As an entrepreneur, you can either pay yourself or your business first. The lines are often blurred. Many business owners work at home, drive around and take calls on the road. How many of those expenses we categorize as personal are actually business expenses? A lot of them.
I see many business owners make mistakes of buying lavish homes and expensive cars. Much of this stuff is often bought on credit. Anything bought on credit is not truly an asset unless it has appreciated in value or you have paid enough down fast enough to where it has some liquidity if sold.
It often makes sense to buy your house on credit if you have a family, but you should not be overzealous. A car that costs $2,000 and one that costs $200,000 both serve the same purpose: to get your from point A to B. The only reason to get a nicer car is if you have some sort of brand to live up to.
For example, many people would not trust a lawyer that pulls up in Saul Goodman’s yellow beater. A lawyer should have a car that represents them well. Still, you don’t need to spend a shit ton of money to gain respect. Your product and service should do the talking.
The Beginning of Your Company & During Hard Times
If at all possible, you should work for free and reinvest back into your company both during hard times and especially at the beginning. The more money you put back into quality employees, contractors, marketing and product development, the bigger your company will be in the long term.
Many new business owners will take money from their company at the first hint of profit and positive cash flow. This is a big mistake. You should reward yourself for your hard work but it needs to be strategic. The more you can feed and diversify your investments, the better things will be when your company hits inevitable downturn. You should always hedge any investment, especially those that aren’t that liquid.
Think about what you really need – food, somewhere to live and good people. I’m not asking you to be a minimalist, instead be strategic with your expenses and how you pay yourself. Its better to take a small side job such as Uber or Lyft than to rob your business of all its cash as soon as it comes in.
I highly recommend you watch the below video “How The Economic Machine Works” and order the book Principles by Ray Dalio.
Occasionally I will write posts around my birthday reflecting on all the things I’ve learned. I haven’t done a post like this in about 4 years. This one feels like it should have zombies involved, but i haven’t ran into any! I’ve learned a lot in 4 years but i will condense it for you in a few points. These posts are mainly for me to look back at but i hope you take something from them as well.
My employees just got me this cake. I’m pretty carbed up at the moment. Me and sugar aren’t the best of friends… prepare for some fuck ups below 🙂
The Most Important Thing in Life Is People
Seems pretty obvious, right? It is very easy to forget in a world with endless information coming at us. So much information we have to categorize some of it as fake. Everywhere you go there are people with their heads down looking at the screen of their choice. Ignoring the people around them, they dive into their own little personal worlds.
No piece of technology can compete with the energy and warmth of a human being. We are not living in an episode of the Black Mirror (yet). Pay attention to the people around you. Love them. They will not be around forever and neither will you.
This has been especially hard for me. My entire life has advanced as far as it has because of the screen i sit behind. It has never been easier to avoid people.
Getting close with people scares the shit out of most of us. It is important though. If you are lucky enough, you will find someone that can point out your flaws and call you on your bullshit. This doesn’t mean to turn into a weak little bitch. It means to improve yourself and keep growing.
The Second Most Important Thing is Your Purpose
What do you want accomplish in this life? Why do you even get up in the morning? Chances are you are either living someone else’s dream or your own. Are you conscious of it? What is your life plan? Can you contribute where you are at?
There is heavy research that says happiness comes from a sense of control over your own life. The less control you have, the less happy you are.
Most people never realize they can create any life they want. Maybe they had some excitement, then forgot. I recently went through the future authoring program. It is the best $15 you can spend. Makes you answer important questions you are constantly too distracted to think about.
Having a strong purpose instantly puts you ahead of others that do not. Don’t over complicate this. Your purpose is literally just that – the reason you exist.
Never Go Half In
I made this mistake in my last relationship and in some companies in which i still own. I wrote previously about investing with time vs investing with money. This is an important distinction that i still continue to learn (and suffer from).
When you make a decision you either need to say no or go all in. There is no middle ground. It doesn’t mean you need to work yourself to death in business or be a try hard person in a relationship. It just means that you made this decision and now you are not going to run away from it. You are going to put your talents on the line.
My generation runs away from everything. A bunch of pussies. An excuse is that we have more decisions to make because of all the information coming at us. It is a poor excuse. People are half in everything these days. Half in relationships. Half in school. Half in work. Completely detached.
