How to Stop Worrying About Competition and Start a Business

How to Stop Worrying About Competition and Start a Business

Yesterday consisted of 4-6 hours working on my sites, email campaigns, and setting myself up for future success. This was in addition to a few hours on Saturday morning. These things will eventually lead to sales or monetary compensation for the time, but there’s also a chance that I’ll never see a dime from my efforts. In the near future, there’s a near 100% chance that I won’t see any return.

Online business is, in most cases, an extreme case of delayed gratification. If that sounds icky, it’s because it is. Spending large chunks of your weekends and nights on something that may or may not pay off is tough. And that’s why you should do it – start the thing you’ve been wanting to do today.

Once you get over the scarcity mindset (there’s too much competition, you’re not good enough to compete, everyone is so far ahead), you begin to realize that most people quit and won’t keep going. Being good is important, but you won’t be good for a long time and that’s to be expected. As long as you keep going, you’ll begin to see others stop putting in the nights and weekends and eventually, you’ll prevail.

Think about everyone you know. How many of them would dedicate the time required to build something substantial outside of their 9 to 5? Not many, right? They have other interests – sleeping in, watching Netflix or sports all weekend long, partying, dating, wasting time on Facebook (finish reading before you log off) and other social media sites, etc.

Now take everyone you know and scale that to 320-million Americans. Chances are the same percentage of your network who would sacrifice that time to do something big isn’t far off from the percentage of 320-million. Your competition pool just got a lot smaller.

Realize: You don’t have to be an Einstein or Richard Branson to make an impact and improve your life. You can’t control your natural abilities and gifts that much, anyway. No, you only have to put in the work that others won’t, and that’s something you have 100% control of. So what are you waiting for, perfect timing? So is everyone else.

How to Make More Money as a Personal Trainer: Focus

How to Make More Money as a Personal Trainer: Focus

If you work in the fitness industry, I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “You don’t go into the fitness industry to get rich.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports personal trainers in the US earn $36k/year. That’s not too shabby, but it’s far from rich. Typically income follows value in the market. If a trade is overly valuable to consumers, prices will increase and the laborers in that industry will make more money as a result.

Looking at today’s world, with obesity at an all-time high and preventative health care’s increased awareness, personal training should be booming. And while business is booming for some personal trainers, the $36k/year statistic isn’t coming from thin air. So what’s the difference between the high earners and the mean? And how can you up your income and move your business forward? It all starts with your focus.

This article will look at four areas of personal training and fitness business where many trainers become lost in weeds and lose focus – or in other words, where they focus on dumb shit instead of making money.

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Continuing Education

Knowledge is a powerful thing to possess, and every personal trainer should spend several years learning anatomy and physiology, exercise science, behavioral psychology, and other coaching skills before taking on clients. Take Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld, or Layne Norton for example, who’ve taken their passion for training to the PhD level. Most leaders in our industry have a long list of credentials, higher education, and practical experience in the trenches. Knowledge and an infinite learning process are almost prerequisites for being a thought leader in the fitness industry.

All that being said, do you really care about being a thought leader? If you do, that’s cool, skip to the next point and keep on keepin’ on. But here’s a little nugget: for every thought leader or titan of the fitness industry, there are ten other guys/girls running six and seven-figure personal training businesses. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say most of these high-earning fitness professionals don’t hold certifications, either. Some of them may have even skipped out on college or if they did go to college, they studied something unrelated to fitness *gasp* like accounting or liberal arts.

Let’s backtrack for a second. I’ll admit, educations and certifications are important barriers to entry for most. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take pride in mine (BS, CSCS, Pn1), but I know plenty of folks without them who are superior coaches and trainers with successful businesses. The point is, knowledge and credentials only get you so far. What really matters to your business is your bottom line and how much revenue you can generate.

Once you have a baseline level of fitness/training knowledge and can get results for people, you need to shift your focus to growing your business and personal brand. Ask yourself: Can you sell your services face-to-face or through sales pages? Can you generate leads through the internet or locally? What’s your strategy to grow your business over the next three, six, twelve months? Is your business set up for success in terms of legality and tax efficiency? Are you making any money? Are you making enough money for your time? Is your business profitable?

If you can’t answer any of the questions above, don’t read another thing about fitness or training (assuming you’ve reached the getting results for clients level) until you can. Continuing education will be important to your long-term success but if your business isn’t making money, all will be for naught.

