Destroy Your Competition With Augmented Discipline

Published January 12, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“I get up every morning around 7AM…”

San Diego. March 2016. I think.

I was standing with a group of mimosa-sipping business owners, when someone asked about my writing schedule.

“First I shower. Then I meditate. Then I sit down to write.”

I described my process, and how I feel at a visceral level when I need to take a break from writing.

After that, I continued: “Then, I get up… walk over to my modem… plug it in… and start my day.”

“Wait, what?” one of them asked. “Your modem is unplugged?”

“Oh yeah!” I answered. I didn’t realize that was so weird. “Every night, before I go to bed, I unplug my modem. And my phone is already on Airplane Mode. Heck it’s pretty much always on Airplane Mode. I’m unreachable unless someone knocks on my door. And I usually don’t answer.

“That way, I can’t even check my phone or get on the internet when I first wake up. I just write. And I assume my day is pretty much going to go to hell as soon as I plug in that modem. Because sometimes it does.”

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a similar afternoon session. I’ll march over to my modem and rip the plug out of the wall. Then I’ll plop down in front of my laptop, and begin Round 2. Or 3 or 4 or whatever. I’m thinking of doing a more formal nighttime session like this, after my evening meditations and right before I go to bed.

This is augmented discipline.

All the blips and bloops your computer emits, as well as your phone’s screeching, are designed to distract you.

They want to pull you off your task and check on them instead. Otherwise, the apps behind the blurps would get less attention, fewer uses, and couldn’t command advertising rates as high. They certainly don’t want you prolific or fulfilled. It’s not relevant to their interests.

You can fight their influence with your willpower. And you have to, to avoid your apps entirely. But you can augment this discipline by making it a tiny bit harder to access them. Sort of like keeping ice cream, chips, and soda out of your kitchen. If you have to drive to the store to get it – or order it – then it’s harder to mindlessly nosh on it.

If your schedule doesn’t allow a morning marathon session of unplugged work, then schedule one later in the day. At the appointed time, rip your modem power cord from its socket. Turn off your phone. Then, you can’t check distracting apps, even if you wanted to.

Start practicing this, and you’ll experience something fascinating:

Your productivity is no longer linear. Your relatively short blocks (aim for half-hour blocks if you’re new to this, and increase) of work will launch you lightyears beyond people doing the same work on a distracted schedule.

Test it and see how augmented discipline works for you. You’ll begin producing so much, you might feel guilty about finishing so much by early afternoon.

Don’t Fire Negative People From Your Life – Here’s The Weird Reason Why

Published January 5, 2018 in Mindset , Origin Story - 0 Comments

One spring morning in 2010, I woke up, ambled over to my computer, and discovered my partners cheated me out of a business.

I didn’t find out by receiving a long email. Or even an angry phone call.

Instead, it was because I checked on something that seemed slightly amiss. The day before, one of my business partners had neglected to send me an article. We had a routine. Every weekday, one partner wrote an article. The second partner edited and approved it. The third – me – sent it to our list of subscribers.

Had he forgotten?

Maybe I missed something?

First, I decided to log into our email-broadcasting software, to see if anything had been sent out, at all.

I typed in my username, password, clicked…

… and it said my login information was incorrect.

Not a rare occurrence. My fingers frequently fumble. So I tried again.

We’re sorry, but the username and password you entered did not match our records…

One more time. Same result.

“Wait a minute…” I thought to myself.

I typed in the URL for our shopping cart software system. Then, I tried logging in there.

No dice.

“Oh.”

For the past few weeks, one of my business partners and I were getting more pissed at each other. A couple days earlier, he tried to schedule a phone call. I was getting sick of holding meetings about meetings, so I wrote I wasn’t interested.

“Interesting,” was his reply.

I didn’t think much of it. Later that evening, during a seated meditation, I briefly saw him, facing me. He sort of puked my way. And it was gone. I didn’t think much of that, either. But I wondered…

… and that morning, I figured things out.

He changed all the passwords.

And he already controlled the bank account and merchant account. He’d drawn up the corporate papers.

I considered my options for about 2 seconds. And I decided to start over, and go on with my life in a separate direction. After one half-hearted attempt to patch things up – that’s what I did. My two former-partners kept all my advertising copy, the sales structures I designed, customer base, business assets, and ongoing revenue. I never visited the website again. I have no idea what happened to either of them. My best guess – aided by brief asides from mutual acquaintances – is that the business bobbed up and down like something strewn into a river, before gently sinking into nothing.

Many people write and talk about “firing negative people from your life.”

I’ve said many things to that effect.

That’s wrong, in a subtle way.

Here’s why:

If you’re stuck with an asshole in your life, there’s a reason.

You’re either an asshole too, or a victim. Or both.

It’s true that you should fire assholes from your life.

