Two simple questions

A few weeks ago, my coach asked me these two simple questions and my life hasn’t been the same since:

1) What do you want to create?

I went into my dream life:

• $10K months minimum
• Traveling two months out of the year
• Having only five one-on-one clients, referrals only
• Being completely off social media
• Teaching jiujitsu and chess

I talked about money dreams for the first time ever. It’s usually a sensitive topic for me. I told him I’m sick of cutting it close. I’m ready for a prosperous life where I can pay off my debt, invest, do what I love, and donate to charities I care about.

Once we painted this beautiful picture together, he asked me…

2) So what’s in the way?

I went into all these stories:

• “I don’t know how to make a ton of money.”
• “I’ve never done it before.”
• “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Once we dove into each story one by one, I came to the realization that none of them were true. What was actually happening was I was waiting for permission to live a truly prosperous life.

This may sound simple or dramatic, but this utterly shattered my previous way of thinking. I got off that call and immediately began building my coaching program. Since then, I’ve invited tons of new coaches and have gotten a ridiculous amount of positive feedback.

We get so caught up in believing the stories we tell ourselves. They’re almost certainly nonsense.

What do you tell yourself to keep yourself from taking action? Or better yet, ask yourself…

What do I want to create? So what’s in the way?

The story in all of us

Woman reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

My coach said something revolutionary yesterday on our weekly group call.

Whether it’s in coaching or just in our day to day lives, the vast majority of us create stories in our minds that stop us from taking action. We construct these requirements we must meet before we do what we want to do—often times they’re requirements that are impossible to meet.

“I just need to be more confident.”
“I need to be fearless.”
“I’m not ready yet.”

All to which he likes to ask:

“How confident have you decided you need to be?”
“How does you being afraid have anything to do with you doing it?”
“What’s the exact date when all your requirements will be met to make you ready?”

The conclusion for me was that when we challenge our stories, when we put them up for scrutiny, we eventually see that they’re all a load of bullshit.

These have been my most powerful stories:

• I’m not a businessman—I could never run a successful business.
• I’ve been single for most of my adult life—I don’t have what it takes to be loved by another.
• I’ve never not lived “paycheck to paycheck”—I don’t know how to make money.

What lovely stories. Let’s put them to the test.

What does not having business savvy have to do with me trying to help as many people as I can? That’s all I’ve been doing for the last year and I’ve been able to quit my full-time job and pay my bills with this thing I’ve created entirely on my own. People have actually come to me for advice on how they can grow their coaching businesses.

Check. Bullshit.

What does being single have to do with people loving me? I have been loved—by women, by friends, by my family…Being single has been a super fun way to live in my 20s. Of course it’s nice to have someone, but I’ve enjoyed the freedom to work on myself and make decisions entirely based on my own wants and needs. I’m not waiting to be right for someone; I’m waiting for someone to be right for me.

Check check. Bullshit.

Okay, but this last one has to be true. I’ve always sucked with money.

What does me never having a ton of money have to do with my ability to increase my income? By simply following my process of having as many fun and powerful conversations as possible, May of 2021 has become the first month I’ve ever made over $10,000. I didn’t do anything different that I didn’t do in April. If I didn’t know how to make money, how the fuck would that be possible?

Dammit. Bullshit…

So I’m curious. What are the stories you tell yourself that keep you from taking action? What requirements have you decided you must meet before you do what you really want to do?

I’d love to hear about them.

Picasso’s napkin

Beautiful mural of a colorful cat

There’s a popular anecdote in the personal development world that accounts one woman’s encounter with Pablo Picasso.

Much of it has been lost in translation but it goes something like:

A woman saw Picasso at a cafe. He was sketching something on a napkin. She went up to him and asked to buy his doodle.

He agreed and asked her for a million dollars.

Baffled, she said, “But that only took you five minutes!”

He calmly replied, “No madam. It took me my whole life.”

The moral of this story is to never undervalue what you do. But I didn’t truly understand it until recently.

After running my own business for several months now, I finally have something to relate that little anecdote to.

At some point in my life, I’ll charge someone $100,000 a year for my coaching. Is that because I’ll be spending 80+ hours a week with them?

No.

They won’t just be paying for sessions with me. They’ll be paying for everything it took to get me to that point.

