I Love Marketing’s Dean Jackson is flying back to the States after a week in Manly. On the ride to the airport, he and James exchange thoughts and insights on the subject of creating and living one’s ideal lifestyle. Listen in and gain practical gems from their conversation.
03:14 – The zone approach
04:41 – Benefiting from time differences
06:10 – Putting off the inbox
08:09 – Your natural 8 hours
10:33 – Up and out in Manly
14:00 – How do you spend the first 90 minutes of your day?
14:45 – Dean’s 3 zones
16:56 – Achieving goals thru the conveyor belt concept
18:18 – The power of deadlines
19:44 – Lifestyle = style your life
20:56 – Technology to manage your time
26:46 – How to avoid the desk trap
28:02 – Music to get you in the focus zone fast
29:50 – Dean’s power positions
32:23 – Knowing your priorities
32:35 – Avoid this if you want to stay on track
33:34 – What are your wins?
35:41 – The movie of your life
37:15 – The essence of A Perfect Life
39:41 – The 5 contexts of our lives
42:30 – Choice and compromise
47:00 – Intentionally think like an immigrant
51:15 – Connected with the global community
55:25 – Lead with revenue, lag with lifestyle
57:27 – Parting at the airport
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James: Right. I think that’s recording. I’m going to check. Yup. So we have, hopefully, we’ve got whatever we say we’ve recorded. Have you lost recordings before?
Dean: I have, yeah. It’s heartbreaking. Typically we have the re-done through record over the telephone, with…
James: A local device as well?
Dean: Yeah. And then record over GarageBand. And that’s how we’ve done it. But since we’ve switched to UberConference it’s just, just over the phone, so, yeah, probably got to lost one.
James: There was some movie with a comedian and he had a podcast in it and they lost a recording and his partner went crazy. Joel and I lost a recording, with an American sitcom star. It was so disappointing. And then a week or so later we recorded with another comedian who was just terrible. We decided to just cut the whole thing.
Dean: Oh, that’s funny. You know, Kevin Rogers, one of his best friends is a guy from Mike and Molly.
Dean: it’s a big show in the States. So, you know what we should do is, we’ve been doing A Perfect Life podcast, me and Richard Rossi, and I think that the things that we’ve been doing this week is really like, I think that’s the biggest thing. Because we’ve had sort of incidental conversations about marketing, but it hasn’t really been the focus, you know? I think what was really evident through the week is the total focus on lifestyle.
Dean: Living. On living, and that’s, you know. So I’ll tell you my reflections on the week, because it’s kind of out of my normal routine. Your routine while you’re here is probably 80% the same as…
James: Yeah, It’s much closer to my normal routine with slight subtleties.
Designing Your Day According to Zones
Dean: And so this was a confirmation for me, one of the things that I’ve been playing around with is having a zone approach to my day. And by that I mean breaking it down into sections of the day that are reserved for certain things. And I’ve just had, at every turn, a kind of confirmation that that’s on the right path.
I was having a conversation with Taki Moore, my breakthrough part for the event, and he was saying that, I think it was Philippe Starck the designer, that their voice mail, when you call their office, says, “Hello, you’ve reached Philippe Starck. At Philippe Starck the mornings are for thinking, and the afternoons are for doing, so we will return your call in the afternoon.” If you call there in the morning kind of thing. And that is pretty interesting because Eben Pagan may have talked about this, that the longer you can stretch out your day without the world knowing you’re there, the better it is for you to stay on track.
James: And I’m thinking that when you travel, you have big spots where your traditional market are literally asleep.
Dean: Well for me, I noticed when I started the tour, I went to London, well I started in Orlando, Toronto, London, I was in the UK for three weeks, and what I was sharing with you that I found delightful about that, is that they’re five hours ahead. So you know, it was two o’clock in the afternoon, before anybody in my office or on the east coast of the United States was even awake. And that just felt so luxuriously my own time, in a way. It’s kind of odd because I don’t really have a lot of appointments or any expectations of my time but even just that conscious awareness that people are, it is in sort of traditional business hours.
James: And I think that has been a good advantage for me with my team starting three hours after me, because I get the mornings to myself. And by far the biggest change in my entire business zone structure is to work on my own stuff before I go for the inbox. I used to be there before breakfast checking, see what catastrophic things had happened overnight. But now I’m not likely to see my emails until mid-morning.
