Upgrading Your Productivity Using Virtual Assistants with Maren Kate Donovan – TCE 041

Click here to get exclusive access to this conversation on Itunes

It is a big day competitive edge listeners. Why you ask? Because today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics – Virtual Assistants.

I started working with virtual assistants two years ago and it’s changed my life. I get more done and get to do more of what I enjoy and who doesn’t want that!

Today’s guest is Maren Kate Donovan CEO of one of my favorite companies, Zirtual. Zirtual is where I got my first dedicated virtual assistant and since using them I haven’t looked back.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to think about outsourcing and the first steps you’ll want to take once you’ve identified something you want to outsource. We’ll dive into a bunch of other best practices,…..as well as talk about how Maren went from having an idea to actually starting Zirtual.

If you stick around for the mindshare segment, I’ll share my personal outsourcing system which has helped me get more done and just be happier because I get to focus on the things I like instead of trying to do everything and banging my head against the wall..


What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • Why VA’s are a such a game-changer
  • How to think about outsourcing and delegating tasks
  • The first steps you should take when you’ve identified something to outsource
  • Popular things that you can outsource as well as some things that most people should outsource that they currently aren’t
  • A framework for identifying canidates that’d make great assistants
  • How Maren went from idea to starting Zirtual
  • The biggest challenges in running the business
  • The most productive thing Maren has done for herself and business over the past few years

Don’t miss out on all the strategies we’ll be sharing in the future. Subscribe below to get access to future episodes. subscribe-to-itunes-black-325x118

For more on Maren Kate check her out on Twitter @marenkate and at Zirtual .

Questions On This Maren Kate Donovan Interview?

 Leave your questions and responses to this Maren Kate Donovan interview in the comments section below:

LLL Mindshare


Don’t Forget to Leave a Rating in iTunes. It helps more people find our show.

**Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Lessons After A Year of Productivity with Chris Bailey – TCE 026

Click here to get exclusive access to this conversation on Itunes

There’s a zillion pieces of advice out there on how to be more productive, but amidst all of it, what actually works?

Today’s guest on the show Chris Bailey spent an entire year conducting self-experiments on himself on how to be more productive. In this conversation he shares what he learned as well as what some of the most common myths are when it comes to being more productive.

Want to get the most out of your day? Make sure to listen to this conversation below


What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • The three regions of our lives we should focus on to maximize productivity
  • A tangible and unconventional definition of producitivity
  • Chris’s strategy for prioritizing and determining which high leverage things he should focus on
  • Where someone who wants to increase their productivity should start today
  • How to get started if you want to increase your energy
  • Some rituals to start and end day
  • The biggest productivity myth Chris encountered after trying it all
  • How being an insanely productive person can coexist with having deep and rich relationships

Listen to the episode here:

Don’t miss out on all the strategies we’ll be sharing in the future. Subscribe below to get access to future episodes.


Mindshare segment at the end:

How to take a scalable approach to learning citing sleeping, gmail, and copywriting.

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Chris check him out on Twitter @Wigglechicken and at A Life Of Productivity.

Questions On This Podcast?

 Leave your questions and responses in the comments section below:

LLL Mindshare


Don’t Forget to Leave a Ranking in iTunes. It helps more people find our show.

**Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

How to Maximize Your Energy Levels with Ameer Rosic – TCE 016

Listen to this episode on Itunes

Whether we’re talking about producing high quality work or being able to light up a room,  our energy level seems to dictate how well we preform…at least that the case in my experience.

So how the heck can we get more energy to “be on” more often?

Today we have Ameer Rosic on the show to explain how we can design our lives to achieve optimal energy levels.

Ameer is a bio-hacking expert and founder of AmeerRosic.com. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable guy, but his story in truly inspiring.

I probably  learned 10 new things in this conversation with Ameer from how the  time  you go to sleep actually affects your energy levels to why our food might have different nutritional value depending upon where it’s sourced. All apples aren’t the same yo!

Take a step closer to optimal health by tuning into this episode below….

Something sweet from Ameer: “It’s not the number of years that matters, but the life in those years that matters.” – Abraham Lincoln (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • Mindsets and practices Noah uses to constantly improve his life
  • How to deal with rejection and some example stories
  • The process of “reverse engineering” results to get consistent wins
  • Lessons from some of his recent ventures including how to make products sell better
  • Questions we can ask ourselves if we’re not sure what company to start or who we should work for
  • Clever ways to drive traffic to your website using the reverse engineering technique
  • One “muscle” to build if you want to increase your learning and self-awareness

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher

Thank Ameer for dropping knowledge on us (tweet Ameer here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

Taking the getting 1% better every day approach with virtual assistants

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Ameer at AmeerRosic.com and on Twitter @AmeerRosic

Other resources mentioned:

[su_list icon=”icon: star”]


*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Searchable Transcript of This Ameer Rosic Interview:

Scott:   All right Ameer, welcome to The Competitive Edge man, how’re you doing?

Ameer Rosic: I’m good Scott, how’re you doing brother?

Scott:  Awesome. So my buddy Josh Isaac got you on my radar and dude, I have to tell you; the more I read about you, the more fascinated I was because not only are you an entrepreneur trying to build a business like a lot of listening, but you probably know more about health, fitness and wellness than 99% of the people out there. And what I was really curious to hear from you first is your personal fitness philosophy to fitness in what you are trying to maximize because I have a lot of buddies out there, some are trying to have the most energy, some are focused on longevity, some are focused on having a beach-bod and trying to make all these things work together can kind of be tough. So can you take a minute and share with us your personal philosophy in terms of optimizing your health?

Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, that’s a great question Scott and you have to define what ‘optimizing your health’ actually means. For you it may be, ‘I want a beach body'; for Mike down the street it may be longevity, maybe Sarah wants — aesthetically she wants to look good and she wants to have beautiful hair and beautiful skin. We all have different definitions of optimal health and my personal definition of optimal health is being happy. So I have two; number one is being happy and being sustainable.

I think there’s a huge problem today in the health world; everyone is talking about longevity, aesthetics, nutrition and all these models are very complicated. And if you look at it in the long run, I want to live till I’m like 80, 90, 100 or whatever; I really don’t have a number but I want to live to that age in a sustainable manner that I don’t have to do back-flips on a day-to-day basis and everything is on autopilot. I don’t have to think about it, it’s easy and the number one thing about it is that it’s fun and I’m happy. Happiness to me is the number one, optimal health goal that I have in my life. I want to wake up every day with a big smile on my face and be like, ‘yeah man, I’m happy that I’m alive and let’s go crush this day’.

Scott:    Dude, I hear you man, I want to high-five you through the screen right now. [Laughter] So, what are the specific, core rituals or things that you do to achieve that happiness that you just talked about?

Ameer Rosic:        Well, I want to say there are habits to support your happiness, but I think happiness comes from the inside. People are always looking for external modalities or external tools or gadgets to help them become happy inside. Truly, if you believe in Chi or energies or shocker systems and all that sorts or even meridian channels etc., the happiness comes in from within your soul. So it’s all about like on a day-to-day basis, having gratitude; I found that having gratitude is one of the most beneficial things in my life that I started doing in the last two years.

It has really expanded my happiness level. If you look at a level, say I was on level five, now I’m on a level ten and gratitude can be something so simple as I just mentioned earlier Scott. I wake up with a smile on my face and I say, ‘thank you, God’ or ‘thank you, Universe’ or thank you — I don’t know whoever you pray to, thank you for keeping me alive on this planet. And I think that’s something really simple that everyone can start implementing on a day-to-day basis. All these other things like tools, these gadgets, these training modalities such as meditation, they are external but the happiness has to be found inside and you have to do your own soul-searching internally speaking really finding out who you are to find that happiness.

Scott:  Is part of happiness though feeling really good about your body?

Ameer Rosic:        Happiness is overall, everything, all aspects of your life, happiness is being happy with your body, accepting of who you are, happiness is being happy with your financial situation, happiness is being happy with your wife or with your husband or with your kids or with your friends, with you environment where you live, everything. It [Inaudible 0:03:57] everything. So your whole life, it has to be in the happy mode and you can’t be happy on one thing and miserable on the other. There is a misbalance there like the Yin and the Yang; you have to ask yourself, ‘why am I so happy about my relationship with my wife, at the same time, I’m miserable about my body; like what is going on there?’

And these are the questions that you have to ask yourself on a day-to-day basis and I think this is something that all of us can implement daily as auditing ourselves. Feeling like ‘okay Scott, I feel great about my body, I’ve worked out but I feel that my brain is like really sluggish today. What can I do about it? Why is my brain sluggish?’ Always to be asking yourself questions of like, ‘why do I feel this way?’ and ‘how can I improve it?’ And if you do this on a day-to-day basis and if you improve for example one percent per day, think about the compound effect, think about where you are going to be 365 days from now.

Scott:   It’s amazing to forecast it out, I absolutely love it. One of the things that I want to talk to you about today is that this is something that I’m constantly trying to improve one percent is to just have more energy. As a guy trying to build a business, trying to launch this podcast and trying to fulfill a lot of my ambitions, the number one thing that I want is more energy and I’d love to hear your thoughts about how we can achieve that.

Ameer Rosic:  Yeah, energy; so this really goes on a person to person basis but there is like a general template and energy has different realms. You have to look at different sections of your life that all contribute for Scott having good energy; number one is nutrition, number two is lifestyle and number three is sleep. So they are all part of the big pie and if you remove one, you won’t have energy, so all of them have to be working in unity to have that maximum, optimal energy. So number one, let’s focus on nutrition. Now, there’s a lot of nutrition today; Paleo Diet, Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, etc., so many different variants.

At the end of the day, if you are eating a whole foods diet, focusing on quality foods, for example let’s talk about the Paleo Diet that is something similar that I do. So focusing on quality grass-fed meats, which has good amounts of proteins, quality fats, Omega-3s, has also other fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, K all these proteins, amino acids and fats, they are going to help you stabilize your blood sugar levels, they’re going to help you actually create more protein synthesis in your body, they’re going to help you actually decrease your stress response in the body. So, that is number one, focusing on a whole foods diet.

Forget the standard American diet, if you are eating fast food, if you are buying food that comes in a cardboard box or cans, that’s not going to support your energy. That’s actually doing the opposite. It’s destroying your energy. So if you haven’t done it already, focus on a whole foods diet, go out there and find a basic Paleo-template model or any of those other models and follow that ASAP. The second thing is lifestyle. So now, you have the diet, diet is in there, everything is keyed up, now it’s the lifestyle. Now, what’s important about lifestyle is, what are you doing on a day-to-day basis for your body to heal and for your energy levels to stay stable?

So, one of my special tricks that I have is, if you have the opportunity to, in the morning, work out; and I don’t care what kind of work out it is, it can be a strength-training workout, it can be high-intensity training workout, it can be some sprints, it can be CrossFit, it can be kettlebells, it can be bodyweight, it can be power-lifting etc., doesn’t matter with me but when you work out in the morning, you’re going to help your blood sugar stabilize, you’re going to help your Cortisol levels stabilize, to have a proper secreting rhythm, your hormones will increase, such as Testosterone, DHEA, Estrogen, your growth hormone will as well increase.

So you got diet number one, you got lifestyle factors working out in the morning and the final key factor is sleep. Now, sleep is a hidden, secret component in all of this. So if you have the nutrition and if you have the training, sleep is going to repair all of those. So, sleep is at 10:00 PM at night time, that’s a no-brainer. Like you can’t be going to bed at 1:00 AM your body runs on clocks and the later that you stay up, the sicker you become and it’s proven in studies after studies any one can go pub med and research it. So I always advocate to going to bed for 10:00 PM, sleeping in a pitch-black room, pretty cold room, not eating too close to bedtime and really giving your body the care it deserves because if you don’t heal your body at night time, your hormones, the very next day will be depleted.

Scott:                     Yeah man, I have so much that I want to dig in here and the first — because there’s conflicting information and just things that I don’t know about that I know that you have done way more diligence and testing in. So, let’s talk about lifestyle for a second here and I’m curious why working out at 7:00 in the morning versus lunch time versus the evening, has an effect on our hormones if we’re still doing the same workout.

Ameer Rosic Interview:        It all depends on your goals too; like if you are talking about specifically energy, like that’s all we are talking about, maintaining blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy Cortisol secreting rhythm, maintaining healthy [Inaudible 0:09:17] testosterone levels with inside of your body, then training in the morning is advised. Now if you are an athlete or somebody looking for maximum returns, then for a male specifically, training anywhere from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM is the best bet for maximum lifts. It’s not your best bet for maximum energy; they are two different ball games because if you look at secreting hormones, your testosterone is roughly at its max peak at 4:00 PM. So from 3:00 o’clock to 6:00 PM, roughly around that window is when you have the most testosterone.


So if you look at pro-athletes like in Olympic lifting or even of that Olympic caliber, a lot of them try to gear their training in that later afternoon period because they are actually stronger. However, that doesn’t mean that your energy levels are going to be better, so that is always advocated if you have the luxury — keyword ‘if’, to try to do some training in the morning and why that is good is two reasons; one is it can stabilize your Cortisol and two, from a psychological viewpoint, it’s out of the way. So if the day continues, you may make excuses of ‘I had this’, ‘I had to take a call’, ‘I’m too busy’ and then you’ll never get to the gym. But if you do it right away in the morning, then it’s out of the way.


Scott:                     Makes total sense. The other question that I have is about sleep; so assuming you sleep in a pitch-black room and you go to bed at 10:00 PM and you go to bed versus 2:00 AM and you sleep the same amount of time, why are we deriving more energy from that 10:00 PM bedtime?


Ameer Rosic Interview:        Because our bodies are dictated by our environment; when the sun rises and the sun sets, the photons or the energy packs from the sun actually control our hormones. That’s why it’s called secreting rhythms by a 24-hour clock circa. So basically our skin — or let me rewind, every cell in your body is influenced by light, that’s why we are active during the day. Even if it’s overcast and cloudy, you’re still getting a degree of energy and sunlight and photons to your skin and that’s keeping you active. That’s why at nighttime you feel tired because of the lack of sunlight. And that’s whey when you go to bed, for example at 2:00 AM, our bodies through the last like millions and millions of years of evolution, and when I mean by evolution, us being dictated by the rising and the setting of the sun has actually programmed our cells to release hormones at a certain time.


So if you look at studies, if you look at testosterone, melatonin, growth hormone, all of them actually work in a linear pattern. Meaning that if one is not functioning properly, the other one is not activated and let’s just talk about melatonin, people may be familiar with this as it’s your master sleep hormone. If you have healthy levels, it puts you to bed; well, this is a kicker, Melatonin is actually released three hours before full sunset. So when the sun is slowly setting, very small amounts, point one micro-milligrams from your Pineal gland, is secreted into your blood and eventually, by sunset, say 10:00 o’clock or depending on what climate you are and what season you are, your body will now become tired because you have healthy levels in your bloodstream. But what happens if you’re like up to 1:00 AM surrounded by artificial light?


Your Pineal gland — so your Pineal gland is located — it’s like one of the shocker systems, it’s located between your two eyes, right above your nose and if you are up around 1:00 AM to 2:00 AM surrounded by light-bulbs everywhere, cell phones, computer, your body thinks that’s the sun and it’s telling you Scott that it’s still day time. So it’s decreasing your melatonin. So if you have a decrease in melatonin; A, you’re not going to be able to go to bed, and B, if you have low levels of melatonin, you have low levels of testosterone, low levels of growth hormone, low levels of dopamine, which has been correlated to attention-deficit disorders and basically in a day if you have low levels of melatonin, it is also increasing inflammation in your body.


All because of you going to bed at 2:00 AM and surrounding yourself with technologies because at the end of the day, we evolved in our environment, outdoors, we did not evolve in a house.


Scott:                     So, we’re more or less going against what we have been programmed to do for tens of thousands of years?


Ameer Rosic:        Exactly.


Scott:                     Interesting. So let’s say somebody is listening in to this episode right now and they are going to bed at 3:00 AM and because of that, they are waking up at 11:00 in the morning, is there like a step by step program to rewire themselves?


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, there is; I actually created a system for that but that’s a whole different story. But like a simple one-two-three recap is this; try to go to bed at 10:00 PM every night. Our body likes consistencies just like a computer programmer programs himself online, he has to be consistent. He can’t be like, ‘oh, I’m going to do it here or there and hopefully get finished’. No, he got to do it on a day-to-day basis. So, going to bed at 10:00 PM, that’s the first thing. So the time is out of the window, now what you do before 10:00 PM is where the magic happens. At 9:00 o’clock or 8:30, I personally like to do 8:00 o’clock but say 8:30, all electronics, all lights; everything around your house should be shut down.


And I’m talking about computer — there’s no reason you should be on your email till like one hour before bed. I’m talking about your cell phone, I’m talking about everything; everything shut down. Now, if you do want to watch a movie on a computer, I’m saying, if you do; I’d advise you don’t, it should be time that you spend time with your family, read a book, talk to your family, laugh, there’s no reason you should be on electronics but if you do and if you are one of these individuals that desperately wants to watch TV, which you shouldn’t, but desperately wants to watch something on your computer, you can use a program called Flux. It is completely free, it is open-source software which you can download for Mac and PC and basically what it does, it controls your screen.


It actually illuminates it in a very orangey-red tint and this orangey-red tint actually blocks the blue light wave which has been shown in studies to actually stimulate your Cortisol. So that’s that wavelength that we see throughout the day from the sun. So what this program Flux does is it actually stops the blue light from hitting your eyes. But then you are still around electronics, you are still stimulating your mind, making your mind work which is not good. That’s why I always advocate, no electronics, no cell phone, no nothing, read a book — maybe take an Epsom salt bath; so you can go to your bath, draw nice hot water and Epsom salt is basically Magnesium crystals and you add anywhere from two cups to three cups in a hot bath, chill out and relax.


The Magnesium helps you increase Melatonin, it relaxes your neurons in your brain and it helps you also to increase healthy levels of GABA and it also at the same time it relaxes your muscles. And it’s a great way to actually heal yourself from workouts which I pretty much do on a nightly basis and it really puts you in the mood for sleep. So these simple tips that you can do. Shut off the lights two hours before bed, no electronics, read a book, have some fun with the family; number two, you can then do an Epsom salt bath relaxing there maybe with your partner. If you are by yourself, relax, read a book maybe with a candle by your side and I guarantee, if you haven’t done this already, try it out and your sleep will rapidly improve.


Scott:                     I’m just fascinated because so many people that I talk to that are ambitious like yourself, that are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs, the idea of stopping the computer and electronics and the productivity associated with that at 8:00 PM just sounds impossible. I mean how do you manage all of your ambitions whilst still having this cutoff period so early in the evening?


Ameer Rosic:        Remember what I said at the beginning, it’s about sustainability; truthfully, I don’t like the computer that much even though my whole business is on the computer. I don’t enjoy being on the computer, it actually hurts me. I love being around my family; forget business, what’s business at the end of the day? I care about life experience, Abraham Lincoln has a saying, “it’s not the number of years in your life that matters, but the life in those years that matters.”


What better than to spend it with my girlfriend or with my friends or with my kids or something like that at night time and enjoy their company, why the hell should I be on the computer? Businesses come and go, your family do not come and go, you have them for this lifetime. You can lose ten businesses and rebuild, but your experiences, your happy experiences that you experience with your friends and family are the most precious to me.


Scott:                     Dude, I got to tell you, I had this trip coming up that I was thinking about doing and I wasn’t — and it’s to the Amazon, I don’t know if you know this, I live in Brazil and I wasn’t going to go because I had a couple of interviews scheduled for this podcast and just a bunch of work that I want to catch up on and I think you might have changed my mind right here in this episode. Thank you, you’re so right.


Ameer Rosic:        Do it man, like you only live once and experience is what makes us human. The reason you and I are having this podcast, this conversation today is because our great ancestors decided to immigrate somewhere, decided to travel somewhere, decided to take a risk and experience these new experiences in their life. And I think as entrepreneurs today, we have to be very careful as not to be trapped in by technologies. We are so over-obsessed, like supremely obsessed with technologies when in reality I truthfully believe that the new-age technologies that are coming out, these so-called social media technologies are actually disconnecting us from our humanity and we are living in this artificial matrix lifestyle.


‘Oh yeah, I’m on Facebook, I’m talking to my friends’. No, you’re not; nothing beats sitting down in front of your real friend, laughing over a joke, maybe sipping on Espresso or you going to Peru or something and enjoying and experience with your friends that you’ll never ever forget.


Scott:                     Yeah, it’s so true, I think it’s crippled us in so any ways, I have noticed it in my own life; it’s made me have just less patience, less connected with peers, crippled social skills, I couldn’t not agree more with you man, and I’m really happy that you bring this up. And I’m just very curious to know a little more about when you started getting really in — like a little bit more of about your story because I think this would be — a lot of people are probably pretty far from where you are right now in terms of your knowledge and your interest in physiology and health and wellness, and when did you really start getting into this stuff?


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, it’s funny though like a lot of people look at me and go, oh, it’s easy for Ameer. My old friends know me who I am but like basically my story comes from this. I never went to high school, I actually got kicked out of two — it all originates back to my teenager years. I got kicked out of two high schools, I was like a troublemaker. I’d be able to actually pass elementary school, they said, I had a learning disability and after I got kicked out, ending grade nine, beginning grade ten, roughly around those transition times, I kept on hearing this same message over and over again.


You have to go to school because you have to go to college, university, because you got to get a job, because you got to get to make money, that’s the linear line. I’m like, okay, let me bypass all of that and I get into extra-curricular activities, doing a bunch of straight up, drug dealing — bunch of crazy stuff and I made a lot of money when I was younger and I’m like let me bypass all of that and I’m just going to do this. Here I am, like a 16-year old, 17-year old making boatloads of cash, more than anybody around me and living the life.


Fast-forward a couple of years, I continue to do the same thing; partying very heavily, abusing my body, drugs, alcohol, like heavily like Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday — I was one of the guys that see you going to club and there’s bottle service people. You know what I’m talking about? Here’s 300 bucks, 400 bucks, 500 bucks, going crazy and next thing you know is that three days has passed on this crazy bench. And I kept on going and going and going and I kept on getting in more trouble, I kept on getting into more fights and so fighting was my high back then. I always loved to go into street-fights, I’ve been in so many street fights that I can’t even count, 50-70, I don’t even know.