But, chances are, you won’t. Or, if you do, you’ll get a replacement for the open position, in record time.

Here’s how I know this:

I was a terrified, ego-driven, asshole. So guess what I attracted? An odd soup of predators, idiots, victims, and a whole slew of people who, let’s say, “lacked conscious awareness” to a similar degree as me. It was tricky to see at first, because everyone was so different. But there was a subtle regression to the mean, in terms of everyone’s collective development.

Unless someone bounced away from me, they were just as fucked up as me – in their own unique way. For the vast majority of the human population, this is the social dynamic. At least, after puberty. From then on, most people stake their psychological claim, and attract their peers. It may not be smooth sailing from there, but it’s choppiness within the same ocean.

But I was initiating internal changes. And stepping into different waters, to continue the metaphor.

Several months before this business break-up, I began practicing an intense form of meditation.

I’ll tell the story another time, but here’s the short version: It almost wiped away my crippling, suicidal depression, and began waking me up in ways I’d never predicted or even considered.

Little did I realize, my life would pluck apart and rearrange itself.

Fast.

First, a random event forced me out of the condo I’d been living in, for almost four years. Weeks later, the same thing happened with my business with two partners. Then, a few weeks after that, the same thing happened again with a business group I was a part of.

And yet… I didn’t feel like I’d tumbled into some bad patch in life. Instead, I felt more alive and awake than ever before.

Because I’d been enlivening myself and awakening myself more than ever before.

As a result, I didn’t need to fire any negative people from my life.

Instead, they fired me!

Because the resonance between us, evaporated.

This is why “firing negative people from your life” is wrong, in a subtle way. When you work on yourself, you don’t need to pay much heed to getting rid of bad influences. At the proper time, they’ll bounce off you. You might need to nudge the ball rolling. Maybe.

I’ll get to the specifics of nudging in a moment. First, here’s how to work on yourself:

  1. Daily meditation

There are as many ways to meditate as there are to exercise. Probably more. Sample as many different kinds as possible to find one that’s a match for your disposition, at this time and place. Sitting and observing your thoughts… standing and quieting your mind… deep breathing… guided visualization… affirmations… chanting… slow walking… tai chi… chi gung… nei gung… yoga… HIIT… push hands…

… dive in and do one. Every day.

  1. Study and observe your own psychology.

The United States is suffering from an epidemic of “triggering.” I rarely heard that word until about a year ago. It seems similar to getting rattled, except “triggering” has a sinister edge to it. Like, “if you upset me, you’re pulling my trigger, and I’m going to shoot you.”

People who get off on getting triggered, and riding the wave of feeling simultaneously superior and mentally unchained, are beyond hope. But if you’re someone who just gets rattled too often – observe why. What throws you off? You’ll find that merely observing, begins to dissolve its power and expands your comfort zone.

  1. Hide your work on yourself.

If shitty people surround you, don’t fertilize them. Don’t give them a reason to poke at you, express their doubts, or sabotage you. Don’t tell anyone about good stuff you’ve got cooking.

Now onto nudging…

If you’re working on yourself and making progress, the dissonance between you and negative people will push hard on your behalf. And it can push harder than you.

If you’re at a party, and you’re trying to avoid eating chips and soda, some “friends” might goad you into breaking your willpower. They’ll tease you. They’ll throw fake concern your way. You might give in. either way, it won’t be fun.

But if you’ve been meditating and working on your psychology, and the wrong foods for you no longer lure you (a common result) then your “friends” will sense it. Maybe not even consciously. But they’ll just know you can’t be tempted anymore. They won’t even try. If they make any feeble attempt, you can just shrug your shoulders and shake your head.

That’s the nudge.

Same if you’re starting a business. Or embarking on a new career. When you’re changing internally, they’ll see it in your eyes. Chances are, you won’t know because of what they say. Instead, they’ll just stay out of your way…

… or support you, because maybe they’ve been changing internally, as well. It’d be sad if you pushed away true friends.

No need to fire those who try to hold you back. Keep working on yourself. Eventually, they’ll either shut up or fire themselves.

How Your Regrets Can Save You Instead Of Kill You In 2018

Published December 29, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

I focused on the gaps between my footfalls – when I floated through space, and my spine lengthened and aligned. Then, when my feet landed, coiling like springs… I focused on blasting off again, from my hips.

It was around 8AM, just south of downtown Baltimore, at the Inner Harbor. I sprinted up the corner of Federal Hill. It’s a manmade hill cut like a trapezoid, overlooking the harbor and buildings.

During a nighttime thunderstorm over 156 years ago, General Benjamin F. Butler led a thousand Union troops to the hill, where they secured a fort. They dug their heels in, for the entire Civil War.

That morning, I used the unnaturally steep incline to challenge my muscles, lungs, and nervous system.