Avoiding the OCD Loop
Dean: So that’s something that I’m sort of playing around with. Like that is something my sort of natural thing is to wake up, and I think like most people, my iPhone is right there, and you know, the first thing is to pick it up and there you see whatever’s come in. You know, you do your little, you you know it’s funny I call it it the OCD loop. You kind of check your Facebook, check your email, check some stats or something, whatever’s important, and then see what’s going on, and then by the time you’ve done that first loop, you’re back to checking Facebook again to see what else has come up.
James: And as soon as you’ve touched the phone, your brain is switched on for the day.
James: I sort of rationalize that, well, I’ve just been asleep for eight hours. What’s another hour or two?
Dean: Well, that’s where I’m getting.
James: Who’s to say I wasn’t sleeping for ten?
Dean: Yeah. Well, Joe Polish, we were talking about this too. But he doesn’t keep his phone in the bedroom. He keeps it downstairs, because he knows that if it’s there, he’ll be waking up in the middle of the night and checking it and texting people.
James: That’s what I do. I leave my phone plugged into my computer, and that’s it. There’s no technology for me once I go for sleeping time.
What are Your Hours?
Dean: Yeah. So I’ve found, talking about that zone, one of the things Richard and I have talked about is a perfect day. It’s part of a perfect life. And one of the things that we’ve had conversations about is, if you could sleep any eight hours, without regard to social norms or anything like that, what would be the eight hours that you would sleep, what would be your natural?
James: Well, see, I used to think it was different to what I did think. Because I’ve always felt that I can sleep whatever hour I want anyway.
Dean: Yeah, me too, right.
James: So I was doing the 2 or 3 a.m. to 10:30 to 11 a.m. stretch. But when I shifted to the sea, and I had the sun touching me on the face first thing in the morning, with no blinds, I now go to bed at 10:30, wake up at 7 sort of you know, 6:30, 7, 7:30. And that’s now been far more productive for me.
Especially when my routine is actually to cruise down to the surf shop, get a coffee, come back, and then I hit my first projects, whether it’s an appointment with someone else or something I need to do for my business. That the highest priority. Only after that do I see what the rest of the world has for me.
Dean: Right. So that’s kind of where I’m headed now. Like when I go back, because I haven’t been back in Florida since May. I left middle of May. I went up to Toronto for three weeks and then the U.K. for three weeks and then back to Toronto, and I’ve been on the road since literally May 18th. And I will be flying back to the States today and go see Frank Kern for a few days and then go up to Toronto and we’ll move to Connecticut for Brian Kirk’s Titans Event and then back to Florida. So September 13th, June, July, August, for months I’ve been literally on the road.
So the interesting thing now is seeing the similarities in the way that my natural rhythm goes now. Like even across lots of different time zones, I kind of fall into that rhythm of kind of 11 o’clock to 7 o’clock.
The Manly Routine
And I’ve found that even here, like that’s kind of been our routine this week, which is delightful, it’s very similar to my routine when I’m in Florida, except being here in Manly, being able to wake up and just go downstairs and walk somewhere. You know, we had our pick of lots of different great cafes, lots of really great cafes and restaurants. So we kind of got into that routine of…
James: Up and out.
Dean: Yeah, up and out, go for breakfast.
James: Basically my first goal of the day is to get out of the house.
James: And then I’ll always have an afternoon get out of the house.
James: It’s a minimum of twice a day.
Dean: Right. So we kind of got into a three times a day routine. I was experimenting with that. We’d go for coffee, then we’d come back by say, 9 or 9:30 and then get together again for lunch. And so I had, those mornings were really great for me, just being…
James: And it was a non-car week for you.
Dean: No car, yeah.
James: It’s really rare to drive.
Dean: Yeah, which is fun. So I’m really enjoying that. I noticed that, sharing with you, living at the Four Seasons down at Toronto, being in Yorkville, and waking up, getting out and literally everything that I could want is 500 paces away.
James: Village living.
Dean: Village living. City village living. I mean, it’s kind of an interesting thing, and even Manly, it just takes that and continues it, but adds kind of that beach vibe to it.
James: We’ve got a beach, and then a harbor, and city access. Half an hour from the city.
Dean: Yesterday, we were able to walk, it’s 15 minutes to the ferry, 10 to 15 minutes to the ferry, and we had to move quickly because…
James: We timed it down perfectly.
Dean: And we got on the ferry and then 30 minutes on this beautiful ferry ride into Sydney Harbor and you’re at Circular Quay, which is the Sydney city living, right there. And still no car. You’re just walking.
I’m realizing that’s a difference than someone in Winter Haven. It’s kind of more spread out. You can’t really walk anywhere. But the routine is still the same. I get up and I go to cafe latte, and then I go to my office.