Final note: Nobody cares how much you know. They care about what you can do for them.

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Social Media

“Worrying about your followers, you need to get your dollars up.” As an avid hip hop listener, I have mixed feelings about Drake, but I couldn’t agree more with him on this one. While social media followers are important and can definitely be monetized in one way or another, they should be a product of your business success – not the other way around. Put in the work and create a product or business worth following and they will come. Don’t waste time hacking your way to 10k followers or other spammy tactics only to build a following of people who could care less what you’re posting about.

You should be focusing on one platform, and this platform should be where your target demographic hangs out. (I.e., middle-aged women are likely to be on Facebook/Pinterest and 18-35-year-olds are likely to be on Snapchat/Instagram) A quick Google will tell you the demographic breakdown of all the major sites and where you should focus your efforts. Like Joe Dirt said, “It’s not what you like, it’s the consumer.”

This doesn’t mean you should completely abandon other platforms. Go crazy, use ‘em all. Just remember the Pareto Principle – or the 20% of work that yields 80% of your results. It’s also worth noting that if you have a particular skill set (think video or cinematography for long-form video on YouTube or Facebook) that will set you apart on any platform, you should double down on that.

Final note: email marketing conversion > social media conversion. Start building an email list and write regularly without selling anything. Give, give, give, give, take.

Total Client Ceiling

This may sound counterintuitive to the ABC (Always Be Closing) mindset I subscribe to, but I think it’s important to know your client limit. For a new business, sales cure all and more clients is exactly what the doctor ordered. But at some point, you’re going to need to cap it off to avoid quality control issues, burnout, and to maximize client retention and referrals.

If you’re a personal trainer with an already stacked client roster you may be thinking, “Mason, my goal is to make more money and to do that I need more clients.” And you’re right. There’s very little to do other than acquiring more clients. You may be able to tip-toe the line of too many clients, but it’s very likely you won’t know you’ve reached critical mass until you’re there. The best piece of advice I can give you, and this is super important, is to raise your prices. Raise prices today. Actually, raise prices yesterday.

Raising the price of your service allows you to make more money on all clients from this point forward, meaning you could eventually work less for the same money you make now. Prices are a tough thing to adjust retroactively with current clients, so I’d suggest leaving them alone unless they’re set up with a long-term agreement that’s up for renewal. (Think leasing agreements that slightly increase year over year.)

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Your Own Training

Growing up, I thought I was destined to play in the NBA. I played basketball year-round and actually turned out to be a great player, especially for a slow white guy. Spoiler alert: I didn’t make it to the NBA. Fast forward to after my basketball career ended and I was still playing every day for hours at a time in city leagues and pick up games. All the while, my career and college studies were falling by the wayside and it was beginning to look like I’d be following the footsteps of Woody Harrelson in White Men Can’t Jump.

Fast forward again to one of the most pivotal discussions of my life. My dad, one of the most awesome dudes you’ll come across in this world, decided to finally intervene and let me know that I would undoubtedly be a loser if I didn’t shift my priorities and give up the hoop dreams. You know the scene in Step Brothers where Dale’s dad tells the story about his dad telling him to stop being a dinosaur and get a job? It was a bit like that, handled with precision and just the right amount of honesty. Shortly after that, I got my shit together and the rest is history.

The moral of the story being, at some point you will have to shift the focus from your personal fitness and training to your business or career. There are certainly exceptions to this rule. If you’re an elite-level fitness-er and make money from your fitness level, by all means, do you. This thought applies to the 90% of fitness professionals who are in great shape but haven’t achieved full “Instagram Model” status.

Final note: You should be fit as a personal trainer and practice what you preach, within reason. However, it’s important to realize that the largest pool of potential personal training clients is comprised of complete beginners. While this group may find motivation in the extremely fit person, most want to work with someone who can simply get them off the couch and drop a bit of body fat, not prep them for a contest. Relatability goes a long way with client acquisition and retention.