The effort triggered a gush of growth hormone through my system.

And all kinds of pleasurable brain chemicals began flooding as I did some chi gung afterwards, amidst the trees. Usually playing with one tree.

Back when I lived in downtown Baltimore, that was my Saturday ritual. Usually, I’d sip some water mixed with a pre-workout stimulant, while walking to the hill. Later I discovered it was spiked with amphetamines. No wonder I felt so amazing.

I regret not performing the ritualized workout more often. These days, instead of taking a full week to recover, I do stair sprints every 3rd day. If only I’d kept up this pace in Baltimore. I imagined how much less stressed I would have been, how much more creative, and how much healthier.

While pondering this, I decided to list out a bunch more regrets. But not one-off opportunities I didn’t take, or single mistakes I made. Or anything to do with predicting the future. Instead, I wrote only about habits. Here they are:

  1. Not doing hill sprints more often

Already covered this one above.

  1. Not constantly writing articles

I was too lazy, didn’t see the value, assumed they’d take my energy away from other projects, or feared I’d run dry on creativity.

None of this turned out to be true. Once I kicked the laziness to the curb, I discovered putting energy into writing that’s fulfilling, delivers me more creative energy. And rather than running out of things to say, I’m downloading more. Much to the chagrin of many, I’m sure.

  1. Not setting a consistent wake-up time

I used to let myself sleep in, and wake up “naturally” – figuring this would give me more energy. But instead, it settled me into a subtle malaise. Now I set a wake-up time that’s just a little bit “too early” and I feel more energized.

  1. Not eliminating tension in my hips

This year, I’ve been fascinated in how tight and misaligned my hips have been for decades. And how much emotional gunk has been trapped in there.

Relaxing and aligning them (with virtually zero stretching involved) has been exquisitely slow. Like a flower blooming. Fun to witness. But I regret not starting sooner.

(Notice how these first four regrets revolve around energy, with a focus on health?)

  1. Not meeting more great people

When I lived in Colorado for the first time, I was shy and egotistical and terrified and made almost zero friends. I drank. I cried. Then I went bankrupt and crawled around the bottom for a few years.

My second time in Colorado, I met friends and friends of friends, and now maintain a MasterMind in the industry I love. Great connections, answers, vendors, and clients are an email away. I get special access and prices (sometimes this price is free – or I get a valuable service nobody else could even pay for). I have zero fear of becoming financially destitute again (unless we experience a devastating global financial catastrophe, and I’m still working on that fear). This (almost total) lack of fear isn’t derived solely from my income, or even mostly. It’s the knowledge that I have relationships with great people.

  1. Not pushing myself to write better and study better writing

For years, I coasted by on writing that was “good enough.” I could have stayed that way. And lived on a relatively stable income. Now I see I was turning my nose up at sharpening my skill, because I feared the work and the new territory. No more.

  1. Not dropping the damn guilt and anxiety about being myself

I hated company parties. So I hated myself for hating them.

I worried about my zany thoughts, so I kept them to myself.

Nowadays, I simply avoid the stupid party – if it’s too loud to hear people speak. Otherwise, I tolerate it just fine.

And now I blurt out my thoughts. People either engage, or we both learn we’re not a match for each other.

However, my thoughts were not always blurt-able. Some still aren’t. Which is why I regret…

  1. Not getting therapy

From someone competent. Someone great.

Because the best therapy is someone empowering their psychology to help you detox yours.

The benefits are exponential. When your brain is optimized for what you want to feel and experience, all your results come easier.

Positive-minded coaches are fantastic to help you drive ahead. But sometimes you get stuck from moving forward until you work out the psychological vines twisted around your ankles.

I’m glad I still feel a tinge of regret for everything I wrote about here. Because it reminds me to keep doing them. More. I wonder what I’m not considering now, that I’ll regret next year? Or five years from now?

How about yourself. What habits do you regret not doing a year ago? Five years ago?

What habits and rituals would you BEG your children to do?

Are you doing them now?

Stop Claiming You Used The Law Of Reciprocity In Your Digital Marketing Campaign – You’re Wrong

Published December 22, 2017 in Marketing - 0 Comments

“We’re giving away a ton of content and great information, so we’ll get some good reciprocity there…”

Goddamnit.

Are you kidding me?

More of this?

If you think the “Law of Reciprocity” is helping drive your sales in a digital marketing business because you’re “giving away a ton of content” … you’re wrong. It’s a mistake that’ll waste your time.

Or kill your business before it even has a chance to grow.

I’ve seen it happen.

In this article, I’ll prove that any time you see or use the Law of Reciprocity in your online business and think it drove sales, your success was because of different factors. And that you’re better off throwing this paradigm into your mental garbage can.