And eventually fast-forward another three years and now I’m at — so I’m 28 right now and so this happened roughly when I was like 21-22. I was at a bar, I was getting drunk and something happened to my friends outside and I quickly run outside and I see some dude on top of my friend and obviously I do what I do best. I grab this guy, bam-bam-bam, I do my thing and he goes to the hospital and the next thing I know, three days later, I get a knock on my door and it’s like a whole SWAT team of cops. And they arrested me for that, I knew it straight away but it was different, this guy was connected to somebody, but anyways whatever. Fast-forward another year later, Supreme Court at Canada wanted to give me two years in jail but I ended up getting half year.


So I went to Provincial Jail in Ontario for half a year and it was there when my life kind of transformed. It wasn’t like jail itself though was tough, jail was all political. If you know how to handle yourself, it’s fine. It’s a very horrible environment to be in and I don’t recommend anyone go to jail but I was pointing a finger at everybody. Like one month inside, I’m like, ‘all you guys are losers, why the F am I here’, etc. and it kind of dawned on me at the exact moment that I’m pointing my fingers at all these losers when in reality I was this loser. I’m the reason I’m in jail, nobody else. I was abusing my body, eating garbage food, doing bunch of drugs, fighting people, like I was really toxic. And this was going on for like a decade straight.


So it actually caught up to me and at the exact same time, right before I was going to jail, I met my current girlfriend, she was kind of like my guiding light behind this. Like a random person showing me unconditional love; I couldn’t believe it, I actually didn’t believe in love. I was actually laughing and pointing my fingers at all my friends that found love; I’m like you guys are morons. I left jail and [Laughter] —


Scott:                     Oh gosh, I have so many friends that do the same things, anyways, continue.


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, and I’m the one most deeply in love right now so it’s funny how irony works. And I left jail and I decided to seclude myself; I decided to go into hibernation and basically for three or four years I decided to figure out how I can improve myself. I went back to the gym full-time and I went back to MMA as I have been doing martial arts my whole life and I decided to go back to amateur boxing and that’s where I kind of discovered kettlebell training from one of my boxing coaches.


So, I went to this kettlebell seminar to learn about it and it was in this seminar that I found out all about the Paleo Diet, a bunch of books; Rob’s books, Art DeVany’s books or the whole nine yards and kind of made instinctive sense to me. Eat whole foods, drop this crappy bread and all that and I’m like okay, I did it and I kid you not Scott, my life transformed in 30 days. I used to walk around with depression my whole life and that’s why I was doing drugs and kind of like fighting and looking for those highs because I was trying to fill that void, I was trying to get that internal high and trying to brighten up my spirituality and my essence because I was a walking zombie and anything that I touched turned into darkness.


So as soon as I dropped the grains the commercial dairies and started eating a Paleo Diet and living a Paleo lifestyle, [Inaudible 0:24:56] a natural, human lifestyle, my life transformed. And I was like, ‘holy sh**, if this happened to me in 30 days, imagine what could happen to me in a decade from now.’ Then I decided to roll back into the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition, did a bunch of functional medicine stuff, competed in kettle bell competitions, martial arts etc.


I really dug in deep, went into the trenches of finding out what true optimal health is and ever since then, I have been educating people, coaching entrepreneurs, coaching top performing people and athletes and doing my podcast and YouTube video and workshops and really spreading the message because if I can do it — if I can come from a place of abusing my body for a decade, going to jail, fu**ing around and coming to where I am 180 degree circle to where I am today, anyone else can do it.


Scott:                     That is an inspiring story and I really just want to let you know that I appreciate your candidness and vulnerability sharing that with us and it’s fun because I hear a lot of people talk about the Paleo Diet and I do a version of it now but when I first heard of it, I’m like this is total crap, you are telling me that just changing foods is going to change your life and then your story is like this and you just get it like [Inaudible 0:26:10].


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, I was shocked. Like my depression — you have to imagine that I felt like a cloud of black, oozing tar was following me everywhere I went for years on end and anything I did, anything I touched, anything I wanted to do was pure darkness. Like this deep darkness that I can’t really explain, unless you’ve gone through it, it’s hard to explain it. And when I left jail and I started eating like that, like couple of months afterwards and when I got out, I could not believe it how my mind cleared. I literally woke up one day with a clarity like someone has replaced that black, dark cloud with blue sky.


And it was incredible and I’m like ‘my god, can you imagine now if the rest of the world started eating a whole foods diet? The possibility like the crime rate will go down, and the addiction rates ‘– and in fact, I wrote an article just the other day talking about cocaine versus sugar addiction. How sugar is actually more addictive to cocaine and can you imagine, if we started actually incorporating whole foods died and healthy lifestyle in drug rehab facilities or even educating the children at a young age of the importance of eating a whole foods diet, how much more or repercussions in a positive way that will actually happen to society; all our problems today — I won’t say all of them but lot of our problems today would actually disappear.


Scott:                     It’s fascinating to think about, I think there’s a lot of people out there that aren’t necessarily as familiar with a whole foods diet and what exactly that entails. Do you have any resources that I can link up or we could send people to if they want to get more information on this?


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, they can go to my website if they want, just Ameer Rosic dot com, another great website is [Inaudible 0:27:59] they are really good. They talk about the whole whole-foods, farming and sustainability and another great website, it’s not about the whole foods, it’s about getting to know your local farmers, getting to know who actually grows your food and that is called Eat Wild. So if you just type in ‘Eat Wild’ there’s two different sites for Canada and United States like Eat Wild dot CA dot com and that’s a great resource where people can actually find the local farmers and actually forge a relationship with them and actually know wow, this is where my food comes from.


And they can see firsthand how food is grown and that’s what I do. I know my farmers, I know where my cows and chickens come from, I know where my vegetables come from and in fact I spent almost a month in an organic farm, learning organic farming and seeing exactly what it takes. It’s not easy and a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into farming.


Scott:                     Yeah, I can imagine. Coming from New York City, the idea of getting to know my farmers is pretty far end but it has to be amazing to know that everything you’re eating is fresh.


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, and it’s all about the local sustainability — I’m about sustainability, that’s what I really want to focus my attention on. In this day and age of global economies and importing and exporting, it may be good for technologies, it may be good for other types of businesses but I like to look at how can we make a more thriving community? Forget what’s happening in China, forget what’s happening in Russia; me here, Ameer in Colona, how can I make Colona a better place for my community? How can I support my farmers? How can I support my local businessmen? And this works on two-fold; A, you’re supporting your local business making more job opportunities and B, the food that you are purchasing is hundred times more nutritionally dense than other food and I give this example.


You mentioned that you are living in Brazil right now, Scott right? If I grab an organic apple from Brazil, it’s going to take roughly 30-40 days to get to my front door over here in the West Coast by freight on the ocean. Now, compare it to an apple that is literally grown 20 minutes from organic farm down my street, which apple do you think is more nutritionally dense at the end of the day?


Scott:                     The one down the street.


Ameer Rosic:        This works vice versa for you, instead of you buying an apple from Canada, your apple in Brazil is a hundred times more nutritionally dense. So now you’re supporting your local farmers, making a better economy in your area and getting healthier food.


Scott:                     I think that it’s something that is glossed over certain times is that — and you really have brought this to my attention at this moment is that an apple isn’t an apple, there’s in terms of how much nutrition you are actually able to get out of that.


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah.


Scott:                     That’s why people don’t have farmers, I mean where do they go, if they can’t go to the local — they live in a town that doesn’t necessarily have local fair, is Whole Foods the best option? Like what’s the best —


Ameer Rosic:        [Technical difficulty] You have Whole Foods, you may have like small health food stores, but honestly some people even think about growing their own gardens in the back. So we have something in Canada; I’m pretty sure they have it in United States for sure. Lot of people have land in the back; now you may not be well-versed in gardening which is not hard but everyone can learn gardening and maybe just don’t have the time. So A, you’re not well-versed and B, do not have the time to garden. There are services out there that actually do all the gardening for you.


They’ll plant the vegetables, they’ll maintain the vegetables, maybe plant something like small shrubs or whatever plant, that kind of architectural plan for the garden they have — at the end of the season, you get about like 30% of all the harvest and they take about 70. So this is a great sustainable model. A, you’re getting free food, B, the land that you’re never going to use is now being used C, the 70% of the food that individual has farmed, they now resell it at the markets around there. So, it’s such a beautiful model that I see duplicated in Toronto, they have it in Vancouver, they have it here in Colona.


And I’m pretty sure they have it all across the United States and if you just Google for example ‘garden sharing co-ops’ or something like that, I’m pretty sure you can find someone in the community or city that does this service.


Scott:                     Very interesting concept. One of the things that I wanted to touch on and it really came back to me after you talked a little bit about how your mind cleared, because I’ve heard you talk about in previous episodes, how it is actually possible to increase or maximize your IQ. Can you touch upon that a little bit?


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, so IQ is interesting right, but first we have to understand how we are actually measuring IQ and understand that it’s a mathematical task and obviously IQ doesn’t mean intelligence. It’s just a technicality on a piece of paper. However, it’s always good to bio-hack and quantify your progression. You have an IQ, or you have an EQ and many different things. There are simple things that you actually do on a day-to-day basis; I’m just going to name two things literally — let me name three things that are free, quick, easy that everyone can incorporate right away.


Number one, right before you do anything in the morning, say your gratitude and start meditating for ten minutes. It can be any form of meditation. Meditation has been found in study after study to decrease stress, increase Alpha-waves, increase the ability for your neurons to communicate with each other and it’s such a great way for neuro-plasticity. So it can be any form of meditation, it can be you closing your eyes and just letting your mind wander. It can be more like Zen meditation for something like what I do is like, I stare at an object outside; so I’m barefoot and I’ll stare at a tree or a blade of grass or something like that and focus my entire attention on that for like ten minutes.


Pick a form of meditation and do it in the morning. After you have done that meditation, this is where you can go to your computer and download a free game or on your cell phone, there’s an app for Android and I believe there’s an app for the iPhone as well. It’s called N-Back and it’s actually the only proven software in the world, clinically proven — no other software has a claim to this except this one, clinically proven to actually increase your IQ by 20 points and it’s very hard to explain because it’s all about memorizing, visual cues and at the same time memorizing the actual physical cues on the screen.


But this is a great system that you can actually track and quantify your progression and it’s something very simple to do. I do anywhere about 10 minutes to 15 minutes of it. And finally number three, something simple that literally anyone can do [Laughter], are you guys ready for this one?


Scott:                     I’m ready; I’m on the edge of my seat.


Ameer Rosic:        Drink fresh water. This is an overlooked aspect. We are always looking at like these external modalities; it’s like what new game can we make or what kind of supplement can I take or what kind of food can I take? Reality, your cells function on water. If you are dehydrated, your neurons don’t function properly so that’s why I always advocate sourcing fresh, spring water and always drinking pure amounts of water. One of my morning rituals for water is I have a liter of reverse-osmosis water.


I add trace minerals in there, it can either be sea-salt, it can be trace minerals; I squeeze about one gigantic lime or lemon in there, add a little bit of organic baking soda for the biocarbony, I shake that puppy up and I chug away. And those are three simple principles that you can boost your IQ by 20 points; meditation gratitude in the morning, doing N-Back training and getting that one liter of water in the morning right away.


Scott:                     Now how much water should we be drinking a day and I’m also curious to hear, when you say ‘fresh spring water’, is that Dasani, Poland Spring, does that count? Can you define that?


Ameer Rosic:        I’ll give you by priorities, meaning like scale of purity. Number one, if you can get spring water that comes from the outdoors, because sun actually structures water. So what we think of water is not really water, there’s something known as structured water or phase four of water. And within water you have the H2O molecules and these H2O molecules actually combine together to create something called clusters and these clusters can make geometrical shapes.


These geometrical shapes can dictate whether your cell that aquapore [Inaudible 0:36:37] channels in your cell actually open up and actually absorb the water and the rate absorption and the rate of the hydrogen breaking apart to create energy and the electrons etc, so number one is if you can source outdoor fresh spring water; number two is the filter system. So, if you are living full time in the house, I’d recommend getting a reverse osmosis filter. You have two options, you can have one that’s actually installed in your sink, goes right underneath your sink and then you don’t need to worry about it and the second system is you have a counter-top system where actually, it’s through gravity, you’ll pour water on top and then the water will flow through all of these filter systems and it’s going to remove all the impurities.


And the impurities are chlorine, fluoride, pharmaceutical chemicals, a lot of xenobiotics and many other of these chemicals that your body does not want in it, and the halogens as well which is a big problem to actually for your water to absorb. So, those are the two ways that you can get water; fresh water from the outdoors or reverse osmosis and there’s one other way if you want, you can actually order spring water so it’s like water companies such as Spring Well in Canada they actually source spring water for you and they actually deliver it in like a glass bottle to your front door.


Scott:                     Interesting, new version of the milkman. And how much water should we drink in a day?


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, that’s a complicated question; I’ve asked many people who are water specialists, I asked the same question to Gerald Pollock who is one of the world’s leading specialist in natural structured water and my point of view is that it actually depends on activity levels and depends on how healthy you are because the healthier you are the more water you hold. Like inside of yourself both intracellularly and extracellularly; the sicker you are the more water you actually disperse. I think anywhere from three liters and above in this day and age is wise. [technical difficulty] there’s many reasons behind that and I’m not even going into the EMF reasons, I’m not going into the stress reasons, I’m not even going to any other reasons of why we are getting dehydrated, but I think three liters of water a day is a wise choice.


Scott:                     That’s a lot of water man. [Laughter]


Ameer Rosic:        [Technical difficulty]


Scott:                     It’s amazing how when you change the measuring metric like how much more manageable it becomes.


Ameer Rosic:        It’s water bottles, one water bottle is 500 milliliters times that by two, that’s one liter, so that’s six of them.


Scott:                     Got it. Ameer one of the questions that I always like to finish with is asking our guest to give people just one tip that maybe they haven’t necessarily talked about yet to get an edge in their business, in their health and whatever the discussion is. Is there anything else that you have done in your life, that you just really preach to other people that they should start doing this that we haven’t got the chance to touch upon?


Ameer Rosic:        Journaling. [Technical difficulty] right away; two of my most amazing friends [technical difficulty] me on journaling where they create a journal about a year ago called the Five-Minute Journal and it has exponentially transformed my life both from a physical point of view, mindset point of view, spiritual point of view and it really gives you true insights of what’s happening internally in your body both from like a metaphysical point of view and all these thoughts that are kind of like stirring in your mind. So, if you haven’t already, start journaling. I’m not saying that you have to do a five-minute journal; all I’m saying is that you can get a piece of paper right now 8 by 11 and start writing. But start journaling your thoughts on a day-to-day basis and I guarantee you, in six months from now, magical things will start happening.


Scott:                     Now when you say journaling, I’m just curious a little bit more about your process; do you literally just free-flow your thoughts, do you have specific questions that you answer each day?


Ameer Rosic:        The journal that I do has certain questions that basically — right away in the morning you have three questions that says, what are you grateful for? So three things that you are absolutely grateful for, three things that you would like to accomplish and then, at night time you have a different portion. Three things that I really kicked ass today and then three things that you wish you could have done. You can reframe these questions, you can do whatever. People who don’t have that journal, what I did before and I didn’t do it every day but I would literally brain dump any thoughts on a piece of paper.


It could be a regular — like I mentioned before, 8 by 11 piece of paper, but whatever comes to your mind, just start writing, just completely start writing all your ideas, thoughts, emotions, feelings on that piece of paper because our brains are supercomputers. We are quantum creatures and just like a regular computer, we have to store that information away. But a lot of times there’s junk information and random thoughts that cause a lot of issue and it’s good to organize your mind and when you actually put your thoughts on paper, it actually creates this new type of foundation, this new type of way that your brain can actually handle the information that was input throughout the day and kind of like label it and put it away in the proper place where it needs to go.


Scott:                     Yeah, that makes total sense; I just find it so much easier to have clarity and just clearness an ability to focus when you are writing stuff on paper, for me. At least that’s how I feel. Ameer, you have taught us so much today man, I want to thank you, and we’ve talked about how to increase our energy, we’ve talked about hydration and water, journaling, all these things that are going to help us get an edge. Where is the best place, if people want more of this type of quality information, for them to go and learn more about you and what you teach?


Ameer Rosic:        Yeah, the best way to reach is to go on my website which is Ameer Rosic dot com where I do my three times a week podcasts, articling, YouTube-ing, you name it, just find me out there and if you guys want more information about what I do, high-end coaching for entrepreneurs, athletes, CEOs, just shoot me an email and I’d be more than happy to chat with you.


Scott:                     All right man thanks so much for coming on again, I really appreciate it.


[End of transcript 0:42:53]


What did you think of this interview with Ameer?

How have you been able to increase your energy levels on a consistent basis?

Grit, Truck Stops, and Taking A Never Say Die Attitude With Ted Alling – TCE 014

Listen to this episode on Itunes

I’ve been itching to release this episode since the moment I recorded it…

I guess I just love high energy people that have heart and hustle and today’s guest Ted Alling epitomizes these characteristics.

Ted was the Co-founder of Access America Transport and just recently started a new venture incubator called The Lampost Group.

If you’re not motivated to hustle and kick ass, stop what you’re doing and listen to this conversation. Ted shares some crazy stories of how he built his company from scratch to a 500 million dollar company.

You’ll hear about everything from Ted stopping people at trucks stops to mailing shoes to get his “foot in the door.”  He epitomizes whatever it takes, and its awesome.

Ready to hustle? Tune in below : )

Something sweet from Ted: “You’re either investing time or spending time” – Nick Saban (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • Some incredibly gritty things Ted did to drum up business in the early days
  • What a “whatever it takes” attitude really looks like
  • How celebrating mistakes can help us get outside of comfort zones
  • Different ways Ted has motivated his employees and built a kickass culture…even when some of the jobs aren’t always fun (like cold calling)
  • How to stay motivated when you’re in grind mode
  • Why chasing non-sexy industries is actually a sexy business opportunity
  • Ted’s answer to something we all ask…is the grind worth it?

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher

Thank Ted for dropping knowledge on us (tweet Ted here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

Why we need to make decisions instead of “shoulding all over ourselves.” If you want to change, you need to leverage the power of our desire to remain consistent with what we say we’re going to do. Making decisions are at the crux of this. 

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Ted check him out at: TedAlling.com, Linkedin, and on Twitter @TedAlling

Other resources mentioned:

[su_list icon=”icon: star”]


*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Searchable Transcript of This Ted Alling Interview

Scott:  This is the Competitive Edge with Ted Alling. Welcome to the Competitive Edge, my name is Scott Britton and I’m here to help you answer a question that we all have; how can I get an edge in my business and life? Each week we are going to uncover how some of the most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs, entertainers and thought-leaders get an edge so you too can reach your full potential. Thanks for tuning in today, now let’s get started.



Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of The Competitive Edge. Today’s episode is about grit, determination and perseverance. We’re going to hear from Ted Alling who started Access America Transport; you probably haven’t heard of this company before because it’s in the trucking and logistics industry. A lot of the entrepreneurs that come on here are software guys from New York or Silicon Valley but today’s guest built a 500 million dollar business in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the way that he did it was just by sheer determination and effort. You are going to hear what having a ‘never say die’ attitude is all about in this interview when Ted shares some of his stories about sales tactics, about the cold calls that he’s made, about chasing people down at truck stops.

I mean this guy is a total savage and the interview is awesome and inspiring. We are also going to hear about Ted’s newest transition with the Lam Post Group, his venture capital firm and accelerator and a little bit about what he looks for in entrepreneurs and people looking to build companies. If you’re looking for some motivation, if you’re going to [Inaudible 0:01:37], if you want to just see how someone wills themselves to be successful, you got to want to tune into this interview, it’s absolutely awesome. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and hear from Ted Alling.

So Ted, I’m just really excited to be chatting today because like I mentioned before the call, not only did I hear some previous interviews where you’re talking — quoting college football coaches and things that I really like, but you also built a 500 million dollar company in a non-sexy industry in short period of time and I feel like a lot of these podcasts, they have the same guests where people are building marketing tools in Silicon Valley or New York or other things and you built this bad-ass company in Tennessee in the trucking industry. So, you just sold the company three weeks ago, but let’s talk about the early days and why don’t we first just start off by telling everybody exactly what Access America Transport is.

Ted Alling:            Okay, perfect. So, I started Access America Transport 12 years ago with my two best friends from college and we went to school at Sanford University in Birmingham and we always knew we kind of wanted to start a business together and right out of school I took a job with a large logistics Fortune 100 company and it was in one of these jobs at like my first day at work, I was totally pumped up, I graduated on Saturday, started on Monday. I was just fired up to take on the world, walked in the first day and I was like, ‘whoa, this is terrible, this totally sucks’.

There was no energy there, my boss was just okay, he just wasn’t a very good inspirer guy and so — anyway, I kind of ground it out for two years in this company and then finally I hooked back up with one of my partners in Chattanooga, his dad owned a brick company. And I was there on some sales calls and I was like — we started talking, heck, we can do this on our own couldn’t we? And we said, ‘yeah, let’s do it’. And so, literally kind of started in a closet in kind of a really rough part of Chattanooga, kind of a rough part of the neighborhood in Chattanooga and I just — I kind of had two goals when I started the company.

Number one, I wanted it to be the best place in America to work because I knew if we could be the best place in America, we would have the most positive people and I know positive people are productive people. Number two, I wanted to be a hundred-million dollar company and my partner Barry was like, ‘oh, let’s do it’. [Laughter] He’s our CFO, very crazy man, let’s go for it. And so it was very — I have always read a lot of motivational stuff and I have always been — I try to be very positive and fill myself up with stuff like that but we come to work really early and it just — it didn’t matter. I mean whatever it took to offer customer service for our customers and also the trucking company that we worked with, I was going to do it

My wife and I used to drive around at truck-stops and I would literally knock on the doors of truck-stops and give them my card and get the [Inaudible 0:04:53] and be like, ‘hey man, when you deliver that load, give me a call, I’m going to find you another load’. And so it was a very grassroots, just kind of raw in the beginning starting the company. But —

Scott:   I love it and I want to dive deep into that because I think a lot of people out there need to hear about these grinder days; but what exactly does Access America do? People aren’t really familiar with it.

Ted Alling Interview:            So we are basically a broker, we are a freight broker, we’re the middle man between trucking companies and manufacturers and so we — in our peak, we were working with 45,000 different trucking companies and 3,000 different customers. My customers are really people that shipped freight. So we dealt with people that would manufacture lumber, we did some stuff for a Coca-Cola bottling plant, we did stuff for people that made machinery; anyone that shipped freight, we were going to match it up with a trucking company. So all these trucking companies out there and if you can believe this, in America 80% of trucking companies have less than 25 trucks.