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The Takeaways

  • Once you have a solid base of PT knowledge and can consistently get results for clients, it’s time to shift your focus to your business.
  • Nobody cares how much you know. They care about what you can do for them.
  • Becoming an industry leader takes years and years. You’ve gotta pay the bills until that happens.
  • Unless your personal fitness level pays the bills, shift your focus to your business.
  • Raise prices yesterday.
  • Determine who your target demographic is and where they’re hanging out on social. Go wherever their attention is directed. Forget about everything else until that’s working.
  • Sales hierarchy for most personal trainers – In-person or video conference calls > phone > email marketing > social media
  • The bigger your email list is, the more sales you can generate at any given moment.

5 Questions Guaranteed to Lower Your Stress Level

5 Questions Guaranteed to Lower Your Stress Level

According to the American Psychological Association, 42% of Americans reported lying awake at night due to stress while an additional 33% reported eating too much and/or eating unhealthy foods for the same reason. Stress is now considered to be one of the worst degenerative issues of all time, and it’s easy to see why after combining statistics like these with other issues such as depression, lack of willpower, and an overall greater risk of chronic disease. Stress is silently killing all of us, and that’s an ironically stressful statement.

The human reaction to stress is actually a three-stage physiological response. It begins with a secretion of your fight-or-flight hormones, elevating your heart rate and blood pressure. This is followed by adaptation to the stress and then eventually exhaustion. While we may not have to enter full-on survival mode every day, our body doesn’t do a great job distinguishing between a lion attack and our boss dumping extra work on our desk.

The good news is your individual response to stress can largely be controlled by your mind and your perception of situations. Just like our ancestors adapted to fighting off predators, we can adapt to added workloads, rejection, public speaking, or other stressful situations.

In this article, you will find five thought-provoking questions intended to change your perception of stress at any given time. I’ve implemented these questions with great success in my own life as well as the lives of my clients. By no means is this a panacea for your stress, but it could be another tool in your proverbial stress-fighting utility belt. Similar to weight gain, stress accumulates over a period of months, even years, and you shouldn’t expect to eliminate it immediately. It’s going to be a process of training your mind to perceive stress differently, and I hope these questions aid in that process.

1. Will This Matter in Five Years?

Asking if something will matter in five years forces you to look at things from a grand-scheme point of view. The insurmountable problem causing you stress seems a lot smaller when standing next to your long-term goals, relationships, or even your physical and spiritual health. I’ve yet to find a stressful situation that could negatively affect these most valuable aspects of life.

A great example would be losing your job, undoubtedly a high-stress scenario. Will it matter in five years? It’s possible – but probably not as much as you think. It depends on how you perceive your situation. If your focus is solely on how losing your job affects your current plans of early retirement or the hit to your children’s college fund, it matters a lot. On the other hand, if your focus is on the health and well-being of your family, the gifts and abilities of your children, or the fact you’d be bored out of your mind in retirement anyway, it matters a lot less.

Chances are you’ll find another job in a reasonable amount of time, and the setbacks to your long-term plans will be minimal — you may even find a better opportunity than before. What happens in between losing and finding a job is entirely up to you. Like the legendary coach John Wooden said, “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”

2. What’s My Plan for Tomorrow?

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-7-43-38-pmWaking up with a clear vision for the day automatically reduces the overwhelm of not knowing where to start. Putting together a to-do list before bed allows you to wake up the following morning focused and goal-oriented instead of reactive and scatterbrained.

I write my plan by hand, and I always feel a sense of relief as my thoughts are seemingly transferred from my mind to the paper. This not only allows me to wake up focused, but it also creates a better environment for restful sleep.

3. Is This Stress Any Different Than Past Stress?

The next time you have a serious worry that works itself out, write it down. Capture exactly how you felt leading up to its resolution and how your stress and concern did nothing to affect the outcome. I think you would be surprised how often your current stress is no different than stress you’ve conquered in the past.

Think about how powerful a personal memoir of all your conquered stress would be in the future. It could serve as a constant reminder of how strong you are, and that’s never a bad thing.

4. Am I Being Too Selfless?

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Between our friends, co-workers, and family, we all have someone (or many someones) demanding too much of our attention. And for most of us, it’s easy to get stuck in caregiver mode and neglect our own needs.

If you are feeling stress due to a lack of personal time, use this question as a time audit. Family included, could you take time away from someone to devote to yourself? The answer may be an easy one like avoiding the toxic co-worker or saying no to the college friend who regularly invites you for drinks.