The Law of Reciprocity first gained traction when the best-selling book Influence used Hare Krishnas at the airport as a shining example of the law in action. The story goes like this:

Imagine you’ve just landed in a new city, and you’re finally getting a chance to move your legs after a long flight. As you walk to the baggage claim, a robed man casually hands you a pretty, pink flower. Before you can ask why, he explains it’s a gift… but makes sure to add that donations to the Hare Krishna organization are always welcome.

Spurred by the man’s kind flower gift, you toss him whatever change is in your pocket, and hurry on your way.

Once you believe you’re out of his line of sight, you ditch the flower in the nearest trash can.

If you remember the exchange at all, you might be quick to assume you simply met a dopey, religious guy who liked handing out flowers. Instead, you were engaged in an elegant principle of persuasion. Because the man gave you a gift – no strings attached – you felt compelled to reciprocate when he asked for something in return.

He knows what he’s doing – and he knows what you’ll do next. As the book Influence describes on page 24, “[A Hare Krishna devotee] went from trash can to trash can beyond the immediate area to retrieve all the flowers that had been discarded by Krishna targets. She then returned with the cache of recovered flowers (some that had been recycled who knows how many times) and distributed them to be profitably cycled through the reciprocation process once more.”

When Influence sold its bajillionth copy or so, every digital marketer – from the multi-millionaire to mom’s basement-dweller – began engineering their marketing efforts to include a hefty dose of giving shit away.

The internet reached Peak Reciprocity right around the time the concept of “Move The Free Line” became the dogma-of-the-month. Its premise is to take whatever information you usually charge for, and “move the free line” so that information becomes part of your business’s free offerings.

The two paradigms joined forces in a perfect storm of give, give, give!

But does it work?

No. At least not the way people think.

Here’s why:

You’re not a Hare Krishna with a pretty, pink flower and the internet isn’t a goddamn airport.

When you attempt to use the Law of Reciprocity online, you’re missing its secret sauce:

A face-to-face interaction.

Human beings bond when we can look into each other’s eyes, size up each other’s body language, and match our movements. When we catch a whiff of each other’s pheromones. When we can nod and tilt our heads, furrow our brows, shrug our shoulders, and laugh together. When we can shake hands. When we hug.

You can’t do any of that on the internet, and it destroys any chance of bonding.

It gets more fascinating when you consider that, for the first time in human history, we’re able to communicate with each other in real-time… without the bonding experience. The closest we ever came before this, was written correspondence, and then the telephone. The internet has put this bizarre situation on steroids.

The result?

Exponential road rage without borders.

Psychologically, everyone you “meet” on the internet is an enemy. Emotionally, they’re sitting right in front of you, in your home. But because it’s not physical, your interaction lacks the humanity and kinship. You didn’t experience any joys of bonding with a new person. No settling into a rhythm with each other. No feeling of connection. Instead, everyone online feels like they’ve invaded each other’s territory.

Let’s get back to reciprocity.

When you bond with someone, and they give you a gift, you feel compelled to give them something in return.

When you communicate with someone without the bonding, they can bestow you with all kinds of stuff, without ever triggering reciprocation. Because there’s no emotion. You never met. It wasn’t personal.

“But wait,” someone might say, “I see businesses succeed all the time by giving away tons of information. That must mean the law’s working somehow.”

This is an example of a business doing something that works, but not quite knowing why. When a business gives away a bunch of stuff, it makes for good promotional fodder. Their advertising is more interesting. Partners are more willing to promote them. Potential customers are more willing to get involved because they like the free stuff.

But if a business gives away valuable information and sells more product as a result, isn’t this a case of the Law of Reciprocity in action? No. They’re using information to demonstrate authority. The customer doesn’t buy because he feels indebted to the business. He simply feels more assured they know their stuff.

Consider Amazon.com. Do you shop there because they give, give, give? Or because of their convenience, and you feel like you can trust the 3rd party reviews on all the products they feature?

Or consider my blog. I’m publishing plenty of information, for free.

What are readers going to do? Send me flowers?

Are they going to bolt upright in their bed one night and shout, “Well gosh darn, that Nate character has published sooo much stuff! I’m just overwhelmingly compelled to shower him with riches!” Are they even going to feel this, beneath their conscious awareness? No. But they might respect my information enough, to feel like I’m an authoritative resource.

I’m not holding up my blog as a shining example of any kind of persuasion. I’m not selling a product at this point. My motivations for writing everything you see here are very different. But I have no delusions that I’ll generate reciprocity from anonymous strangers. No business does. Only people who bond with each other.

But wait… there must be an exception to this.