The change now, for me going forward, is I really am going to strive for the no electronics or whatever until 1 o’clock, that’ll be my ideal, I think. Like if I could get up, get walking, get exercise, get to the cafe, have breakfast, go to my office and have that first zone, from say 10:30 to 1, as just uninterrupted on my highest priority.
A funny thing, because I was with Robin Sharma in Newport Beach, and then I read, I did a lot of reading and looking at blogs and stuff and I saw an article from him on 99u.com, about his 90-90 challenge or something like that where spending the first 90 minutes of your day on your number one priority for 90 days is just life-changing. We didn’t talk about that when we were together, but…
James: It’s a lot like the Richard Koch.
Dean: And that’s another thing. I got to watch… that was the great thing. So of the three zones, I was saying now, I call it the milking zone, in the morning, we’re producing milk, you know? If I take my self-milking cow analogy that I’m producing milk in the morning.
And then the afternoons will be for people, with any appointment, any interaction with my team, with any conference calls, teleclasses, recording podcasts, all of that, anything to do with other people will happen in that afternoon zone. And then what I really enjoyed was the evening zones of rather than watching TV or doing those things, I’ve been watching videos and just kind of like the learning zone. It’s a beautiful rhythm.
James: The consumption.
Dean: The consumption zone. And it’s a beautiful rhythm.
James: The best time of the day is when you’ve exhausted all your willpower and energy.
James: I actually feel tired at the end of the day, especially since I’ve incorporated vigorous exercise activity like surfing.
Dean: Surfing every day.
James: I know that I have to take on my biggest challenges early, because I don’t feel that I have the energy at the end of the day. And I think that’s probably healthy, because when I go to bed I’m actually tired and I don’t use alarm clocks and…
Dean: Yeah, me neither.
James: I don’t have any… it’s just a very natural feeling.
Dean: Yeah, that’s interesting. Those kinds of zones as the building blocks of a perfect day, but you and I were talking about Lucy, about the movie Lucy.
Dean: And the interesting thing, I found it fascinating, just the part where the whole relationship was time.
Green Line Time and Conveyor Belts
Dean: And kind of independently, you and I had come to this kind of sort of similar approach to green line time. I was calling it, I wasn’t calling it “green line time” but I was thinking about it in blocks.
James: And I was thinking about it like a conveyor belt. And it sort of plays on the ideas of goals and ambitions and the gap that we hear about. It’s looking forward to things in the future, and like the goal is surely to place positive things on that conveyor belt that are coming towards you that you can look forward to. If you could have only good things, and then no bad things, time could slow down for you and it wouldn’t be a problem because you’ve always got something more coming and it’s only good stuff.
But when you’ve got red blocks, like bad things coming that you have to do. Like once a year I used to do all my own tax. For about two days I would tip all my papers out on this huge 1 ½ x 1 ½ metre table and spend two days going through my numbers once a year, and I dreaded that. I’d see that coming down the conveyor belt and I was not looking forward to that.
So you actually spend time feeling not good about something even before you get there. So being able to remove that by instigating a system of bookkeeping and using technology…
Dean: It’s funny how deadlines will do that.
James: Deadlines do that.
Dean: You know, I saw, there was this graphic that had like a long line, it was an infographic of how projects get done. So it was like on the left end, Project Assigned, and then on the far right end was Deadline. Then it was divided into two parts with like 95% of the time from the left towards the deadline as open and marked as Goofing Off, and then the last little 5% of the time, All The Work Done While Crying. How Projects Actually Work – All The Work Done While Crying.
James: It kind of fits in with the zone because you have a daily deadline first thing to get rid of the thing that’s likely to require the most energy. Our mutual friend John Carlton reiterated the power of deadlines for me because it’s what you have to install in your sales messaging, is to have a requirement for something to happen. Otherwise, it’s kind of open-ended. Nothing does happen.
Dean: Right. Yeah, isn’t that something? And you know, I kind of love that approach. It is a kind of relaxing approach to knowing where to fit things.
James: The clue in the world lifestyle is the style part. If you could actually style your life to have more green blocks coming down the conveyor belt and less red blocks, then your whole life is enjoyable and like Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” And I still have stuck to the side of my filing cabinet is your list.
Dean: I know I’m being successful when…?
James: I know I’m being successful when, and that was a pivotal discovery, when I found that because that’s when I wanted to question how things could be designed. And then another breakthrough was challenging myself to have a no technology day on Sundays. I started, switched the computer off on Saturday and not turn it on until Monday. Even if it was minimal, connectivity to the computer 7 days a week for a long time, it was a big assumption to push. But I managed to do that.