Or the answer could be a bit more difficult if you’ve been devoting too much time to a significant other or your children. It may seem inappropriate to take time away from loved ones, but would you agree that if anyone deserves more than half of your attention, it’s your loved ones? Address the stress so that when family comes, you can be present and not just a presence.

5. What’s My Worst-Case Scenario?

I don’t think I’m completely irrational or alone in this — I have a fear of being broke. Despite coming from a fairly well-off family and never experiencing true poverty, I fear it. So naturally when stress creeps in, particularly work-related stress, it’s where my mind goes. I catch myself wondering what would become of me and my life if I lost my job or failed in business. It’s always the negative repercussions of a given scenario that haunt my thoughts, never the possibilities.

That’s where this question comes into play. Once you have established your worst-case scenario for a stressful situation (losing your job, going broke, etc.), you can work through the problem and overcome your fear. Take going broke, for example. If you ever lost all sources of income for whatever reason, you still have options. You could sell unnecessary items, dip into savings, cut expenses, get a roommate or couch surf, borrow money, wait tables or deliver pizzas, live off the grid, or even declare bankruptcy. Once you have established the worst that could happen from your stress and thought through your solution, it’s never as scary as it seems.

The Takeaways on How to Lower Your Stress Level

  • Don’t blow stressful situations out of proportion. There’s a lot more to life than your problems.
  • Know tomorrow’s plan before you go to sleep tonight.
  • Are you stressing about a situation similar to one you have conquered in the past? It worked out before, why wouldn’t it now?
  • Nobody knows your needs like you do. Take care of yourself first, and everyone else will benefit in return.
  • Chances are your worst-case scenario will never happen. But if it does, it helps to have already worked through it in your mind.

 

17 Lessons on Success from “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss

17 Lessons on Success from “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss

Pick up Tim’s new book here. Be sure to read the earlier article, “11 Lessons about Business from ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss.” 

  1. “If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” TF: It’s not what you know, it’s what you do consistently. – Derek Sivers
  2. “Well, I meet a lot of 30-year-olds who are trying to pursue many different directions at once, but not making progress in any, right? They get frustrated that the world wants them to pick one thing, because they want to do them all: ‘Why do I have to choose? I don’t know what to choose!’ But the problem is, if you’re thinking short-term, then [you act as though] if you don’t do them all this week, they won’t happen. The solution is to think long-term. To realize that you can do one of these things for a few years, and then do another one for a few years, and then another. You’ve probably heard the fable, I think it’s ‘Buridan’s ass,’ about a donkey who is standing halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. He just keeps looking left to the hay, and right to the water, trying to decide. Hay or water, hay or water? He’s unable to decide, so he eventually falls over and dies of both hunger and thirst. A donkey can’t think of the future. If he did, he’d realize he could clearly go first to drink the water, then go eat the hay. “So, my advice to my 30-year-old self is, don’t be a donkey. You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.” – Derek Sivers
  3. As Tony recounted, Buffett told him, “Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life. . . . There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it, because if you develop more skill, more ability, more insight, more capacity, that’s what’s going to really provide economic freedom. . . . It’s those skill sets that really make that happen.” – Tony Robbins
  4. Jim Rohn famously said, “If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.”
  5. “What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.” – Casey Neistat
