This past September I had a chance to attend an annual marketing conference put on by Click Funnels called Funnel Hacking Live. It is a live 4-day event that is punctuated by presentations from some of the most savvy marketing pros in the game today. To cap things off they even bring in top gun motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, Trent Shelton, Nick Santonastasso, and more.
It is a really fun, inspiring, and action-inducing event that I attend every year.
Anyway, this year I had the opportunity to listen to a digital marketing expert who is in the same space that I am and she spoke about her strategies for growing her company. I listened hard to see if I could uncover her "secrets" so that I could model them for my own stuff. What did she know that I didn't? Why was she at the upper echelon of success while I languished near the middle? What was she doing that was so vastly different than me?
What I learned is that she isn't really doing anything extraordinary or cutting edge. She essentially regurgitated everything I already knew about digital marketing and lead generation. That is not a put down on her either. If anything it proves how smart she is by simply modeling what is working and not trying to reinvent the wheel. But there wasn't anything groundbreaking in what she said.
The main difference between why she is so successful and others maybe aren't could be traced back to two things, however. Those two things, as far as I can tell, are consistency and longevity.
She has been in the game for nearly 20 years now and shows up on an aggressively consistent basis. That's it. That is the secret.
And that's not nothing. Showing up day in and day out, week after week, month after month, and year after year is no small feat. It takes grit and determination and ambition. It's something. It's something important that a lot of us miss, me included. (Perhaps especially me.)
But that is the big secret and this is encouraging. It means that you don't have to be a genius. You don't need closely held secrets that only the ubersuccessful have discovered. You don't have to have complex knowledge that is available to only a select (lucky) few.
Consistency and longevity is within the reach of ALL of us. That is great news. It should be celebrated.
The uncomfortable truth about this, however, is that your success or lack thereof is SOLELY dependent upon you and your work ethic. It is no one else's responsibility. It is in your hands and your hands alone. This is both scary and encouraging. Scary because it's up to you. Encouraging because it is up to you.
Success is within your grasp. The question is, will you reach for it?
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You know what a sign flipper is, right? It’s a guy (or more rarely, a gal) who stands out in front of a local business and flips a sign that advertises said business. They usually do all kinds of flips and tricks with it, all in a bid to get passersby attention.
Anyway, in Boise there’s this one guy who is the best gotdamn sign flipper I’ve ever seen. He is the most energetic and enthusiastic sign flipper on the planet. The guy owns the sign flipper racket here in town. He is always moving from business to business. My hunch is that other business owners, seeing his sheer energy, vitality, and dare I say, passion for the job, move in to poach him away from his current gig.
This guy is a hired gun, a contract sign flipper who will pull no punches when advertising your business. No sun is too hot. No brutal winter day is too cold to dampen his spirits. He puts mailmen to shame…whether wind or rain or snow, homeboy is there flipping that sign.
Honestly, if you are a business owner looking to employ a sign flipper, why wouldn’t you want this guy? He’s legend.
A legend in sign flipping.
Let that sink in for a minute. It’s quite possibly the first time that phrase has ever been used in the English language. A legend in sign flipping.
This, during a time when small businesses are having extreme difficulty hiring people. No one wants to flip burgers or wash cars or lay concrete or any of the myriad of other job openings that abound right now, many of which are paying premiums ($14 an hour to start at McDonald’s anyone?)
People will say that those jobs are unfulfilling or not meaningful or that they have no passion for the work.
But let’s take sign flipper guy…do you really (no, I mean seriously) think that he is passionate about flipping signs in broiling heat? That he finds the work fulfilling?
I am going to go out on a limb and say that he most likely doesn’t find it all that meaningful.
So why does he do it? Why not do something that he is more "passionate" about?
Well, maybe, just maybe, he brings his already ingrained passion to the job at hand?
And that my friends is a huge point. He doesn’t have to have a “meaningful” job to bring meaning to his job…know what I mean?
Passion, meaning, fulfillment…those aren’t found in things. They are found inside you. Viktor Frankl talks in depth about this in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. He survived a holocaust prison camp for God's sake. He wrote extensively about finding meaning in life even in the most dire of situations. It wasn't the situation that provided the meaning, it was his attitude about the situation that provided the meaning.