I’ve had to chip away at this part of myself to slowly kill it. My enthusiasm for new people, things and ideas sometimes gets the best of me. When I hit 30 in two years there will be no “half ins”. They will all be weeded out.
Car Accidents are a Bitch
On September 2, 2015 i was in a car accident with my girlfriend at the time. It was a bad one. Fucked me mentally for a while. It took a few weeks for me to realize how bad it was. Instead of going to in-depth about it here, i will have a separate post talking about it in the future. In short – don’t work out after your doctor says you had a concussion (and it is confirmed by a brain MRI).
Russia is a Nice Place with Nice People
I went to Moscow last year. Despite what you have heard, these people are great. We met some people born and raised in Moscow. They told us how much they loved the States. They were not people trying to escape Russia either. They loved Putin. It blows peoples mind that a Russian person could love the USA while equally loving Russia. It is because too often Russia and the Russian people are made out to be villains by the US.
When I told my parents I was going to Russia they were not thrilled. I was not scared per say. I did get my affairs in order though. I set up my Living Trust, will and multiple life insurance policies. On the plane to Poland I remember thinking, why the fuck did I do all that? After the accident, i started to over think a lot of things. Will go over this in a future post.
Passion is Not a Long Term Strategy
At the beginning of anything, its exciting. Whether its a new relationship or new business, there is a lot of passion. It doesn’t last. How do you keep things going?
For relationships, I can not answer the question. All I can tell you is that if your relationship is based only on passion and you plan on it lasting, you are fucked. Both literally and figuratively fucked. Getting fucked at the beginning will be the best fucking of your life but getting fucked after the passion is gone just might be the worst fucking of your life.
That was a rough sentence. Sorry to put you through that. Hopefully in my 30s i have a more conclusive answer for you.
When it comes to business, i somewhat have the answer. You need to bounce around to different projects to stay engaged. After one big one is done, you move to the next one. Problem solving within a business can be incredibly rewarding. Not just financially, but to your self esteem.
If You Have Even Half the Mental Strength as Your Grandparents Had…
I’ll let you finish that sentence however you want 🙂
The more successful you get, the more the people around you want something from you. Some of these people may have good intentions. It is important to be able to properly filter through the “opportunities” these people throw at you. At the end of the day you can only do so much. There is only so much time in a day. You really need to pick your battles.
Be Selective & Not Too Opportunistic
In my early 20s, i was extremely opportunistic and most people will tell you that i still am. There is one thing that changed about me though – Now i am extremely selective and ask the hard questions before i just jump into a new venture or project. I treat my time like a good investor treats their money – Every dollar counts. I am also no longer afraid to leave a venture or kill a part of it, if i believe it is on the wrong track. I am no longer blind to continually re-upping on a bad investment.
As an entrepreneur, it is very easy to find yourself in a predicament where you have too much going on. You start to ask questions like – “How the fuck did this happen? I had one thing, it got a bit of success and now i am involved in 7 things.”
At age 19 i was working 18 hours a day on one single business with a very straightforward product line. All day i would focus on marketing, selling and fulfilling that single product line to the point where we began to dominate the industry and to this day still dominate it. Then after a while me and my partner decided to split that single focused company into 2, because of branding issues. It was the right call but things began to get harder. I felt like a mini Elon Musk. I was dealing with 2 companies now. One company was still fairly simple but the other one was a beast that needed to be tamed and simplified.
More Is Not Always Better
Its very simplistic to think that the more companies you have the better off you will be. Most of us are building these organizations from the ground up, with no investor(s). After all, adding investors to the mix just makes things more of a pain in the ass anyway. Better to have full control.
If you are building anything from the ground up, it takes time. Time is more valuable than money because you can never get it back. Money is a renewable resource and there are plenty of ways to get it back if you lose it.
Before you enter into any new venture you should ask yourself these 2 questions:
- How much time / money will i be spending on this new venture?
- What will be my role in this new venture?
If you already have too much going on, be honest about how much you can contribute to this new venture. Most of the time you must say no. Sometimes you will be in a position to say yes.
Investing with Money vs Investing with Time
There are two ways to invest in a business.. Money and Time.