So it’s a huge, fragmented market and you’ve got all these little guys out there that are — they would have a customer and they would ship something from Chattanooga to Atlanta but when they got to Atlanta, they were coming back empty. So, I would find freight that would match up and do like a back-haul and so that was my gig; was getting all these small guys back-hauls. And so as we grew the business we basically just aggregated all of these small trucking companies around America together into a big force and kind of had a huge fleet or whatever.


Scott:                     Got it. And today, I mean, I’m sure you have a lot of software in place that tells you where loads are that aren’t filled and that kind of stuff. But how did you find trucks in their early days that didn’t have a load coming back?


Ted Alling Interview:            It was insane; I mean I’d be driving around in my car, I’d literally see a truck going down the highway and I’d be like, ‘write that down’ and I’d be like — this is 2002 we started, so the internet wasn’t — it was obviously going but it wasn’t near as advanced as it was then and so there was a lot of just trying to find trucking companies, buying lists of different companies, calling them and just setting them up — the beginning, my partner Allen, couple of years down the road, he started kind of developing some neater stuff. He ended up helping to create a software that’s kind of like Travelocity or Expedia for freight.


So basically, you put in like an origin and destinations and class and weight and you’d get different trucking companies bidding on your freight. So that was kind of one of our segment of our business especially for ‘less than truck load’ LTL stuff. But it was — anybody I could find that would talk to me and do a load for me, I would go book their trucks.


Scott:                     That’s awesome. Honestly, sometimes I would wonder, and maybe it’s just my generation, I’m a little bit younger than you but I think sometimes some of the entrepreneurs out there I talk to, when I hear stories like this of you literally going up to people in restaurants and asking them where they are going, and trying to get their information so you can then call them and then try to sell them, I just don’t see people that kind of hustle these days as frequently.


Ted Alling:            I would completely agree and it’s so interesting like, and we’ll kind of dive into this a little more but it seems like a lot of these people that I have met, they kind of get down if it was a movie, the social network or whatever, but it’s like these sexy Silicon Valley — these term, series-A, seed funding, convertible debt, — to me the words that matter are discipline, dedication and hustle and grit and integrity. Those are the things to me that really helped us build our business because I feel like there are so many fake post revenue businesses that try to get a lot of users and just trying to flip it in a year or two or whatever.


So I’m kind of all about — I kind of don’t focus on building startups, I focus — not me but my partners and I focus on building businesses.


Scott:                     Yeah, I love it. I love the word grit; I mean talk about some of the gritty things that you had to do in the early days.


Ted Alling:            I mean I look back and I would legitimately — I have called customers for seven years straight every month or maybe even every week. But for seven years, I would continue to hammer the phones to try to get in more customers. I have mailed a shoe to a guy before and I wrote a note like, ‘hey, I’ve got one foot in the door, help me get another foot in the door’. I’ve done whatever it takes — I mean like we go to tradeshows and people were scared to see us at tradeshows because we were like — when I go to tradeshows, we would have people standing in the middle of the aisle so you’d have to walk by us.


We weren’t hiding behind the aisle; we were the most aggressive people on earth. We were straight out just warriors going out and trying to get business. It didn’t matter; whatever it took, we would — I had a brutal schedule early on and it’s not like I have really slowed that down that much but we have — we are constantly — whatever a customer needs, we kind of coined a term, one of our top guys at Access America called ‘fast muscle twitch’ and basically we are just — whatever a customer needs whenever, like if you send us a text, you get a text back in two seconds with your answer. And so we were so much faster than our competition no matter what, we were going to get back to them with an answer even if it was right or not.


And so that’s what we just — that’s built into our DNA and what’s cool is that it’s kind of — that is kind of just gone throughout all of our companies here at Lamp Post. Everyone kind of seems to kind of take after some of the stuff that we have done in place and we have put it into all of our existing businesses we have invested in.


Scott:                     Yeah, the culture of your company is really fascinating to me because I heard, again, I’m the type of guy that does my homework; I’ll try to listen to some other interviews before I come on and talk to people and you talked a little bit about being fearless in the workplace and celebrating mistakes —


Ted Alling:            Oh yeah.


Scott:                     — which is freaking awesome dude. So, let’s talk about this concept, because I don’t think a lot of people out there necessarily have this mindset.


Ted Alling:            So when we get hung up on a phone, we will tell what happened and it’s like ‘who cares, let’s do it again’. I mean it’s like this whole like we don’t give a damn; it’s actually funny. I mean we have people, I could call right now and they’re like, ‘hey Ted Alling from Access America, no thank you’ – click; and I think it’s hilarious. At some point I’m going to break that person down. Like that’s how my whole mind is, I’m never going to quit until they give me business and that’s what’s happened.


I can look back at some huge, major accounts that we have landed in the last couple of years and guess what, Fridays 4:55, they finally give you a call, ‘hey guess what, this company dropped the ball. Ted, here’s your shot and you’ve called me for three years’. ‘Yes sir, that’s taken care of, don’t worry about it, thanks; where do I pick it up?’ That’s my response and then I’d hang up and I’d be like, ‘oh my gosh, what do I do?’ I mean somehow it didn’t matter, we have — I mean we would charter planes literally; we had a load from Tennessee to California and we ended up chartering a freaking cargo plane. We lost $37,000 on one load just because we committed to the customer and said we’d do it.


And so, that’s the kind of excellence that we try to instill in our customer service people and I loved it. And they’re like, ‘hey Ted, I just lost $37,000 on a load’, I’m like, ‘hell yeah, that’s incredible; that is so bad-ass’. And so we had — it was such a unique culture, and that’s one of the things that really grew us. We had three employees with company logo tattoos, big ones. We had — Minneapolis is one of my biggest offices, we have 170 employees up there. We did a [Inaudible 0:13:36] this year we did — we have done it for like four years and I got inducted the second year.


Out of like 170 employees jumping into the freezing ice and it was for Special Olympics, I think we had 155 people show up. I mean that’s just like total commitment, everybody is in, we are following a leader up there and he’s in we’re all in. And so that’s what really helped us build the business. It’s like we are in the front lines. One of the best managers, he refuses to take an office, he will strategically put himself in the middle of all his co-workers and he — this is not a lie, he is 6’4″, big, tall, white Norwegian guy, he sprints everywhere.


Like if he wanted to get a coffee, he’s running and if he wanted to go to a fax machine, he’s running; everywhere he goes has like this sense of urgency and so you’re a young 22-year old kid and you’re like, ‘where’s my 42-year old boss?’ Sprinting in the office and he doesn’t have an office and he doesn’t play golf and he doesn’t fish; all he does is he likes to work and he outworks everyone here. That is so motivating in a leader to see somebody that is willing to freaking bust his ass that much to grow a business.


Scott:                     Yeah, the tone comes from the top down and it sounds like from the beginning. And I’m reading this book right now that you would love dude.


Ted Alling:            [Laughter] What is it?


Scott:                     It’s called ‘The SEALs Way’, basically think and lead like a Navy SEAL and this guy Mark Divine, who I’m actually having on the podcast tomorrow, the author of the book —

Ted Alling:            Awesome, okay.


Scott:                     — talks about the time where he was in BUD/S and he had to do his — they were trying to break him down and they said that you have to do a thousand burpees. Do you know what a burpee is?


Ted Alling:            Oh yeah, they are hell.


Scott:                     So they said, you got to a thousand of these and he made the decision before he started the burpees that he was going to do two things; one, he was either going to do it or die and so failure was not an option. And the second thing is, is that he was going to have fun while he did it. He was going to make it fun; when it sucked, he was going to laugh. And he tells a story of when he got to the 700th rep; he literally could not feel his body anymore. And he just — the coping mechanism that he used to deal with that type of strain on his body was laughing.


And he was like ‘I’m going to have fun’ and he just started laughing and grinning and that got him through another hundred reps and his instructor appreciated his mental toughness so much that he said, ‘you’re done, great job’. And it sounds like in your sales calls, with the attitude that you have taken at the company, it’s ‘failure is not an option’ and we are going to have a good time where the people want to be a part of it or not.


Ted Alling:            That’s right, I love it man, I’m going to have to listen to that. That’s awesome, [Inaudible 0:16:34].


Scott:                     Absolutely, another unique thing that I wanted people to hear about was this fantasy football style competition run within Access America.


Ted Alling:            Sure, so this is kind of a cool — Allan my partner, who kind of helped develop some of that other software, he kind of created a crude, fantasy football site probably a couple of years ago. And out of that a team here at Lamp Post has kind of went like ten next levels to it and he is basically — they’ve created a company called Ambition and Ambition actually was at Y-Combinator here this last month and has just absolutely killed it. But basically it is a team-based — you’d have three people on a pod here playing three people on like Birmingham or whatever and we look at seven metrics for our business.


Email, phone calls, number of time on the phone, number of loads, profit — percentage of profit and so each company has different metrics they look at but basically they turned it into a fantasy football. And it has just really blown up and in fact, Access America used this and our phone calls in one month went from 15,000 outbound phone calls to 22,000 in one month. We were making an extra 7,000 phone calls a day because it’s all based on competition. And these teams have their own fantasy football page, they have their own smack-talking deal and people are staying late on Friday nights to win the game and to work harder and it’s all because we hire a lot of type-A, competitive people that don’t want to lose and it’s all about getting an extra W [Inaudible 0:18:36] and it’s fascinating to look at.


And this company is one of those rising stars in the startup world, really in the whole country but they have done a really good job of building the company and it’s helped Access America grow in the last couple of years.


Scott:                     What advice would you give to people in a position that maybe that particular task that they are doing is not fun but it is moving the company forward? It seems like you have really mastered this idea of making things fun in the workplace that usually suck and thus increasing the output of your company and really getting an edge.


Ted Alling:            Yeah, so that is a great question because this is an office job, you’re sitting at a desk all day, lot of phone calls, a lot of just grind and we have [Inaudible 0:19:26] Ambition product definitely helps. And there is a lot of camaraderie and we have got folks on softball teams, bowling teams, basketball teams, I’m doing always kind of crazy stuff; I had a ‘bring your instrument to work’ day where everyone — it was kind of interesting, it was pretty fascinating; and people brought their guitars and bases and mandolins and — I had somebody come in that was kind of a leader that helped play a bunch of music and people were like — they brought in beer, and people were like ‘this is freaking awesome, this is an awesome place to work’.


We also brought in a guy from out of state, he brought in like 60 Jumbie drums, the African drums. And this guy does a corporate training type stuff but he broke us into like different sections so we would all be playing a different part of that — he would give us a beat to play and people were like, ‘what has Ted done now?’ By the end of that everyone was sweating and was like jacked up, energized because they said, that guy was like, ‘dude, I have never seen a group come together so strong’. He said, ‘you guys have the beat and the pace that’s like a war chant because this is not like normal places’.


And so it was really just all about — I look at companies and I look at — I can feel like energy or like the soul or the vibe of a company and just kind of walk in there and feel the energy and see people are excited or not. And so we at Access America, we have eight different branches and you could walk into each office and kind of feel what the vibe was and whoever the manager was, knows how their other employees were. And I have seen that at all of our startups here at Lamp Post. We got 11 startups and you can see who the founders and see their personality and see it in every single company.


Scott:                     I want to talk about how on an individual basis you were able to accomplish this because I think this is awesome advice for companies but a lot of people out there are just grinding it out in the early days of their startup that are listening to this. And —


Ted Alling:            This [Inaudible 0:21:36]or whatever?


Scott:                     Exactly. Like what types of mindset, what things did you tell yourself to push through?


Ted Alling:            So I’m a crazy, goal-oriented person, I set up — this is funny, I was looking up some stuff this weekend, I set goals for myself and this really started at an early age. My dad — when we were in the seventh grade, we started — every Sunday after church, he’d get out a notepad and we would sit down and set up goals for like kind of physical, spiritual and like school or — now I’d have to use business or whatever. But I am really big about setting year goals, five-year goals, ten-year goals and every year, I set them up and I have got like an accountability group with some folks that are kind of the same peer age or the same demographic and we sit down and go over these things and hold each other accountable.


And so I kind of — I think you kind of need to know where you’re headed in life because if you are just showing up every day and just kind of mechanical and doing your job, you just don’t have much purpose. And so I’m about trying to put stuff down and be like ‘okay, this is where I am going to be’. And so I’m actually moving to London here, taking a year’s sabbatical with my family and I am just kind of sort of setting my London goals for myself. And it’s like people that I want to meet, stuff that I want to do daily, just things that I want to happen in the next year and I know I am going to track that into my life because I’m putting it down on paper and it’s going to become real.


And I just have this whole mindset of like — because I think that if you just come to work and if you are just mechanical, you have no direction. And so I’m trying to help myself just stay on task. I’m working on something that I kind of tell my kids — you’re either like — and I think I heard Nick Saban say it, he was the best college football coach of all times but he says, ‘you’re either investing time or you’re spending time’. And so I try to tell, I try to use that, I just figured out my day, how much day am I screwing around on Twitter and Facebook when I should be reading or writing or writing down like a plan.


I tell that to my — I’ve got three young kids when they are playing their Wii or Nintendo DS or — I’m like, ‘are you spending time or are you investing time?’ And so it’s all about trying to help make yourself better in whatever way you can. Whatever is important to you or which direction you want to go.


Scott:                     How important is the ‘why’ for these goals?


Ted Alling:            For me, it’s big time and it’s funny, I kind of know what my ‘why’ is but I kind of woke up two weeks ago in the middle of the night and just kind of wrote it down like what my ‘why’ is to me. And I believe — so I’m just going to tell it on air; so I think my ‘why’ is I try to help other people believe in themselves and people have told me that I am pretty good at saying, ‘hey Ted, I never thought I was that good but you kind of pumped me up and motivated me to kind of see stuff that I didn’t kind of see in myself’.


And so I’m just trying to help other people kind of get what they — and Zig Ziglar is really a guy that I used to listen to his tapes a lot in [Inaudible 0:24:49] and he said, ‘if you can just help enough people in life and get what they want, you could have anything you want’. And that is really just kind of what my motivation in life is trying to help whoever I can, didn’t matter who it is really; just trying to help them get what they want in their lives and that’s — it seems to be working out pretty well so far.


Scott:                     I’d say so. What type of things do you do to inspire and change people’s belief structures? Because that’s not an easy thing to do.


Ted Alling:            Yeah, no, it’s not. I had a meeting with a guy today, we went and grabbed coffee and he wants me to kind of mentor him but I go and listen a lot I think, I try not to give direct advice to people but talk from experiences. And I’d say, ‘hey you need to go move into this’ or ‘you need to stop doing this and do that’. I kind of say, just kind of relate it to an experience that I have when I am talking to people, I’d be like, ‘hey at a point in my life this has kind of happen to me’ and just kind of tell them the story and that’s kind of worked out well. Because we have had — we’re still really young but we have had a lot of battle scars.


We started other companies that have failed and we have been successful in a lot or ways but a lot of things we failed at and so I’m trying to like pay the dumb-tax for — I’ve paid a lot of dumb-tax and just help other people maybe not have to run the same struggles we have before.


Scott:                     Absolutely. What’s — I think one of the best things you can do to inspire people especially for somebody like yourself when you see this amazing resume and credentials, it seems like all peaches and roses now, but along the way there had to be times where you guys made a giant mistake or had a failure and yet you were able to persevere and bounce back; I think it would be really motivating and inspirational right now if you could share one of your failures.


Ted Alling:            Yeah.


Scott:                     And what you learnt and how you changed afterwards.


Ted Alling:            Man, there are so many. We, at one point tried to — we tried to start like a warehouse company and we ended up renting a huge warehouse in Birmingham and it was really expensive at that point in the company I mean it could sink the whole company. And we were definitely cocky going into it or just very confident. And I swear, I have never in my life, never called or sold harder for that warehouse than I have anything on earth. Literally. It was — I mean I had a whole another job running the logistics company, but I was finding a way to make 50 to 100 phone calls every day just to try to help fill up that warehouse.


And we lost mega-money on it and stuff that I learnt from that; one, it was — we probably didn’t have the right team and at Lamp Post we just invest in teams to kind of — we don’t just invest in solo entrepreneurs. We have to get a team around and that’s worked for us because my two partners and I are like complete opposites. Barry is our CFO, he is a complete — the ‘see and know’ basically which I’d be completely broke if I didn’t have him. And then Allan is the operations guy. So the three of us have sales, networking, finance and operations, we just happen to be best friends and we wouldn’t even know that going into it.


So we did really kind of investing in teams also, it just — I think I was diverting my time trying to do two things and I think when you are starting a startup –, I talk to people all the time, that ‘yeah, I have a full-time job but I’m doing a startup on the side’ — like ‘no, that’s not going to work’. It is like you have to sit down and wake up and think about that startup all day and you’ve got to just push all of the chips across the table and be like, ‘I’m in’ because failure is not an option. Like I’m not going to fail and so I think when we are trying to do the warehouse and the logistics thing, we couldn’t do both.


I think if we would have just focused on one, it probably would have worked or hired a team to help kind of run it, it would have probably worked but ended up — it’s so funny like, it’s kind of like getting hung up on, like we loved to fail too. It’s just like, on my gosh, we learnt so many good lessons from that and it helped me learn some skills and some expertise trying to run that warehouse. It helped me land some other mega, fortune 100 companies. And if we would have never tried to do that warehouse thing, it wouldn’t have led to some of these big accounts that help grow the company.


Scott:                     Let’s talk a little bit about Lamp Post and your shift from operator to investor-incubator of different companies; I mean you say that you invest in teams and you invest in people but what are you really looking for in the team?


Ted Alling:            You know, that’s a great question. It’s the same type energy, it’s the same type motivation — one of our team, the guys from Ambition like they hawk their school [Inaudible 0:30:33] raise some extra money to hire some company in India to build this thing. It’s just like this complete devotion and passion for what they are doing. And you can just feel it when you talk to somebody about how into their company they are and because — we kind of say this, we don’t always just invest in the idea, it’s all about the people running the deal and we’ve had a ton of good ideas coming here and we had people just [Inaudible 0:31:07] and like totally do something different than what they said they were going to do.


And we have just seen the resilience of some of these entrepreneurs that have come in and kind of changed courses. You got to be able to just innovate with what your customer needs. So yeah, it’s definitely different being a mentor than running a company and I’m doing a lot more mentor stuff right now and we focus a lot on founder dynamics and making sure that the founders know what they need to be focusing on and kind of helping to steer them in a certain direction.


Scott:                     What’s the common founder dynamic pitfall that you see?


Ted Alling:            Something that I think is super-important and you’ll see a lot of folks, especially maybe some of the CEOs that they use the word ‘I’ a lot and they need to — and I’ve quickly said, ‘hey, that’s not going to work, everything is ‘we’, everything is a team. If there’s a problem, you take credit and if there’s success, you give the credit and it’s all about the team, it’s all about the ‘we’, this is the direction we’re going, and there’s no ‘I’ anymore’. And so that’s — some of the younger folks, because they have come in and they just got to have to realize that it’s not all about them and it’s about the team and just putting the team first in everything.


Scott:                     That’s really good advice. I want to know — I guess — I think your story is so interesting because again, like with most of the people that I interacted with are either going after the same industries or building software for — everybody from marketing companies to trying to reach consumers, they are not going after things like logistics; that I think there are just gaping voids in and opportunities for huge businesses. Do you gravitate towards these less sexy industries as an investment?


Ted Alling:            Yeah, totally and I think it’s funny that I have had friends coming out of college, a lot of my friends were getting into investment banking and consulting and I always thought I was going to work for a trucking-logistics company and they were kind of laughing at me. And it’s like there’s so much less competition in stuff like this and then they are trying to go and be an investment banker as you know. And so, we’re all about kind of finding maybe some older dinosaur industries and getting them and putting in some new tech and some new heart and a lot of energy and it’s been really well.


I mean we’ve got an insurance company — we actually have a trucking company that we got a — I got a contract with the Department of Defense. We haul arms, ammunition and explosives and we got into that not really knowing much and now we’ve become one of the industry leaders in that. We’ve also got an international logistics company we started less than a year ago and this year we are poised to do seven million in sales and this is just stuff that people don’t necessarily think they want to get into. And all businesses are about people, it’s not like — and then we find we get teams of people that really care and live for each other and have a good time working together. We just got to make the workplace fun and so that is kind of what we like to gravitate to.


We’ve also got a pretty neat company that — it’s a moving company, it’s called Bellhops and they are doing collegiate moving and these guys are just absolutely killing and they are doing college moving stuff. They started it three years ago — they started at Aubrey University and today they are in about 119 campuses, have over 10,000 bellhops and this year they’re going to [Inaudible 0:35:24] six to eight million and it’s just — and it’s stuff that no one in the West Coast or the East Coast were really thinking about getting into. And that’s what we do.


Scott:                     Yeah, I heard of a story recently of one of my peers who got into oil and gas and basically was getting ridiculed because this dude was out like basically surveying land and doing the — while all his buddies were in investment banking, this guy was focused on the energy industry, not really sexy, not like in a financial role, more like an actual exploration feed-on-the-soil role. And he started — very similar to you, realized that he could start his own company doing what he was doing for this other company and within two years, had a hundred-million dollar company. And again, there just not the competition in these industries that there is in a lot of the traditional [Inaudible 0:36:19] software role.


Ted Alling:            Yeah, and we’re just going to continue to do that and it’s funny we have a company here that — one of their goals is to help disrupt southern business with tech. Like that’s what they want to do and they are not into making the next Pinterest or Facebook or whatever, they are about building scalable, solid businesses with good earnings. That’s stuff we’d like to do.


Scott:                     I think that as an investor, those are good things to like. So Ted, you’ve taught us a lot today, I’m really pumped up because this ‘never say die’ attitude that we have talked about on this call, is the key of your success. Like you’ll eventually find a way if you never give up. What is next for you? You’re moving to London, I mean what can we expect?


Ted Alling:            That’s a good question; so I’m — we’re really invested hard into Lamp Post and Chattanooga in particular, but we’re trying to build some kind of global pipelines into our city and to kind of spread the word of what we are trying to doing here — we think it is pretty special and a lot of the key to some of this tech stuff is having outside influences from really all over. I’m just making alliances and building pipelines into our city. And so I’m going to be moving, I’m kind of taking a year off doing a year’s sabbatical, I’ve got an investor visa which means I’m moving to London for a year and my wife kind of grew up internationally and we have always talked about doing it.