• All the thousands of dollars I spent on coaching and programs for myself.

• The countless hours of being on the brink of tears from doubt, uncertainty, and fear.

• The hundreds and hundreds of conversations I’ve had with people—powerful and awkward alike.

• The journey of my life: From attempting suicide to getting my shit together (and wanting to help others get their “shit” together).

So…when I get to that point, when someone asks me why it costs $100,000 for one year of coaching, I’ll simply tell them that they’re not paying for one year.

They’re paying for my entire life.

Nothing’s wrong

Yesterday, I was being coached by my partner in my coaching program.

He and I were diving into the stress and anxiety I feel over money and growing my business.

I thought we were heading in the direction of:

“I’m doing great. I don’t need to feel this anxious.”

But then things took a turn and I had a simple but unexpected insight:

You’re very new at this whole ‘running a business’ thing. It’s perfectly natural to be stressed out.

Wow…yeah.

I’ve been coaching for nine months. Did I think I would be making six figures at this point?

I have 12 regular paying clients. I’m serving others. I’m helping people take action toward the things that matter most to them.

I’ve been thinking that something’s wrong because I’m not totally financially set yet.

But nothing’s wrong.

Everything is as it should be, including the stress.

Realizing that anxiety is perfectly normal makes me less anxious.

The only option for me is to continue doing the work and stay on this trajectory.

A year from now, I’m excited to look back and smile at this blog post.

What are you willing to invest in?

Yesterday, I signed up for my first coaching certification program.

It entails joining a community of coaches for weekly calls and trainings, intense practice, and accountability.

If the goal is to be able to pay for my life, why would I add this hefty monthly fee to my budget?

Simple: It’s an investment.

Life is not about saving money. It’s about putting that money toward things that will bring you massive returns.

The goal here is to become an extraordinary coach and business owner, making it easy to pay this program off.

On a smaller scale, I pay for a haircut once each month (and I’m thinking about bumping that up to once every two weeks). I could limit the amount of haircuts I get or even teach myself how to cut my own hair. But I love the way I look after I meet with my haircutter. We always have a lovely conversation, laugh our asses off, and I look fresh as hell leaving that place.

The fun experience and level of confidence I feel are well worth the cost to me, so I invest it happily.

What are you willing to invest in? What are you willing to pay money for that other people would scoff at?

The one proven way to get wealthy

Is to simply bring more value to others than anyone else.

High levels of wealth can surely carry corruption and greed…

But Jeff Bezos isn’t wealthy because he found the perfect way to fuck people over.

He’s rich because Amazon brings millions of people value.

People love buying things at a reasonable price. They love getting those things delivered to them quickly, even more so.

It’s easier said than done, but if you’re unhappy with your income, ask:

How much value do I provide?

Remember Your Training

You’ve been training your entire life for today.

Every single decision you’ve ever made has led you to where you are right now.

Your bank account is the grand total of all the times you’ve earned money and purchased something.

Your body is the grand total of all the times you did (or didn’t) work out or eat well.

Your relationships are the grand total of all the conversations and experiences you’ve had with others.

Remember your training.

Good Investments, Bad Investments

“The best investment: investing in yourself.”

Cheesy. Self-helpy. But true.

Outside of the stock market, I have made–and continue to make–a number of investments which make my life easier, more enjoyable, and more fulfilling.

I have also made investments which have proved to have terrible ROI.

Here they are:

1. Good Investments

• My new apartment–$1100/mo

My mom let me live with her for free while I got my shit together. For that, I am eternally grateful; but having this new place to pay for has given me two things: the freedom to live an adult life, and the hunger to work well and increase my income.

• Supplements (Athletic Greens and LMNT Electrolytes)–$122/mo

Supplements are tricky. It’s hard to accurately pinpoint their benefits. It’s not as if I feel awful when I don’t take my nutrient shake. But even if it’s just a placebo, I feel mentally and physically strong knowing that I have all the essential nutrients and vitamins in my system at all times.

• My own studio–$140/mo

Moving into this new apartment, my roommate and I arranged that I would take the den and turn it into my own space for work and productivity. Separating this from my room has done wonders for my ability to focus and pursue deep work.