Investing with Time
An example of investing with time is where you are primarily doing all the heavy lifting of the business. You can not become very successful without an initial extreme investment of time. Even if you have money, you will have time take the time to learn an industry inside and out to delegate the tasks. One does not need to be passionate about something to spend time on it but it REALLY HELPS.
This is why you need to ask yourself those 2 vital questions above. You can not jump from one company you are already spending a lot of time in to another one which requires even more time. Your time ends up getting divided.
Tips for Investing with your Time:
- Know your industry inside and out.
- Know your top competitors inside and out.
- Work as much as you possibly can, the more time you spend working the faster your company will grow.
- Eliminate distractions, only be focusing on this one business.
- When you begin to make a little money, re-invest it back into the business.. not another company.
- As you keep re-investing money back in your business, find ways to delegate tasks by either hiring employees, developing software or hiring contractors. Do not half ass this. Anyone will take your money!
Investing with Money
Investing with money means most tasks will be handled by another partner or contractor. You may have heard of the saying “Success Breeds Success”. Its true. Once you spend the time to get one business successful you can either choose to spend time or money to get the next one successful, depending on how much you have of each. At this point you will know more about business as well, you will be sharper and better prepared.
Tips for Investing with Money:
- Know your industry inside and out
- Know your top competitors inside and out
- Make sure your partners / contractors are 100% time invested in making the company grow. After all, you will be funding it.
- Have a simple dashboard to measure the success of the business. You shouldn’t have to put time into this, should happen automatically.
- You need to know the industry because you may have to jump in and put time in to fix things if it becomes available.
So please, never ever ever forget those two questions i wrote earlier (put them below again).
- How much time /money will i be spending on this new venture?
- What will be my role in this new venture?
If you choose to ignore the simple questions, you might find yourself in a position where your success is leaking uncontrollably to every damn thing you decided to jump in to. Of course, you have to be wary of material possessions too 🙂
If you are reading this, you already know what you need to do and you already know exactly how to do it. You are simply here trying to be more organized, but the answer is not organization.
The real answer to overcoming information overload is to gain clarity and take small actions over time. I’ll go over this in detail below, but first…
Most people have no idea why the fuck they are doing what they are doing. Plenty of what they are doing is a form of escapism or mental masturbation. In the 21st century it is nearly impossible to sit with our own thoughts. We might have a fucking panic attack or die if we have to listen to that voice inside our very complex brain.
So what do we do? We watch YouTube videos. We are on Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, (fill in your mental fuck-toy here). We look for someone or some company to give our hard earned money to without ever considering that they might not fucking deserve it. We are swarmed with people trying to sell us online courses that promise to get us ahead. We download that new to-do list app, this will fix all of our problems!
There is no simplicity anymore, is there? Our brains were not made for all the stimulation we have instant access to.
What is Information Overload?
Every 60 seconds 72+ Hours of YouTube video is uploaded, millions of words published and 2.4 million queries are typed into Google. This is really just the tip of the iceberg because it is not slowing down. I could make facts like this the centerpiece of this entire blog, but this would get us know where.
With all this information, how are we supposed to filter through it to find actionable takeaways and get things done?
It is easier than you think, but first you need to prepare with the following 2 actions:
Turn off your phone while you’re trying to get a specific thing done
Your phone is not a productivity tool and it is laced with endless loops of notifications that send dopamine hits to your brain. It might even make you feel like you are getting something done. After all, billions of dollars are spent making sure you are addicted to using your phone and the apps within it. There is a time for your phone but it is not when you are trying to get things done.
Eliminate All Distractions
If you are trying to eat healthier or stop drinking alcohol one of the first pieces of advice is to change your environment. They tell you to throw out all junk food and alcohol you have in your house. Some of the most distracting things are not food or gadgets, they are people.
You cannot throw away people, but you can set boundaries.
What distractions are eating at you? Here are some common ones distractions and solutions.
This includes the people closest to you. People like your wife, parents, employees, etc.
Solution: Turn off your phone and let people know you will only be able to talk at certain times and when you are done with what needs to be done. Be sure to say this in a nice way so it is not taken wrong. If you do not tell people your dilemma soon, you will eventually blow up on them and that never feels good for anyone involved.