It’s a good time for my kids, they are at right ages, they are going to be ten, eight and four and so my kids want to text their friends every five minutes and they are kind of willing to want to move away for a year. So, I’m going to move there, probably to do some mentoring over there and some investing and maybe checking out some different startup scenes around Europe. So, that’s kind of my big thing, I’ve also got a super-secret startup that I have been keeping for a while. That’s kind of exciting but I can’t talk about it yet that I’m kind of exploring a little bit. My wife’s like, ‘oh really, you take [Inaudible 0:38:32] week off’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, basically sounds about right’.


And so we’re just kind of doing that possibly on the side but really kind of focusing a lot on just seeing the world, just get my kids some new experiences and just maybe bring back some great ideas and some good friends.


Scott:                     That’s amazing, if you are open to it, I’d love to share one of the questions that you filled out in the questionnaire that kind of is in alignment with this and I think it’s really motivating for me and for everybody listening. But I ask — one question that I always ask the guest for the show is, in the spreadsheet is, what can we talk about that will help listeners improve or get an edge in the business in life and what you said was, ‘put your head down and grind; it is hard as hell but the most rewarding thing in life. Who else gets to determine the future for themselves and their families’ and here you are, about to set off on a year exploration with your family abroad just pursuing the things that you want. And you are a young guy and that is really cool. And I want to ask you, because I think this is a question that a lot of us — when it gets really tough, ask ourselves; was all the grind worth it?


Ted Alling:            Dude, are you kidding me? I’ve got the most ridiculous life on the planet. And it’s funny I mean no one really knew who we were for a long time and we just kind of kept our head down and worked really hard and just — we kind of looked up and we were a 500 million dollar company. We didn’t really care what people thought. We had a good time doing it and it was really hard and really stressful but we had a freaking blast and we’re going to hope to continue to do this with other companies.


And we’re just trying to live life to the fullest and make a dent in this world. So it’s exciting man and I kind of want to live your life, living all over the world and doing some fun stuff and creating cool companies and meeting new people; that’s fun to me as well.


Scott:                     Well, it sounds like you are about embark on that journey. One question I always like to ask and I always want to finish up here is, if you had to give one piece of advice to all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, all the people that want these rich experiences that you talk about, if there’s one thing that they could do to get an edge in that journey, what would you say to them? What piece of advice would you give?


Ted Alling:            It’s really not focus on yourself which sounds crazy but it’s just like investing so much — you got make sure and we were pretty good about making sure; we say people kind of fire themselves because we ran at such at high speed. But when you find those special people that want to be on the boat with you, it’s just making them feel so important and making them believe that what you’re doing is big.


Setting a really big goal for yourself and like just always trying to invest time with them and make sure that they are good and that you are good just work your asses off. I know that it’s not the most brilliant thing in the world but then it’s like — I think a lot of people — I don’t want to make it a lot more complicated but it’s really not. Most people in this world are pretty lazy I think and I’ve got two brothers and they’ve both have been very successful too. We were always very competitive and pushing each other in whatever we do so, that’s some advice that I would give.


Scott:                     I love it man and you know, what’s funny, it’s like yeah, it’s not original, it’s not brain surgery, work your ass off; well dude, the reason you keep hearing that is because it’s the truth.


Ted Alling:            Yeah, it stinks and [Laughter] it’s not that fun always but that’s the key to successful people. If you talk about Bill Gates, he said he didn’t take a day off in his 20s. He didn’t take one day off and look where he got himself.


Scott:                     Wow. Ted, where is the best place for people to stay in touch with you, stay up to date with the stuff that you are doing? Where can they find you online?


Ted Alling:            I’ve got a blog, just Ted Alling dot com or I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the three best places to find me.


Scott:                     Awesome. Well, I’ll make sure to link those up in the show notes. Dude, I’m so glad we connected, thanks so much coming on to the show today. You taught us a ton and really ,I mean I’m ready to go out there and kick some butt.


Ted Alling:            [Laughter] I’m telling you, you’re on to it. I spent a lot of time last night on your podcast and looked at some of your sales notes and cold-calling stuff and we’re going to be friends for a long time. So, I’m excited.




Scott:                     Before we finish up with today’s mind share, I just want to say thanks for listening to another episode or the Competitive Edge. If you’ve enjoyed the ideas in this episode and want to access all the conversations, tactics and mind shares we will be sharing in the future, the best thing you can do is subscribe to the Competitive Edge on iTunes. And while you’re there, if you’ve felt like this show has made a positive impact on your day, it would be great if you could leave us a review on iTunes as well.


Now I know we’ve covered a lot in this episode and there might be a few key ideas or tools that you want to remember; so we went ahead and compiled all of the notes, links and even a full, searchable transcript of this conversation for you on Life-longlearner dot com. I also want to give you the details on the cool contest that I am running right now at Life-longlearner dot com slash fun. By entering the contest, you’ll have a chance to win everything from Amazon gift-cards to a free month of having your very own dedicated, virtual assistant to an opportunity to come and hang out with me and my buds for a few days where we’ll teach you to create your very own passive income stream. To enter this contest and learn more about everything we’re giving away, head on over to Life-longlearner dot com slash fun.




Hey! Scott here coming at you with another mind share; so we just got done with a very motivating and inspiring conversation with Ted Alling and I mean, I’m just so jacked up right now and I think one thing we didn’t get to talk about which has really helped me in my own life is this idea of making the decision before you start something. In Ted’s case, he made the decision that he was going to succeed no matter what. The failure was not an option and I think this is something that Tony Robbins taught me but a lot of times, people don’t make decisions, they just say they should do things and what ends up happening is that they shit all over themselves.


So I should go to the gym, I should start a company, I should continue writing a blog until it becomes successful; I should keep doing podcasts even though I’m not necessarily getting the traction that I want, whatever it is. That is not ‘making a decision’ and because you haven’t made the decision, you are not unlocking the power of personal congruence or being consistent with the things that you say you are going to do. So, one of the most powerful forces in human behavior and in motivation and just actualizing the — I guess taking the actions that we want to take is this natural desire of human beings to be consistent with what they say they are going to do.


So if I say that I am more likely — if I say that I am going to do something, I’m more likely to actually do that thing and so what this starts with is first making a decision and saying that you are going to do something. So wherever you are today, whether that’s you want to start a business, you want to lose weight, you want to get in better shape, you want to give up drinking, all stuff that I have said to myself in my own life, that is something that you first have to start with or put a stake in the ground and make a decision. And right now, I’ll tell you one that I had in my own life last night. So I have kind of been in ‘grind’ mode right now and I’ve gotten a little bit soft like I don’t feel like I’m in as good a shape that I was and I have basically a month left in brazil before I move back to the States for a little bit.


And I told myself, when I come back to the states, I want to be in the best shape of my life. I want to feel great, I want to look great and I just want to be healthier, I want to have more energy. And I told myself this next month, I want to be really good and I’m making a decision that I’m going to cut certain things out of my diet that I have been eating that weren’t healthy for me and that’s a decision, that is not a ‘should’, that’s a decision. And it’s going to be hard but I know that I am more likely to do those things now that I have basically said it out loud, told my friends and I’m very clear about the stance that I have taken when faced with that particular temptation.


Anyways, I hope that you have enjoyed this mind share; that’s what was on my mind right now, I want you to go out there and have an amazing day. Thanks again for listening and I will see you soon on the next episode.



[End of interview 0:48:20]


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What if there was a way for anyone to unlock exponential growth in their lives?

In this episode with my homeboy Andy Drish, we discuss the concept of how people can find and tap into their unique genius to be happier, more productive and really connect with what they were put on this rock to do.

Andy is an awesome guy and runs one of the coolest companies around in The Foundation. He’s really directed my mindset towards exploring and implementing the concept of Unique Genius.

The concepts states there is a particular skill that we’re naturally good at, we love doing it, we become energized when we do it, and we constantly thirst to improve it. Once we’ve identified this we should build our entire life around this to unlock our greatest potential and provide the most value to the world.

We talk about lots of other interesting stuff and Andy is one of the more thoughtful, awesome guys I know. Enjoy : )

Andyism: “Take the five closest people in your life and average out their income and that’s probably about the money that you make” – Andy Drish (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • The number one thing that you can do to increase your income and expectations for yourself
  • How to find a badass peer group
  • Some ways to re-ignite entrepreneurial burn out and re-connect with your business
  • One of the best ways to get inspired and amazing copywriting ideas
  • The concept of unique genius and how it can transform your life
  • How to begin discovering your unique genius
  • Why doing the stuff that comes naturally and easy to us is a recipe for success and happiness
  • Why you should you should be careful about taking Momma’s advice

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher

Thank Andy for dropping knowledge on us (tweet Andy here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

Prioritization is king in entrepreneurship. I share the current frameworks I’m using to prioritize the 150 things I could be doing in my business.  

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Andy check him out at: Blog, The Foundation, and on Twitter @andydrish

Other resources mentioned:

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*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Searchable Transcript of This Andy Drish Interview:

Scott:                     Okay, today I’m so excited to have my buddy Andy Drish on the show. If you don’t know Andy, his story is pretty inspiring; he grew up in a small town in Iowa digging ditches with his dad until he was 14 years old. He followed the typical American Dream into a corporate job that sucked the life out of him. I know that’s definitely familiar to some of us listening and after quickly realizing how important freedom is to him, he built and sold his first business at age 26 and then co-founded The Foundation dot com, an online mentoring program for entrepreneurs who want to start and scale software companies from scratch as quickly as possible.


Andy’s super-human trick is listening deeply and connecting with people to help them align with their own Unique Genius to create new, exciting possibilities for the lives that didn’t exist before. Andy, what’s up man?


Andy Drish:          Dude, how’re you doing?


Scott:                     I am doing so good. Now, I know we talked a little bit about The Foundation in your introduction there. But for people that aren’t as familiar, can you give a little bit more sense of what exactly The Foundation is?


Andy Drish Interview:          Yeah, being crystal clear, we help people bootstrap software companies and take them from no business, no idea of what business to build, no coding skills to six months later, a software product with ten paying users. That’s kind of where we are at right now but what we are really building I think at a higher level Scott, is we want to build the home for entrepreneurs who are starting from nothing.


So, when you’re starting a business and you’re starting from scratch and you don’t have an Ivy League degree and you don’t have lots of money to waste or to risk and you don’t have connections like a lot of other people might have, like where do you go? Where do you turn to? And what we want to create is the home for entrepreneurs who are feeling that way. And that is the long term vision of what we are building.


Scott:                     That’s absolutely inspiring, were you always set out to create this concept of a home for entrepreneurs or did that change somewhere along the way?


Andy Drish:          It’s changing, it always changes I think. But I think Dane my business partner and I both viscerally experienced what it’s like — we grew up in Iowa, no real connection to business whatsoever and you go through this process or this period of just fumbling around and bouncing from idea to idea and person to person and trying to figure out — everybody is telling you what to do differently. ‘Oh, you should get into [Inaudible 00:02:51] or a logo or a website’, then somebody else is like, ‘no, you should do copywriting’, ‘no, you should do product launches'; and everybody is telling you all these different things. And so it’s like where can you go to just connect with people who have been there, who have done it and who are going through the same process that you are? So, this is where we have evolved with the vision for The Foundation. It didn’t start there.


Scott:                     That’s absolutely amazing and you encounter a lot of these — a lot of people are listening right now are probably very similar to people that go through your program and maybe they have never been an entrepreneur before, they’ve never started a business. What is it that holds people back from taking the actions that even those people that are in their lives that are telling them to do, aren’t doing it? What is it that is holding them back from doing the things that even the people that are giving them advice are doing?


Andy Drish:          You know, a lot of things, but I think at the end of the day, it probably just boils down to fear at some level. You remember Billy from mancation?


Scott:                     Oh yeah.


Andy Drish:          So, for people listening, I hosted a little mancation, Scott came on; mancations are where we get a bunch of dudes and run to big mansions somewhere in the woods and we all go play for a weekend and talk about life and what not. And Billy was on there and I was interviewing Billy for a podcast the other day and he was a professional poker player. I don’t know if you knew this about him. He played poker professionally for like eight years or something crazy.


And when he quit his job and told his parents, ‘I’m going to become a professional poker player’, his mom, like at breakfast would like leave little ads on things, little job ads with things highlighted for him to check out. [Laughter] And then when people would talk about it, ‘oh, what’s Billy doing?’ And they would be like, ‘oh, he’s just kind of like finding his way right now’ and not really saying anything. And then he told the story of after four months in, he owed his dad 15 or 20 grand, his dad helped pay for a car at some point.


And so he took 20 grand out and wrapped it in a rubber band in cash and his dad is like sitting on a recliner and he’s like, ‘hey dad, I owe you money for that car?’ And his dad’s like, ‘yeah’, and he’s like ‘well, here you go’ and he tosses a wad of 20 grand. And at that point even his parents are like ‘oh, our son Billy, the professional poker player’, and they are so super excited about it. And so you think about it, and they are the people who care the most about you, your parents. And at the end of the day, they just want you to be safe, I think.


And I think one thing that holds people back so much is their peer group around them. So many people are actually — Eben Pagan said this at one point, he said, ‘the people who are closest to you don’t want you to change because if you change, the ways in which they used to manipulate you won’t work any longer’. And when he said that, I felt that was really interesting and so I think it is really important to be surrounded with a community of people who all value growth at some level and value pushing each other. Like holding each other a higher standard of excellence as opposed to a [Inaudible 00:06:15] common denominator and just pulling each other back down.


Scott:                     That’s so present with me and I know another person that has been impactful for you and that is Tony Robbins and what —


Andy Drish:          Oh, yeah.


Scott:                     — Tony says, what really hit me like a ton of bricks was that the expectations you set for yourself are the expectations of your peer group. So, the best thing that you can do to really level up your game to almost I guess, migrate automatically to the actions that you want to take, whether that’s building a software business or giving up drinking. I mean that is super present with me because when I lived in New York City I was drinking a ton on the weekends going out and then I moved down to Brazil with a bunch of guys that don’t drink.


And now when I go out, all of a sudden, I don’t really drink that much any more. You end up simulating to this peer group in terms of expectations and it sounds like that’s something you have seen with the foundation.


Andy Drish:          Yeah, and I think a huge part of our community is making sure that the right people are there but I think at the end of the day, it’s about belief structures and your identity of who you believe that you are and what you believe is right and what you believe is wrong. And I’m sure most people have heard the ‘Rule of Five’ where it’s like if you want to figure out how much money you make, take the five closest people in your life and average out their income, and that’s probably about the money that you make.


If you want to talk about how your significant relationship is, take the five closest people who are around that and that is probably in the area that your relationship is. And yeah, and what happens is that when you are surrounded by a group of people who have a different belief structure than you, you naturally begin to adopt that belief structure. So, if you hang out with people who are making 10 grand a month, like a 100 grand a year and then say you switch that peer group to a group of people that are making a million dollars a year, purely just by hanging out with that group of people, you’re going to pick up on the way that they think about things and the way that they take action on things and the way that they carry themselves which is in a very different way than the person making ten grand a month.


And like subconsciously, you just kind of pick it up and start doing it. That’s why, I think the peer group is so important and so cool when you get it right but the hard part is that it’s hard to find those communities —


Scott:                     I was going to ask —


Andy Drish interview:          — to find the right people.


Scott:                     I was going to ask, how does somebody who might not necessarily have the most empowering peer group, how do they find these type of people, what advice would you give somebody who is craving this peer group to step up their game?


Andy Drish:          Oh man, it’s happened to me so many times, one big way is to create it. I think the options are create it, or join it. And so for me in the past, I’ve held masterminds like here in Boulder where I ended up getting plugged in with people doing low-seven figures to mid-eight figures, like 20-30 million a year and then the mancations, I want that level of interaction with dudes. I want really cool dudes that I can hang out with so I plan the mancations. And the cool thing about planning it is that you don’t have to be — there’s no requirement to get in the door aside from the fact that you want this group of people who are cool to hang out with.


And when you are the curator, you provide all the value by just bringing the right people to the door. So, I’m a huge fan of creating it, but then there’s times when you can’t. So you know, I’ve spent a significant amount of money joining high-end mastermind programs, going to different conferences, all sorts of stuff like that. So joined Dan Sullivan’s Mastermind program this year; it’s like 20 grand a year and there’s 25 people in it. But it’s like the dude who founded Singularity University or the dude from Integrated [Inaudible 00:10:11]; people running 40-50 million dollar companies and so —


Scott:                     I feel like there’s two types of people. There’s the people that get that investment and they get that one connection, could be worth the entire thing because it could change your life and then there’s people that just look at the couple of thousand dollar mastermind or the trip — or the couple of thousand dollar trip from Brazil to Colorado; I don’t know anybody who’s done that —


Andy Drish:          Uh-huh.


Scott:                     — and they don’t see the value; what would you say to these people who are stuck, who don’t have this peer group yet aren’t willing — that don’t see the value in that type of investment?


Andy Drish:          You know, they might not be ready for it or they might just be missing it and I think it’s one of those things that you almost have to experience for yourself first. It’s like, I grew up in the mid-west, barely ever went outside the mid-west until college when I studied about new Zealand and then when I traveled for the first time and I experienced what traveling was, I was like ‘oh my God, this is incredible’ and that was the defining moment of why I wanted to build a business online; so I could travel and play.


And I think what happens is that once you get a taste of it, once you get an experience where you are surrounded by your people, you’ll never go back. You just can’t. Once you experience that, you can’t go back to going back home with your typical friends who are just there hanging out, drinking beer or whatever it is. That was always our thing in Iowa, we’d just go out on the weekends and stuff and you just can’t go back to that and you’re forever changed. So if you are listening and you even have a ping of interest with it, try it once and see what happens. Just try it once.


Now, the thing is, it doesn’t — a one event can be really life-changing like that but really that’s just the tip of the iceberg and the fun part is — right now, I’m 27, I’ve been doing this stuff for, I don’t know, five or six year now and the really exiting part is that it spirals over time. It’s kind of like the hockey stick growth. You get to a point where the events that you can get into and the people that you get access to, it just becomes really easy and really fun. So, yeah —


Scott:                     But it all starts with taking that first step, right?


Andy Drish:          Totally.


Scott:                     Now, I want to talk about — this kind of leads into another topic that I wanted to touch base on today that when I find myself — building a business is hard, entrepreneurship is not easy and there’s times when we get fatigued and I’ve noticed that when I have this type of peer group around me, those times are much easier. It’s much easier to get reconnected to my business and we were talking in Colorado a little bit about — despite the fact that the foundation seemed like they were doing amazing and you guys were in many ways, you just felt like you got a little disconnected to the business. Can you talk a little bit about your situation and maybe some things you did to reignite that spark?


Andy Drish:          Yeah dude, burnout happens. I think especially for entrepreneurs and it’s really dangerous as an entrepreneur because if you get burnt out, if you are dependent on cash flow, like you producing the entire cash flow, it’s not good to be burnt out. So, what happened for us is we did this really big launch the year before. We went from having an email list of nothing to 15,000 people in three months and it was awesome. And we had this huge launch and then on the day of launch, I don’t know if I told you guys this story of mancation.


The day of the launch, we — I was in New York and I called Dane at like 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning and I was like ‘dude, we open up at 2:00 o’clock this afternoon; we don’t have to do anything else and everything is set for this launch’ which never happens with product launches by the way. And so less than 30 minutes after I tell him that, we get an email from our merchant processor telling us that they are only — we’re only approved to process $25,000 worth of transactions through their new merchant account; because we set up an account. So we had a new merchant account and I spent the last four weeks calling them and being like, ‘hey we’re doing this new product launch, just so you know’.


And that was the email they sent us four hours before the launch and that started off a chain of events that made my life hell for the next six weeks of — money getting frozen that we couldn’t get access to, having all of this stuff flowing to three different accounts and all of our software breaking — just absolute awfulness. And I went through kind of a dark period then of just complete exhaustion. And what I realized is that — somebody told me this quote once, of like the more masculine fatherly force that you have, the more drive and passion and pushing energy that you are going to put into the world needs to be matched with an equal amount of feminine, motherly, caring energy for yourself.


So the more you are going to drive and push hard, the more you actually need to kind of pamper yourself. Like get a massage or go to the chiropractor or do these things that make you feel really good and taken care of. And the more that I began to understand this, the more that I have completely gotten away from the whole mindset of ‘we need to push, we need to crush it, we need to work 80 hours a week.’ The whole start-up world feels so toxic with that stuff and I don’t resonate with that anymore.


The other thing that helped me really, when I get really disconnected from what we’re doing and this is specifically with our launch this year. We did that big launch and then we were following it up with our second launch and we were like, ‘oh, we want to top it, we want to do better, we want to do more’ and it caused us to just get exhausted. And what we did at that time was that we had videos, we had 50 videos of students telling us whey they wanted to start a business and Dane and I stayed up to 2:00 in the morning one night watching these videos over and over.


And you hear people talking about ‘I want to start a business because I want my children to have a life of freedom’ or one person said, ‘I want to start a business but everyone in my family is a doctor and I’m afraid that if I fail at business, I’ll fail everyone in my family’. And when you get really connected to the experience of the customer and the pains that they are experiencing, it reminds you why you got into business the first place and that helped a lot.


Scott:                     And I remember you saying that it was an excellent exercise for copywriting too, for all the marketers out there as well.


Andy Drish:          Totally, because really — I think marketing and copy get such a bad rap because there is so much like sketchy stuff online. But I really believe that the greatest skill a marketer can have is compassion and empathy for a person. Knowing what their experience is like and being able to dive into that experience with them. And when you do that and you see the struggles the people are going through, yeah, your copy is definitely going to get better because you can relate to them and you can go through that emotional experience with them for sure.


Scott:                     Yeah, I mean it’s so funny, you’re right, it gets a bad name because there is a bunch of sketch balls on the Internet but at the end of the day, it’s just about understanding people, being able to communicate with them in a way that is impactful.


Andy Drish:          Totally.


Scott:                     Andy, so I was talking to my roommate Ben the other day and he told me you’ve discovered this thing and you are really excited about this idea of helping people discover their genius. Is that something that we can talk about today?


Andy Drish:          Dude, I’m so jazzed to talk about this today.


Scott:                     Let’s do it.


