00:40 – A difficult moment
01:30 – The one-income trap
03:17 – When you’re getting results
05:18 – Optimize, or innovate?
06:44 – The no-Facebook challenge
07:37 – Design your lifestyle
09:37 – Defining success for yourself
10:56 – Business building clues
11:46 – Broader, then deeper
14:06 – Aim for happiness
16:47 – Where to focus
17:55 – Something to think about
19:16 – Take action
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James Schramko here. Welcome to my life lessons series. This is part three. If you haven’t already heard part one and part two, I recommend you go and listen to those first. Now if you are on the journey, then we’ll continue on.
I’m picking up where we’re talking about some of the tough times that I had in my previous roles. Probably one of the toughest was the business owner who wanted me to leave his business. He said some very offensive things to me, and it was such a difficult moment because at that time, my entire income was dependent on this man.
He said I needed to leave his business and I’ll quote you why. He said because I had “too much talent.” He then spat on me. He was very drunk. I’ll give him that. But he was also extremely paranoid. He was under a lot of pressure from the brand that we were selling to exit the business. He’d been involved in a dispute with the head office. He’d done some things, or was alleged to have done some things that were unacceptable.
Don’t rely on one income
So everyone knew this guy was difficult, and I certainly knew it at this time. This was really, really emotional. I was on a very high salary and I had to get another job. Now, Mercedes-Benz really helped me out and made a strong recommendation for me to another business owner who did end up hiring me. I was able to transition. But it was really from that point that I knew, from all the things I’ve researched and investigated from Jay Abraham and other sources, I needed to have my own business and I needed to not be single-source dependent. I needed to not rely on one income because this was a very precarious situation.
I’d already experienced that second hand through my father going through an unemployment situation, and I did not want to do that to my family. It was never my father’s fault, and it wouldn’t have been my fault in this case. However, it was certainly a huge driver for me.
I’m used to feeling intimidated by others, and I’m also used to other people feeling intimidated by me. I’ve intimidated many other salespeople. I’ve intimidated the owner of a business because his staff liked dealing with me. I was able to get results in his business that he wasn’t able to get. Even from the time when I started my first sales job, my boss was handing out commission checks and he would make a point of reading mine out. It was by far the highest amount, and everyone would look at me with dagger eyes.
I used that competitor situation where I outperformed everyone else to just lock in the win. Obviously, I realized I had a talent, and within a year, I was the number one salesperson for BMW when I started there. The same happened when I went to Mercedes-Benz.
What to do when you’re getting more results
So what do you do when you’re getting results that others around you aren’t getting? Do you retard the throttle? Do you pull back? Do you tuck your head in and stay quiet? Or do you just maximize it? And that’s what I did. I figured, well if I’m going to climb the difficult mountain, I might as well go right to the summit.
People are going to drop off along the way and it will be rarified atmosphere, but I’m doing it. If you think about Sir Edmund Hillary, he pretty much did the same thing. He was not supposed to be the guy to conquer Mt. Everest. There were others tagged for that. But he was so persistent, and he kept digging away at it. If you ever watched the documentary about it, you’ll see that he just got there because of sheer determination, persistence, a little bit of luck; but certainly he wasn’t the most liked guy on the top of the mountain, but he is the guy we all remember.
So it was such a natural leaning for me to from now on, just expect that some people are going to get their nose out of joint. Just expect it. Even today on a Periscope, I had someone trolling me and he said that I’m ugly and maybe I should get some hair from Rogaine.
There are people out there who you will make uncomfortable, but I just smile and think, you know what, they’re just reflecting on their own situation. If I’m doing well and they’re not, it’s easy to blame me. But really who they should be blaming is themselves. They should be looking in a mirror and taking responsibility.
So if you ever get jealous at other people’s Facebook posts, think about what you’re saying there when you type “jealous”. Are you saying that you feel that that other person is somehow luckier than you or they had some opportunity you didn’t have? Or if you’re really honest about it, are you saying that you need to pick up your socks and lift your game a bit? Because I spent two decades being a leader, and that leadership trait, it’s not going away anytime soon. You can decide to be a leader the day you want to be a leader. Step up and be responsible.
Take quantum leaps in innovation
In terms of innovation, I like you to draw your attention to a few other lessons that I had. I like this idea that you can have quantum leaps in innovation, not just gradual improvements. This sort of connects to my idea of stepping up and being what you want to be today. You don’t have to wait for the next 5 years.
I believe most people are unnecessarily restricting themselves by obsessing about optimization rather innovation. People are too slow. They want to be the leader, just be the leader. It’s your challenge, go for it. I’m actually fairly reserved in real life. I surf everyday. I find myself letting go when I’m just out there surfing. I’ve no awareness of the time. I’m not thinking about emails. I’m just disappearing to some other universe. Only a surfer could probably relate to this.
I watch the sunrise everyday, and I’m very happy spending time in a small crowd. I spent so long being bombarded everyday; like people in my office every hour, every minute, every 20 seconds. It was so annoying that I actually enjoy the peacefulness. What I found that this translates to is I don’t have a need to be on Facebook all day long to feel like I’m not alone. I actually treasure quiet time. I treasure peace and quiet.