Sort of. Charities often send gifts via direct mail. But there’s a metric ton of guilt mixed into these promotions. Another exception is a specific way businesses can generate some reciprocity, when bonding occurs between a customer and someone within the business. Here’s how:

If a customer service rep communicates with a customer one-on-one and does the customer a favor, that could trigger the potential for reciprocity. But the customer must feel it’s genuinely one-on-one and genuinely an exception to how the business usually conducts itself. It can’t work with a mass mailing. So, save the Law of Reciprocity for your customer service, not your product launch.

How The Denver Direct Response Business MasterMind Was Born

Published December 15, 2017 in Marketing - 0 Comments

Many times, during my 3+ year stint in Boulder, I curled into the fetal position on my condo floor, and cried.

For several months, I started every day with a glass half-full of a vodka/energy drink mix. You could have called me a “glass-half-full morning kind of alcoholic.”

In the midst of this isolation and warped sense of self, I scrambled to build various online businesses. All my partners and vendors were out-of-state, except for a DVD duplicator. So I was not working alongside allies in a bustling office. Instead, I languished in a dead-quiet apartment – save for blaring television and computer screens.

A couple years later, I filed for bankruptcy.

I feel fine about that. Shit happens. And, if you’re lucky, so does rock-bottom.

What I don’t feel fine about… is how long it took me to get back on my feet.

For almost three years, I earned $10-12 per hour waving around a sign while standing on a street corner. I wore a goofy costume shaped and colored like a $100 bill. Car exhaust and dirt caked the fabric until it looked like I wore a tattered dress. Hundreds of people flipped me off, screamed at me, waved at me, and cheered me on. A crackhead grabbed me. I called 911 once. Someone made a goat noise at me. It was a blast.

Until that company went belly-up and I got a job unloading trucks. That was pure torture.

Finally, in 2014, I packed up all my stuff and drove to Baltimore for a life-transforming career. After I established myself, I moved back to Denver.

This time, I was determined not to make the same stupid mistakes twice.

And I’m not talking about the bankruptcy or the risks or starting new businesses.

Less than 24 hours after getting my new apartment keys – before my bed even arrived from Amazon – I had dinner with a friend who lived in Fort Collins. I asked him who else he knew in the Denver-area, in the same industry we were in.

He thought of a few peeps.

So I asked for introductions.

Every time my friend introduced me to someone via email, I asked that new contact if we could grab coffee.

Roughly 90% of the time, we ended up meeting. Getting to know each other was easy. We could talk about how we knew our mutual friend. What our businesses were. Our goals. Who we learned from. How we could help each other.

80% of the time, we clicked.

“You know,” I said to a few new friends, “There’s so many of us direct response marketers in Denver, but we don’t really know each other, and we never meet. It’d be cool to have a casual MasterMind where we get together and share ideas.”

They all agreed. But nobody was doing it.

So I did it.

I emailed everyone I met with some tentative dates, a few weeks in advance. When enough people confirmed they could attend, I reserved a small meeting room downtown. Actually, a new friend lent a meeting room he had access too – so it was free.

We gathered around a table, and I thanked everyone for coming. Then I asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell a little about their business. We went around the table.

Then we did “hotseats.”

One person at the table would described a project he was working on, and get feedback from everyone else.

I have no idea why it’s called a hotseat.

Maybe because the person gets nervous about being on the spot, and sweats on the seat?

Everyone loved the meeting. So I made sure to host more. About every six weeks.

The meetings grew in size and scope. People had ideas on how to improve them. But I knew better. My top priority was keeping them consistent, on track, and making sure everyone who attended was a great person.

Someone I met for coffee suggested I film videos promoting the event, and post photos of it on Facebook.

No.

Someone came up with a plan where new members would pay $20, and the referring member gets a piece of that.

No.

Someone else suggested I start a Facebook group.

No.

There were some private rules I came up with, to make sure the meetings didn’t mutate into lame, shitty events people tolerate once or twice and then abandon.

My goal was to build something sustainable.

As months went by, my friends introduced me to more contacts. Some were a fit for the MasterMind. Some weren’t. The meetings evolved. One thing didn’t change: I held them roughly every six weeks – to keep the momentum going.

That was almost two years ago.

The group has survived and thrived. We’ve watched our careers and businesses shift, and helped them grow. We make deals. And introductions to trusted people. We’ve helped each other through scary leaps of faith. During dinner after one meeting, I shared how I was weeks away from paying off $96,326.31 in IRS debt (and later, I texted my friends a photo of the Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien, when I did).

My stupid mistake that kept me so miserable in Boulder, and kept me trapped in financial starvation after my bankruptcy, was remaining alone. Working in isolation. Not fostering a dynamic group.

When I moved back to Denver over two years ago, I vowed not to make that mistake again. And I succeeded.

You can do the same.

If you feel stuck in your career, or growing your business, you can build a network like this. It’s a long-term play. Your chief aim is to create a group of dynamic people who can help each other. You keep them on-track (I joke that my job is to “herd cats” during these things).