Andy Drish:          This is like — it feels like the culmination of six years of researching stuff and I’m finally getting it, I feel like. So, when I was 21, I was working in corporate America, and they sent me to the Inc. 500 Conference and the Inc. 500 is the 500 fastest growing businesses in America. So, people who were quadrupling their sales year after year, which is such a super-high energy, fast-paced environment to be around. And one morning, we actually — I was with Principle Financial Group and we were one of the core sponsors. So it was us and American Express were the two sponsors of the event, or the two main sponsors, I should say.


And one morning, I was getting coffee and I was 21 and super-talkative and wanted to meet everybody there and so I start talking with this guy in line for coffee. And I was like, ‘so what do you do?’ And he was like, ‘I help people create exponential growth in their life’. And I was like, ‘really? How do you do that?’ I was like, ‘that sounds fun’. And he explained to me, that he was like, if you’re looking at the world through a lens — the direction that you are looking, you actually have blind spots just like you would in a car. And in these blind spots, there’s spaces that you can’t actually see that are affecting you. And when you shine the light on a blind spots that you have, it’s like unleashing yourself, it’s like cutting the chain that’s been holding you back but you don’t know that it’s actually holding you back because you can’t see it.


And so, I was like, ‘this sounds awesome dude, like where do I learn more abut this?’ And he was like, ‘go to Landmark Forum, that’s the first place to start’. So I went to Landmark Forum and that was the first personal self-help thing that I ever did and since then I have been really interested in self-discovery. So, I’ve talked to — so I’ve done all the Tony Robbins stuff, all sorts of transformational self-help things; I’ve talked to an astrologer, a numerologist, a psychic intuitive — all sorts of crazy stuff.


And the thing that I discovered a few months ago is from Dan Sullivan and he talks about this idea of unique ability or your Unique Genius. And your genius or your unique ability is something that you do automatically, it’s something that gives you endless amounts of energy, you’ve been doing it almost your entire life and you are the best in the world at it or you are one of the best. You just don’t even know it. And the reason why is because you have been doing it for so long and our entire society conditions us to believe that work is supposed to be hard.


The things that are easy and effortless, you shouldn’t get paid for. You have to get paid on stuff that is actually hard for you to do. But the truth is, if you figure out what your genius is, you can build your entire life around what your genius is. And that should be the only stuff that you do because that’s the stuff that gives you energy and surprisingly — or not surprisingly, at the same time, it’s the activities that provide the most value to the world. So, my entire thing now is, I want to help people discover what their genius is and it doesn’t matter if you want to be an entrepreneur or if you want to work for somebody else.


But this whole idea of to figure out like at a high level, what is the thing that you do better than anyone else and then what are the activities that encompass that and build a life around it. So in my life, now I have an assistant who takes care of pretty much all shopping, house-related stuff, cooking, cleaning, all of the domestic stuff that I generally hate. We’ve got a team that takes care of so much other stuff, so I can really stay in my zone which is like I talked about earlier or like you said in the beginning, I’m a ninja at connecting deeply with people and helping them align with their greatest genius or their greatest skills or whatever it is to create exciting new possibilities for their life.


So, if you and I spent time together, you are going to walk away feeling excited about possibilities that didn’t exist for you before. That’s where I’m a ninja and everywhere else, I’m sub-par. And if I can just build a life around just that skill, it’s so exciting to me.


Scott:                     Wow, that is amazing, that is absolutely amazing and I think you’re selling yourself short over there when you said that you were sub-par at other things as somebody who knows you. But what would you say to people that — and this is an insanely powerful idea, I’m fired up literally just thinking about this that we all have this one thing that we are more or less destined to do. What are the first steps for somebody to try to understand and find their particular Unique Genius?


Andy Drish:          Dude, this is so cool, I’m glad you’re asking this. Because this is exactly where people should be going, this is the path they should be doing down in my opinion, any way. So there is a whole framework that I took myself through and it      was a combination of books from Dan Sullivan’s Unique Ability book, Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap book and then I have been working with this coach who has been kind of re-wiring my mindset around working versus allowing and allowing things to happen in my life.


And so a rough frame of what I do with people is, I take them through a handful of questions; the first one being, what’s your favorite movie and what’s your favorite character? What do you love about that character and why? Actually, let’s do this with you Scott.


Scott:                     Let’s do it and —


Andy Drish:          What’s your favorite — go ahead.


Scott:                     I’ve been asked this question before, I’m excited for this.


Andy Drish:          Cool, what’s your favorite movie?


Scott:                     Favorite movie is Rudy.


Andy Drish:          Rudy; and favorite character? Rudy, I assume?


Scott:                     It’s definitely not the jerk coach, it’s Rudy.


Andy Drish:          [Laughter] Cool, how would you describe Rudy?


Scott:                     He is a guy that, against all odds, against all people that didn’t believe in him, went out and exceeded expectations.


Andy Drish:          What characteristics do you think Rudy embodies?


Scott:                     Heart, persistence, confidence in his abilities and resiliency.


Andy Drish:          Dude, so, for those of you who don’t know Scott, on a scale of one to ten, how much does that align with a perception of yourself?


Scott:                     Pretty well, very well. I think we have such a self-bias towards liking people like ourselves.


Andy Drish:          Totally.


Scott:                     So, I think that is very much in alignment with the identity that I have for myself.


Andy Drish:          Totally, so this is the first step in the process and this is more like a fun, playful thing to get people opening up and experiencing little bit. And this is becoming my new, favorite question to ask people because you learn so much about them, without them really even knowing it especially if they have ever been through the question before. So, this is the first question and the process is like the first thing is getting the data and so there is this question, I’ll ask people what were the things that they loved to do when they were a child, what are the habits that everyone can count on them for over and over — like what are the things that they always do?


We’ll have people email the top five to ten people in their life who know them most and from that they’ll get feedback on what those people think their genius is or what their unique abilities are. And then, I’ll have people go through every job that they have ever had and write down the tasks that they loved in those jobs. So this is the data process of getting all the data out there on the table and then the next phase is looking for the patterns. And so you look at all these different things what people think about you, what you think about yourself, what are the habits that you are constantly doing in your past experiences with your different jobs; what were the roles that you loved doing?


And you go through this process and then all of a sudden, you’ll start seeing patterns that emerge. You’ll see really common things that get you really excited and then you take the patterns and then you distill the patterns eventually into a one-sentence statement that describes exactly where you are a ninja. And then from this place, once we know exactly what that is, we go through a process of listing all the activities in your life in four different phases from ‘incompetent’ to ‘competent’ to ‘excellent’ to ‘genius’.


And those are the four different quadrants of activities if you will, where incompetent, you’re just terrible at, like for me, cleaning, cooking, laundry, I hate it. Competent, you can do it but it sucks all of your energy away; excellent, you can do it for a period of time and you might be actually really good at it but it’s a learned skill. It’s not something that rejuvenates you and gives you more energy when you are done and genius is the stuff that gives you energy when you do it and you can do it forever.


And there is probably a very small number of tasks; for me there is only three for the most part. And so we break down all the activities in your life and we break them into these categories and we figure out where your genius is and where you excellence is and then we try and create a plan for you to get rid of the other activities so you don’t have to do them anymore.


Scott:                     I have a zillion questions. [Laughter]


Andy Drish:          Go for it, dude.


Scott:                     First, what is your genius?


Andy Drish:          So, my high-level genius is like I said, connecting deeply with people, listening to them and helping them align with their greatest genius or their greatest skills or what it is that they are destined to do and helping them create new possibilities for their life that didn’t exist. That’s what gets me super jazzed like I feel so excited by this. Another fun question is, when you were a kid, imagine, two or three friends are hanging out and your friends are hanging out and they are hanging out, and they you show up, how does the energy in the group shift? Like what’s different? What’s different about your presence being there?


And for me, it was always like there was a different level of excitement about life and that is what I want people to experience. I want them to feel just excited about whatever experience they are having. Whether it’s starting a job or starting a new career or getting married, whatever it is, I just want people to feel excited. So that’s at a high level the skills or the three activities that I like to stay in at all times; one is connecting with people, so going to events, hosting events, making new friends. I just really like doing that.


Scott:                     And you’re good at that.


Andy Drish:          Thanks man. It’s fun to me like doing mancation, it’s like — it’s hilarious. I just have so much fun doing stuff like that. So, number two, coaching, teaching and training. So, generally, I don’t do — I don’t really take on any coaching clients but I do a lot of coaching for our team. We have a team of seven full-time people now, so doing a lot of coaching there and then teaching stuff like this or within the community. And then lastly, brainstorming and imagining and then creating ideas at like the 10,000 foot view. So brainstorming, ideas and strategies to getting them to like 80% of the way through, and then having somebody else come in and then implement them for me. Those are like the three things and if all I do during the week is those three things, I am as happy as can be. And it’s awesome.


Scott:                     I would love to learn about your process for — even if you have one, I’m not sure if you have any structure to it but your process for brainstorming big picture ideas?


Andy Drish:          I don’t really — nothing really comes to mind. The first step is always like what’s the outcome that you want to have.


Scott:                     Uh-huh.


Andy Drish:          Even if the meeting is just for brainstorming, and maybe it’s just like, I want to explore what the possibilities for this potentially be; and then we set a timer and then we do that. I don’t know, I don’t know what the process is. It comes really naturally to me. I’m generally pretty good with strategy and I don’t really have a really good process for you though, or a framework for it.


Scott:                     Totally cool. One question that I had about this whole Unique Genius idea is, is it possible for people to change through Unique Genius? Like let’s say somebody just happens to be a unique genius at analyzing data but they are not necessarily stoked about being an Excel-jockey as maybe being an actor or an entertainer or a sales person.


Andy Drish:          Uh-huh.


Scott:                     Is there a way for people to change that or alter that?


Andy Drish:          So, I think — I think the genius stuff, I think it’s almost like an onion where you’re constantly peeling back layers and it’s always kind of evolving but if you get a really good grasp of that initial 80%, you can kind of begin to build your life around what exactly that is. But even for me, I was talking as a friend on the phone this week and explaining to her about the genius stuff and when I explained it then, I said, my genius is around connecting people with people, listening to them and helping them create new, exciting possibilities for their life.


And she’s like, ‘yeah, but when you do it with me, I feel like you help me connect to source, you help me connect with that deepest thing within me. So it feels more than just exciting possibilities; it’s like the possibilities plus being connected to a deeper level’. And so that’s why I added that because it feels like it is constantly evolving. Now, when you talk about the idea of somebody who wants to jump from a sales person to an actor, you might think that’s a wind jump in a career aspect.


But there’s this whole concept in NLP called ‘up-chunking’ and ‘down-chunking’ and it’s a model of how to really get in touch with reality. So, if I start by saying, at the highest level there is transportation and a level under that is a vehicle and a level under that is a SUV and then a level under that is a Toyota SUV and a level under that is a Toyota SUV FJ Cruiser. And you’re getting more and more engrained in reality with the labels that we use to describe things. So, there is — if you look at a sales person and an actor, that’s like the Silver SUV in Boulder, Colorado; really engrained in reality.


But at a higher level, what is it that they are actually doing? And it might be that they love to entertain and inspire people or it might be that at a higher level, there is something there. And so I think the career path can change but I think at the core, there’s something that you love to do at a high level and it’s like an experience you want to create for people or a way you want to make people feel after they have been around you that might change a little bit but I think it doesn’t change drastically, it gets more refined, if that makes sense.


Scott:                     I love it. It is so interesting that we put so much focus on progress in our lives but yet, very rarely have I met people that are so intentional about trying to make sure that the way that they are sprinting is to the correct end-game —


Andy Drish:          What do you mean —


Scott:                     — in terms of their true purpose. I feel like a lot of us are running this race in our lives to be more successful, impact more people, build bigger things or whatever it is. Yet, so few people are taking a step back and trying to understand that function, that role that they are running in and that thing they are running towards, whether that is the best fit for their lives; whether that is going to make them the happiest, whether that is going to unlock their true potential, like this type of work sounds like it has a possibility to do.


Andy Drish:          Oh man, this is some of the best — it is just so much fun to do this type of work, because when you do this, you actually have a completely different level or a reason for existing. We did this — I went to this program with these people who are Why Experts that help you discover your [Inaudible 00:34:21] and what’s fun is you can see — once you figure out what your genius is, and why it is that you want it, you see it all kind of plays together. And so for me, I want people to experience their own greatness.


I want people to experience what it’s like seeing how great and powerful and remarkable they are as humans. And I think that’s why the genius piece of helping people create new, exciting possibilities for life that are tied to what their greatest purpose is. It is so exciting for me. But that is just me, I think — I don’t know, ever since discovering —


Scott:                     What stage genius? Just so people have another example of —


Andy Drish:          Good question. So with the team stuff that we are working on, we’re about halfway through the process with the team, we’ve been doing it — so I told Ben, I’m taking my entire team through this process but we have been doing it a bit slower and spending a little more intentional time like bringing the team together collectively. Dane’s really incredible at simplifying things and taking the complex stuff into really simple things and making it a simple way of understanding something that is really complex. I think that is one of his —


Scott:                     That’s a good one.


Andy Drish:          And then the why that we have been working on for him has changed. It’s kind of flipped up more over the past few months because he’s going through some crazy, personal stuff right now, so I think that’s part of it as well. —


Scott:                     So once —


Andy Drish:          But —


Scott:                     Go ahead —


Andy Drish:          No, I was just saying like for me discovering my why and my genius has just given me this whole different level of passion and excitement for life. And when you talk purpose, I always thought purpose — a year ago, I thought purpose was what I did in the world and now I’m understanding that it is actually a way of being and has nothing to do with what you are doing because you can be that way throughout everything that you are doing. If that makes sense.


Scott:                     It reminds me a lot of Tony Robbins’ idea of state.


Andy Drish:          Yeah. Very much.


Scott:                     So, when somebody does this work, they find what their Unique Genius is, or they think they have a hypothesis of what that might be; what’s the next step for them to actually actualize this?


Andy Drish:          Well, I don’t know, all I can really speak to at this point is my experience. Because I have only really taken a handful of people through this and did it myself. So for me, understanding — when you understand what you’re really good at, you actually feel more compassionate about the stuff that you are bad at and you respect people at lot more who — you respect the differences a lot more, if that makes sense. So it’s like I’m really good at this and I’m terrible at all of these other things but I love people the who — so a real tangible example – I’m awful with data and numbers and putting together our financial reports and doing bookkeeping.


I’m so terrible with that stuff but in January, I hired Lauren full time and she loves it. She geeks out on knowing numbers and going through spreadsheets and figuring all that stuff out. And she absolutely loves it and I hate it. And we work together so well and I have a such deep love and respect for what she does because I know where I am really good and I know where other people are really good and there’s no more pressure to have it all figured out or to be perfect or to be able to handle everything. All you have to do is do what you love doing and let other people take care of the rest and it’s really liberating and freeing.


Scott:                     It also sounds like, once you discover this, you actually become a better leader and manager.


Andy Drish:          I think so. At some level, that’s my entire purpose. So, I’m running the foundation and that is my entire purpose and in that role at some level is to get people in their zone of genius and align their genius with the vision of the company and the mission of the company and knowing of where we are going as a whole and where does their genius plug in and making these so people just play in those zones. Because when you are doing that, it’s not work anymore; because you’re so aligned with what you are born to do, it’s fun, it’s play, it’s exciting. You get to do it, you don’t have to do it, it’s a choice. And that’s the culture I want to build, that’s the company that I would want to work for, for sure.


Scott:                     Just thinking about the possibility, if everyone in the world was in that state, where they were in their zone, where they were doing the things they loved, what would be possible for the world? It’s just such an amazing prospect to think about.


Andy Drish:          Dude, I know, right? Like when I —


Scott:                     Oh my gosh, I’m getting fired up.


Andy Drish:          — think about that, how cool would that be and it is — it comes back like I feel that the world is insane, like what is wrong with this idea that we have to work hard and then we have to do this stuff that doesn’t come naturally and easy to us because we have to build character and pay our dues and do all of this, like the things that we hate doing for some unknown reason. Why not just do the things that feel really natural, that we love doing and create a culture or a business where that is the frame for every body working in the company.


I freaking love it, dude. I think the world will be such a better place in this if everybody knew what their genius was. That’s why I am so excited. I felt like this is something I could dedicate my life to helping people discover.


Scott:                     It’s certainly a worthy pursuit; that is for sure. I think one of the reasons of why we potentially might feel these external pressures, to do crap that we don’t like, all comes back to where we originally started talking about which was the whole peer group and the people that influence us.


Andy Drish:          Yeah.


Scott:                     Whether that’s our parents or our friends or our teachers or our coaches or whatever it is that are instilling these expectations in our lives to do these things that we don’t actually want to do.


Andy Drish:          Yeah, totally. How many times your parents are like, ‘oh you just have to do it for a little while’ or ‘just pay your dues now’ or ‘go work that corporate job because being an entrepreneur is too risky’. Like all of these different things, it’s crazy.


Scott:                     Yeah, man, I feel that; I feel that in my own life today and I love my parents to death.


Andy Drish:          Me too.


Scott:                     But my path is insanely different from theirs.


Andy Drish:          Yeah.


Scott:                     And it’s so hard to tread the balance of wanting to do the things that you want to do with your life that you know energize you and make you happy but also at the same time, make the people that you care about most happy who might have a different world view.


Andy Drish:          Uh-huh. And somebody gave me this advice, where they are like, never listen to your mom, because all she wants to do is make you safe. And feeling safe is the complete opposite experience of feeling alive, which is what we really crave. So, with all respect to all moms out there, because moms are awesome; but it’s so true. I think we crave the experience of being alive and doing stuff that we haven’t done before and playing on that edge. And our parents, they want to keep us safe, they don’t want us — it’s not that they don’t want us to have that experience, they just want to know that we are safe.


Scott:                     It’s a really powerful thought. Andy, so if people want to get started down this path of discovering themselves, there’s books that you mentioned. Can we make sure we link those up in the show notes, or maybe send them my way? I think this is just an insanely powerful conversation and I really want to try to encourage as many people as possible who are listening to this to start at least taking a step in the direction to discovering these important things about themselves.


Andy Drish:          Dude, I think this is the greatest thing you could possibly understand about yourself, is what your genius is. Because when you know this, so many other things are going to fall into place and it doesn’t matter if you want to start a company, if you want a different career, like whatever it is so that you can live a life of abundance and happiness and flow where you are in that zone where things just — like time disappears because you’re having fun with stuff. So, the books, Unique Ability by Dan Sullivan, this is like the cornerstone of a lot of it and Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap.


And the reason The Big Leap is so important is because what happens is that when you start living in your zone of genius, things become easy and they become more effortless and then your unconscious is like ‘whoa, something’s wrong here, it can’t really be this easy, it can’t really be this effortless, it can’t really be this good.’ And what happens is you unconsciously sabotage the process that you’re making. Like this has happened to me in business, where we launched a business one — years ago, I launched a membership site and in six weeks we went from having no idea to launching a membership site that was doing six or seven grand a month in revenue which was more than what I was making in corporate America at that time.


And so, all of a sudden, the possibility of quitting my job became real and it freaked me out. I was like, ‘oh my God, this can’t actually be happening. What if I have to do this now, I’ll have to get health insurance, I’ll have to quit my job and I’ll have to ‘– and so I ended up — six months later, the site crashed and we stopped marketing it and everything fell apart. And it was total big leap stuff. So, those are the two most important books that you can read on this right now. Unique Ability by Dan Sullivan and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.


Scott:                     Absolutely love it. Andy, one of the questions that I always like to finish with, and I think I might already know the answer here, but I’m going to ask the question anyways just so we can remind people. If you were to give people listening one piece of advice to get an edge in their business or their life, what would it be?


Andy Drish:          Oh, totally dude, you know, just figure this stuff out, figure out what your genius is. It took me — well, if you only count like the last four months, it took about four months to do it and if you count all of the stuff that I have done before that, then it’s taken a long time. But I think — so I don’t know if Ben shared this with you, I’m going to be doing a handful of little, group-coaching sessions with this. So if any one is interested, if enough people email me, we might throw one together for it. I think I can get people 80% of the way there in about three hours.


By going through this process and then if you go through this process with a friend, it amplifies everything because they know you really well and you know them. So, if you guys are interested, email me Andy at The Foundation dot com; if enough people — like 10 people or 20 people email me, we’ll throw something together and do a little session or something.


Scott:                     Well, you got one more already in myself —


Andy Drish:          Sweet, dude.


Scott:                     — hearing about this so —


Andy Drish:          We’re going to do a mancation one.


Scott:                     Oh, man —


Andy Drish:          It’s going to be awesome.


Scott:                     That is absolutely amazing. Andy, if people want more information, they have your email address, but they want to know more about The Foundation, more about you, where is the best place for them to go?


Andy Drish:          Definitely The Foundation dot com; that is the best place to get all this information. All the Unique Genius stuff is relatively new for me and The Foundation is — we didn’t actually get into it too much on this call but The Foundation is remarkable and I can tell you stories and stories from that but we’ll save that from another time. The Foundation dot com and then my personal email is Andy at The Foundation dot com.


Scott:                     Love it. Thank you so much for sharing with us all this amazing knowledge, perspective and insight today. I am so excited right now and we’re at the end of our call so hopefully we can just carry this energy with us throughout the day as well as for everybody who is listening.


Andy Drish:          Yeah, brother. Any time, thanks for having me man.


[End of interview 00:46:02]


What did you think of this interview with Andy Drish?

Does the concept of unique ability resonate with you? 

What about being intentional about architecting your peer group? What has worked with you?

Decoding How to Form Bulletproof Habits With James Clear – TCE 010

Listen to this episode on Itunes

Though I haven’t been in the game as long as many, I’m pretty sure that habits determine the quality of our lives.

Whether we’re talking health, wealth, or relationships, the things that we consistently do and think end up determining how we experience reality.

This is exactly why I wanted to bring on one of the most thoughtful thought leaders on habit formation on the show James Clear. James writes JamesClear.com, has built several internet businesses, and is someone I’ve been enjoying learning from for awhile now.

Now I know you may have read some books on habit or maybe even recognize the importance of implementing positive habits into your life….but the truth is, there is probably some habits you can improve or are still having trouble forming.

Heck, I moved from New York City to ditch bad habits and still got plenty to work on!!!

