months into fatherhood. And I started feeling like, oh my god, I don’t know if I’m ever going to have that same energy again. And that’s the thing that I rekindled on the 21st. This never went away. Nothing went away. I just didn’t have the right direction necessarily. I wasn’t pointed to my North Star and I have to attribute that to you, man.
You provided the environment and the framework and the contacts and the ideas and the support, man. I joined SuperFastBusiness again on December 9th, I knew I needed someone in my corner. And what’s that, 12 days later? I have this lightning-in-a-bottle moment.
James: It sure was lightning in a bottle.
Let’s talk about some of the actions that you took. And thank you, by the way. It’s nice, I mean, I do log in every day. And I answer questions. And when people bust out and have a breakout success, I love to share it because it’s real, it actually happened. And it’s possible. That’s really the important message there. Because I think it can be quite isolating and difficult to do this all by yourself. And I feed a lot of the energy into that forum, you know. I’m kind of like the, I don’t know, it is kind of like parenting, in a way. But I do feel responsible, of course. I’m getting paid to do my job. And I want people to get success as much as they do. I want them to be successful. And it’s great when it happens. And it happens quite a lot. We see a lot of success discussions, and I’d like to feature a few of them here.
Steve’s book writing process
Let’s talk about some of the practical actions. Like for example, where do you put your notes? What is the process when you think, okay, I want to do the book, where do you tip all your ideas? What’s that process look like, from your side?
“Make it easy for yourself to create.”
Steve: Yeah, that’s a great question. One thing I understand is that I have to make it easy for myself to create. So I had to think of what were some of the obstacles in a situation. For me, it was that I was at home and there are distractions all over the place, and I might not be downstairs all the time or in my office and my studio. I mean, I had to make it easy. So when I was inspired, on the 21st when I made that first initial outline, I just did that on Evernote because I have a lot of my notes there. And it so happened to be Evernote. So I did the first outline of just, this is what I want to do in the book, kind of a rough outline brain dump. And then from there, I must have also done Notes, which is just the iPhone Notes program, because I needed to create a situation where on my main computer, my laptop and my phone, everything was accessible. So in the cloud, as well as I could do that on my phone if I needed to. Like, let’s say, if I was making my daughter a milk or whatever, at that time. So the outline was in notes. And then after that, I moved to to Scrivener, because Scrivener which is a great app, I got that for my computers. I got that on my phone, same thing. It’s all through the cloud. And anytime I had an idea, anytime I had a chapter like a blurb, anything and everything, I would just put into that. And then I would sit down and I’d, let’s say, organize it later or whatever might be. But everything was accessible in every device that I had. That was huge.
Typing or talking?
James: And once you collated your notes, then did you block times to sit down and refine them out? Was it all typing or did you do any talking?
Steve: I know a lot of people, they do the transcription route where they talk and I thought of that. I thought I might do that. Again, I didn’t have anybody. It was Christmas time so everyone was super busy. And I just went to the computer and I just started typing. And it didn’t matter if it was a blurb or if it was a full chapter, I just let myself type. I’m a big fan of the dreamer mode, putting on that hat and just letting it rip. Just not editing or anything like that. And then I just typed the whole thing. And I was averaging, I mean, it ended up being about 8000 words per day. But again, I weaved it through visits and dinner and I’d be upstairs for a bit, and I’d type on the phone. There were late nights, don’t me wrong. I would sleep at like two or three in the morning. And I’d be writing from like, let’s say 10 PM til one or 10 PM til two. So there were little blocks of time that I weaved through the day, but typing that was the best method for me. But I’ve heard people had great success with recording it and transcribing it as well.
James: Yeah, I think whatever works. It’s weird, I generally don’t type anything, but there was this one time when I sat down and I typed up an email every day. And I think it was for a Ryan Levesque launch. And that’s when Kelly said, “These would be good stories for your book.” I don’t know where it came from. I just channeled it and just typed. I don’t even type normally. And it’s just (swoosh sound) but almost everything else, I talk. That’s my preferred medium.
And then once you’ve got the book filled out, you’ve typed it all up, what sort of process did you go through after that?