  6. “If you go back 20 or 25 years, I wish I would have known that there was no need to wait. I went to college. I went to law school. I worked in law and banking, though not for terribly long. But not until I started PayPal did I fully realize that you don’t have to wait to start something. So if you’re planning to do something with your life, if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: Why can’t you do this in 6 months? Sometimes, you have to actually go through the complex, 10-year trajectory. But it’s at least worth asking whether that’s the story you’re telling yourself, or whether that’s the reality.” – Peter Thiel
  7. The World Doesn’t Need Your Explanation. On Saying “No”: “I don’t give explanations anymore, and I’ll catch myself when I start giving explanations like ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t make it. I have a doctor’s appointment that day. I’m really sick. I broke my leg over the weekend’ or something. I just say, ‘I can’t do it. I hope everything is well.’” – James Altucher
  8. I would consider myself a world champion at avoiding stress at this point in dozens of different ways. A lot of it is just how you look at the world, but most of it is really the process of diversification. I’m not going to worry about losing one friend if I have a hundred, but if I have two friends I’m really going to be worried. I’m not going to worry about losing my job because my one boss is going to fire me, because I have thousands of bosses at newspapers everywhere. One of the ways to not worry about stress is to eliminate it. I don’t worry about my stock picks because I have a diversified portfolio. Diversification works in almost every area of your life to reduce your stress.” – Scott Adams
  9. If you want an average, successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths: 1) Become the best at one specific thing. 2) Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things. The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try. The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it. I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill. Or get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge. Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix. . . . At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too. It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%. – Scott Adams
  10. Stephen Hawking actually has the best quote on this and also [a] legitimate story. . . . [He] has the right to complain probably more than anybody. He says that, ‘When you complain, nobody wants to help you,’ and it’s the simplest thing and so plainly spoken. Only he could really say that brutal, honest truth, but it’s true, right? If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for people, you become a source of destruction for people. That draws more destructiveness. – Tracy DiNunzio
  11. “It is essential to get lost and jam up your plans every now and then. It’s a source of creativity and perspective. The danger of maps, capable assistants, and planning is that you may end up living your life as planned. If you do, your potential cannot possibly exceed your expectations.” – Scott Belsky
  12. “Follow Your Passion” Is Terrible Advice “I think it misconstrues the nature of finding a satisfying career and satisfying job, where the biggest predictor of job satisfaction is mentally engaging work. It’s the nature of the job itself. It’s not got that much to do with you. . . . It’s whether the job provides a lot of variety, gives you good feedback, allows you to exercise autonomy, contributes to the wider world—Is it actually meaningful? Is it making the world better?—and also, whether it allows you to exercise a skill that you’ve developed.” – Will MacAskill
  13. “An analogy I use is, if you’re going out for dinner, it’s going to take you a couple of hours. You spend 5 minutes working out where to go for dinner. It seems reasonable to spend 5% of your time on how to spend the remaining 95%. If you did that with your career, that would be 4,000 hours, or 2 working years. And actually, I think that’s a pretty legitimate thing to do—spending that length of time trying to work out how should you be spending the rest of your life.” – Will MacAskill
  14. “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” —Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister
  15. “Our life is frittered away by detail. . . . Simplify, simplify. . . . A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” —Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  16. The Three Options You Always Have in Life “In any situation in life, you only have three options. You always have three options. You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery. The phrase that I probably use the most to myself in my head is just one word: accept.” – Naval Ravikant
  17. “Earn with your mind, not your time.” – Naval Ravikant