If you’re in this camp, I think you’ll really enjoy this meaty interview that decodes habits and much of why we do what we do…

Jamesism: “Make small choices on a consistent basis and let your actions drive your beliefs.” – James Clear (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • The two minute habit creation rule
  • The secret to breaking bad habits
  • Why we actually do things we don’t want to like overeat…this was a huge breakthrough for me
  • How to get leverage on yourself by tying your identity to habit creation
  • How to stop procrastinating using the Seinfield Strategy
  • The power of implementation intentions for taking action
  • Some unique ideas on prioritization and why we should strive for 1% gains

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher

Thank James for dropping knowledge on us (tweet james here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

A bit of a personal share here…I describe why I love my current roommates who I moved to Brazil with. I think this share alludes to some key values of what qualities are important in friendships especially in the crazy ride of entrepreneurship.  

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on James check him out at: Blog, Book: Transform Your Habits (it’s free), and on Twitter @james_clear

Other resources mentioned:

[su_list icon=”icon: star”]


*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Big Thanks to Today’s Show Partner

Vimbly.com – Vimbly is the fastest way to book thousands of activities, classes & date ideas. These include dance, cooking, glassblowing, pizza making, wine tasting, learning to DJ, improvisation, scotch pairing, samurai sword fighting, persuasion class, and more.

*When I was living in the states and trying to come up with cool date ideas Vimbly was my go to. The service was super easy and I definitely got an amazing response by mixing it up from the classic “drinks” date.vimbly_logo

Did you know that you can get free Vimbly credit in the The Competitive Edge Podcast giveaway? Check out all the details here


Searchable Transcript of This James Clear Interview:

Scott:                     Okay, so today, I’m really excited to bring James Clear to the show. James is a writer, entrepreneur and travel-photographer in more than 20 countries. Right now, James Clear dot com is the home of his life’s work and his site is read by over 200,000 different people each month. Additionally, more than 60,000 people receive his email newsletter every single week. James, how’re you doing man?

James Clear:          Hey, good to be here; thanks for having me on Scott.

Scott:                     It’s awesome to have you on and today I’m just really excited to chat with you about a lot of things but in particular, habits. James, you have such an interesting background and managed to do a ton of different things between building a business, being an expert in behavior change, being a travel-photographer; why don’t you tell us just a little bit more about yourself and when you started getting into forming habits and that became a critical part of your life?

James Clear:          Sure. Well, the answer is like when I started thinking about habits a lot and writing about it and focusing on it more. My site has been around, James Clear dot com for about 16-17 months now so I’ve been thinking about it a little bit longer than that but I’ve been writing about it specifically for that long. But, as you mentioned, I sort of had a bunch of different touch points with things especially with health and wellness. I was an athlete, an undergrad athlete in baseball; I competed on the Olympic weightlifting team now, I had a brief stint where I worked at a medical practice between my first and second year of grad school.

So, I was a biomechanics major undergrad; so, I’ve always been close to the health and science and fitness piece of things through a couple of different areas. So, that was an interest and I started my first business about three and a half years ago and when I started, I realized that the things that I was doing, so like the messages that I would send out through my email or the words that I had on my website or the call to action that I would have on the sales page, the way that I worded things, changed the actions people took. And so I got interested in this idea of how does our environment and the messages that we send shape the choices and the actions that we take.

And as I got into that behavioral psychology piece more and more, I started seeing a ton of overlap with health and wellness and fitness and just productivity and efficiency in general. And so, because I already had all those interests in health and fitness, I naturally started applying those concepts to those areas. I guess you could say — I mean we’ve all been forming habits since the day we were born but I guess you could say, I have been thinking about habits for the last few years now.

Scott:                     That’s so interesting to me that your habits, your whole interest in behavior change and habits really started from just noticing some nuances in your business. Can you tell people just really quickly, I know you have multiple businesses right now but just give a few sentences on what those businesses are just so people know?

James Clear:          Sure. So, the main — I’ve started a couple of different things, I have done freelancing in web design, I built a community that teaches people how to market their freelance work and their work as a solopreneur. I built a travel website that helps people find the best credit card deals for earning points and miles and everything and then I also spend most of my time now writing on James Clear dot com. And moving forward, over the next year or two, that’s probably where everything is going to be going; I’ll roll certain projects and other things, I plan on selling one of my businesses some time hopefully soon and then focusing and sort of doubling down on behavior change, behavioral psychology, habit formation and how those principles can be applied to entrepreneurs, creative professionals and people interested in health and fitness.

Scott:                     I love it. So, I know that there’s a lot of people out there who realize how important habits are for our efficiency, for our heath and our wellness; where do most people mess up when they are trying to form good habits?

James Clear:          Well, obviously there can be plenty of points for downfall; I think one thing is mindset in general and the way that you approach things. So for example, a lot of people consider habits to be like an event and what I mean is that they think, oh well, I just need to build this habit and then I’ll be done. I just need to do this and then it’ll be finished and it doesn’t really work that way. If you learn to embrace habits as a process as continuing improvement, as gradual change, as a system that can be built and function and worked over and over again each week, then you start to embrace this idea of just learning consistently and it becomes much more powerful and also much more — much less stressful because you don’t have to worry about getting to an outcome or crossing a finish line.

You simply focus on the process and the system of building a habit each week and it can carry you very far. To give you an example of that, you could for example say that you wanted to build a popular habit just like, I want to get in shape or fitness or start doing push-ups or something as an example. So you could say, I want to set a goal for myself, I want to do 100 push-ups in a row or 50 push-ups in a row or whatever it is. And that type of habit is focused on the outcome, on getting this result and if you only get to 45 push-ups in a row then you feel like a failure because you didn’t hit it. But it’s also not focused on the system and the day to day process that can take you there.

The opposite approach and the one that I think is more successful and useful would be to say, okay, what’s an easy amount of push-ups for me to do right now? Let’s say it’s ten, so you can do ten in a row without much trouble. Today do ten push-ups, only takes you fifteen seconds, get it done right away, tomorrow you simply add another one so you do eleven and the day after that 12; you find this super-small, incremental gain that is so tiny that it’s almost laughable. Or just so easy that you’re not going to just miss it but over the course of two or three months, all of a sudden you are at 50 push-ups a day and that I think is a much more powerful way to approach things.

To see them as a system, to focus on the process and to figure out a way to make tiny, incremental gains each day or each week so that you make incredible progress but without the stress an trying to predict an outcome, or when you’ll get to some point.

Scott:                     So let’s try to codify this because there’s a couple of elements here that I think are super-important for people that aren’t as familiar with building strong habits and let’s start with the beginning. When you want to form a habit, it sounds like one of the best things you can do is start off with a very achievable goal.

James Clear:          Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. The phrase that — and I learnt this from Leo [Inaudible 0:06:52] the phrase that I really like is something so easy you can’t say no to it. So you start with something that is so small that it can be done without any real motivation or will power. I mean, it’s just something to help you build the consistency of doing things over and over again. And this is a theme that comes back over and over again in many areas of life. But the idea is that it doesn’t even really matter what kind of outcomes you hope you have if you’re not going to be consistent with it.

Like a lot of people will say, I want to lose 20 pounds in the next four months; but if you’re not showing up at the gym anyway, it doesn’t even matter what your goal is. So, in the beginning, you should focus on just building the habit of consistency, of being the type of person that doesn’t miss workouts for example. And then you could get on to the performance piece later. So there are two little rules that you can think of when we talk about starting with something that is so easy, you can’t say no to it; the first is — and I sort of modified this rule from David Allen who wrote the book ‘Getting Things Done’ but his version is like a productivity hack. It says, ‘if something takes less than 10 minutes, then do it right now’.

So, making that email, or sending that email you’ve been avoiding or making that phone-call that you’ve been putting off or doing the dishes or doing the laundry; if it takes less than two minutes, then do it right now so it just sort of gets you moving. Well, I think that you can do something similar for habit formation; so pretty much any habit, it can’t really be performed in under two minutes for a lot of them, but they all can be started in less than two minutes. So you want to do a routine of going for a run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Well, maybe you get home from work on Monday and you’re drained, you’re tired, you just don’t feel like doing it, the habit should be less than two minutes.

So, it could be putting your shoes on and stepping out of the door, that’s the whole thing; if you do that you’ve succeeded, you don’t need to do anything else you don’t have to run a single step. But, if you do that, there’s often this inertia that comes with starting something that you follow through and all of a sudden you start putting one foot in front of the other and the miles click by. Another version of that is that some people love that rule; some people don’t like the two-minute rule because they’re like, ‘well, I know I’m trying to trick myself’. Well, you could do something similar but slightly different.

I had a reader that I had lunch with a few weeks ago and he told me that he lost over a hundred pounds, took him a few years to do it — like a year or two. So, it took him a couple of years but what he did when he implemented exercise into his routine, was he told himself, I’m not allowed to stay at the gym for longer than five minutes. So I got to go and so I can’t stay six minutes, I’m not allowed. And he did that for the first six weeks and then once he had done that of that long, he was like I’m going here every day, I kind of feel like staying for a little longer. And so he made it like so easy for himself to go and be successful that taking the next step wasn’t hard.

For most people, they start with a habit that’s so much bigger than that which they think that if they don’t do something grand or impressive, then it’s not going to work but the consistency is the thing that drives everything else. So, if you are not showing up on a daily basis, or if you are not doing it over and over again, then the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter. So, that’s why start with something so easy that you can’t say no to it, the two-minute rule, really giving yourself the time [Inaudible 0:10:13] stay for longer, these are all ways of trying to build the habit of consistency and then you can graduate and improve to the next level later on.

Scott:                     So, besides lowering the friction by making it easy and doing this other types of things that you mentioned in terms of setting a time limit, is there anything else that can really enhance your ability to be consistent when you have some habit that you want to change?

James Clear Interview:          Yeah, so here’s a story and an example of something that I like and it seems like people gravitate towards; I wrote an article called ‘How to stop procrastinating by using the “Seinfeld strategy”‘ and the basic idea that this evolved out of was that there’s a story about Jerry Seinfeld and he was this famous comedian, he was on tour, at the time he was going on different county clubs and there was this young comedian at the club with him named Brad Isaac.

And Brad was going to open for him that night and so he caught Jerry back-stage and he said “Mr. Seinfeld, do you have any tips for a young comedian who is looking to become successful?” And he said, “Well, the secret to becoming a better comedian is to write better jokes and the only way to write better jokes is to write every day”. So, this is what you should do; buy a big wall calendar that has every day of the year mapped out on it. You can get this from Wal-Mart or Amazon or wherever for ten bucks. And when you do your task of writing a joke, or writing jokes for that day, I want you to take a Sharpie and put an X on that day.

And you may have a couple of false starts maybe do it for two days or three days and miss a day or whatever, but eventually at some point, you’re going to get a chain going where you got six, seven, eight, nine days in a row. And at that point, your only goal is to not break the chain. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad the jokes are that you write, it doesn’t matter how long or how short you write for, it’s just don’t break the chain and make sure you’re doing your writing each day.

And that same rule can be applied to all sorts of stuff. Make sure you meditate each day, don’t break the chain. Doesn’t matter if it’s for 60 seconds or 20 minutes, just don’t break the chain. Make sure you don’t break the chain of your workouts or your writing schedule or whatever it is for the habit that you are working on. But this philosophy of building up a chain and focusing on continuing that chain seems to help people with consistency and the visual element of seeing it on the calendar is also a reminder of how far you have come and how much progress you have made.

Scott:                     It’s a really good point; I think one thing that’s really been helpful for me too is being able to chart my success with a particular habit by quantifying or measuring things. So like for example, it’s hard for me to — if I want to go to the gym every week, and I’m not tracking the weights that I’m doing and experiencing the sense of growth, it’s hard for me to be as excited about continuing that chain. Do you find that with all the different people that you have habits that quantifying or measurement is an important component of being consistent or staying motivated?

James Clear:          I would say that it can be very important for certain people. Like you, I do the same thing, I have a moleskin notebook that I write down each of my workouts in each week when I go and I love having that tracking thing. Honestly I don’t know how I would work out without that because my goal is just to improve by a pound or five pounds or one set or whatever each week. So that’s how I base my gains off of that journal or off of those measurements. But the idea of tracking things and measuring things, I think it’s useful for everyone.


The reason I’m hesitating to say ‘absolutely yes, this is a very important thing for everybody’ is because some people have a personality that is more structured towards tracking and quantifying and other people don’t. And that’s fine and that’s why some people have a ton of success with food-journaling and writing down everything you ate for the day and all the calories that are in each thing. And other people are like ‘that sounds like the worst thing I’ve heard of and I don’t want to do that at all’. And the lesson is that quantifying and measuring is important and it can give you a real key insight into whether or not you’re making progress but it’s also just one tool in your tool-belt. Like there are other ways to build habits, that said, for me personally, I find that to be very important.


Scott:                     Me too. Let’s talk about bad habits, when somebody has a bad habit that they want to get rid of that’s pulling them back from achieving the things they want to in their life, what sort of advice would you give that person?


James Clear:          There are a lot of things with bad habits, I would say a few. So one is that stopping bad habits or preventing bad habits or getting rid of them, a lot of times, it comes down to not like eliminating the habit but substituting something for it. So, a lot of research has shown that even if something is a bad habit, there is usually some benefit associated with it. You may not like the behavior itself but you are getting some benefit from doing it.


So like take smoking, which is a classic example; if you are smoking, then you may be getting the benefit of social interaction if you do it with your friends at work or of reducing stress if you use it as a break to get away from things or there is a physiological benefit when you get the hit of Nicotine. So there’s all these different things that are benefits of the behavior even if you don’t like the behavior. So, the lesson here is that to break a bad habit, you can often substitute a new behavior if that provides the same benefit if you can figure out what that benefit is.


So — and this brings me to my second point about bad habits, is that many bad habits and again this was an idea I got familiar Leo [Inaudible 0:15:53], many bad habits are a response to stress or boredom. So, I have a bad habit of wasting time watching TV or YouTube or Netflix and that’s a response to me being bored. Or I have a bad habit of smoking and that is a response to stress or of shopping when I feel really stressed or whatever it may be. And if you can figure out a more healthy way to deal with stress or boredom, then you can often eliminate those habit because you are reducing the response that is causing them.


So, if you adopt a daily meditation habit, then maybe that reduces stress and you don’t feel the need to have the bad habit to substitute for that. If you can start doing breathing exercises, that’s one of my favorites, if I feel like I’m holding tension and stress in my shoulders and my back, then a lot of times, I’ll just do a simple breathing exercise where I breathe in for three seconds, pause for one and then breathe out for six seconds. And I just repeat that cycle three – five times. It takes 30 seconds or a minute and I can really feel the stress response go down in my body.


So that’s one thing; Amy Cuddy who is a researcher at Harvard and who delivered a very popular Ted-talk on body language; she talks about different postures that you can assume to reduce the stress in your system and increase testosterone which is meant to increase confidence. So, there are all sorts of little things that you can do whether it is meditation or body language or breathing exercises or a whole range of options to reduce stress in your life and hopefully eliminate the need for some of those bad habits.


Scott:                     James, are you familiar with any of Tony Robbins’ work?


James Clear:          I am familiar with Tony but I haven’t been to any of his seminars or read a ton of his work in detail.


Scott:                     It’s just so funny, because I love Tony Robbins and it’s almost as if the things that you are saying right now, instead of ‘changing habits’, he calls them ‘patterns’ and very much speaks to a lot of the things that you just touched upon. But one thing that I in particular want to highlight is, a lot of times when we go through — we have a bad habit, what we really want to do is we just want to change our state. We want to change the way that we feel and boredom and stress are two examples of feelings that we don’t like. But, whether it is we’re overeating or we’re watching TV or we’re angry or whatever it is, we often just have patterns of reverting to these things that are going to give us that instant satisfaction just because we want to change our state.


And for me that was just an insanely powerful concept to grasp because in those moments of decision when I was going to eat a piece of chocolate that already had too much chocolate or have a dessert or whatever it is, it wasn’t that I was hungry or craving that thing, it was really just because I really just wanted to change my state.


James Clear:          Yeah, I like that philosophy a lot; I think that’s very true. And it’s an interesting way to think about it because there are many choices for changing your state. It doesn’t have to be bad habits. So when you start to see it in that way, you are more aware of the options that you have available to you to substitute in for different behaviors.


Scott:                     James, one of the things that I have heard you talk about before, is this concept of identity-based habits. Could you tell the listeners a little bit more about that, because I think it’s really powerful?


James Clear:          Yeah, I’m sure. So, the basic idea is that a lot of behavior change is focused on the outer layers, I would call it, of change. So these are things like performance or appearance-based goals; like I want to lose 20 pounds or I like to bench-press 300 pounds. These are things that are associated with your performance or your appearance. And I would say that that’s like the outer layers of behavior change and the inner layer is something a level deeper which is the things that you believe about yourself and the identity that you have.


And often times we try to change the performance and the appearance without changing our beliefs or without changing our identity and what happens is that it’s a struggle to stick with things long-term because you don’t believe different things about yourself. So, as an example, you could have someone who wants to become a runner and so they’d say something like performance based for example, ‘oh, I want to run a half-marathon’. So, they say that they want to run the half-marathon, they pick a date, they sign up they start their training schedule and they train for the race and then they run the race and they finish it; and they didn’t shift what they believed about themselves.


So, because that didn’t change, they no longer have a performance-based goal to drive them forward and therefore they will a lot of times will stop running for a month or two and then all of a sudden they’ll wake up like ‘oh man, I haven’t run in a while, I have to get a new goal to get me back on track’. And so you get this, yo-yo effect where you do something for a little while and then you don’t do it. On the flip side, you have someone else who they could be training for the same race, they could run the half-marathon but then it’s not that the performance that was driving them forward, it’s that they run each day because they are a runner and that’s what they believe about themselves.


It’s like part of their identity; it’s wrapped up in them. And so I think a much more useful way to think about habits is not — how can I build a habit that gets the outcome or the result that want, but how can I build a habit that is focused on the identity I want to have? So take for example, the fitness one; you have people who maybe want to lose 20 pounds in the next four months and that’s their appearance-based goal or their performance-based goal but the identity piece is, okay, who’s the type of person that could lose 20 pounds in four months? Well, it’s the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts.


So, your focus then becomes only on forming that habit of not missing workouts. And so once you realize the type of person that can achieve your goals, the type of identity that they have, focus your habits on that and on becoming that type of person and then the results and the performance and the appearance, those come later.


Scott:                     It makes so much sense because we have such a natural proclivity to remain consistent with who we say we are whether publically, or internally. So, I can see how that is a very strong force. Just out of curiosity James, I would love to hear some of the types of identities that you have for yourself that encourage you to do the types of things that you want to do each and every day.


James Clear:          Sure, so one is absolutely, I’m a type of person who doesn’t miss workouts. That’s something that I believe about myself, that’s something that I try to live out each week and as a side-note, just sort of bridging these two previous questions, the only way that I know to change your identity or to change the things that you believe about yourself is to make small choices on a consistent basis and let your actions drive your beliefs.


So, if you decide to start running for example and you want to become the type of person who believes that you are a runner, then by setting a schedule for yourself, sticking to that schedule and then running, even if it’s only for five minutes, each time you chose to do that, every one of your actions is a vote to the type of things that you believe by yourself. And if you see that, then once you stack up enough votes, then you start to actually believe it. For me, that’s how I became a type of person who doesn’t miss workouts as an example.


So, I work out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I know when I am going to the gym, I know what days it occurs, but it’s not even a decision for me anymore because I stuck to the behavior and the pattern enough that it’s just something I believe about myself now. So, that’s one thing and I think anybody can adopt that idea of how do I do something small and consistent basis and each time place a vote for this type of identity that I want to believe in. Same way with writing; about 16 months ago, I started writing a new article on James Clear dot com every Monday and Thursday and that was totally different for me compared to what I was doing previously.


When I had other websites before this, I was writing whenever I felt motivated or inspired and eventually the difference between the professionals and amateurs is that amateurs do things when they are motivated or inspired and professionals do things on a schedule. So once I embraced that philosophy, I started thinking about how can I build the identity of being a pro and approaching my work like a pro? And so I set that schedule every Monday and Thursday and I think I’ve missed it one time in the last 16 months and so each time I do that, that’s another vote of confidence for believing that type of thing about myself. So those are two examples of how I see identities play out in my work and health.


Scott:                     Yeah, I think another way to think about it is that we just build a stronger conviction in your beliefs with the greater experience that you have and the simplest example is that I have a belief that when I turn the light switch on, the light bulb in my room is going to go on. Or when I cross the street and it’s not a red light, I have a chance of getting hit. And the reason that I feel that way and I predict that and I have that belief is that my past experience tells me that when I turn the light switch on, the light’s going to go on and that’s stronger after a hundred times of turning the light switch on than the first time I ever turned it on in my life.


So I love the idea of placing votes, I love that metaphor to just build and strengthen the conviction around who you are and the type of person that you are which will dictate your actions as you mentioned.


James Clear Interview:          Yeah, I think that’s so true; I agree with that idea of — past experience drives that home. I had a basketball coach who told us once that confidence is just displayed ability. And what he meant was that if you display your ability or produce a result over and over again, then you start to have a confidence in it. And so that’s one reason why I think start small, display your ability each and every time, cast those votes each and every time and eventually the confidence comes as a natural result; like you were very confident that the light will turn on when you hit the light switch because that’s been displayed over and over again.


Scott:                     Let’s talk about how you build upon these small winds though, because it’s great if I go to the gym for five minutes every day or it’s great if I write about a hundred words, but if your ultimate goal is to become prolific at any of these things, does that require me to push the edge and how is the best way for people to go about doing that?


James Clear:          I’ll tell a story to sort of encapsulate the example and then you’ll see how this is very similar to the idea of starting small but just doing it in a slightly more incremental way each time. So, there was a cycling coach named Dave Brailsford who — team Great Britain, they have the Team Great Britain for the Olympics and then they have Team Sky which is their professional cycling team for things like the Tour de France. And they had never won a Tour de France championship but they wanted to and when they hired Brailsford to do this job and he said that their approach would be to look at everything related to cycling and try to improve it just by one percent.


So, they did things that you would think of like find tires that were one percent lighter or a seat that was slightly more ergonomic or a better racing suit that reduced the weight of the rider, all these little things. But then they also looked at stuff that you wouldn’t expect like the best type of massage gel to use for recovery or which pillows led to the best sleep at night and then they took them with them when they went to the hotel on the road. What type of hand-sanitizer or soap would reduce the risk of infection; all these things and Brailsford thought that if they added up all those one-percent gains, then maybe they would be able to win the Tour de France in five years.