Just like my friend the sign flipper. He is one passionate son of a gun…but that passion would be applied to anything he chose to do. Whether flipping signs, flipping burgers, or flipping real estate. It’s just who he is.
Bring your passion with you wherever you go.
The day after I graduated high school, a friend of mine and I were sitting on the back of my pickup truck, talking about our futures.
My friend turned to me and asked, “So what are you going to do now…go work for your dad?”
My dad at the time owned a finance company that made small loans to people in our community. It was assumed that I would follow in his footsteps and join the business.
I answered, “Eh maybe…we’ll see what happens.”
“Will you end up calling it Brockner & Son?” he replied.
“No, we’ll call it Brockner & Father,” I quipped.
See, I always knew - even then - that I would own my own company one day. I was driven, ambitious, and entrepreneurial.
After college at Boise State, I started my very first company and have essentially worked for myself ever since then. Along the way, I somehow forgot that there is more to life. Much more.
I neglected my health, my relationships, and any “fun” things that I used to enjoy. My thought process was that I had to solely focus on my business. That seemed like a good idea, but was actually terrible advice.
Over the years I realized that those other things were as important (if not more so) than building a business. One thing I particularly underrated was my hobbies.
Hobbies just seemed like a waste of time. After all, if I spent that time working, then I could accomplish so much more. Besides, I would naively tell myself, working is my hobby. What a bunch of crap.
Taking time for yourself to simply decompress and do things that are enjoyable not only make you a more well-rounded human, but also keep you sane. You need that mental break from different activities to engage other parts of your brain and body. Like sleep, the more of these types of things you can fit into your life, the better.
Now obviously I am cautioning against overdoing it. But, let’s face it, if you are an entrepreneur or business owner you are most likely working or thinking about working every spare second you have.
Again, too much of this can be detrimental and hold you back. You need fun and diversion in your life. You need hobbies that you can do alone, with your family, or with friends.
So, what kind of hobbies should you have? Well, that’s a very personal choice, but here are a few of mine…
These are things that are currently on my list. I have more that I want to explore and this list will evolve and change over time I’m sure. The important thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t really matter what the hobby is, but that you have some. (Unless your hobby is serial killing…then it matters a lot)
I would encourage you to fit fun into your every day life. Plan it, schedule it, then actively do it. See how you feel afterwards. I bet it makes a difference in your life. I know it has in mine.
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I’m 34 hours and 37 minutes into a 36-hour fast.
Despite not eating anything for the last couple days, I feel surprisingly good. My head is clear. My thoughts are sharp. Physically I am feeling lighter, more energetic, and not really hungry at all.
The first 24 hours were the hardest, but after that it has gotten progressively easier.
I started this fast as a “cleanse” of sorts. I had eaten pretty terribly a few days ago and was laying in bed at about 8:30pm, stomach swollen and distended. I was uncomfortable both physically and emotionally. Not only did my stomach hurt, but I was also dealing with the guilt of having strayed from my structured eating.
At that moment I decided to get up and go for a walk. I didn’t want to go for a walk, but I knew that if I could just get moving it would make me feel better. So, I got up, got dressed, and headed out.
I also decided not to put in my earbuds and listen to music or podcasts like I normally do. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts and reflect on things a bit.
As I walked, my stomach still hurt and I got a stitch in my side. It occurred to me in that moment that I had simply exchanged one pain - being hungry - with another - a bloated and painful stomach ache.
The words from Jordan Peterson floated to the top of my consciousness, “Choose your sacrifice.”
Life is about suffering man. It’s about pain. It’s about heartache and illness and death. It’s not nice to us all the time. You are going to experience pain. That’s how life is.
But, here’s the kicker. You can CHOOSE YOUR PAIN. You get to do that and it is absolutely liberating once you realize it.
It is in that choice that you find meaning and hope and a future that you can contend with. It’s where you find the silver linings of love and ambition and potential. It’s on the other side of that pain that you find empathy and compassion.
So, choose your pain man. Choose your pain.
And by choosing your pain, maybe - just maybe - you can live with yourself.
This summer I was fortunate enough to achieve a lifelong dream of becoming scuba certified. I was certified in my late teens, but as I got older and older, fatter and fatter, I just never did pick the hobby back up.
Until recently. And man am I glad I did. It is so much fun!