And then I was able to use scheduling software to minimize the time that I was spending with other people just down to a couple of days a week. And that’s been one of the biggest changes of my routine.
Dean: Yeah, what was that one you said you were using?
James: The eventual solution I got was ScheduleOnce.
Dean: I went from CheckAppointments to TimeTrade.
James: I started with TimeTrade but I went to ScheduleOnce.
Dean: So you’re saying you’re better?
James: There’s this weird thing…
Dean: I haven’t evolved yet.
James: I’m saying that it’s a peculiarity of my time zone because I’m Eastern Standard in Australia. We actually have Eastern Standard Time and a lot of people in the U.S., Eastern Standard Time are getting mixed up.
Dean: I got you right.
James: Yeah, ’cause they didn’t realize it applies to other countries. ‘Cause actually our continent is the same with the USA. We have these many time zones.
Dean: 5 time zones.
Dean: Heaps of time zones.
James: Yeah. Sydney to Perth is like New York to Los Angeles. But so few people live here.
Dean: So what’s the difference between ScheduleOnce? Is that what it’s called?
James: Yes. So one of the differences is it costs a little more. It seems to have a nicer interface. And we were talking the other day about how any software that looks nice is going to have a real advantage ’cause it’s more usable, but it also seems to handle the time zones better.
Dean: And you can have different length of time in blocks.
James: Yes, you have a little more customization. You can let people choose between, say 10 minutes or 15 minutes or 30 minutes. You can also tell it, you know, no surprise appointments, like don’t let people book within 48 hours or 24 hours of an available spot. And you can show them how much of your calendar you’d like them to see.
Dean: Yeah, I got you.
James: So it’s pretty customizable. But I am using it really simply. I just have 4 main blocks a week. I have the morning on Wednesday and Thursday, and the afternoon on Wednesday and Thursday.
And here’s one tip that I found is that by spreading my blocks really far apart, and I learned this from my mastermind, I used to have my calls sort of closer together like 9 o’clock, 12 o’clock, and 6 o’clock. And then I move them; actually there are 10, 1, and 6. I move them further apart to 9, 2, and 8. And by moving them further apart, it actually felt like I was doing a lot less. ‘Cause I had a huge amount of time in between to recharge, go and eat.
Dean: I think we actually went to a movie.
James: Yeah, literally go and see a movie between appointments. It’s like another day by the time I’m back. And it doesn’t feel like work.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, when I’m doing my daily journaling, which is probably really another important thing that both of us have in common, is that sometimes I would think, did I actually do anything today? And then I’ll say, “Oh yeah, I did an appointment then and I did an appointment there and I saw a movie.” I did actually do some value creation or what you call milking.
Dean: Yeah, that’s something.
James: Daily journaling has been a big thing for the last couple of years. By reflecting each day on what I did, I’m holding myself accountable to an expectation that I’ve set. And one tool that I’ve used because I’m primarily online based is RescueTime. And it sends me a weekly summary of the number of hours I spent on my desktop and what I spent it on. I actually have a maximum that I like to work to.
So maybe I’m using it the opposite, the way that it was designed. I think it’s designed primarily for employers to keep tabs on their staff and make sure they’re working a minimum number of hours. But I have a maximum number of hours on the computer each week to feel that I’m in good shape, that I’m not getting out of priority.
Dean: That’s exactly like the X5M.
James: Easily visible, except in the snow.
Breaking the Habit
Dean: Tim Ferris told me about RescueTime. Neil Strauss, he talked about this software or app that would completely block you out of the Internet for a certain amount of time. I forgot what it was called. We talked about it when we did a podcast with him.
Now I have to go back and check what that was but that might be an interesting thing. I may use that to enforce my 10:30 to 1:00 kind of blackout zone. ‘Cause honestly, it’s like I find being online is, even if you’re not going to do anything with the information, it certainly plants a seed. It could be a mind bomb.
It could be something that you know, whatever it is, it’s a thought now. That’s an open loop in your mind when you’re going into something.
James: Well I think on an overview level, it’s a habit. People have this habit of, like if you would take the computer out of the equation, if you said, “Listen, I’m just going to walk into that room there and I’m just going to sit in a chair for the next 8 hours at that desk, in a pretty still position, I’m just going to sit there for 8 hours straight with some toilet breaks and a snack in between. I’m just going to seat there at my desk and chair.” That’s a very unnatural thing to do. Isn’t it?
James: So I’d like to make sure that I’m stepping away from there a lot and also I’m employing some other devices like the standup desk. So that I don’t feel like I’m sitting in that position. And I also move around.