And it turns out that it happened much faster than that, they won the Tour de France in three years, then they repeated after four years with a different rider the next year and he also coached Team Great Britain in the Olympics in 2012 in London and they won 70% of the gold medals available. And it was all by embracing this strategy of how do we increase these gains by one percent? How do we find an additional one percent? And I think that same concept applies to habit graduation as I recall which is this incremental improvement or improvement into the next level that you asked about.


So, graduating your habits to the next level or finding an incremental gain, I think is best done if it’s in a very small way but a very consistent way. As an example, that I mentioned earlier, if you wanted to the push-ups as a habit, you could just do ten push-ups on the first day and then add one to 11 and then add another one to 12 and then add another, to 13 and that one push up that you are adding is incrementally improving that by — that’s your one percent gain. And finding very small ways to improve I think is the secret and then the second piece of that which I can get into as well is building a system that provides feedback loops that gives you information and data to make a decision on so that you can improve each week rather than just hoping that you’ll figure out a way to make gains.


Scott:                     Interesting. This kind of touches on a topic that I would want to get to and that’s ‘prioritization’ because I’ll agree with you, I have a ton of habits that I want to build. I want to eat better, I want to be more focused, I want to spend more time with my family, I want to spend more time with my relationships, and it’s just really tough to do it all and I’m thinking about — I try to apply the 80-20 principle when it comes to prioritizing what I want to focus on and it seems like if we are trying to improve all these little things by one percent, that’s almost at odds.


It could potentially be at odds with focusing on just improving that one particular thing that’s going to get you the most benefit. So I would love for you to just kind of paint a picture of how you think about prioritization when it comes to self-improvement to building positive habits.


James Clear:          Sure, yeah; I think we all struggle with this. So the first thing is clarifying a little bit about the one percent gains. The fundamental thing about this idea is that it is focused on something specific; so for example let’s take my writing. If I wanted, I could approach that with this philosophy where it’s like let me find one percent gains and ways to improve my writing and so I could optimize the line-height and the typography to make it easier to read. I could come up with a strategy for writing better titles for my articles and so that more people are interested in them.


I could come up with a better strategy or a more user-friendly comment form. I could figure out a way to get my articles to display better on mobile devices. These are all little one percent gains that make my writing better or more accessible. But it’s all focused just on writing, it’s not find one percent in my writing, find one percent in my weight-lifting, find one percent in my diet and all that stuff. So it’s focused. The second thing that I’ll say is that there’s a concept called ‘Keystone Habits’ and I think it’s pretty useful and also I see it to be relatively true and play out in my own life.


So the idea is that a keystone habit is the one or two behaviors that you do that sort of naturally pull the rest of your life in line. So for me, strength-training is my keystone habit; if I go to the gym and I lift every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then the rest of my life falls in line more easily than it would otherwise. And what I mean is that I tend to have better focus after my workouts. So, I’m already more focused, I didn’t have a habit around that it just happened. When I work out, for some reason I feel like eating more healthy.


So it’s just natural for me to make a better healthy food decision when I’m working out versus when I’m not. I sleep better so, I’m more rested, I have better energy the next day, these are all things that come naturally from that one habit of focusing on fitness. And by doing that I don’t overwhelm myself by thinking, I need to come up with better sleep habits, I need to come up with better eating habits there, I need to come up with a way to focus more and work out. I just focus on lifting and it has this trickle-down effect in the rest of my life, it sort of ripples out.


And I’ve heard that there are other people who have seen the similar things in different areas, finance is a common one; people say that once they figure out how to budget and take control of their finances, they realize this gradual process in taking control of things and they get out of debt. It ripples into all the other areas of their life. CEOs will often claim that their daily meditation habit is their keystone habit. If they get their ten or fifteen minutes of meditation in each morning, they feel focused and more stress-free and ready to approach the problems that they face each day.


So, it could be different things for each person but focusing on a few keystone habits and trusting those to ripple out I think is a very key thing to do to make improvements in one area and not having to overwhelm yourself by thinking about all of the areas. And then the final thing that I’ll say is that there is a little exercise you can do where you take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and this is an idea I got from B.J. Fogg, who is a Stanford professor; and on one side, you’re going to write all the things that you do each day without fail.


So I take a shower, I go to the bathroom, I eat lunch, I turn my car on; all the things that you do each day normally. Many of them will be like health-related, or the stuff that you do in the bathroom in the morning whatever your routine is all that stuff. Then, on the other side of the page, you’re going to write all the things that happen to you each day without fail. So, a traffic light turns red, the sun rises, the sun sets, a commercial comes on TV, someone sends you a text, your phone rings; these are all external cues that will happen each day. When you get done, you’ll have a list of all the things that happened to you and all the things that you do, pretty much on a daily or weekly basis without fail.


And you think about the new stuff that you want to put into your life, or new habits, you can usually look down that list and see a more natural place for it to fit in. So, you mentioned earlier that you want to build these habits where you are closer with your family or you put more time into those relationships. I had the same thing that I wanted to do and then I looked at my list, I saw that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I was driving to the gym. Well, that’s a great time for me to call my parents and catch up with them too. And so now, I use that time to add that new habit in.


And so by looking at this list, you can see where these new habits fit in for you and then you can naturally add them to your lifestyle without overwhelming yourself or feeling like I need to add a new habit to my phone or whatever. You just took out a behavior that’s already happening and see where it can fit in. Another example is that I did a bunch of research to see the impact of gratitude and gratefulness on your life and it has this great impact on your happiness and just your general levels of wellbeing.


So I looked at my list and I was like well, when I have dinner each day, I can say one thing that I’m grateful for that happened that day and I stuck to that for almost two years now and on an individual basis, it takes ten seconds, it’s not a big deal. But on the cumulative basis, the idea of always having something to be grateful for each day is awesome. So, I think having that list is going to be useful way to implement some of these new things in.


Scott:                     James, I’m making a T-chart as we speak.


James Clear:          Nice.


Scott:                     It’s so true and so present with me right now that these little things have such a cumulative knowledge, but sometimes it’s so easy to just say, ‘it’s not that important’, ‘gratefulness, everyday, I know it’s good in the long run, but I’m not going to do it today’ or ‘I’m not going to write out my affirmations’ or ‘I’m not going to tell somebody that I love or I care about them’ if I said I was going to do that every single day. Is there any way for these small actions that you know have insanely valuable long-term benefits, just to stay motivated and to stay on track?


James Clear:          Sure, so, we mentioned already the idea of making something so small that you can’t say not to it and everything. There is a second piece to this and there is a lot of research studies to back this up; over a hundred at this point and the concept is called ‘Implementation Intentions’ and what happened was that these researchers — and this is just one example, there are hundreds. They took a few groups, had three different groups and for one group they were like, ‘hey we want you to track how often you work out over the next few weeks’.


The second group — so the first group is the control group. The second group they said, ‘we don’t want you to track how often you work out over the next few weeks but we’re also going to show you this motivational pamphlet or a video or whatever to get you inspired about the benefits of exercise. Then for the third group, they gave the same motivational spiel so those two groups were equally motivated but the third group they had them do one other thing which is to write down. And this is like the sentence that they wrote, ‘I will work out at this place on this day at this time.’


And so by stating their intention to implement the behavior, that’s why it’s called ‘implementation intentions’, they made it more likely that they would follow through. And what happened at the end of the study is that the first two groups; the control group and the motivated group worked out the same amount, there was a negligible difference. For the third group though, the one that stated when and where they would perform a behavior, they worked out — they were two to three times more likely to follow through and that has been proven across other studies as well. That if you state your intention to do something and write it down and give it a time and a space to live in your day, on your calendar or wherever, then you are two or three more times likely to do it.


So, when I mention this idea of this T-chart, of writing down the things you do each day and the things that happen to you each day and using that as a way to tie these new little behaviors and whether it’s gratefulness or something else, that’s a way for you to state your intention; hey, this is when I do this thing, when I go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I call my parents, that’s when it happens. When I sit down at dinner, I say something that I am grateful for. That’s when it happens and by giving it a time and a space to live in your life and not waiting — the great thing about it is you don’t wake up each day and be like, ‘man, I hope I feel motivated to be grateful today’.


You are not leaving it up to that and by giving it that time and space and stating when you are going to implement it, it makes it much more likely that you’re going to follow through.


Scott:                     Yeah, I think this taps into that human force that we talked about a little bit earlier with identity that one of the strongest things, the strongest forces for driving action in our lives is being consistent with what we say we’re going to do; because it’s the sign of integrity and this is Cialdini stuff. I’m sure you’ve read his book, ‘Influence'; it’s just so powerful. I feel like some of the people listening right now who maybe have never started down this path of habit formation and are really motivated after listening to this to start — do you think they might be a little overwhelmed because we have talked about T-charts and little wins and chunking things down; what’s the very first thing that somebody should do if they decide that they wanted to take control of one part of their life and start building a habit?


James Clear:          Well, step zero I think is to decide the type of person you want to be and what’s important to you. But if you know what’s important to you and what you want to work on like I want to get healthy or I want to get build a business or whatever, then that’s great. So you need some sense of clarity at first but once you have that, I say, pick one thing not two or five or ten different things; pick one thing and then find a way that you can get started on it in less than two minutes or find an area in your life that you can tie it to or build it into each day. And then make that small, tiny incremental gain.


The goal is to make it so easy that you can’t say no to it and to find a way to improve each time. I think the push-up example is a very good one to keep in mind because you can see exactly how it works. Like when you start, start with a number of push-ups that is easy for you; let’s say it’s 10; you can do it in less than 15 seconds. There is no debate, it’s not like I need to be motivated enough to do this, it’s like do you have 15 seconds right now to pop on the round and do ten push-ups? All right, done.


And then you find a way to improve slightly even if it’s just by one rep each day or each week or whatever it is and you just focus on that idea of how do I build consistency for myself and then you can worry about the outcomes later.


Scott:                     It’s great advice. James, you seem like a machine [Laughter]; you seem like you really have your life, in control of your life and this habit stuff down. Has there ever been a habit that you had difficulty doing?


James Clear:          Well, first of all, definitely not a machine; plenty of things that I am working on and I have made way more mistakes than I have successes. So, it’s very much a process for me and honestly that’s one of the reasons I love writing about it each week and that’s because I’m not an expert or someone who has it all figured out. I’m just working through it with everyone else and I think that forces me to make my writing practical and useful and accessible. So, yeah, I’m definitely still learning a lot along the way.


Scott:                     Well, I feel very grateful that you are sharing and for people that read James’ work and — I was talking to a buddy, it was actually during a podcast interview my friend, Charlie Hoehn for all this people that creating stuff online is really helpful. Everybody, all these people might seem so impenetrable and amazing like they have superpowers but everybody is just a dude just trying to figure it out, just like you are. So I just want everybody who is listening to this right now to realize that all of us are just trying to figure it out and even though we might seem like a step ahead or a step behind in many cases, everybody is on this journey and no one has every single thing figured out.


James Clear:          Yes, so true. I won’t get on my soapbox for this one but you can apply that to entrepreneurship as well and I see it in so many different areas when I’m building a business. You start to realize that all the things that run our world, somebody just made up. And that doesn’t mean that they did it without any thinking or anything but it’s just someone like you and I who tried to do their best they could do at the time and so they designed a rule for the government or passed this law in Congress or build a business to do XYZ thing and it was just someone like you and me trying to do the best they could.


And once you start to realize that, it opens up all of the options for you because you realize, I can make stuff too and I think that’s a very empowering way to look at the world.


Scott:                     Totally, and just to kind give a quick anecdote to that, I know of somebody who has sold their company, their startup to a public company for nine figures; so over a 100 million dollars and as part of that sale, they took a board seat at this new public company. And I mean this company is absolutely enormous, thousands of employees, hundreds of million dollars per quarter in revenue and I was really curious after the first board meeting to hear what it was like. And what my friend told me was really interesting; he said, man, it was the same exact thing like our meetings; bunch of people sitting around, throwing stuff around, trying to figure it out like nobody knew — nobody had a magical answer.


Everybody is like, I guess that’s a good idea, I don’t know what do you think? And so like sure, there’s people that have these things that we looked up to that might be at a different scale, but they are still going through the same processes, anxieties, doubts that all of us are facing at whatever scale that we are currently at.


James Clear:          Yeah, I think it’s also a great thing to keep in mind when it comes to building good habits or moving in the positive direction anywhere in your life is that everyone faces the same types of uncertainties and fears and questions and nobody has it all figured out. But some people still find a way to move forward despite that and that is essential to building better habits as well. You’re not going to have all the answers but if you find a way to move forward even when things aren’t perfect, then you can make progress.


Scott:                     I love that, I mean that is a sign of a champion. It’s such a powerful message. So James, the theme of this podcast is ‘the competitive edge’ and you really try to bring on guests who are knowledgeable about a variety of topics, who have done amazing things and kind of trying to get an insider’s view of what they have done in their life to get an edge in their business and just overall life. So, I want to ask you a final question here; can you tell us one thing that you have done; it can be a habit, or can just be a specific thing, that you’ve done to get an edge in your business and then another thing that you have done to get an edge in your health, because I know you have some amazing tips for that.


James Clear:          Sure, so I would say for business, one of the essential things that I do now, one of the most useful things is the weekly review. So every Friday, I sit down, I have a spreadsheet where I track seven or eight core metrics in my business and I — it acts like this feedback for me on whether things were going well or going wrong. I track the number of people who visit my website, how many were people [Inaudible 0:46:07] my email list, revenue, expenses; and it’s just a quick overview. It only takes me 10-15 minutes to do. And if the numbers are moving in the right direction, great, I continue what I’m doing, I keep sticking with the process and consistency.


If the numbers are going in the wrong direction, then I deep-dive on that particular area and say ‘okay what did I do last week, how can I improve this, where can I be better?’ And that has been an awesome way for me to systemize this idea of making this one percent gains to doing this continuing improvement because I have the time each week where I get to see the overview and make those choices. And on any individual week, the impacts aren’t that great but over the span of five months, six months or a year, all of a sudden you are a much different place than you were 12 months ago.


So, I would say that that has been a very big business choice that has helped a lot. And then for health and fitness, the biggest thing is a shifting my mindset. When I decided that the most important thing was to not miss workouts rather than to hit a particular goal that was one thing that has started to change for me. So, I used to write down goals for the grades that I wanted to get in school, or what I wanted to squat in the gym and all these different things and when I focused only on the outcome, I tend to lose sight of the process that would get me there. Now, I don’t necessarily care when I squat 400 pounds, I just know that it’s going to happen if I show up to the gym every week. And so by focusing on that level of consistency, I have been able to make a lot more progress.


Scott:                     I love that because it makes things seem so much more achievable by focusing on the process than this grandiose goal that seem miles and miles away.


James Clear:          Yeah, agree with that and you also start to realize that — it took me seven years of lifting to figure any of this out so if you are getting started and it doesn’t seem natural to you yet, don’t worry, I was a pretty slow learner. But, you also realize that when you come up with these milestones or these numbers, they are made up and I could say, for example, I want to squat 450 pounds by July 31st of this year and I could say that but I’m just making it up and then if I don’t get to that, then what? I don’t know, it’s just — by focusing on the process instead and by doing the work and by focusing on putting in my reps, I know that I’ll make it at some point. So, for me, it’s a much less stressful way to look at things and it’s also a way of embracing this idea of making progress each week rather than worrying about hitting that number that I made up.


Scott:                     For all of you who also want to squat 450 pounds, there is no squat police that are going to come to your house if you don’t do it by next week. [Laughter] James, this has been awesome man, I really do appreciate the amazing wisdom that you would be able to drop on everyone listening today. If people want to know more about you, they want to get more of this information, they want to stay in touch with some of the things that you are doing and coming out in the future, where is the best place for them to go?


James Clear:          Sure, I have two things, I write at James Clear dot com every Monday and Thursday, which I mentioned during this interview, so you’re welcome to pop right there and take a look; there is a contact form in the website, you’re welcome to respond to me — you know, I answer and read all my email so feel free to reach out. And also, and perhaps more importantly, a lot of the things that we talked about in this discussion around building habits, developing a process, the signs behind habit formation starting with something that is so easy that you can’t say no to it; I went ahead and compiled a lot of those resources in one place to make it easier for you to get all the information rather jumping across the Web or clicking across my website.


I have put it in this 46-page guide that’s sort of like a cheat-sheet to building better habits and some of these ideas for maintaining consistency. You can get that, and if you are listening to this, you can download it at James Clear dot com slash habits; and yeah, thanks for having me on.


Scott:                     Amazing, I will make sure to link that up in the show notes just so that everyone can access that as easy as possible. James, thanks again for your time and I really appreciate it.


James Clear:          Awesome, happy to do it Scott thanks for having me on.


[End of interview 0:50:19]


What did you think of this interview with James Clear?

What things have you done to change your habits in your life? What has worked? What hasn’t?

How to Make Your Life Easier With Ari Meisel – TCE 005

Listen to this conversation on Itunes

A lot of people like to focus on how hard it is to get things done with all of today’s readily available distractions.

Your inbox is full, the phone is buzzing, and high school friends you haven’t talked to in 3 years are asking you to play Candy Land on Facebook every other day.

I get it.

But on the other side of this coin, there’s also a small tribe of people who’ve been focused on taking advantage of all this new technology to actually make their lives easier and less stressful…and in the process they’ve been able to get far more done.

Today’s guest Ari Meisel, the Founder of LessDoing.com, has mastered the art of “making his life easier” using a repeatable framework that anyone can use.

In this episode of The Competitive Edge, Ari shares this system and some of the best mindsets, tools, and practices he uses to simplify his life and enhance his performance.

Listen in below for all the juicy details…


Ari-ism from this episode:  “Optimizing your life starts with establishing self-awareness” – Ari Meisel (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • A repeatable framework for making your life easier
  • The first place to start if you’re looking to begin streamlining life’s headaches
  • The 80-20 to becoming a more productive, stress free person
  • Why you absolutely should get a blood test to reach peak performance and some services that will help you get the most out of this
  • Some key tools you can use to outsource stuff you shouldn’t be doing
  • Tasks that Ari has his virtual assistants help him with
  • How Ari hacked the initial phases of getting a book deal with one of the world’s largest publishers

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher

Thank Ari for dropping knowledge on us (tweet Ari here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

Thoughts on how anyone can teach courses to create passive income. Spoiler – I’m not an “expert” at my top selling course. Listen to this if you’re interested in creating an online course.

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Ari check him out at: LessDoing, Book: Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier, and on Twitter @arimeisel

Other resources mentioned:

[su_list icon=”icon: star”]


*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Big Thanks to Today’s Show Partner

Lifehack.io – The Online School for LifeStyle Design. The monthly subscription which brings together thought leaders in life hacking to help you get insanely savvy about productivity, living, travel, and negotiation.

*This is an awesome program I’m a part of that gives you access to some of the best lifehacks out there. I’ve enjoyed digging into other people’s hacks myself : )


BTW – You can win a free year membership to LifeHack.io by entering in the Podcast Launch contest. All the details here

Searchable Transcript of This Ari Meisel Interview:

Scott: What’s up Edge Nation? I am so excited today to bring you my friend and the founder of Less Doing, Ari Meisel. Let me tell you a bit about Ari because his story is super-unique and inspiring. In 2006, Ari was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. If you are not familiar with it, Crohn’s is an incurable, inflammatory disease of the digestive tract. Despite it being incurable, Ari threw a combination of Yoga, nutrition and natural supplements as well as rigorous exercise and was able to fight back against the symptoms of Crohn’s until he was finally able to suspend all of his medication.

Eventually, he was even declared free of all traces of this “incurable disease” and even was able to compete in Iron Man in France in 2011. It was through this experience and the process of data collection, self-tracking and analysis, did he develop something that we are going to dive in today called Less Doing. This framework helps him deal with the daily stresses of life by optimizing, automating and outsourcing all the tasks in his life and his business. Ari, what’s up man, how’re you doing?

Ari Meisel: Hey Scott, it was nice to talk to you, thanks for that intro.

Scott: Yeah, I’m excited to talk to you man because I know you just have so much awesome information to share. But first, I want to start with the latest news; you just came out with a new book that talks about a lot of the things that I alluded to you in your bio. Why don’t we take a minute real quick and tell everyone about your new book that just came out?

Ari Meisel: Yeah, thanks a lot. So, the book is called ‘Less Doing, More Living: How to make everything in life easier’ and that’s really how I look at it. It’s sort of a culmination of, I guess, four or five years of work now to create a system of productivity that starts with tracking and goes through creating an external brain which is how I deal with sort of offloading everything in our mind, customization, finances and organization and ending with wellness. So, it’s really a very well-rounded approach that I would like to think almost anybody can use to be more effective in their life.

Scott: Now, when you say, ‘make your life easier’, does that mean more time; does that mean I have to deal with less stress; when you say ‘make your life easier’, what exactly is that referring to?

Ari Meisel: Well, for me, the purpose or the genesis of the system was because of this health crisis and I realized that stress was such a big component of what was going on with my illness and in terms of inflammation in my life in general that I wanted to figure out a systematic way of dealing with the stress. And that’s how I came up with the idea of creating this system of productivity with the idea of freeing up as much time as possible so that people could reclaim their minds, do the things they wanted to do and stress less.

Scott: Yeah, I don’t think I know a person in the world that doesn’t want more free time. So, let’s talk a little bit about this framework without getting too into the nitty-gritty because I want to make sure that people go out and check out the book. But somebody comes to you and I know that you work with everybody from high-performance individuals to companies and they say, ‘Ari, I’m overwhelmed, I’m stressed, I want more free time, I want things to just work easier in my life’. Where is the first place that you have people start?

Ari Meisel: Well, so that’s a very good way to ask me by the way because that’s the thing that I hear every day, multiple times a day is, I’m overwhelmed. Ari, I’m so overwhelmed, I’m just overwhelmed. It’s like I’m an anti-overwhelmer, that’s what I feel I’ve become. It’s just the word that I hear at all times. And you know, you have to look at why that is, why are people overwhelmed? And the truth is on a very basic level, we have not evolved biologically as quickly as we have technologically and we simply cannot keep up with everything that’s going on in our lives. It’s just not possible and the very first step is realizing that; that’s the first step.

So, people have this fear of missing out; I think it’s actually been acronymized as FOMO, the fear of missing out. And that’s like you have to know everything, you have to be able to talk to everybody, you have to get back to every Facebook message and every email and all that stuff. And it’s just exactly that, it’s overwhelming. So, the biggest thing is that as a result of all that stuff happening and all those inputs all the time, we lose self-awareness and that’s really where I start. And there’s number of sort of avenues to get there but basically, the lack of self-awareness is at the heart of so many of the problems that people have now because — I’m sorry Scott, can we pause one second?