Anyway, as part of my certification, I got a mask, snorkel, fins, booties, and a wetsuit. (In case you are interested, this is the model I have: Cressi Wetsuit)
I chose a medium-sized wetsuit which was maybe a touch ambitious, but I figured, hey, I’m still losing weight, let’s do this.
I scheduled a dive for last week and this would be the first time I got to use my new wetsuit, so a few days beforehand, I decided to try it on.
I knew that if I tried it on in front of my wife or kids they would have laughed at me and poked fun. Since I wasn't sure how this whole “trying on the wetsuit” thing would go, I decided to wait until everyone was gone to do so.
This is where the story gets interesting.
So, here I am, home alone, looking at this full body wetsuit that suddenly looks much smaller than I remember. I am wondering how exactly I will manage to get it on, but am game in trying nonetheless.
I strip down to my undies and tentatively step one foot inside and then the other. I struggle a bit to get the suit pulled up to around my waist and after I finally manage to squeeze it over my butt I take a break, slightly pop-eyed and breathing irregularly. I hope getting it the rest of the way up my torso won’t be as trying.
My hopes are soon dashed as I wrestle mightily to get my arms into the sleeves and snugly into place. This exercise took much longer than I was anticipating. It was also harder than getting my legs in. Wondering what, exactly, I was getting myself into, I was now faced with zipping it up.
In case you didn’t know, this particular wetsuit zips up from the back. This presented a problem since I am not very flexible and even require help from others scratching my own back or I am resigned to scraping it up and down against a corner wall or tree or fence post or whatever like a bear.
Anyway, fortunately there is a long tether on the zipper that I could reach behind me and grab. It was then just a matter of pulling it up. This too, was much more difficult than I imagined it should be. Huffing and heaving, I finally got it zipped. Small beads of sweat dotted my forehead, but even that couldn’t drown the pride I was feeling from getting all suited up by myself.
Awkwardly, slowly, I shuffled my way towards the full length mirror to have a peek. I couldn’t help feeling a little bit like a penguin as I made my way over.
As I admired myself in the mirror, I ignored the fact that I could scarcely breath because of the compression of the wetsuit. It was tight to say the least. No matter, I would just lose a few more pounds and be good to go.
I waddled back into the bedroom to doff the wetsuit (that’s what we call it in the industry, “donning” and “doffing” of gear). The zipper poses the first challenge, but I manage to get it unzipped. As my body is released from the grip of the wetsuit I breath (literally) a sigh of relief. It felt so good to remove that restriction!
Now to remove my arms. This was going to be tricky since I was looking sort of like that kid from A Christmas Story that got all bundled up in winter clothing and had his arms sticking straight out from his sides. I immediately realized that it was going to be a problem to simply reach my other arm to begin the doffing process. Posting my right forearm against the wall and then turning my body into it, I was able to grasp the collar of the wetsuit on my left side and pull it down a bit.
I could only get it about half down my arm though. I tugged. I twisted. I heaved. I cursed.
I was stuck. I realized that in my enthusiasm (read: panic) I had slid down to the floor and was writhing around like a lunatic trying determinedly to remove this mother-f’n wetsuit.
Claustrophobia and panic began to creep up. My chest tightened, my breathing became more labored, and I was sweating profusely.
“Ok dumbass, calm down!” I ordered myself. I actually spoke these words out loud and they did indeed help. I controlled my breathing and relaxed a bit. Two thoughts occurred to me:
First, I was genuinely terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get out of this wetsuit. I had momentary visions of the fire department being called and cutting me out of it with the Jaws of Life while the bemused neighbors looked on.
Secondly, I thought about what my wife would say if she were to somehow stumble upon me in the middle of this fiasco. That thought more than any other motivated me to give it one more concerted effort to extricate myself from this death trap called a wetsuit.
With a mighty effort I pulled down on the sleeve as hard as I could, a hernia threatening to instantly form, and finally (FINALLY!) was able to get it off my arm. Lying back on the bedroom floor and gasping for air, I can honestly say that this was one of the proudest moments of my life. I felt freedom as I have never felt it before. After catching my breath and resting for a few minutes, I was able to get the rest of the wetsuit off and put away.
I was utterly spent. I felt like I had just gone through an MMA training session or something. I ached, my lungs were still burning, and I was drenched in sweat.
But, I was free dammit. I was free.