Your Phone Notifications Going Off
There is so much shit on our smart phone. It seems we cannot escape it. Let’s see.. email, facebook, snapchat, Instagram, yelp, text messages, etc.. All these are competing for your attention and are made to be addicting (read Hooked) and you are somehow supposed to get things done. Yea, right.
Solution: I put my phone on airplane mode or turn it off when I am doing anything important, including spending time with friends and family. With some apps I am extremely annoyed by, I kill the notifications completely so I can open them at my convenience.
If you are in an office environment, you know how fucking horrible this can be. You are ZONED IN, getting stuff done and then you have to go-to a meeting. Most of the time, it’s a complete waste of time.
Solution: Tell your manager that you have some very important work to get done that will grow the company and you cannot be bothered with meeting. If you say this nicely, your boss will understand.
Social Media Websites
If you’re like most of us you constantly open a new tab with your favorite website, whether it is social or news based. Sure, it’s nice to take a break every so often but this can take you out of the zone and derail your entire day.
Solution: Focus on the task at hand by removing all tabs or programs that are not essential to what you are doing. You can also try a tool like one tab (https://www.one-tab.com) which consolidate all those distracting tabs.
You know what it is and how bad it is fucking you over. So much information is sent to us on a day to day basis, pulling us everywhere except where we need to go.
Solution: Close it. SHUT IT DOWN!!
People Walking All Over Your Time
Have you ever been completely focused on something, making massive progress and then someone just walks in and wants to “talk” or “bullshit”.
Solution: Don’t allow it. All it will take is setting a boundary one time and you will never have to worry about this again.
How to Kill Information Overload
Step #1: Gain Clarity on Your End Goal
The reason a lot of people feel trapped by the information that is all around them is because they have no clarity on what they are trying to accomplish. I know you are probably sitting there and saying, “I know what I want!!”. Do you really?
If you really know what you want than you are likely using information as a form of escapism from taking action, which we will talk about below. Before that, you should really check your goals at the door and see if they are your goals or the goals of someone else. Learn more on how to set goals here.
Step #2: Take Small Actions Over Time
Most people get stuck on the information treadmill, meaning they feel like they are making progress but they actually are not moving anywhere at all. Taking action can be hard and your brain will try to avoid it at all cost.
Why take small actions? Because overcoming information overload is all about momentum through action. Here’s an example:
Goal: Start a Personal Training Website To Promote Yourself
Small Action 1: Buy the domain name “MikesFitnessTrainingSite.com”
Small Action 2: Google search “best website building platform”
Small Action 3: Sign up for website builder
Small Action 4: Add content and ask friends for testimonials
Small Action 5: Submit your site locally to google, yelp and other small business portals
Small Action 6: Ask your same friends to review you on yelp and google.
Small Action 7: Promote, promote, promote and tell people about it.
You get the idea. START and keep going. You will hit obstacles, as with all things. You don’t need to go back to school to solve them, turn to any search engine to look for people who had this problem before you. With proper action and a clear goal, you can do anything.
I’ve experimented and had some success with many habit tracking applications. One of my favorite over the years was Coach.me (use to be called Lift). I noticed that when using habit tracking apps there was potentially a problem in the way your mind molds habits for the long term. Follow me..
Note: this post is only about habit tracking applications, not other tracking applications – running, weight-lifting, etc.
The App Becomes the Reward in the Habit Loop
In the book the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg breaks down the 3 part habit loop. This includes the Cue, the Routine and Reward. These three parts are different for every single habit, both good and bad, that become part of your daily life. Here is are two examples:
Cue: Boredom at work
Routine: Go surf the web for random funny videos
Reward: Satisfied and covering up your lack of productivity
Cue: Tired in the morning
Routine: Go and Buy a Coffee
If you wanted to change a habit you need to keep the reward the same while changing the routine. In the second example i could replace buying a coffee with taking a cold shower. This would create some level of alertness.
Now, lets say I add “cold shower” to my habit application. My habit no longer lives in my head, it lives in an application. It will be complete when i press the check-box. The check-box becomes the reward alongside alertness. This is a problem for 2 reasons.
- The habit lives in the app, not our brains.