11 Lessons about Business from “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss

11 Lessons about Business from “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss

(An under 5-minute read.) Pick up Tim’s new book here. Read part two, “17 Lessons on Success from ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss” here

  1. I believe you shouldn’t start a business unless people are asking you to. – Derek Sivers
  2. It Doesn’t Always Have to Be Hard “I have come to learn that part of the business strategy is to solve the simplest, easiest, and most valuable problem. And actually, in fact, part of doing strategy is to solve the easiest problem, so part of the reason why you work on software and bits is that atoms [physical products] are actually very difficult.” TF: The bolded lines are key elements that I’m prone to under-examining. In doing an 80/20 analysis of your activities (simply put: determining which 20% of activities/tasks produce 80% of the results you want), you typically end up with a short list. Make “easy” your next criterion. Which of these highest-value activities is the easiest for me to do? You can build an entire career on 80/20 analysis and asking this question. – Reid Hoffman
  3. “The blog post I point people to the most is called ‘First, Ten,’ and it is a simple theory of marketing that says: tell ten people, show ten people, share it with ten people; ten people who already trust you and already like you. If they don’t tell anybody else, it’s not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you’re on your way.” – Seth Godin
  4. Speed as a Principle “We agreed I was going to make judgment calls on a range of issues on his behalf without checking with him. He told me, ‘In order to move fast, I expect you’ll make some foot faults. I’m okay with an error rate of 10 to 20%—times when I would have made a different decision in a given situation—if it means you can move fast.’ I felt empowered to make decisions with this ratio in mind, and it was incredibly liberating.” – Reid Hoffman
  5. This is counter to classic marketing thinking, which is brand oriented: How do I get people to prefer my brand? Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better. When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer, not a DEC minicomputer. In the early days, Hertz sold rent-a-car service. Coca-Cola sold refreshment. Marketing programs of both companies were more effective back then.
  6. Are You J. Crew? “We send millions of emails a month with multiple-million [combinatorial variants] of email funnels, and we generate roughly 99% of our revenue through email. “[My emails] look like plain emails. . . . I am not J. Crew. J. Crew is selling a brand, so their emails have to be beautiful. My emails look like I am writing to you because I want to be your friend . . . at scale. That is why my emails appear to be really simple. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of stuff going on, but they appear . . . like I just jotted you a note.” TF: One of the reasons I put off using email newsletters for years was perceived complexity. I didn’t want to have to craft beautiful templates and ship out gorgeous, magazine-worthy missives. Ramit convinced me to send plain-text email for my 5-Bullet Friday newsletter, which became one of the most powerful parts of my business within 6 months. – Ramit Sethi
  7. 1,000 True Fans “[‘1,000 True Fans’ by Kevin Kelly] was one of the seminal articles that inspired me to really build amazing material, rather than just recycling what else was out there. I knew that if I had 1,000 true fans, then not only would I be able to live doing the things I wanted, but I would be able to turn that into 2,000, 5,000, 10,000—and that is exactly what happened. “In terms of getting my first 1,000 true fans, you can look at my posts. They tend to be very, very long [and definitive]. In some cases, 15, 20, 25 pages long. . . . If your material is good, if it is engaging, there is almost no maximum you can write. . . . My point is not ‘write longer.’ It is ‘do not worry about space.’ “Second, I cannot recommend guest posting enough. I did one for you [‘The Psychology of Automation’]—that probably took me 20 to 25 hours to write. It was very detailed. It included video, all kinds of stuff, and to this day a lot of the people I meet, I ask, ‘How did you hear about me?’ and they say, ‘Oh, through Tim Ferriss.’” – Ramit Sethi
  8. “If you go out there and start making noise and making sales, people will find you. Sales cure all. You can talk about how great your business plan is and how well you are going to do. You can make up your own opinions, but you cannot make up your own facts. Sales cure all.” – Daymond John
  9. Aim Narrow, Own Your Own Category The following is one of my favorite excerpts from The Art of Asking, which I highlighted because it beautifully showcases the “1,000 True Fans” philosophy I’m so fond of (page 292): Dita Von Teese, a star in the contemporary burlesque scene, once recounted something she’d learned in her early days stripping in L.A. Her colleagues—bleach-blonde dancers with fake tans, Brazilian wax jobs, and neon bikinis—would strip bare naked for an audience of 50 guys in the club and be tipped a dollar by each guy. Dita would take the stage wearing satin gloves, a corset, and a tutu, and do a sultry striptease down to her underwear, confounding the crowd. And then, though 49 guys would ignore her, one would tip her fifty dollars. That man, Dita said, was her audience. – Amanda Palmer
  10. “General fame is overrated. You want to be famous to 2,000 to 3,000 people you handpick.” I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is that you don’t need or want mainstream fame. It brings more liabilities than benefits. However, if you’re known and respected by 2–3K high-caliber people (e.g., the live TED audience), you can do anything and everything you want in life. It provides maximal upside and minimal downside. – Eric Weinstein
  11. “You get paid for being right first, and to be first, you can’t wait for consensus.” – Naval Ravikant

The 4 Step Path to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Change

The 4 Step Path to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Change

Let’s get it out in the open – we all have things we don’t like about ourselves. Many of us have a long list of things we would love to improve, and that’s perfectly natural.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a motivational psychology theory, we have a wide array of needs ranging from food, safety, and water to more advanced needs like social belonging, love, and personal growth. Sitting atop this hierarchy lies self-actualization, or as Maslow said, “The desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” In other words, accepting who you are and what you have to offer to become the strongest version of yourself. Easier said than done, right?maslows-hierarchy

A common criticism of Maslow’s theory, and one I whole-heartedly agree with, is in his estimation that only one in 100 people will reach self-actualization or self-acceptance. For starters, that’s a bit grim and pessimistic, and I’m a natural-born optimist. The truth is not everyone is cut out to make it to the promise-land, but my bet is that every single person reading this has the ability to prove Maslow wrong.

Start by Loving Your Weakness to Death

It all begins with your focus. I’m sure you have heard this paraphrased Nietzsche quotation, “Stare for too long into the abyss and the abyss will begin to stare back at you.” When your focus lies solely on your weaknesses and never your strengths, it’s only a matter of time before your weaknesses dominate your focus.

