Behind the Scenes of My Tim Ferriss Mentorship Application

by Scott - 4 Comments

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It was 2am and my heart was racing uncontrollably. So many ideas. So much excitement about prospects for the future…

This is it. This is what I want for my life.

I’m not sure I remember any restless night as vividly as the one following the first time I picked up The 4 Hour Work Week.

Maybe it’s because that night marked the beginning of my romance with entrepreneurship and prompted me to quit my cushy job in Chicago to go work for lunch receipts at a tech startup in NYC.

This why I regularly bear hug my 4HWW book at least.

4 Hour Work Week Bearhug

When Tim Ferriss mentioned he was offering a week long mentorship for someone to work with him and Noah Kagan, another guy I look up to, I thought it sounded like the coolest thing ever.

coolest thing ever

This post an in-depth breakdown on the video I created to get their attention and process I used to create it.

*I have no idea idea whether they’ve chosen the winner yet so the verdict on the effectiveness of any of this is still out.

But before I created the video a few other things happened…

A few minutes after the initial headrush of excitement, I felt the hot breath of limiting beliefs set in and the intellectual knife fight on whether I should submit an application began…

“They’re looking for someone whose really green. I have too much experience to ever get chosen”

“I probably don’t have enough personal relationships to leapfrog the submission fest”

While these thoughts continued to hopscotch through my head, I went and asked my roommates Ben and Charlie their opinion since they also were driven to entrepreneurship by Tim’s book.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure if spending a whole day on this is worth it because I’m not the ideal candidate.

They’re probably going for a 0 to hero story. I’ve had some success so I’m not sure applying for this is worth it…”

Ben fired back with the best thing that anyone could have said.

“Dude never disqualify yourself. There’s nothing but upside here, and I think you’ve got a legitimate shot.”

They were right. There was no reason not to throw my hat in the ring.

The truth is I probably was surfacing those limiting beliefs to protect myself from posting a video to people who I’ve admired from a distance for years even though that was the path to me actually getting what I wanted.

Ok, I’m doing it.

Next Steps: Planning and Mindset

The first thing I did was think about what Tim and Noah were looking to get out of this.

What was their incentive for doing this? What would a huge win for them look like?

Given the context of the post leading up to the opportunity, I hypothesized that they were looking for a great story to tell. Ideally they’d be able to help someone achieve incredible results that could be verified by bottom line metrics ($ bills y’all).

In week-long mentorship utopia, this person would have a limited head start in order to maximize the impact of the results of their mentorship.

I emailed a few friends asking if they had any ideas about how to approach this and they had similar conclusions. My friend Justin Mares, who is an absolute stud was particularly helpful.

I then wrote an outline I’d use to formulate a script. I actually filmed both the outline creation and script so I was able to capture exactly how long each task took me.

Creation Process Time Breakdown

  • Construct outline – 8:32 (link to video of me talking through outline as I write it here)
  • Write script -21:55 (link to video of me typing script like a madman here)
  • Morph into a Yellow Power Ranger and record a bunch of takes – Probably 30 mins?

I spent another 5 minutes cutting the video so that it was less than 2 minutes which was the specified length.

I knew that if it was longer than this, it’d be indicative that I wasn’t good at following directions and I’d immediately disqualify myself.

The Video

Below I’m going to break down each element of the video content and why I included it. If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:

The first thing you’ll notice in the video is that I’m wearing a yellow power rangers costume.

Before you raise the brows any higher, hear out my calculus:

I figured there’d be hundreds if not thousands of submissions for this opportunity. So I wanted to wear something that:

  • Stood out immediately
  • Was memorable in order to optimize recall. “Remember the power rangers” guy” is a bit more descriptive than remember the guy in the blue shirt
  • Demonstrated that I don’t take myself too seriously. There was definitely some “hey look at how cool am moments” and use of business jargon in my video. I wanted to balance this out with some this guys likes to have fun vibes

*If I was going to wear something as ridiculous [awesome] as a power rangers costume, it was important that I introduced it.

If I didn’t say anything, it might be like in Step Brothers when Seth Rogan interviews Dale and Brennan and eventually realizes that the tuxes aren’t a joke…I’m socially calibrated, I swear!

Fortunately, I had impeccable timing on my side for a stunt like this.