- There are now for sure 2 rewards (the feeling of alertness AND checking the box) and potentially 2 cues (if you set a reminder)
Let’s start with the first problem:
If the habit is not 100% part of our brain internally, it is not our habit. In other words, if we can not do the habit without the application than it is not a habit. Forget the application piece for a minute.
Imagine every day of your life that someone had to tell you to take a cold shower and then gave you a cupcake after you were done. Imagine every single day of your life this happened. Problem is, someone is telling you to do the habit and someone is rewarding you with a cupcake. What happens when the person stops telling you to do it and doesn’t reward you? I know i’m not taking my cold shower without a cupcake!!
Jokes aside: For habits to work, they have to be YOURS and live in your brain. You must FEEL the reward INTERNALLY.
The second problem is now your habit loops look like this:
Cue: Tired in the morning
Cue 2: App reminds you to take a cold shower
Routine: You take a cold shower
Reward 2: Checking off your cold shower habit in the app.
The application becomes a habit in itself. This is the goal of most websites and applications so that you become addicted to using them. The problem is you only have so much dopamine and willpower. You really need to decide how you are going to be using it!
My advice to you:
If you are going to use a habit tracking app, only use it for 30 days. Use it as a habit on-boarding process with a commitment to stop using it. If you can, do not use an app at all. Store the habits in your brain instead! Haven’t you been looking at screens long enough anyway 🙂
Every year that goes by it seems like more and more bullshit is working against our body’s natural circadian rhythm. It is not just that we are busier or have more going on, but also that we have screens in our living rooms, on our laps, in our hands and now on our fucking wrists. We can not escape an endless stream of information that are brains have been (sort of) trained to keep checking for notifications. With each new notification we get a new dopamine spike. Not long after it becomes an addiction. A year or so ago, after reading the book Hooked & the Power of Habit, i realized how bad these little addictions were affecting my sleep. I turned to Dr. Google to help me find an answer.
There is the obvious stuff: turn off the TV, keep the phone outside the bedroom , get blackout shades.
This obvious stuff won’t do anything about your brain, which is unconsciously craving another dopamine spike while you lay there and get side tracked counting sheep to think about how fucked up it is that you forgot to brush your teeth. There are two things that have helped me greatly in the sleep department.
Specifically, i use MagTech about an hour before i go to bed. MagTech accurately dubs itself as ” Premium Blend of The 3 Most Powerful Forms of Magnesium”. These forms of Magnesium include Magnesium L-threonate (Magtein), Magnesium Taurate, Magnesium Glycinate.
Simply put, the stuff is absolutely amazing. If you think you are a tough guy or gal and don’t need magnesium, just listen to Dr. Liu who helped develop MagTein (Magnesium L-threonate):
Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea
I discovered Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea through Tim Ferris. After half of a cup, you feel slap happy. The effect is somewhat funny. You begin to talk slow and then crawl to your bed. Taking this with MagTech basically guarantees me a good nights sleep. The best part? I do not feel drowsy the next morning or have any trouble whatsoever getting up.
Until next time!
I don’t want to over simplify this but honestly this is the case. In business we say that there are certain “money making activities”. Well really, in life in general there are certain “value creating activities”.
Whoever gives the most value wins.
Now this doesn’t mean you will be happy, but you will feel accomplished. This is no different than the producer vs consumer paradigm. You are always either producing or consuming something. Whether that consumption is food, tv shows, youtube videos, etc. Here’s a list of value creating activities (activities that will allow you to give more value to your tribe and the world at large) and value destroying activities. We all do the latter, so don’t freak out next time you watch a movie as there can also be positive messages in some of the consumption. this list should help you identify the difference between the two and help you be give more value.
Value Creating Activities & The Why (Healthy Producing)
- Reading or listening to books that can give you more knowledge so you can give people the correct advise when needed and help people through tough times.
- Exercise so you can be strong and protect your tribe. This will also increase your sex life and overall attractiveness to mates.
- Meditating so you can be centered and focused while everyone else is over stimulated.
- Taking action in various areas of your life so you can get first hand experience which is by far the best way to learn.
- Creating and Publishing any type of content that can help people (audio, video, text, etc). This is not only a great release but has the power to really attract the right people to you and build something powerful.
- Making new friends that are unique and can have a special place in your life. If your life were a movie it would be boring if you were the only character. Your friends should be wide ranging and not destructive to your well being. A good supportive social circle is more powerful than any pill you could take.