Steve: Yeah, great question. This is a really crucial one right here is that either read the book out loud, or what I like to do, it’s kind of a strange thing, but because I listen to audiobooks like crazy, I actually turn the text into speech. So I take all of my text, so chapter by chapter, and I just listened to it. And I’ve gotten used to the computer voice, Alex, on a Mac. That’s the best one that I found so far. The pronunciation is great and I just listened to it. And I just listen for anything that sounds off, that doesn’t sound like what I would say, or how I would say it. And then I’ll just make little tweaks. I went through every chapter like that. Again, similar, you could also just read it out loud. But it’s very important that you read it through.
Getting the right amount of feedback
And then what I did after that was I went to two of my customers who are the most loyal customers, knew my systems and everything, the best, better than everyone. And I asked them to read the book and give me feedback, because I wanted to make sure, like, I don’t know whether it’s hard headed, or, you know, I just have a vision for this, I knew that I wasn’t gonna make a crazy amount of changes, like the book was the book. But what I wanted to make sure of was that it sounded like me, so the voice was correct. And I communicated the message and the system that they know. So that was my request to them is like, does this communicate what I’ve been teaching you? And so they made notes on it. And then I incorporated the feedback that I thought, yeah, I missed a couple of things. Yeah, perfect, great. I’m going to put that in there. And you gave me the idea to just get two people because I think it could get pretty out of control if there were too many.
James: Oh, gosh, if you get too much feedback, then you’re just going to have a book by committee, and it’ll be trash.
Steve: Yeah, I agree.
James: And a lot more work. I actually was reading my draft on the way to the Maldives. And on the Maldives trip, I gave the draft to Adrian Crawford who’s a great customer of mine. But the thing I like about him, he doesn’t pander to all the online stuff. He really respects my approach to the online space because he’s running Porsche dealership and he can relate to my old world and the new world. He gave me great little notations like, this is really valuable, it would be good to expand it or, not sure if someone knows what this means, etc. And then the second week because it was a two-week trip, I gave it to someone who was just starting out, like, absolutely brand-spanking new to the online world. And that was Ian Freestone. Gave him the book transcription to read through and he made lots of notes. He did a few grammatical changes and also like question mark, what’s this, and that helped me tune the book for a non-internet savvy person.
Steve: Very smart.
James: Yeah, so that, you know, I would explain something, if I use the word affiliate, I would then say, this means selling someone’s product for a commission. So I’d actually long hand out any sort of jargon or remove it completely. So those two people, combining with me and Kelly was enough, there’s this four people involved in that whole process.
The only other filtering I had was actually my parents, where I asked them to read the parts and only the parts that mentioned them to get editorial approval, because I didn’t want to publish it and sour the relationship with my parents. It was important for me to be respectful, you know, about the parts that involve my upbringing. Because I know that they gave me a great upbringing, they’re tremendous parents and I think it would have been difficult for them where I’m broaching the subject of, you know, the financial setbacks that occurred when I was a kid. And that’s the only thing I did that’s like a family whitelist, if you like.
Steve: Yeah, for sure. Well, also, I’m sure for accuracy as well. Maybe even just to confirm that that actually happened the way that you described it.
James: That’s really interesting that you say that because you can definitely distort things under immense times of pressure. And, you know, I had a bit of a debate with my dad over a couple of the final items like the timing, the years, etc. I wanted it to be historically accurate. And I’d noticed that he changed his lens on what happened slightly than the way I’d remembered it. And so that was really interesting in itself. But we ended up having a mutual agreement around about how things went down. And, you know, I’ve produced a book that I can proudly show off to my family, and not not feel like it’s upsetting anyone.
But I wanted to get the story, the story was important, because that story is what made things down the track occur. And without the story, it was going to be a weaker book.
“The story was important.”
So yeah, I think that the general tip there is don’t show it to too many people, you’ll just be dragged all over the place so be strategic about that.
And then from there, so you’ve sort of tuned it up a bit, what comes next?