The application was due the day before Halloween, so a simple announcement that I was wearing my costume made it seem more normal while still accomplishing my other objectives: optimizing recall and highlighting that I don’t take myself too seriously.

The Words…

Similar to a cold email or headline, I knew that the first few sentences out of my mouth had to hook even more than my costume.

Talking about how cool I am out of the gates has zero relevance to Tim and Noah. I wanted to lead with a statement that directly appealed to what I perceived as their primary incentive for holding the competition.

“You guys should choose me because I’m going to make you look great by getting excellent results…and getting them quickly”

Again, a great story with verifiable results was what I thought they were looking for.

The next thing I wanted to surface was that they should choose me because I need their help…because I do!

“Also, quite frankly because I need your help.”

Successful guys like Tim and Noah have enough friends.

They’re not putting out competitions like this to network with cool people. They’re doing it to genuinely help people that need it so I wanted to make it clear very early on that I’m in this bucket.

The next section was about expanding and substantiating my claim that I could get results.

“I’m confident that I can get results because I have a proven track record of executing. I’m also not afraid to ask for things and even have some experience in pre-selling which I know is alignment with your lean approaches to business.”

I’ve consumed lots of content from both Tim and Noah. I know that these guys are all about execution as well as validating ideas before committing too much time or resources on them.

I wanted to let them know that I’m rowing in the same direction and that I’m not gunshy about doing what it takes to actualize this mindset…ask for things!

I wanted to substantiate my claims with concrete evidence, so I highlighted specific examples making sure to use screenshots to eliminate any friction for them to validate my statements.

“Proof that I can hustle and execute can be found in the fact that I was able to create some info products that are enabling me to take a mini retirement right now in Rio De Janeiro.

Funny enough, one on gmail was actually featured in an AppSumo video. If you need more proof, I did over 200 BD at my last company SinglePlatform which sold for 100 million dollars.”

Other key elements of these statements:

  • I made sure to drop “mini-retirement” so that Tim knew that I not only read his book, but took it to heart and actually did it.
  • I referenced a relevant Appsumo video to demonstrate to Noah that I watch and support the sweet content they produce.
  • I also wanted to show them that not too long ago I had a “real job” which I performed at a high level. There’s a lot of big barkers on the interwebs that I’m still trying to figure out how they afford food and shelter. I wanted to separate myself from these results driven strategists who are currently co-founders of 3 companies.

The goal of the next section was to bring more specificity to why I needed their help and what I was looking for.

*The more specific you can be with your ask or aspirations, the better response you’re going to receive (tweet this).

“I need your help because I want to create a business greater than small time info products around something I care about that has recurring, predictable revenue.”

This is the 100% truth.

It’s awesome that I’m making some decent loot off of information products right now; heck, I’m lucky enough to be currently taking a mini-retirement in beautiful Rio De Janeiro.

But the truth is the info-product model has its challenges.

It’s harder to create recurring revenue products that don’t take over your life and freedom which diametrically opposes the whole reason many people who are in that business choose it in the first place.

This is one reason why it can be much harder to predict revenue which is a key component for effective scaling.

These are the two reasons why I’m drawn to the business selection criteria of recurring and eventual predictable revenue.

*I also remembered from this awesome video by The Foundation on “The Most Powerful Word in Business” that Tim is a fan of predictable revenue.

Next…

“…around something I care about…I know that if I do something just for money, I’ll run the risk of losing motivation just like you indicated in your Pat Flynn interview, Noah.”

Again, 100% truth.

I’ve tried to create a business purely on the shoulders of potential monetary gain before. The last time I did this, by month four my excitement had wained and I found myself bored and unhappy wanting to drink Hefewiezens at 4pm.

For some entrepreneurs, making money so that they can eventually spend their time doing the things they want to is enough motivation for them to pound pavement for 3-4 years.

I’m just not cut from this cloth…at least not as a 25 year old guy with no obligations.

I know that the only way that I’ll bring sustainable zeal to my work is by working on things I care about. I guess the compass of my desire leans more towards being excited and smiley than having deep pockets right now.

Hopefully one day my have my cake and eat it too attitude results in a financial landfall…but even if it doesn’t, I’d have been already doing what I wanted with my time anyways…this is the end goal for many, no?