- Self reflection and correction to take a look at your life in a non judgmental way and change things that really aren’t working in your favor.
- Having role models to look up to so you can always know what you want is possible.
- Sex, the ultimate act of any producer. It makes a baby folks. Think this one through.
Value Destroying Activities & The Why (Unhealthy Consuming)
- Watching any movie or tv show because it is someone else’s story and not your own. A numbing a effect occurs. Does not include documentaries.
- Taking in useless information that only exist to waste your time (news, pointless youtube videos, some reddit threads, websites, most fiction books).
- Eating any kind of processed food or sugary drinks consistently destroy your body slowly which makes you less capable to do give value to the world around you.
- Smoking, as it deteriorates your body which ruins your life – literally.
- Alcohol, as it deteriorates your brain and makes it less capable, especially in the long term.
- Any non-natural drugs (prescription drugs) will destroy your life. Sometimes they are necessary but it’s best to not get addicted as they will life altering effects on your neurology.
- Using social media for the wrong reasons can cause such a distraction that it will actually ruin your relationships, not enrich them. The most important thing is the people around you in the moment right now, not on a screen. Use with caution.
- Playing any fictional game on any devise that does not add to your actual life.
- Watching porn consistently (daily) destroys your dopamine receptors and could lead to enormous problems for both sexes, but particularly males.
- Buying stuff you actually do not need as it burns a hole through your wallet which makes you less likely to buy actual stuff you may need in the future.
Is it possible to use “Value Destroying Activities” to gain a Creative Edge?
Isn’t “value destroying activities” a bit harsh? Listen, i watch some great shows on TV and have seen some great movies. I love Inception so much i watched it 3 times in theaters. What the hell is my problem?!?
Every once in a while, these activities can help you create value and help you find comfort. But if you do any of them consistently they will kill you mentally and sometimes lead to death. Some people use substances like alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, etc. to temporarily gain a creative or mental edge. This is fine unless you are over doing it. You should be able to live day to day without any of this bullshit, but it won’t kill you if you do it in moderation.
Do you watch TV every day? Shitty content on the internet daily? Yes, it does have an effect on you. However small, it is still poison if you unhealthily consume anything, be it bad food or the news.
In every moment you are either creating your own story or living in someone else’s.
Running a company can be incredibly rewarding. Let’s be honest though, it is not some fairy tale. It’s incredibly hard and requires a lot of grind as well as constant out of the box thinking. In order to be successful, you have to want to do things that other people just aren’t willing to do. You have to create simple systems for extremely hard tasks.
In the case of Elon Musk, you have to sell people on the idea of living on Mars (SpaceX) or the vision of not using gas to fuel your automobile (TESLA). For some of us the visions are a little bit easier to sell and the path seems cleaner.
But the path is never clean. The journey of starting something worthwhile isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. It isn’t something you can do in 4 hours a week. You can get results, but you should not expect to create something that will enrich peoples lives by laying on a beach not working 300+ days out of the year.
Uptime and Downtime
When you are not eating glass (starting and running a business you hope to have massive success), you should take at least some downtime. If you have made a run in your business, maybe take a few weeks off. In the summer of 2014 I went to Europe for 6 weeks. It was a rewarding in many different ways that have nothing to do with business. If you aren’t having success, you do not deserve to reward yourself. Humans respond to either pleasure or pain. If you are rewarding yourself before you are successful or have made a good run it can cause massive problems in just about every area of your life. Have you ever trained a dog? Well, we work a lot like that – don’t give yourself any rewards unless you have done the trick!
“Don’t analyze, don’t spreadsheet…”
This is going to be quick – but i just wanted to write a few notes on change.
1. It’s Inevitable – Whether you want it to happen or not your life will change. Some of the changes will be good, others will be horrible.
2. The tough changes build character – Going through the death of a loved one or losing your job will test every ounce of emotional and financial confidence you have. These changes do something to you, they force you to be strong and keep moving.
3. Ride with the good changes as long as you can – When your life changes for the better, ride that wave as long as you can. Do whatever it takes because with ups come downs.
A final note – be proactive about your life. This is the book your writing and while you are going to experience horrible things, you get to decide how it all ends.