Scott: Yeah, sure.

[End of interview 0:05:09]

Scott: Go ahead.

Ari Meisel: So, it’s that lack of self-awareness that is really the heart of this, I find at least that’s a really common issue. So, for example, and I know Scott, you’ve seen me talk in person, but I always ask this question, I say to people, ‘look, raise your hands really quick if you can tell me what you had for breakfast this morning’. And you know, most of the time, most of the people raised their hands; I mean every now and then there’s a couple of people who don’t remember or whatever. But then I say, ‘okay tell me how many emails you sent last Tuesday’ and in the multiple thousands of people that I have spoken in the past couple of years, two people were able to answer that question.

So, the first question is which is [technical difficulty] and my response is that you don’t. But the thing is that it’s very easy nowadays to track this kind of information without having to make any effort at all. So, why not do it; because you may learn something about yourself. We have this problem where we have these sort of two [technical difficulty] and I’m trying to remember the [technical difficulty] heard about this that we have the system one which is our lazy brain which really just wants to shortcut everything, use as little energy as possible and just do it the way it’s been done before and that’s what are called heuristics.

We have these pathways that have been burned in our brain to do things and that’s — how you pay a bill, that’s how you write email, that’s how you make [technical difficulty] and people end up sort of watching their lives rather than living them. So, the very first step there, there’s a lot of tracking involved usually with people in trying to identify patterns that they have going on and then we look at the processes that they are aware, that they are going through. And again, paying a bill is a good one, if you tell someone to pay a bill, they don’t know how to do it and odds are, you don’t know how you do it, you just do it. But if you actually stopped and wrote it down step by step, you might be really fascinated to find that there is a lot of space where you can optimize, automate and outsource that process.

Scott: So, the first step is self-awareness and when you have self-awareness then you can figure out how to create a more efficient, less cumbersome process that takes up less time.

Ari Meisel: Right, I mean just think about it; if you know how a certain food makes you feel four hours later, that’s really helpful information; if you know that when it’s 9:00 o’clock at night, that’s the best time for you to be writing creatively; or if you know that if you work out at 3:00 in the afternoon versus 7:00 in the morning, you’re going to get better results. That’s all self-awareness.

Scott: That makes a lot of sense, because I know that nowadays, it seems literally every single day there’s a new company or app coming out where I can track something or I feel like I can literally track my whole life and every single component and then that becomes a huge problem. So what are some of the key 80-20 areas where people maybe are spending too much time or are not tracking where they can get some quick wins if they are wanting to get started with this?

Ari Meisel Interview: So, the first thing to realize is that most of the stuff is temporary, because once you do a lot of that hardcore tracking and you regain all that self-awareness and then the second part of us doing is really just what I call creating an external brain which is where you are off-loading a lot of stuff in your mind so you have a clear head. Once you do all of that stuff, I like I don’t really track much anymore. The only tracking I do now, is when someone sends me a device to try out which I definitely geek out and I love that. But for the most part, you’re doing it for a month, or two months or three months, or maybe even less, just sort of begin to get that awareness so that you know what’s going on in your life and once you do that, then you can sort of drop things off. So, one of the big ones is blood; that’s something that people should be doing. Blood testing is something that most people do at the doctor’s office and then they forget about it and they never even look at the results. I know that that sounds like a weird one to start with but honestly, you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck from blood tests because I’ll tell you something, I guarantee you that if you’re telling me that you’re overwhelmed, your hormones are probably out of balance. Your inflammation is probably a little bit more than it should be because you’re stressed. Your Vitamin E levels probably suck because you’re wearing clothes and sitting inside and not getting enough sun-exposure. So, like that’s a really good place to start and it’s immediately actionable; it’s not like you have to wait for several weeks of tracking. But another one that I really love is RescueTime and I know you know RescueTime, but with RescueTime, you’re basically tracking how you’re actively using your computer and the truth is that there’s nothing wrong — in my opinion honestly, there’s nothing wrong if you are at a computer eight hours a day, that’s not the problem. If you’re using a computer eight hours a day and you’re standing at your desk or you’re taking a break every half hour to do some squats or take a walk and you’re still eating healthy, it’s not bad necessarily to be in front of the computer. And the truth is that a lot of things that we do nowadays can be done digitally or can be done that way. So RescueTime will tell you how you’re spending that time and after a week, it’s going to start to tell you, ‘today’s your most productive day’ or ‘Thursday is your least productive day’ and you can really start to act on that information. It’s very cool stuff — sorry, that’s sort of a roundabout way of answering that but basically, I would say blood, the way you use your computer and sleep-tracking I think would be the most bang for the buck.

Scott: Great, I appreciate that. So I have a question about blood, because I’ve gotten a lot of blood tests and I get the sheet printed out with a bunch of numbers, I have no idea what any of them mean; it’s not really directive in terms of how I can actually take action on this information to feel better, to notice any deficiencies. Is there a particular service that I would go and take that to? Do I ask my doctor how I could optimize my diet or exercise or whatever regimen to improve whatever levels might be off balance, what do I actually do once I get this blood test?

Ari Meisel: That’s a great question. There’s two sides of it, one, there’s actually a ton of really great doctors nowadays that do a lot of virtual consulting and you can share your results with them, they’ll get on Skype with you and they’ll talk you through it. There’s a natural doctor that I work with in New York with the name Scott Jericha who does that and he’s great. But actually — I’m an adviser to a company called Insidetracker and it’s similar to WellnessFX as a lot of people heard of. They kind of — I think one is more West Coast, one is more East Coast and what they do is that – you’re here to go for a lab, or they’ll send someone to your house to take your blood and then you’ll get a really nicely graphically designed dashboard that they have created which I love. It does two things, one, it’ll show you results of a time, so if you get tested every three months or six months or whatever you want, it’ll show you how you’ve changed and literally bring you in the green or in the red and then it’ll recommend specific fluids for your issue. So, that’s a really good way to do it and I like that because first of all, as soon as you go to the doctor, and you don’t have a specific problem necessarily and they’re going to run a CBC panel or they’re going to do a very basic panel. They’re not going to necessarily test your Vitamin D; they’re not going to test your Creatine kinase or your C-reactive protein which is an inflammatory marker. So with this one, you can do that and it really is about optimizing performance.

Scott: That’s excellent and it’s really easy for me to do, I just literally go into a website of Insidetracker or WellnessFX and set up an appointment?

Ari Meisel Interview: Yeah, and actually now at least Insidetracker has some home kits where you can prick your finger and do it yourself and mail it in but it’s only for like six months or so but it’s still useful. One of the things I love about that — It’ll definitely let you test cholesterol, I think it lets you test [Inaudible 0:07:48] function so AST and a couple of other things. What I like about that is that you can use that before and after a meal, you can use it before and after a really heavy exercise session; so you can get some very real-time results about how the things you do affect your body. For example, I’ve seen this a number of times where Creatine Kinase is a inflammatory marker, it’s basically muscle tissue breaking down and it happens when you work out and your body is supposed to flush it. I had a couple of clients, not on purpose but they ended up getting their blood tested right after doing a [Inaudible 0:08:22] workout and their Creatine kinase were like literally thousands of levels higher than they should be and then they settled right back down the next day. So, it’s interesting when you can do that kind of immediate testing.

Scott: Absolutely. Now, I understand and I have used services like RescueTime that tell me that Scott, you’re spending too much time on social media, on Facebook or maybe you’re checking email instead of doing things that are actually important and that information is great because again, like you said, it makes me aware. But that still doesn’t help me with the problem of on a regular basis, taking the actions that I know I should to make my life better and to basically be more efficient and achieve more. Is that a problem that you help people with? Is there any particular strategy for people out there that are aware of something they need to change but have difficulty actually making it a habit?

Ari Meisel: Yeah, so first of all, I actually published a lot of [Inaudible 0:09:23] in many cases but generally what I find is that if you make it as easier as possible for someone to make that change, that’s usually the best way and for example, I’m a big fan of micro-goals. So somebody tells me that they want to lose 50 pounds, that’s a terrible goal and they’re going to fail, I promise that person will fail. If somebody says they want to lose a pound a week, which — that’s on the low end if you’re really want to get after it, that’s a better goal because that’s something where you can really see what’s happening day to day, week to week and you don’t have this like a long-term goal that you can’t even see much less figure out how to get to. The thing about micro-goals that is so great is that each one, even though you’ve made it miniscule, and a perfect example is reading a book. So, you can make a micro goal, finish this page; I just want to finish this page and then reading a book for pleasure; I don’t know about you Scott, but a lot of people that I deal with and me personally, it’s difficult. It’s really hard to get my mindset to like just chill out and read a book. So, if you say like okay, I’m just going to read one page, even though that’s not a big deal to read a page, you set that as your goal so you created little bit of a success. And then if you’re motivated and you’ll go, okay I’ll do another page and then you have like five micro-successes and it really works that way on a psychological level.

Scott: So you have to chunk down the goals so it’s easy to succeed and that’ll spur the motivation?

Ari Meisel: Exactly.

Scott: That’s really great. Is there a particular step process that you tell people to — is it just that simple or is there a particular thing where you got people write out, ‘this is what I want to achieve, in the big picture, let’s break this down by week, let’s break this down by day and I’m going to track it using X'; is there kind of a cohesive framework that that all fits into?

Ari Meisel: Yes, there is but it is also kind of specific to the situation. So, for instance, there are certain ones where you can weigh it out where like the first thing you said where you have like a whole schedule meeting like — I used to write this book and I have to — if I’m going to write this book this day and then I have to write ten pages every week to get there and you could map that out that way and that’s okay and that works really well. But sometimes, I do take the GTD approach, the Getting Things Done approach where ‘what is the next step?’ And that’s all I care about. So you looked at a bunch of things and then say what is the very next thing I can do? So, for instance, if I had to write a book, do I have to do a research? No? Yes? If I do, then how am I going to do that research and when I’m ready to do it, that’s the first thing I’m going to do. The tracking is another one that is really helpful. Like for instance, I don’t know if you know this but Statins which are the Lipitor, Crestor, the cholesterol-lowering drugs, one of the side effects is memory loss which is really sad. And it has some other things too, but it’ll cause memory loss. So I had a client who went off the Lipitor and then we were doing the Lumosity Brain Training every week to test her memory and literally within a month, her memory improved by 40%. So, that is kind of situation where it’s like yeah, it’s really great to see that result and that definitely makes you want to keep going back.

Scott: Yeah, it just really amazing when you bring up examples like this. It makes me think about how many different things I am just not tracking so I’m not aware of it and thus I’m probably not operating at the highest level that I could be. Is there any particular thing that you see without fail that people are not tracking that they probably should be outside of their blood?

Ari Meisel: I think as easy as it is now, and as many devices and things that are, a lot of people really don’t track their sleep and the problem with that is that — well, forget the problem, it’s just that a lot of people don’t track their sleep and sleep is so important that I know that you are a big sleep [Inaudible 0:13:39] guy and so not being able to track their sleep is a big one and a lot of people if you ask, they did it for a week and then they got bored. They didn’t want to wear the devise, they don’t want to have a wrist band, they don’t want to have a headband, but the truth is they have some very valuable information out of that and if you want to take it a kind of another level, someone like me who — I’ve got it pretty dialed in now honestly, but it’s still valuable for me to track my sleep which I do on occasions. A, it’s a check in, even if you become self-aware and you’re like okay now, I get this, at the same time, you can come into that situation where you are back into your heuristics and it’s alike okay now — the process can always be improved. And what works for you today, doesn’t necessarily work for you in six months whether it is a sleep-plan or a diet or anything. So for me, if I were to see on my sleep tracker that I did poorly last night for some reason and I didn’t feel like that necessarily and I was poor in my sleep, then there’ll probably be some supplements that I want to take this morning to mitigate some of those effects.

Scott: Right and in terms of energy and feeling good and operating at your highest level just the value of a good night’s sleep is absolutely critical. So again, this whole idea of just bringing awareness to what particular things or inputs in your body are affecting that performance is absolutely huge. All right, I want to switch gears just for a second here because I know in addition to a lot of this tracking stuff, you’re also an expert at outsourcing and delegating things that you don’t need to be doing. Can you talk a little bit about some of the main tools and things that you help people basically get started on this whole path of having people do the things that they shouldn’t be in their life and business?

Ari Meisel: Absolutely, so — [technical difficulty] is to optimize, automate and outsource and it’s really in that order, it’s really important. Because outsourcing an inefficient task does not make it more efficient; so first we start optimizing and that’s really what we were talking about, about identifying the processes, looking at where the inefficiencies are and trying to correct — the second step is automation. So before we get to outsourcing, I’d like to look at sites, well, things, processes, people, software, whatever it is, but it’s in the [Inaudible 0:16:02] of set it and forget it. So, my favorite thing for that is IFTTT and Zapier which are both websites that are — they are identical for the most part but IFTTT is completely free and Zapier you have to pay for. But Zapier is much more expansive and works with a lot more different apps and also lets you get a lot more detail. So for those who aren’t familiar with it, very simply, it’s like programming for someone who has no idea of a program which I would fall into that boat, and so you set up a trigger and then that causes an action and that is it. And what is that trigger? That trigger could be, you like the video on YouTube; that trigger could be somebody subscribed to your MailChimp mailing list, the trigger could be that somebody mentioned you on Twitter and then the action could be anything. The action could be, somebody mentioned you on Twitter, add that person’s name to a new favorite list on Twitter or somebody signed up to your mailing list on MailChimp, send them an immediate email thanking them and offering them to sell something or whatever it might be. So, I have on a daily basis about 110 different processes running and this is everything from how my podcast gets edited and put up on my blog to how it gets shared on social media to even assigning things automatically to virtual assistants. So virtual assistants were the next part of it and I believe that everybody should work with a virtual assistant at some point in their life because it is an educational process for you in terms of how you effectively communicate and delegate anything. And if you have to deal with somebody who you don’t know and you don’t see them, you’re not going to have a real relationship with them necessarily. That’s a really interesting parameter to put on you when you’re assigning work and the truth is that if you’re dealing with somebody who is competent and they mess up, nine times out of ten, it’s your fault because you didn’t effectively give them that information. So the virtual assistants, I love Fancy Hands and Zirtual and the difference between those two is that Zirtual is a dedicated system so you’re always going to be dealing with the same person. Every time you call or email, the same person is going to deal with you, they’re going to have access to your email if you want, they can learn the way that you like to do certain things. Fancy Hands on the other hand is an on-demand service and that’s where you’re sending your task to a pool of thousands, in this case, assistants and anyone will pick it up and do it and move on. They still work through a simple [technical difficulty] they can see your calendar, they can [technical difficulty] but you never deal with the same person. I love both for different things but personally, I only have an on-demand assistant at this point because of the amount of volume that I do.

Scott: Sure. And what’s some of the popular things for people that have never worked with a virtual assistant before? What is some of the tasks that you have these people help you with?

Ari Meisel: Well, so again, for me, it’s — all my editing, the transcriptions for the podcast and putting the podcast up on WordPress and any dealing with — I manage several rental properties because I am also an realty developer, all the rent check processing, that’s done by virtual assistants; research for the most part, a lot of the personal stuff too. If you’re saving time on anything then you’re saving time as far as I’m concerned. And for people who want to just try this out, I love this thing, there’s a service called Talk.to; do you know Talk.to Scott?

Scott: I’ve heard of it but could you tell us a little bit more about it?

Ari Meisel: So Talk.to is not a virtual assistant service and I have kind of gotten into this habit of using things for things that they are not intended but — so with Talk.to you can text any business in the country and get a text response. So, how is that like a virtual assistant? Well, first of all, it’s really convenient to be able to send a text rather than having to get on the phone if you want to make a dentist appointment or a dinner reservation or see if the store has something in stock. It’s really nice just to be able to send a text and then they do it. And then yes, you are technically in a way, texting with the business but the truth is that a Talk.to agent is actually calling the business and then responding to you, as if they were business and they are very transparent about that but it makes it very seamless. But if you really want to experience one of the glories of having a virtual assistant, 9:00 o’clock at night is my time where I tend to unload a lot of tasks and let’s say at 9:00 o’clock in the night I realize that I need to get a dental cleaning for some reason. So, I can send a text to my Fancy Hands friends and say, look, call this dentist and make me an appointment for the cleaning. But at the same time you can use Talk.to, completely free to try this out and you’re going to see how this happens. So basically, send the text to your dentist through Talk.to and then say, I need to schedule a dental cleaning. Now, they don’t open for the next 12 hours most likely, so the Talk.to agent is going to write back and say, ‘we’ll get back to you as soon as we’re open’ and what that means is that for the next 12 hours even though you may sleep through a lot of that, that task is done. You are done and that is off your mind. And you have officially delegated a task that you don’t have to worry about for the next 12 hours and that is a beautiful thing.

Scott: That is a beautiful thing and that is so — so if somebody is interested in maybe giving us a shot, they know what they want to be working with virtual assistants but don’t know where to start, you’d recommend trying this Talk.to?

Ari Meisel: Absolutely. Make a dinner reservation, make a dentist’s appointment, see if the store has something in stock, it’s that simple, you’ll see the power of not having to deal with something that mundane by yourself.

Scott: Love it. Now again, I want to switch gears and actually have you tell a story real quick, because I think we were having a coffee in New York before I left for Brazil and you told me about how you actually got the book deal for Less Doing and I’ve heard a lot of different guys talk about this but I have never heard a story that was as unique as yours and almost — I mean it seemed in some ways, the way you had a lot of this book done is in total alignment with the whole theory of Less Doing and that it just took you much less time. So, could you talk a little bit about that and tell that story?

Ari Meisel: Yeah, so the only time that I have had outsourcing really go badly for me was when I tried to have ghostwriters work on writing stuff for me. And again, I said this before, I honestly believe that if a competent outsource provider does a poor job, it is your fault as the assigner because you weren’t clear about what you wanted. So, [Inaudible 0:22:56] some malice there but basically, I had wanted to write the book — I had written the book basically years ago even before I had really formed all the ideas which was silly in retrospect now that it has all come together. So the first two times, I tried to have somebody put together an e-book version of what is now the real book. I sent them seven or eight blog posts and an interview I had done and a podcast and basically I was like ‘hey, take all this stuff and make it something that sort of flows well’. And the first time what I got back was like basically cut and paste of what I had sent them and the second person, what they wrote, it just didn’t sound good. It was really terrible and I was really disappointed. But, it’s really about finding the method and I love — there’s an Einstein quote that I love and it’s basically like, ‘if you try to teach a fish to climb a ladder, you’re always going to think it’s an idiot’. So basically, finally, I created this online course with a lot of video of me talking in the way that I naturally speak, in the way that I naturally present, the way that I really wanted the material to come out and I sent — I said to a new person, take my course and then write an e-book based on that. And what I got back was perfect. The woman absolutely nailed it and she was amazing and I was able to use that — in a way it was a transcription of what I said but it was just put together in a nice way and the questions were removed and it flowed better. And that basically started as my outline for the real book.

Scott: Love that, so you just basically cut that whole process, cut the time on that outline process in a tenth of the time by just having somebody give you this amazing draft to start with by outsourcing giving them something to work with and then kind of doing some of the heavy lifting? That’s awesome.

Ari Meisel: Yeah, and you know what’s so funny about that is when I met the guy who became my editor, he was like ‘well, when do you think you’ll have the manuscript?’ I was like, I’ll email it to you before we leave this meeting, it was done and on the same note, I’ve already given them the manuscript for the next book.

Scott: Love it, and is there any chance we could get a sneak peak of what that might be?

Ari Meisel: Sure, it’s going to be basically my Gmail, IFTTT and virtual assistant course but it’s going to be much more specific kind of guide to how you conquer email, how you automate your life and how you deal with virtual assistants.

Scott: Love it, I think no one can ever get enough good information on how to do all those things because it just seems like no matter what we do, there’s more email, there’s more tasks, there’s more things that somebody else could be doing for me. So, I’m personally really fired up about that book too.

Ari Meisel: Thank you very much, man.

Scott: So, all right, there’s been so much amazing information in this talk that people can use to get an edge in their business and their life, but I always like to finish with one question at the end. And that is, if there was one thing that maybe we haven’t talked about yet or maybe we have and you could just highlight it, that you could tell people that they could do to get an edge in their business and life, what would that be?

Ari Meisel: Start writing down every single idea that you have; without questioning it, without hesitating or without even thinking about it. If you have an idea, get it out of your head and I recommend Evernote but you can use a notebook if you want but get those ideas out of your head. If you want to refer to them later, you can if you don’t, that’s fine, just create idea flow.

Scott: And why is it such a powerful practice?

Ari Meisel: Because again, we don’t use our brains for the things that we should be using them for and the brain is really good for coming up with ideas but it’s really bad at holding on to them and in that case it’s even worse at actually getting them.

Scott: So, the idea is to really create space by logging these in that external brain, so you can focus on what’s important like new ideas instead of focusing on having to remember something?

Ari Meisel: Exactly. I have this very ideological view that everybody has some genius in them to offer the world, everybody without fail. And for the most part if they are not sharing it with the world, it’s because they are getting in their own way. And that’s just the nature of the beast. So, you have to clear your mind to allow that to happen.

Scott: Where do you write all your ideas down?

Ari Meisel: Oh, I’m a huge Evernote guy.

Scott: Evernote, you got that app on your phone?

Ari Meisel: I have the Evernote app on the phone and then I use the Web version on the computer.

Scott: Amazing, We’ll make sure to link Evernote as well as all the other amazing tools that you have mentioned in this interview in the show notes and if people want to find out more of this type of information or if they want to get the book, what is the best place for them to go?

Ari Meisel: So the main website is Lessdoing dot com, that’s where everything is. If you just want to remember one thing, Lessdoing dot com, that’s where my book is, the podcast, the articles, everything, the blog — but if you go to Lessdoing book dot com, then I have a special page where I have some really cool offers for people if you buy one book or if you buy ten books, there’s some really cool [Inaudible 0:28:29] that goes along with that.

Scott: Well, that is a certain something that I am going to be running over to after this interview. Thanks again for coming over man, this has been so amazing, I really appreciate it, I’m like so excited right now about going up and optimizing some of the things that I’m currently doing after our talk and I really just want to thank you for coming out today.

Ari Meisel: Thanks for having me, it’s always fun talking to you.

[End of interview 0:28:53]


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