You must guard your group against wolves. And well-meaning people who will bring the energy down.

You have to put in the extra work to keep everything running smoothly.

And you pay. Everyone else enjoys the meetings for free. A-players won’t jump at something they must pay for, until you’re very established. Even then, you still might not want to do it. It’s like investing in a stock and receiving dividends. Do you take the cash or reinvest? It’s hard to go wrong reinvesting.

The day I wrote the bulk of this, I scheduled the next MasterMind meeting – on the day before my birthday. I’ll probably open the meeting by saying something similar to: “There’s only one thing I can think of that I’d rather be doing right now.”

That’s how valuable these meetings are. They’re a completely different animal than regular networking. And you don’t have to slog through a bunch of strangers to get started. You just need one friend. And then another. And another. The other players in the group might shift around, but if you become the sun the draws everything in, you’ll grow a powerhouse asset.

Should You Quit Your Job Cold Turkey To Start A Business

Published December 7, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

One early morning, while it was still dark outside, a friend of mine bolted awake in a cold sweat.

Even though he lived under a roof with his wife and five children, he felt completely alone. Because, instead of providing for them, he was leading the entire family into a death spiral of debt.

Just a few months earlier, he’d quit his secure job to start his own consulting business. His savings evaporated. He burned over $90,000 in expenses, while earning only a few grand in return.

Financially, he was steering himself right off the cliff, and taking his family with him.

Years later, we had dinner together.

He told me he chose the right path. According to my friend, the shock of losing that illusory safety net, was exactly what he needed to get his ass in gear.

I struggled to believe he was right

Hindsight is – supposedly – 20/20. It’s usually sharper than your vision in the moment, at least. And who knows what could have happened, from taking a different path?

Nevertheless, I thought my friend was nuts. Because I jumped straight into being an entrepreneur, without a full-time job as a safety net. It kicked my ass.

So is it always a bad idea to leave your career cold-turkey to start your own business? Should you moonlight instead? Or… perhaps… is breaking your handcuffs as an employee, your only hope?

Rather than declare one as “the” truth, here are five reasons to stay at your job, and five reasons to quit.

Five reasons why it’s insane to quit your job

  1. If you tear apart your safety net – as phony as it might have been – you might stress about it, which limits your creativity and turns your business vision myopic.

Despite what some motivational gurus might say, putting your back to the wall in a situation of near-panic, rarely inspires genuine and healthy creativity. Especially for making money. Instead, it spurs you to take irrational risks and blinds you to opportunities.

  1. You limit your cash reserve – and choke off its growth.

As old acquaintance once told me over a decade ago, about business, “Things like this always take longer than you think.”

I replied, “Yeah and sometimes they happen faster!”

I was much younger then.

He shrugged and nodded…

… and he probably continued to make millions of dollars while I went bankrupt a few years later.

Things take longer than you think. They’re more expensive. This can be a problem when you have limited seed capital. Especially when you’re also using it to buy food and shelter.

  1. You risk burning a bridge that could come in handy later.

When I worked for a gold-buying business five years ago, a fellow employee gave two weeks’ notice. She asked the owner if she could ever come back, if things didn’t work out at her new job. He said yes. She said something to the effect of, “Oh good so I can have you as a back-up!” He almost fired her on the spot. She meant no harm or disrespect. But any time you transition, there’s no guaranteed you can push the factory reset button.

  1. Your motivation might mutate into malaise.

Think you’ll be fired up to take action, because you got rid of your safety net and claimed all this free time? Ha! Don’t be surprised if you park your butt in front of your television instead. Your brain will come up with all kinds of soothing excuses for sitting on your duff.

You need a bit of relaxation…

You’re letting the creative juices stew…

You’ll work later in the day (and you never do)…

You’ve got other responsibilities, like cleaning your fridge for the third time…

You’re hiding from fear.

You’re avoiding the discomfort of doing something new.

You’re fortifying yourself well within your comfort zone.

In this case, your free time works against you. It convinces you that you can relax your pace. You’ll lose your sense of urgency. You’ll be like the hare, taking a nap as the gainfully-employed tortoise slowly catches up…

  1. You lose out on valuable lessons a workplace can offer.

If you’re an employee at a functional company, then you’re getting paid to attend a magical business school. Every meeting, project, criticism, test result, and interaction is a chance to learn how to grow a company. And you’re getting paid to learn it all!

Same deal if you’re working at a dysfunctional company. You get to see what causes meetings, projects, criticisms, test results, and interactions to fail. Take careful mental notes (or even written notes and turn it into a book!) of what goes wrong and why.

But if you quit to start your own gig, you miss out on these lessons.