Instead, shift your focus to your strengths. Maybe you are the woman who stores more fat around the midsection than you’d prefer, but you have long, lean, and strong legs. Or maybe you are the man with the legs that never grow, but you have broad shoulders and a nice set of arms (that’s what pants are for anyway). In both cases, you should definitely work on your weaknesses – after all, you would be ignoring your top tier needs if you didn’t pursue improvement – but there’s no reason to beat yourself up day in and day out over the fat that will go away rather quickly with attention to diet or the legs that will grow over time with dedicated training.

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Why? Because you have awesome long legs, or arms that other guys envy, or you’re a great athlete, or I don’t know, maybe you have a golden personality, but that’s why. There’s something to love about yourself, and you know what it is because you’re probably thinking of it right now.

As a reinforcement exercise, ask yourself the following questions:

  • “What are three of my best physical strengths?” Examples might be a chiseled jaw line, being strong, a lean midsection.
  • “What was the last compliment you received that made you feel great about yourself?”
  • “What is one weakness you have improved in the last year?”

Strive for Progress, Not Perfection

The next hurdle is accepting that turning your weaknesses into strengths may take a long time, and there’s a good chance your weaknesses never will become strengths at all. If you think you can change your genetic code to store less fat in your midsection and more in your rear-end, grow skinny legs to massive tree trunks, or change the color of your feathers, you’re in for a rude awakening. The good news is, if you do a good job at shifting your focus to your strengths, this won’t bother you all that much.

Don’t get me wrong, you can make incredible, drastic changes to your body with dedication and perseverance. I’ve seen sustained body transformations that defied every genetic limitation or barrier. But every one of these transformations had one thing in common: consistent effort for an extended period of time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some say it actually took nearly a thousand years, for what it’s worth.

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Nobody Should Believe in You More Than You

It won’t be easy, but self-efficacy, or the belief in one’s self and ability, can be improved in many different ways. One of the best strategies I’ve experienced is to start small. Focusing on a single, attainable goal makes it nearly impossible to fail and allows you to “get a small win.”

Even the most resilient of people may get discouraged if they never saw the finish line or completed their goals. But if we continue setting lofty, unrealistic goals, that’s exactly the fate we suffer. When you focus on one small goal at a time and accumulate small wins, your psyche becomes conditioned to being a winner over time, and you create lasting change.

Focusing on smaller goals isn’t the only way to improve self-efficacy and acceptance. Another strategy I have seen work wonders is words of affirmation in the form of self-talk. I don’t mean carrying on a conversation with yourself in public, only reminding yourself that you are awesome and worth working hard for. Here are a few examples:

  • I quickly forget my mistakes because everyone makes them
  • Today was a great day, and I progressed toward my long-term goals
  • I am going to sleep tonight a better person than when I woke up this morning
  • I will skip the pizza and opt for something healthier, not because I can’t have pizza, because I want something healthier
  • Today wasn’t my best day in terms of nutrition, but tomorrow is a clean slate and will be my best
  • I have the courage to face and overcome my fear of backsliding, binging, or lifting weights with the guys at the gym

The Cherokee would tell their children that every tribe member had two wolves within. One wolf was positive and constructive, while the other would bring negative, destructive things upon its host. When children would ask which wolf would win, an elder would answer, “The one you feed.”

Simply put, you are made of your thoughts. If you project positivity through your thoughts and actions, positivity is what you will attract. Likewise, negativity is equally if not more magnetic. We all know better than to surround ourselves with negative people, for they bring us down. But what if we are the negative friend in our own life? The only way to get away from yourself is to change your mindset.

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Take a Minute to Stop and Smell the Roses

I love it when people reach their goals, fitness or non-fitness related. But I love it even more when people reach their goal and realize they’ve actually been awesome for quite some time already. It’s easy to lose sight of the changes you’re making in the midst of chasing your inner-greatness. Never forget to look back at how far you have come over the weeks, months, or years. Every journey will have unanticipated benefits and byproducts of your success – notice them.