Dean: I don’t even have a desk per se, I mean, I literally have these Manhattan Club chairs from Pottery Barn that I use everywhere.
James: I’ve got quite a setup from the couch or on the kitchen breakfast bar with stool. I like to move my environment.
Dean: I do, too. I’ve basically got a couple of different power positions. It’s like so. The thing is they’re totally portable to you right? So I’ve got the Focus@Will app on my iPhone. Have we talked about Focus@Will? I haven’t told you about that. OK. So this guy Will Henshall, who, I was just with him in Newport, too.
Do you remember the band Londonbeat? You’d remember their songs but he was from Londonbeat and he invented this app, this music streaming service, where the music is engineered to get you into habituation or to keep you out of habituary. Remember whether it’s good to be in or to stay out of. Whatever it is, it gets you into a focused state in 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes and helps you stay in that state for 3 to 5 times longer than you would naturally stay in it by stimulating that part of your olympic brain.
And so the music is great to listen to and it’s really something that I’ve noticed a big difference in the ability to focus. Like having ADD, it’s difficult in any event. So I’ve had to come up with all these workarounds. Like my GOLF analogy: Goal, Optimal environment. Limited distractions. Fixed timeframe. There’s no discipline required, just push play, and it helps. So it’s like a no-brainer.
So with my app and my headphones, and my power positions, which are totally portable, one power position is with my journal in one of my Manhattan Club chairs or a comfy chair with an auto menu or not. Just sitting there, thinking, journaling, that kind of thing. I’ll do any kind of brainstorming, outlining, writing, all that stuff from that position.
And then my second power position is anything when I’m online. It’s a Neil Strauss kind of, I work the same way, like lying down. I have a daybed in my office. I have this whole thing built into the wall. It’s like a 9-foot long day bed with all these pillows.
So I lay on my back and have my laptop on my chest and that’s the online position. And the recording or talking on the phone is our typically stand up and walk around or sit in the club chair when I’m recording things.
Those three things, like if I look, no matter where I am or when I was here, my comfy chair in the comfy sofa in my condo that I got from the Airbnb building there had comfy sofas. So that’s my position 1, I was sitting there looking out at the ocean and what a bright quiet spot. So I had all that, and of course the bed with my laptop. So looking at those zones, you know it’s kind of easy to, they’re portable. And it’s just really knowing what you’re going to do in those times.
James: I’ve noticed that if I put headphones on and play like techno or dance music or dubstep, that’s my product creation zone. I can really build keynotes…
Dean: Yeah, it’s interesting. That whole Focus@Will has all these different channels like you have some uptempo, they have chill, they have spa…
James: Makes perfect sense.
Dean: And so you got the music that fits your style.
James: I always have these visions of programmers and coders on Facebook always got good headphones on just shutting out the world.
Dean: Right, ’cause that’s the thing. ‘Cause you walk in to your zone. So there’s something interesting about this zones though. Having that time to work on your most important priorities is knowing what those priorities are.
James: This is my sweet spot, passionate area is that from my experience working with people struggling in the early phases of figuring out what that is, the answer is never. Whatever someone sent me in my inbox today because that’s the to-do list that other people add tasks to.
Dean: I love that. Inboxes are really super way for other people to prioritize your time
James: Exactly. So and this is where most people are diverting their attention to. Often first thing in the day and inherently they’ll end up having 50 browser windows open, they would’ve bought some product that they’ll never consume, and they’re on the next latest tactic. It’s really an epidemic with people who aren’t very, very clear what track they’re on.
Getting the Most of Your Day
Dean: Yeah. And so I’ve really been using WinStreak, the WinStreak app. Do you have that? I think I’ve already told you about it.
James: I know WinStreak is a strategic coach. It sounds a lot like my daily post of what I did today.
Dean: Oh yes, so you’re on your in your form.
James: Yes. The Pareto Principle.
Dean: It’s the same principle that, as I end each day with that now, sort of looking back and marking my 3 wins for the day and then thinking ahead to my 3 wins for tomorrow. I find that I’m so much better off, much higher likely that those 3 things will get done tomorrow if I’ve already thought them through today. It’s been an interesting thing because as you know, the “I know I’m being successful when”list starts out with my number 1 thing being, I know I’m being successful when I can wake up every day and that’s what I’d like to do today.
And now I think I’ve evolved that to “I end each day by asking what would I like to do tomorrow?” So that I know that I wake up with a plan for the day. And it’s really funny ’cause we’ve been talking about green line time and getting the most out of this day is like I really see when you’ve got so much opportunity and so many things going on, so much wonderful stuff that you want to do. It’s really the most powerful resource that I have is my time and attention.