Here’s a challenge for you
I protect my Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from external intrusions. I suggest you do the same. My challenge to you while you’re listening to this is see if you can go a few days without being on Facebook all day long. Just check in for 1 hour per day for the next week and see what change that makes to your life. Because when you stop participating in this useless environment of everyone else dictating what you should think about and what you should focus on, you’ll get yourself back. So that’s my tip there.
I think because I was just so intensely bombarded with interactions for so long in a direct selling role, in a leadership role, where I had people in my face every 5 seconds, I actually enjoy the decompression.
Lifestyle by design
This really leads into the lifestyle by design idea. Exposing yourself to a lifestyle design is the key to have a successful life. I went to a conference many, many years ago run by a successful real estate agent in Australia called John McGrath. Him and a top accountant called Anthony Bell were talking about partitioning their week. And I have so partitioned my work week. That is because you can decide your schedule. You don’t have to be beholden to a ridiculous idea of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, with weekends off. That idea is an industrial age throwback. Forget it.
You can dictate your work week. It could two days a week. It could be from 12 midnight ’till 3 in the morning if you want. For many years, that was my working time on my own business. I literally worked from midnight ’till 3 in the morning. 7 days a week is when I got the most traction in my business because all my kids were asleep, all my customers were asleep, and America wasn’t awake yet, so I actually had 3 hours of doing stuff without interruption. But whatever your schedule is, just understand that you can dictate it.
So I actually partition it, and I have a certain target that I aim for. Do I feel guilty about it? Absolutely not. Do I feel guilty when I have good things happening in my life? No. I feel good about having a nice car. I feel good about surfing. I feel good about where I live. I feel good about the relationships in my life, but I certainly don’t feel guilty because I’ve been through the experiences and I’ve made the decisions and taking the responsibility that I required to get the results that I’ve gotten.
So I reflect that back to you. Are you getting what you want? Are you doing the things you need to do to get what you want? That’s really the question.
What is success for you?
So what does success actually mean for you? A lot of people will tell you what success is, but I don’t think they can. I don’t think success is $10 million or $100 million. I may have thought that in the past but that’s not truly success. I think success could actually be boiled down into being happy and having integrity. In fact, being whole in your thoughts and things bound together in a way that of a solid foundation makes me happy, and I think that’s success. Less compromise. Having things structurally and sensibly put together, built for the long haul, simple, strong, stable, sensible; they’re the thing that I like and that’s why I have an organic business model.
That’s why I’d rather talk on a podcast and help people with questions in my community on a sustained basis. I’m coming on to 8 years that I’ve been doing that. So I think the sustained part is being proven. That is a better business model for me than the hectic multi-millions of paid traffic, chaotic conversions, loose ends everywhere. That just seems like insanity to me. So gauge your success on what makes success meaningful for you.
In terms of how I like to build businesses, maybe these clues will help you in yours. I like to build businesses that are protected from adversity. I like to protect them against the peaks and troughs, cash flow spikes. So for that reason, I’m a big fan of recurring income. I also like to hire people because I know I can’t do everything myself and people are very talented and able to do so much more than what you might have thought.
Also I like to move in markets that have good longevity, that are in emerging fields where you can have your little space in the market and that you can almost create the trusted supply that people will miss if it’s no longer there. That’s one of the things I really like to build into my business is that if I wasn’t there, people would miss it. Find out what it is that people would miss if you weren’t there in your business, and see if you can supply that.
Broader, then deeper
While we’re on this, let’s dig into the topic of broad versus deep. There’s a lot of discussion around diversity versus specialization. If you’re an entrepreneur with short attention span and you like shiny objects, it’s very easy to move from one thing to another. You’re probably jumping on way too many things, and they probably get delivered to your inbox on a daily basis. That’s something for you to have a look at straight away.
They never really go deep what happened to the potential of each one thing because they’ve moved on, because they’re bored. At the same time, if you stay in one place too long, like say a video store. If you’re a blockbuster store, you could be just facing impending doom. So you need to stay awake and alert. You need to be able to deal with change. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that that’s one consistent marker through my entire life experience, is that I’ve been good with change.
I used to change jobs every 2 years at the maximum until the end, where I actually held two jobs for 4 years each. I never actually spent 5 years in a single job. Even with my own business, it iterates several times during the year into the new version of what it is. But the core structure stays the same. We still have a lifetime customer edict. We still have a basis of integrity, and that’s not changing. But the ability to deal with change is so important.
When you work out where your strengths are and what the right move is because you’ve placed a few bets going broad, what you want to do is go a bit deeper into those and mine the potential out before you move on. I’ve tried different ways of making money online, when I started out especially. I systematically found the ones that work the best for me. Where I felt that were good business models, I then switched off other things that didn’t fit into that ideal filter or matrix of what’s perfect.
It’s kind of like share trading, where you have quite a few different stocks, and over the years, you realize which ones you shouldn’t be in and which ones you should double down or pull out of the ones. You actually want less things, less moving parts to focus on, but be more passionate and deeper in those ones.