Now the flipside. Here are…

Five reasons to leave your soul-sucking job

  1. Your co-workers are keeping you in the bucket.

Building a business is tough enough, without a bunch of crabs reaching out with their claws and clasping your legs, dragging you back into your shared dungeon. This is where making a clean break could be a life-saver. It’s hard for “friends” to make snide comments or lead you astray, when they can’t get ahold of you. Or, more realistically, it’s just a tad too difficult to get ahold of you, for them to overcome their laziness.

  1. Your job might not be so soul-sucking, leaving you in a “golden handcuffs” situation.

Do you have it so good that the big, scary world of entrepreneurship is just a little too foreboding for you to make the leap? Then you might have golden handcuffs syndrome! The cure may be to focus on your level of personal fulfillment, and recognize no amount of security or income can fill that bucket.

Or the cure could be just ripping off the band-aid.

  1. You don’t have enough bandwidth to give your business a solid go.

If you stumble home mentally exhausted every night at 10PM, then you don’t have the momentum you need to start something new. This was why my old sign-spinning job was so perfect for me. I’d stand on my feet all day outside. Very little mental effort. Then, I’d come home and engage my brain at night.

  1. Cutting your safety net really does motivate you.

Sometimes, having your back to the wall actually does work. More to the point, it’s the only situation that works for you. If so, start some fires and let them push you towards that wall!

  1. Your job really is soul-sucking… and it prevents you from growing out of it.

Sometimes, a shitty job can inspire you to climb out of it. Other times, it strikes just the right balance of shitty-ness, easiness, and mindless routine to destroy your oomph. In this case, consider simply changing your job, rather than diving off the entrepreneurial cliff to see if you’ll fly.

And here’s a bonus #6 for both options:

Consider how valuable your networking opportunities are right now. Huh, I get a little “blech!” reaction every time I type the word “networking” but, well, shit… it’ll do. Anyway, your current job might be giving you valuable opportunities to meet potential partners. Without as much time pressure. And you’re getting paid to do it. That’s a very good reason to stay at your job.

On the other hand, maybe your job is occupying your time and mental space in an industry completely different from what you want to dive into. So it’s actually barring you from the networking (heh, I’m starting to like that word again) that’ll help you.

So which route to take? We’re back to the age-old question asked by frustrated employees yearning for more:

“Should I quit my job and jump into building a business full-time? Or build my business in my off-hours, while keeping my job?”

What’s the true answer? Because I listed reasons going both ways, I bet you can guess…

As the perpetually-chilled-out denizens of Thailand like to say, “Up to you.”

People hate that answer. Especially non-entrepreneurs (take note of that). You need to diagnose your situation and identify which choice will work best for you.

Me? After diving into the deep end – and hitting my head on the bottom – I eventually got a job… and back on my feet. Then I seamlessly transitioned to self-employment. And now I’m also building a business.

My friend? After getting beaten up enough, he figured out how to grow his consulting business. Now it runs on word-of-mouth. All his children have moved out. I think he’s a grandpa now. And he doesn’t spend even a microsecond worrying about money.

Which is right for you?

“Up to you.”

School Principal Changes My Life

Published December 1, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

The school hallway loomed as large as an airplane hangar as I paced towards the Principal’s Office. Without the crowds of kids shuffling from class to class, or dashing out the door to busses, everything felt eerily quiet and empty. Especially to a small nine-year-old.

I was in trouble for something. Most of the time, I didn’t know what, until someone told me. Then I remembered. It was usually because of a fight.

After arriving at the main office, they directed me to wait on a bench. All too soon, I found myself called into the Principal’s Office, where I sat and stared up at him, as he read through some files about me.

He was so bald, his head shone, and he sported a big, wacky, bushy beard.

He spoke with a booming voice that was too jubilant to be God-like.

I waited.

He fussed with the papers a little more. Then he turned, looked down at me, nodded his head, and boomed, “You’re a… you know… YOU’RE A GOOD KID.”

Oh!

I was?

Okay, I was a good kid.

I had never consciously considered the idea, one way or the other. But in that moment, a perfect storm of psychological sparks came together. I was visiting one of the most authoritative figures in my existence. I was scared, but my guard was down because I deferred to him.

And he declared something about me with complete conviction.

His words didn’t just seep into my consciousness.

They zipped inside like light beams shooting through the universe.

Invisible until they hit something.

Sure, I had my problems for years after that. Awful ones. But what’s striking is how I never stole cars, dealt drugs or abused the hard ones, or became a criminal. Some of that was probably because I was too alone and lacked the creativity… but I wonder how much the Principal helped that day. Along with everyone else who affirmed I was inherently okay.

Thank you, Principal, for reminding me of a truth I needed to hear.

It’s horrible that some children hear the opposite. A sick tragedy. They’re growing and absorbing as much information as they can… completely unable to sift and sort like they should… and someone tells them they’re bad.