So I look at that and I want to maximize that time but do it with things that I really love and so I’ve been playing around with this model of, thinking about a perfect life and thinking about using like a movie metaphor for that where you’re creating this movie of your life. And that each day is a shoot. And to have like what are the scenes that we’re going to get today?
James: It’s a lot like the success of that my movie style.
Dean: So I don’t know much about that.
James: I think that you basically make a movie of your perfect day with a…
Dean: Is Glen in San Diego still or are they here?
James: I think he flits between the two.
James: So I’ve always used visualization. I’m really, really clear on what I would like things to look like and you know, the last thing I do before I switch off my tech every day is to look at tomorrow’s schedule or I write down on my whiteboard what I want to do first thing and that’s my one thing. If I can just keep on track, then that moves the whole machine forward.
Dean: Yeah. That’s really interesting. So Richard and I have been recording now. I think we have five episodes of “A Perfect Life” down so this is, we’re coming up on Labor Day weekend here so this will be launched in September. But a lot of the stuff that we have been talking about with the Perfect Life is looking at really kind of setting the context for a perfect life. So we’ve done a lot of thinking about what that means, like the reason.
5 Contexts of A Perfect Life
We recorded a couple of pilot episodes of “A Perfect Life,” and everywhere I go, people are, “What are you going to do with that podcast with Richard bro?” ‘Cause it was kind of thing that people really love, and me too. ‘Cause it’s such a great thing.
But what I wanted to have for it was a context.
Like the I Love Marketing, we have the overwriting context of before unit, during unit, after unit and profit activators. So that’s a container that everything fits. And so we did a lot of thinking about the elements of a perfect life. Like what are the equivalent A Perfect LIfe activators? What are the divisions?
So I’ve been playing around with different visualizations for that or representations of it and it sort of builds, and so I looked at the core, if you strip everything away, what you’re left with is the “me division” kind of thing. It’s like if you’re just naked and you were taken away and dropped somewhere else. Everything that you have internally, your body, your physical body, the skills that you have, the knowledge that you have, whatever you’ve gathered up until now is that “me division.”
And then the other kind of context that we have is universally, we all have the same amount of time. So we’ve got the two standard things of the standard issueme, and the same amount of time, you’ve got this renewable, I mean non-replaceable but renewable every day, you’ve got that time that everybody works with. So those two things are kind of the baseline. I’ll tell you the 5 and then we could expand on it.
James: Yup, good. ‘Cause I’m champion.
Dean: Yeah, exactly. So you got me, that’s what you’re kind of the standard issue what you’re left with if you strip everything away, we’ve got our time, which are our 24 hours in a day, then the 3 others now are largely constructs and how we choose to allocate our energy, our thoughts, our actions through time to work on or create a result, our environment, which is everything around us that we’ve chosen to add: From where you choose to live, the kind of house that you live in, the car you drive, how you dress, what profession you’ve chosen.
These are all environmental contexts that are very different if you’ve chosen to be a missionary in India, is a different environment than choosing to be a hedge fund manager in New York City. That’s an environment that you’ve chosen and that’s going to dictate a lot of how your time and energy gets allocated. If you’ve chosen to be a family where you’ve got a lot of kids and pets and all that stuff, that’s an environment that’s going to determine how your money, time and energy gets allocated.
Then the next one is people. All the people that you’ve chosen to interact with. And that goes from your partner, from your family, from your extended family, your friends, your clients, the people you choose to serve, or your boss, or your co-workers if you’ve got a job, your community that you live in, and humanity on the outer limits of that. All the people, some element of your time and energy is going to be allocated to managing the extent of the people situation that you’ve created in your life.
And then the fifth one is money. And all of that, they’re all kind of knobs and dials that’ll affect each other. Your environment is going to affect how much money requires for you to live, or maybe in some cases, it’s the other way around; the amount of money that you have is going to dictate the environment that you get to live in. And realizing that beyond just you and your time, everything else is a factor of how you’ve chosen to turn those knobs and dials.
James: A word that’s come up maybe 50 times there is choice.
Having a Choice
James: For me it sounds like choice would be a good thing and parallel to that is compromise. What level of compromise are you prepared to make? It’s one of my mentors taught to me about compromise, which what lead to me creating OwnTheRacecourse. And we see it rising up, from watching Kevin Smith yesterday and he’s vertically integrating distribution and reviews even.
James: …in his marketplace because he didn’t want to compromise anymore.
James: So it was a choice. So environment really is a consequence of choice.