What makes you happy?
If you can do what you love and be where the money is, then that’s great. So think about what actually makes you happy. Maybe, you would go into a mundane market, but you could be happy about the idea that it’s profitable or that you can have a better process than the way the market does it. Maybe you can actually enjoy that idea of creating things in a mundane market that bring that market to life for you. So be more passionate about the marketing and the business aspect than the actual product that you make, whether that’s widgets, or dental fillings or ice cream. It doesn’t really matter so much. Maybe you can be passionate about the marketing and the business side of it.
And more importantly, it comes down to the results you want, whether it’s more important for you to be creatively happy; that could be enough for some people. Maybe you don’t need to do too much in the business theme. As long as you’re doing what you love and money is not even that important to you. Or maybe, money is very important to you and that’s really important. And it’s not just other people’s idea of what’s important to you, and you can tackle something that’s a little more mundane at scale because you want the money.
It think we have to be careful about not overlaying our own values onto someone else. It’s especially important that other people’s values aren’t overlaid onto us. Like in some communities where the parents will tell their kids who they have to marry, or what job they’re going to have. I think that’s a very destructive situation, and hopefully, we’re avoiding that with our own kids.
Now, I’ve been able to visit many places and travel the world. I’ve been to poor places. I’ve seen huge smiles on kids’ faces who have no shoes on their feet. You’ve heard the story of the fisherman in the Mexican village, who is just fishing every day and meets the rich tycoon who educates him about how he could hire more trawlers and then start a cannery and then get a business floated on the stock exchange, and then get a huge payout and then end up retiring to a fishing village where he could go fishing everyday.
I think sometimes we’re already where we need to be. We just don’t realize that. That’s what I think about when people talk about working 19-hour days. You know that I’m an advocate against that. If it’s not obvious to you that 19-hour days, every day of the week, is a little bit over the top, then I feel sorry for you. Even if you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars or raising capital or whatever, how much does your ego needs stroking for that to be exciting for you? But I just don’t get it. I really don’t get it and I think I would advise that person, take up surfing and see if it changes your life like it did for me.
The Hedgehog Principle
You want to learn more about some of this stuff? Jim Collins talks about The Hedgehog Principle. The three circles, things you like, things you’re good at, and things that you can make money from. The overlapping part in the middle of this is the part you want to focus on.
If I can have a business that puts lots of money in my bank account that doesn’t drain my time and energy, allows me to live where I want to live, eat what I want to eat, hang out where I want to hang out, go surfing every day, sleep well, have no debt, I never really feel like I’m doing stuff I hate, then I think that’s a good business that I could be happy about, especially if it’s based around a good value product where I’m not hurting or harming people.
Most people I think are just in a trance. They’re just doing what they’re doing, and maybe, they’ve never even thought about it. I remember doing a personal development workshop. One of the mechanics in our business, who is in his 50’s I think, actually burst into tears because he’d never realized that he could have chosen a different path. He just became an apprentice mechanic, and the next you know, he’s an older mechanic. That was it. Not even deciding what he wants to do.
Think about this
I think if you’re listening to this, you’re lucky to at least be exposed to some different ideas. You can start thinking about how you want to design your life. It happens in the social context too. I know I’ve covered the ideas of Facebook and Periscope just taking over your life. Be very careful about where you invest your life because time equals life. At some point, it’ll be over. You basically are not going to wish you spent more time on Facebook. I’d say you might wish you travelled somewhere or you’ve done something creative or whatever. But I think it’s important to create as well as consume.
Keep measure on things that matter. Stop measuring things in terms of how many hearts you have. You can’t go to the supermarket and check out your groceries with hearts. “Oh hi, yes I’d like to buy this car. Thank you. I have a million hearts.” Well, I know what they’re going to tell you. They’re going to tell you to get nicked. A lot of people are just spinning their wheels and doing fruitless activities that don’t add up.
The same people who spend 8 hours a day on Facebook would actually resist the idea of building a community where they would have to spend 1 hour a day serving people, but they would get paid tens of thousands of dollars a month. That’s the sort of thing I help people with in SuperFastBusiness.com. I think people should think more.
So here’s my tip, find your three circles and allot an hour a day to do something where you off your device or go into analog, where there’s no technology, specially not in the bedroom. It is really a paradox. The more time you spend out or away from your main thing, the more ability you have to reflect on it and to think about it and find out how you can improve and how you want to do things, so that when you do get back in there, you’re so sharp with it. You’ll be so good at refining and improving it, you’ll actually create more time. So keep doubling down on that time away from the business to help you with the business.
An interesting phenomenon that I found is that the business owners I work with find out more about their business when they leave it for a week than when they’re in it. What does that tell you about a business? It’s the easiest way to find out how much it requires you to run it. Spend a week away from it and it will reveal itself. It could be an ugly truth or it could be a surprising delight.
In the next episode, I’m going to cover a few more valuable lessons that I’ve learned. I hope you’re enjoying this series. I’ll catch up with you for part four.
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