• Gym memberships–$110/mo

With the combination of my weightlifting gym and martial arts gym, I make sure to get consistent and well-rounded exercise. Aside from the physical benefits, practicing Brazilian jiujitsu has thoroughly changed my life. Increased confidence, a sense of family, an ability to defend myself…these are all priceless.

2. Bad Investments

• College–$60,000

Although I have a massive amount of debt for a degree I do not have, I do not regret going to college. What I regret–and lament–is making $20,000 decisions at the age of 18. I was a child, and I went to college because that’s what you do. Not because I had a goal or a plan. Just go and see what happens. Well, what happened was it didn’t work (for me). And now I am indebted to the young fool that I was.

• Friends who don’t share my values–Mental and emotional exhaustion

This has been one of the toughest realizations for me. Not all of our friends are helping us cultivate a happy and healthy life. This is incredibly sad, but totally natural. Identifying those who don’t make your forcefield stronger is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. I’ve spent an unfortunate amount of hours caring for and mending relationships with people when I should’ve just cut the cord.

What investments are you making that give you a great ROI?

What investments are you making that give you diminishing returns?

Don’t Chase

By no means am I a financial or business guru. My brain has never allowed me to be a numbers guy naturally.

But I can attest to the best financial/business advice I’ve ever been given:

Don’t chase money. Chase ways to help others.

If you are consistently finding solutions to people’s problems and ways to bring value to others, the money will inevitably come.

Last week, I got my first paying client as a life coach. This didn’t happen because I finally found the perfect way to market myself or because I chose the best pictures to put on my coaching page.

I just started giving free sessions to my client and after about three weeks, he came to me and offered to pay for sessions because they brought him a ton of value.

Whether it’s your business, your writing, or your art, people need evidence that what you have is worth their time, money, and attention.

Give them great evidence, and the money will come.

Day 16: Under $100

16/30 – What is a purchase under $100 that has changed your life recently?

Bulletproof Coffee: It has totally enhanced the quality of my mornings. I’m sharper, more motivated, and I can finally drink an entire cup of coffee without dying.

A subscription to Chess.com. I have begun to love chess over the quarantine and this app/site is a fantastic way to learn, play, and have a fun time while doing so.

Day 14: Top Tips

14/30 – Give your top 5 pieces of life advice:

  1. Take time to learn all the boring fundamentals of personal finance. It will probably suck, but you’ll experience much more long-term freedom and much less stress.
  2. Find something you enjoy doing that’s difficult, do it all the time time, and get better at it. If you don’t have this thing, try stuff out. A year from now, you’ll be glad you started today. (I can’t recommend martial arts enough).
  3. Talk to and spend as much time with your family and friends as you can. When you’re on your deathbed, the connections you’ve made in life will be all that you have.
  4. Give a shit about your health. You don’t have to become an Olympian or a vegan…But exercise at least 3 times a week and eat mostly clean.
  5. Spend intentional time thinking about and planning what you want out of life and out of yourself. Write down your goals, what you want your life to look like, what value you want to provide others…The more time you spend in a clear state of mind, the more likely you are to affect change toward those values.

Is ‘Do What You Love’ Good Advice?

In short: yes and no.

Much of what I write about, talk about, make videos about, etc…has a common theme of creating the life you want to live. This often suggests you pour your heart and soul into what you love or what you want to do.

I’ve received a decent amount of push-back on this mentality so I’d like to address a few caveats; namely with the statement, “do what you love.”

Firstly, I do believe a good chunk of one’s life should be dedicated to something that person is passionate about; be it a hobby, a side-hustle, or a weekend activity. Learning new skills, educating oneself…this shouldn’t stop once one graduates. It’s constant.

Having said that, doing what you love–no matter how much you love it–provides no guarantee that you will be able to support yourself financially doing it.

It doesn’t matter how interested you are in art history, theatre, making videos, writing, fitness, music…In terms of money, people don’t give a shit about how passionate you are; people only care about whether or not you can provide them value.

Therefore, if you rely on doing what you love to support yourself, you must:

  1. Provide a ton of value.
  2. Be incredibly good at what you do.
  3. Supplement that thing with one or two other useful skills.

For example, being really knowledgeable about art history is super cool and interesting, but people won’t be lining up outside your door to give you money to learn about the significance of Manet’s Olympia (thank you Google).