Dean: It is.
James: Beyond the point. I mean you could be born into an orphanage..
Dean: Right. I was just going to say that, that people would say, well, Warren Buffet, you know, very famously has said that if you are a reasonable healthy person born in the United States, you’ve won the genetic lottery. And if you happen to be a man, it’s even more of having won the genetic lottery. Now, whatever you choose on that, it’s just, there is a gender bias and there is…
James: Just like what you were saying the other day, when someone was born in December and there’s a chance of being a hockey star.
Dean: Right. That’s Malcolm Gladwell’s discovery right there. Yeah, if you want to be a Pro Hockey player, the best
James: So there will be environmental things that weren’t your choice but then it’s what you do with that.
Dean: Right, that’s exactly it. So I think that most people, and for every tale of somebody saying, “Well, you know there are circumstances,” they can’t get out of those circumstances, for every circumstance you can name, there’s a story of somebody who has overcome those circumstances or more to become whatever they’ve chosen to become. So I am a big believer in choice, and I say that with just the slightest hesitancy that I don’t because I’m super aware of not wanting to seem arrogant about that or uncaring about that. ‘Cause I do firmly believe that you can choose to get out of any circumstance. And that’s up for, ‘cause there’s certainly circumstances.
James: It’s easier for us to say that.
Dean: Yes, that’s why I would say it. With sensitivity I would say that.
James: Like you’re saying the other day, a fish doesn’t understand water.
James: And so someone might not know that they have a choice. I’ve seen an example of that. I’ve seen it a 60-year old mechanic break down and cry in a personal development workshop when someone asks him why he chose to be a mechanic, with the emphasis on chose. He said, “I didn’t know that I could choose.” He went to the mechanic school, and then worked in a workshop, and that’s what he did from the time that he was a kid. And he didn’t ever really think that there was a possibility to choose. And I don’t think that’s a mainstream concept.
So one word that comes up for me a lot is think. And I think about that when I’m talking to people when they’re training their team, or when they’re faced with a challenge. I think some people actually don’t realize they can encourage thought or thinking because people default back to society norms and groups thinking, just going along with the flow.
The same impact for me when I go drive to the airport or something, and I’m sitting in peak hour traffic, for a lot of people, that’s so normal, they never question it. I certainly question it. And it’s a choice not to do that.
Dean: Well it’s interesting you know, Dan Sullivan talks about this concept of immigrant thinking that you know you often hear story of people immigrating and becoming big successes and we said it’s kind of like when you are an immigrant, you’ve left all those other things — the accessory, the chosen things. Like you what you immigrate with is you immigrate with your me and your time and energy but what you’ve left behind is the environment that you’re in and you left behind the people that you were surrounded by and you may or may not have any of the money situation that you’ve left behind.
You’ve only come with the assets that you have and you’ve got this open future that’s not dragged by your past. And so that kind of immigrant mindset, if you can intentionally look at that and choose to sort of like symbolically immigrate and cut out, you know.
James: Fits perfectly with my underlying maxim of question everything.
Dean: Right. Right.
James: That’s when you can really flip the lid and if you were to look at people as relationships that could also extend to other things like money and time. Your relationship to time.
You know how some people seem to never have time and then other people seem to have all the time in the world but it’s the same because of their relationship with it and exactly like money, some people have a better relationship with money.
James: So I like your model. For me, the flavors that come out is you, the body.
Dean: Yup, the body, mind and spirit.
James: Yup. There’s you, there is your choices that you make from where you are now, wherever that is. Whether you’ve been born with a silver spoon in the mouth or hard up. The choices you make, whether good or bad that can move you closer or further away from your ideal, and then there’s the relationships with time, the relationships with people, the relationships with money, and importantly, the relationship with yourself, which is sort of I take that’s one step of the me is your confidence, your sense of values, and how honest you are about things.
James: For most people, a big improvement in self-development would be to just look in the mirror and hold yourself accountable. Like ask the big questions and have honest answers. “Am I happy?” “Am I doing good work?” “Is there something I would like to do that I’m holding back from?” “What am I scared of that I could face?”
And for me one of the biggest revelations was only this year, was starting this brand new sport from scratch. And something I couldn’t outsource, you have to do it yourself and it’s such a reflection tool. You’ll learn about your fear, you’ll learn about your persistence, you’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and your natural abilities have to improve and refine.
So it’s good to put yourself in a challenging world and you in a novice position from time to time. And that’s probably what’s happening with immigrants. They’re starting from scratch. So they quickly scramble to use all their assets the best way possible.
James: I’m sure most of the drivers you have are foreigners.