The 4 Step Path to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Change

  1. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Learn to appreciate the gifts you were given and improve the gifts you weren’t given over time.
  2. Trust in the process. You may not reach your goal in the first quarter of the new year, and there’s a chance you won’t reach your goal at all. But in the following year, you will be miles ahead of where you are today. Coming to terms with that is one of most important things you can do.
  3. Believe in yourself. Remember to feed your good wolf and not the bad – positive in, positive out.
  4. Appreciate how far you have come. Your progress may inspire more people than you think. Never slight yourself for improving your body, fitness, or mindset even the tiniest amount. Change is tough, and you are a rock star for creating lasting change.

Invest in the Future World You Want to See

Invest in the Future World You Want to See

It’s 7:30 AM  on a foggy, cold Saturday morning, and I’m starting my second cup of coffee (don’t judge, they’re small cups and I get an early start). The dog has been walked, and his Milk-Bone reward given. I like to think I’m a simple man and always take my coffee of choice, homebrewed Folgers, black. This morning, however, I’m enjoying a bit of the frou-frou Coffee-Mate creamer, which never happens. I swear.

I’ve had the itch to write more about this topic all week long and have been looking forward to the solace of an early weekend morning. And here I am, finally, writing on my Macbook Pro with the help of notes I took on a combo of my iPhone and iPad. I’ve turned off WiFi to eliminate the temptation to review my team’s production reports in Google Sheets and Google Drive, where the majority of our company’s data is now being transitioned to. Oh, and Microsoft Outlook has been shut down and hidden from my line of vision as well.

In the background, I’m streaming a muted Facebook live news show via Apple TV. Before my first cup of coffee, I told my Amazon Echo to turn on my lights and play a little classical music to, you know, set the mood. I normally start my day with reading for 30+ minutes on a Kindle or physical book, delivered via Amazon, but not today. I need to put the proverbial pen to paper. With the “Classical Focus” Amazon Prime Music station playing, I whisper, “Alexa, louder.” And so it begins.

Okay, if you’ve made it this far, that’s the last of my stage-setting. I promise there’s a reason for the lengthy setup and brand placement.

A mistake I made when I first started investing was to follow analysts or firms for ideas about who/what to invest in. I would see articles titled “Three Growth Stocks You Must Own” or “This Stock Promises Explosive Growth” and read them, obviously. And while there are plenty of analysts whom I trust and respect, the problem lies more with the recommended businesses. Chances are, you won’t have a clue about any of the companies mentioned. That means to get a clue, you’re going to have to do a ton of research. And like legendary investor Peter Lynch said:

“If you don’t study any companies, you have the same success buying stocks as you do in a poker game if you bet without looking at your cards.” – Peter Lynch

My goal as an investor is not to spend a ton of time researching companies and potential investments, it’s to grow my money exponentially with as little effort as possible. The best place to start is with the companies you already know and use in your everyday life. The brands I introduced earlier are primarily massive companies that everyone knows, so you’re not going to find lightning in a bottle (you never know with Amazon), but you can definitely earn solid returns and have confidence in your investments.

“Make your portfolio reflect your best vision for our future.” – David Gardner of The Motley Fool

I want Apple, Amazon, Google, and Smuckers (parent company of Folgers and Milk-Bone) to continue their dominance in one area or another. For example, I’m counting on Amazon to make it possible for me to never step foot in a brick and mortar retailer in the near future. Furthermore, I’m betting on them to enable me to never step foot in ANY type of store. I believe in their vision and want to be a part-owner in their companies, so I buy shares, satisfying that desire. The same goes for companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and others that are an integral part of my life and the lives of those around me.

This makes the decision-making process of who/what to invest in very simple. I buy shares of great companies who I believe will continue to grow for years to come, and I hold those shares for years to come. There is a small amount of fundamental analysis and research to do before buying (i.e., revenue, growth rates, price to earnings, market cap, etc.), but this is a lot easier to do when you’re not looking for hidden gems or short-term winners.

And who says you can’t find hidden gems or explosive growth companies? Don’t forget about your unique skills and interests that give you a competitive advantage in the market. So take a look around in your life and take note of the products and brands that positively impact your life. Are others impacted the same way or do they share the same need? Could that lead to profits for years to come from these companies? These are great questions to start with when looking for your next (or first) investment.

Final disclaimer: I may own shares in the companies I mention and this guide, or any other investing and finance-related information on masonwoodruff.com, is not intended to be investment advice.