People would be much more intrigued however if you supplemented that skill with something like animation or filmmaking. Then you could make entertaining and educational clips or films articulating and illustrating what Manet’s works meant and felt like at the time.

That may be a silly example. The point is, people pay for value, they don’t pay for how much you love what you do.

Another problem with doing what you love is that it can often tarnish your love for that thing.

I have several friends who are artists, musicians, and craftsmen. They have said multiple times that they want to keep their craft a hobby for fear of hating it if they turned it into a business. I know cooks who hate the sight of food at the end of the day.

This all can sound incredibly harsh. I’m not trying in the slightest to discourage anyone from pursuing things they love. Quite the opposite actually. I think if you’re going to do it (and you should), you have to be smart about it to ensure that you don’t end up hating it or become unable to pay your bills.

I absolutely love making YouTube videos. It’s something I want to do more and get much, much better at. But the amount of passion I have for making videos doesn’t bring in viewers; the amount of value my videos provide people will bring in more viewers.

Passion = your drive to keep going

Value = people’s drive to consume your stuff

This is a crucial difference.

Do what you love. Don’t just put a bookmark in it and keep it on the shelf until you die. Water it. Feed it. Let it grow and develop.

But unless you’re insanely good at it–like, Cristiano Ronaldo good–and unless your thing brings a shit ton of value to people, don’t rely on it to pay your bills (yet).

3 Money Rules

Here are 3 of the most important facts about finance which have impacted me the most (each of which I never learned in school):

  1. The amount of money you have (or don’t have) is a direct reflection on the amount of perceived value you have provided (or have not provided). You can either wish that people viewed you as more valuable, or you can improve your skills or create a system in which you genuinely do bring more value to more people.
  2. If something was originally $1,000, and is now on sale for $250, you did not save $750; you spent $250.
  3. People don’t become wealthy by avoiding lattes and Chipotle. “If you took all the money you spent on Chipotle in the past year and invested it, in 40 years you’d have $144,750…” Who the fuck has ever done that? No one. The absolute best way to acquire wealth is not to save $25 a week, but to increase your income without increasing your time spent working.

Compound Interest

Aspects of life begin to open up once we realize that everything runs on compound interest.

Typically, the phenomenon is used to describe the goal of investing money. You put $1000 into the stock market. With a 10% return, you get a $100 back after a year. Next year, if you did nothing, you’d be earning interest on $1100. You get a return of $110 that year. As this continues, you’re earning interest on a higher and higher base value.

This can sound incredibly dull. But this is everything we do.

Aside from investing money, compound interest is prevalent:

In great friendships. The longer we stay friends with someone, the more solidified and stronger that relationship becomes.

In our passions. As we develop our craft–whatever it may be–over the years, we shed light on our love for it and learn what we don’t know along the way. We become masters.

In our health. If you’ve been fit and active for 20 years, you don’t wake up one day and suddenly say fuck it, and become a couch potato (haven’t used that term in years).

This is all best-case scenario, obviously. Many of us will plateau and halt our improvement and settle for good enough. Thinking about things in terms of compound interest however can really push us to stick at something. If we do, the results will be astonishing.

Process > Events

“Process makes millionaires, and the events you see and hear are the results of that process.”

MJ DeMarco

It took me years to step out of my victim mentality in terms of all the things which weren’t going well for me in life. Everything changed when I realized:

• I’m not out of shape; I just have a poor fitness and eating system.

• I’m not lazy; I just have a poor productivity and management system.

• I’m not poor; I just have a poor money system.

There are certainly people with deeply-rooted issues which better habits won’t fix, but for the vast majority of us, our lives are a result of the strength of our processes.

From James Clear:

You don’t need to clean your room. You need good cleanliness habits so your room will always be clean.

You don’t need more money. You need better money habits so you’ll always have plenty in your bank account.

You don’t need to ‘get in shape.’ You need better health habits so you are constantly fit.

Your bank account, your body, your life…how it looks right now is simply the result of each and every decision you’ve ever made.

Solving Problems

Is the best way to make money.

People hate problems. They’re uncomfortable, nagging, and people are willing to pay someone to make them go away.

The more strain a problem puts on someone, the more they’re willing to pay someone to solve it.