Steve: Yeah. And then after that, it was very important to get the book formatted. I don’t know how to do that. That was really the only thing that I hired out for. What’s funny, I didn’t mention the cover, I’ll just quickly talk about that. Because I don’t know, I guess I just have a knack for putting some things together. I’ve used Photoshop quite a bit. And one very important sort of hack, at least for myself, was, I knew that while I was inspired, I needed to hook myself in. And so what I did was, when I wrote the first chapter, that’s usually enough to kind of do it. It’s like, Okay, well, I already I’m in I’ve got, you know, foot in the door. But I got the book, the cover designed. So the cover design after that, I don’t know. Sorry if you could hear that over here.
James: That’s alright.
Steve: So the book, the cover was designed and then I turned it into a 3D mockup, where it was a real thing. Like, for me, I needed to see the book as a real thing for it to be a real thing in my mind. And when I’m making a real thing, that means that, oh, cool, I just have to finish it. It is not a figment of my imagination anymore. It’s not something that could get compromised by any distractions or obligations. And so I made that cover really early on in the process. And if you don’t obviously know how to design or if you don’t have design skills, then I would hire out as soon as possible and get that going. Because for me, that was super powerful, having a cover going.
So having all of that, I got the book formatted, I put together a launch team of people from my list – customers, subscribers, anybody who wanted to help out, who wanted to see the process of a launch, or just they have some skills that might be helpful, things like that, they wanted to support the cause. And so I built a launch team of about 40 people. And I asked them a bunch of questions. I really opened the door to what was going on. It’s like, okay, I’ll ask them an honest question, do you like this, or do you like that. I was already at the point where there’s any little, just little finishing touches, nothing was going to derail the process at this point. And so I just leveraged their skills and their support and their network that they wanted to share. And just really great people that I trust and really admire. And that was a big part of the success, was making sure that I had a team of people who were doing work that I didn’t necessarily have to do, because at that point, I was, you know, I still have other things, other obligations to take care of. And so I really needed other people to be involved at this point.
James: Nice. And then, of course, you end up loading it up to the platform and setting prices and a little bit of around the campaign there. But the pre-sales thing is basically letting as many people know about it, what’s possible, and racking up those pre-sales so that you can go to market with a big bang.
James: Steve, we could talk about all the little, fun, technical stuff. But I think at this point, someone who is tempted to get help with this might just reach out directly to you. I’m sure they can get in touch with you at voidcancer.com.
James: Check out “Practice Less, Play More” on Amazon. And it’s going well in all the markets, which is fantastic.
I really appreciate you coming and sharing this story. Because I’ve been watching it from behind the scenes. And, you know, I get to see this stuff unfolding on a daily basis across my community. But it’s great when we can actually put a spotlight on a success, show where you came from to get this.
In short, you went from needing help to getting a very good result in quite a short space of time. But you put in a tremendous amount of resilience and action, and you did the work and you got the right help. And you’re now going to be able to harvest that for many years. Wait till those money go into your account each month from your Amazon royalties, and you’re able to send that off to the charities. It’s going to be a good feeling.
Some parting advice
James: Any final words of wisdom for our listeners?
Steve: Yeah, you know, when you’re inspired to do something, you have to do everything you can to harness that, to be obsessed with it. I found that my limit is kind of two weeks. If you know, if I don’t take action within two weeks, then it’ll eventually burn out. And so when you’re inspired, just ride that wave of inspiration, make it easy for yourself to create, model other people’s success.
I mean, and number one is done is better than perfect. There are still a couple of typos that I found here and I’m keeping them on purpose. There’s still time to change them, but I’m keeping them on purpose as a constant reminder to me that done is better than perfect.
“Done is better than perfect.”
James: Great advice there. Thank you so much. So Steve Mastroianni, voidcancer.com, author of “Practice Less, Play More”. It’s been an absolute pleasure, to your continued success. It will be really good to have you in a future episode talking about what happened after this because I have a feeling there are more chapters in your story.
Steve: Thanks so much, man. It was a blast. I really appreciate it.
James: There you go. If you liked this episode, please share it with someone who you know could do with a little bit of a supercharge, that would like to get inspired to create something from scratch and to get up and running. Steve’s story is so inspiring and all for a great cause. Look forward to catching up with you on a future episode. I’m James Schramko. This is SuperFastBusiness.com.
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