Dean: Yes. It’s very true, that’s very true.
James: They’ll take the jobs that get them moving.
Dean: Yup. It is interesting. I think things have changed with immigration. I mean geography is really, largely irrelevant because your relationships have really, your global community can come with you. And whether that’s good or bad…
James: Well it’s in your iPhone now.
Dean: Well that’s what I mean. iPhone is really…
James: You’re connected.
Dean: Yeah, you are connected. And so, here I’ve been travelling all over the world but feeling connected with everybody. It really is like a global village because I come back to Sydney and I’ve got relationships here and have my favorite places here and the things have become very comfortable in this environment and same with the U.K. And people’s ability to maintain those relationships with people has never been better.
It’s kind of funny when you said that the other day when I first arrived, it’s kind of the tradition. You know when you have breakfast at the pantry, I arrived and literally that’s where we ended the last time. We have memories there, it’s been a year when we sat down and had breakfast and it felt like we had just had breakfast last week. Like no time had passed.
James: Exactly! ‘Cause I think we have different relationship with time than other people.
Dean: That’s interesting. I like it. It’s been a great week though.
James: It’s been a great week.
James: And the amount of things we have in common that we’ve arrived at independently is striking.
James: But I must say some of it is not coincidence. Some of it was founded from my original interactions with you. You were focused on recurring income…
Dean: Yeah. That was almost, probably almost 8 years ago.
James: It was probably 6 years ago, maybe 7, and also your simple answer to most of my questions was whatever I’d ask you to ask me “What result do I want?” You actually gave me a thinking tool so that I could solve challenges quicker. That we shouldn’t expect someone else to have all the answers. I think we possess most of the answers but we need to be instructive enough with ourselves to pull the answers out.
James: So if we want to sit down and have that conversation, I think this all ties back to when we journal, and when we do good work, and then we spend time consuming other stuff, we’re keeping a nice relationship with progress.
Dean: Yeah that is something. I mean I do remember that conversation ’cause we’re at Jeff Johnson’s in Detroit. That is the thing, ’cause I do remember that was my focused advice for you was recurring revenue.
James: It was.
How Do I Know I’m Being Successful?
Dean: So I look at you know, my number two thing, I know I’m being successful when my passive revenue exceeds my lifestyle needs and I’ll tell you, that has been the difference that’s made all the difference because that foundation is what sets the stage for me to be able to do every other thing.
James: Because you have no compromise.
James: It comes back to compromise and you can bet that whoever is stuck in a slavery style situation is laden with compromise, and many of those compromises are created by your own choices, especially when it comes to things like debt.
Dean: Yes. Well that’s the thing about living, that my passive revenue exceeds my lifestyle needs rather than, that the essence of that was to lead with revenue and lag with my lifestyle. And that was where I was a lot of times. There’s no right or wrong, but some people get motivated by leading with the lifestyle and forcing themselves to produce or stay in that.
James: That’s certainly a mechanism, sales manager and employees.
Dean: Yeah get them hooked on a new car…
James: On the drip they call it.
Dean: The drip?
James: Get them on the drip. Get them a nice, big home mortgage, you want them in fancy clothes and jewelry, and you want them in expensive loans and mortgages because that keeps them working.
Dean: So they’ve created an environment that limits their choices.
Dean: Interesting huh?
James: So one of the big clarifications for me is the relationship that you have with yourself is a good foundation to help you make better decisions and being in tune with what makes you happy.
Dean: Well understanding that, when I look back like that decision to really push the accelerator pedal forward in time and clearly define how I know I’m being successful so that I can experience it in the present. Having that, “I know I’m being successful when” has really been the greatest guidepost for all of it.
James: It’s a thinking tool.
James: That’s the bottom line. I remember at that same event, I shared with you a workflow that I had and I didn’t realize how much you thrived in frictionless living. Remember I was showing you was a Powerpoint to Mindmap to Recording, 3 Easy Keystrokes?
Dean: Yeah, yeah.
James: And so I think that’s how we connected so well the first time.
James: Well, we’re just about at the airport.
Dean: I was just seeing. Look at this, this looks like the airport to me. Well I had a great week James. I always look forward to this week. You have to come experience the Winter Haven lifestyle.
James: I will. Next time I’m east side I’ll pop over.
James: The evil scheme, the double doors.
Dean: That’s right. That’s it. Well thank you for your hospitality.
James: Thank you for everything.
Dean: It’s been great. You’re kind of like a bright, shining light in my calendar, I’ll be coming back next year.
James: And I’ve become richer for your involvement. I appreciate the support.
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