*I made sure to allude to Noah’s Pat Flynn interview where he talked about this philosophy to reinforce my support for his work and beliefs.

Moving on.

One of the things that I most admire about Tim and Noah is their commitment to prioritization.

The most productive thing I can do to increase my output is to focus on prioritization instead of efficiency.

Even though I know this, I still find myself clinging to my “dive right in” tendencies which is why I wanted to let them know that I really desire to internalize this mindset so that I practice it more consistently:

“I also need to internalize and more consistently apply the 80/20 mindset in business and life because I often find myself executing on everything instead of doubling down on the things that have the highest return.”

I wanted to explicitly state this because:

a) it’s something that I really want and think that they can help me with

b) I wanted to further emphasize my self-awareness by humbling admitting a flaw

*Pro tip: if done correctly, vulnerably admitting your flaws can be an incredible force to drive empathy and rapport.

Next ->

“I feel like you guys would be amazing mentors for both of these goals”

#truf.

My biggest limiting belief about the likelihood of being chosen was that I wouldn’t be enough of a transformative case study.

If I’m 100% objective and authentic, I’m not an insanely successful dude, but I have accomplished a decent amount in the realm of entrepreneurship by age 25. Juxtaposing this with what I perceived as the ideal story, I felt like this actually might put me at a disadvantage.

So I put on my copywriter hat and decided to try and preemptively disarm this objection for better or worse…

“If you’re wondering whether I’d be enough of a zero to hero story, everything we work on would be started from scratch and I’ll even work under an alias just to demonstrate that anyone can get results with the right coaching.”

I hoped that the affirmation that we’d be starting from scratch and my willingness to work under an alias would put any concerns at ease.

Lastly, I wanted to close with a personal touch.

“I have strong conviction that limiting beliefs and the inability to overcome fear the fear of rejection are the greatest forces that hold most people back from getting more of everything they want.”

I’ve written about this here. I moved to Rio De Janeiro with friends to build the strongest courage muscle East of the Mississippi. And recently I decided to rebrand my blog with a giant billboard about stretching your comfort zone and overcoming fear.

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 1.12.14 PM

If you can’t tell yet, I’m just a tad passionate about empowering people to overcome limiting beliefs and irrational fears to get more of the things that they believe will make them happy.

So when I saw Noah came out with a new course on Overcoming Fear and then a Failure Games App, I wanted to make it known that this is something that I’m also deeply passionate about:

“Lastly, Noah, I wanted to bring up that I’m in agreement that fear of failure is the number one thing that holds people back from getting everything they ever wanted. So when our brains get fried and we need a break from work we can rap about this over burritos…or burrito bowls if you prefer Tim.”

Some elements to note:

In retrospect, I realize there was a slight botch here. Because I’ve followed Noah for the past 2 years, I’m keenly aware that he loves tacos.

NoahHeartsTacos

I wanted to inject my support for his content here, but for some reason, I said burritos instead of tacos. SUGAR WATER! Hopefully he got the gist and he’s simpatico with taco’s cousin burrito tambien.

I didn’t want Tim to think that he’d be left out of the party in case he was doing slow carb so I made sure to indicate burrito bowls were cool too.

*Truthfully, it’s pool party season in the southern hemisphere and I’d probably be better suited with the low carb option anyways ; )

 

Phew.

So that is the secret sauce that went into this video.

I have no idea whether they are in alignment with Tim and Noah’s feelings. Hell, part of me feels like being this transparent and aggressive might actually result in me to making my own bed…

But some people might learn a few things from this and I’m trying to champion unwavering authenticity and vulnerability on this blog if it helps other people grow. I’d also always rather be a pink flamengo.

Now…there’s actually a whole lot more to the story.

Creation of the video was just a small part of my efforts to try and get Tim and Noah to pick me.

If you want to know all the other things I did to try and maverick my way to mentorship like driving comments and likes on the video, you can email me or let me know in the comments below…these things took way more effort and creativity.

I’ll likely write about this and send it to my mailing list so subscribe below if you want the details.

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4 comments, add to the conversation.

    1. Post Author Scott

      Thanks Hayley! Fortune favors the bold and things like this eventually become not scary at all if you keep doing them. The first time I shared something like this it was scary as hell. Now its no biggie. Feels good, but took some pain to gain : )

      Reply

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