Needing a hip replacement is a problem. Needing clean plates is a problem.

Neither one is necessarily better or worse than the other; they’re just different problems…but I’d rather pay someone to replace my hip and wash my own damn dishes.

Simple Money

All of the best pieces of financial advice I’ve heard are the most simple to implement:

• Live below your means
• Buy assets, not liabilities
• Spend after you save, not vise-versa

Should You Go to College?

Near the end of my high school career, I was asked countless times what my plans were after graduation. Without skipping a beat I would respond, “I’m going to college [duh].”

It was set in stone. I refused to go to the nearby, highly-ranked community college where I could knock out my bullshit general education credits, figure out what I wanted to do, and save thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars…I refused to stay back and work and develop and grow myself to discover what I was passionate about and what I could bring to the table.

No. I had to go to a four year university—a place where I could get the full college experience. Why? Not because I was a great student (I was a terrible student). Not because I had a school in mind which specialized in the field I was interested in (I had no clue what I wanted from my life). Not to make my resume look juicier (I refuse to work somewhere where they care more about a place I went to school than my personality or my unique qualities). I had to go to college simply because it’s what you do.

The only reason I went to university was to avoid looking like a loser. I didn’t want to be the only one of my close friend group to stay back at mom’s house while all my buddies were getting ‘smarter,’ doing molly at parties they weren’t invited to, having sex, and making newer and more interesting relationships. But most of all, I didn’t want to disappoint my family. Consisting of mostly traditional and conservative thinkers, my family stressed the importance of an education…and we never had a conversation where the subject of school didn’t take the driver seat.

But here’s what happened: My college career ended in failure—on paper and emotionally. Like I said, I was a shit student. Why did I think anything would drastically get better when you took away supervision, gave me access to drugs and alcohol, and threw me into a system in which I never wanted to be in in the first place?

Everything I just said sounds so incredibly arrogant and I’m aware of that. I take full responsibility for my lack of success in academia. My point is that I was a child. I understand that we need to send kids off to learn about themselves and solve problems on their own at some point. My thesis is not that college is evil. College is a beautiful choice for specific fields or if you truly want to continue your education. I don’t want a surgeon operating on me who Googled how to do the operation the night before.

What I disagree with is this: College isn’t the only way. It shouldn’t be pushed as the only option for a successful and satisfying life. It’s not even the best way, not for everybody. We all have different passions with various mechanics of learning. Personally, I laugh when I think about the amount of hours I spent trying to gather information by sitting in a class, listening to a lecturer, and taking notes on something I didn’t care about and didn’t remember a month later. That’s not me.

And I get it. Having a degree can make someone feel accomplished and I don’t want to demean or belittle that for anyone. It can certainly show someone that you have enough grit to complete the schooling system.

But what else can prove that you’re worth hiring over the next person? How great you are at communicating with people? How quickly you learn and adapt? How passionate you are and how willing you are to go above and beyond? How easily you lead and inspire people? Do we need college for all of this? For some people, sure. But it’s undeniable that we can find these phenomenal qualities outside the classroom. I just know too many people who work lovely, fulfilling jobs, making excellent money, who didn’t put themselves in $40,000 of debt for a piece of paper which says they’re more talented than others.

I understand I have a biased opinion. But that’s exactly what I’m writing about. It didn’t work for me. Sure, I could’ve worked harder and cared more. What I’m saying is I didn’t. I was a child. A child in a big school of children and I was told to “figure my life out” and I had no fucking clue. I made childish decision after childish decision until it caught up to me and blew up in my face. Then I had to go back to square one—mom’s house.

It was like I went back to high school and it was depressing. But here’s the thing: I’ve learned more about myself and the world in these two years being back at mom’s than I ever did in a classroom. About 30 times more. I’ve had time to pursue my curiosity, find my passions, read and learn about the world, have disorganized and sloppy conversations, make mistakes, and develop myself as a person and an intellect.

If anyone in academia reads this, please leave with this:

I respect each and every hard-working soul who fights for the education of those next in line. I would never bash a teacher, student, or parent who is thrilled that their kid got into college or made Dean’s list. Schooling is a beautiful and safe way to secure a structure for yourself. It can be a great tool…I just resent the idea that it is the only tool…the idea which was pumped into my head and the heads of countless others.