The programming slips right in… folds itself into a deep crevice… and runs for the rest of the child’s life. Into adulthood.

Unleashing yet another cycle of pain.

I still need to remind myself that I’m a good kid. It’s interesting how one’s self-image can vary so much, based on splintering one’s life into sections. Money. Sex. Appearance. Parent. Boss.

But the reminder is so simple. If your heart’s in the right place, you’re okay. You’re human. Yeah, you make mistakes.

But… YOU’RE A GOOD KID!

What To Ask Before You Talk Shit About Someone

Published November 23, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

A couple evenings after launching Should You Date Nate, I stood in my bedroom doing a brief standing meditation. Similar to a practice called zhan zhuang.

After a couple minutes, I sensed a peculiar, pleasant energy flowing to me from all directions. And from many, many different sources. As if I were standing in the middle of a packed stadium, feeling the rumbling crowd resonate through the air to envelope me.

Suddenly, I found myself thinking, “So that’s what he meant.”

An old teacher of mine had said over and over, “Celebrate your critics and naysayers because they give you energy.”

I’m sure virtually everyone who heard that, assumed he meant critics can motivate and inspire you to prove them wrong, and keep you “on your toes” (a funny and mostly dysfunctional position for a grounded response, now that I consider the phrase).

He was pointing to something deeper. I know, because that night I had the visceral experience of what he actually meant.

I was curious to discover what inner healing and empowerment I’d experience. Already, some hate mail from my ad was flowing in. I knew the tsunami was warming up.

The campaign changed my perspective on talking shit about someone. Now, whenever I’m tempted to “know” the story of someone else, I stop to wonder if my assumptions are true. And if the information is true.

Another seed was planted in my mind, when a more recent teacher, Lama Tantrapa, taught me “Yi dao, chi dao.”

Where attention goes, energy flows.

That seed sprouted right before my official “get up” time one morning, a couple weeks ago.

Our society is addicted to talking shit. Most people take perverse pleasure in hurting others, so they can feel the effects of a brain hormone cocktail. However, some criticism is valid and helpful. Both for the object of your critique and, in the case of, say, a politician, a warning to others.

So how to tell the difference?

I came up with a useful rule to gauge.

Here goes. Before you criticize, ask yourself this:

“If writing, or even thinking about this person I want to criticize, gives them positive energy… would I still do it?”

If thinking about what an asshole that guy is, actually sends him a tiny blessing – straight from you – would you still devote your mental energy to it?

If gossiping about someone at work who you think is doing a terrible job, actually enriches her life in some small way – would you still say anything?

Changes your perspective, doesn’t it? And your priorities.

Even if you think the idea of transmitting any kind of energy through communication or thought or emotion is silly, consider this idea’s usefulness as a framework. It gives you a system to objectively measure whether to spend your time and effort to criticize someone.

This question is a polished mirror you can use, to see the value of what you’re doing.

You’ll see how pointless your thoughts are. Or even how they help foster the opposite of what you want.

But sometimes the answer will be different. When you ask: “If writing, or even thinking about this person I want to criticize, gives them positive energy… would I still do it?”

… you might decide yes. Because your criticisms might serve as a fair warning to others. If you’re a commentator with a platform, you can alert people to corrupt politicians, unethical businesses, or even lousy restaurants.

In these cases, the light you’re shining on them, might be worth the chance they receive some positive energy. That’s for your judgement.

However, you can now see – and perhaps experience in a tangible way – how useless and backwards virtually all criticism, gossip, and arguing truly is. Every comment on social media. All mindless chatter at work. Your thoughts about people you can’t stand.

What if you were secretly, and inadvertently, empowering all those people?

What if this triggered you to finally stop? Or at least direct your energies more diligently?

Yi dao, chi dao. Where is your attention going? Your energy?

I know I’m more careful. I’m learning to withstand other people sending me helpful vibes. And being more considerate of where to send mine.

3 Solutions To Free Up Your Time

Published November 17, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“It’d be nice to be locked in a prison cell,” I thought.

I sat in my condo in Boulder, Colorado, facing a television set. Tuned to some blaring nonsense. Papers were strewn about my floor. Outside chirped a world full of distractions.

I was pondering productivity. Going deep – mastering something.

“If I were locked in a prison cell, I’d have nothing to do but focus on just a couple simple tasks. Writing. Meditating. No distractions or obligations to interfere with my progress.”

This was a bullshit assumption for a couple reasons (both obvious and not-so-obvious ones) which I’ll cover in a moment. But there was also a grain of truth.

The most pervasive bullshit often has some wisdom mixed in. That’s how it survives and reproduces.

A couple years after thinking this, I called my cable company and switched off my service. Then I donated my television set to Goodwill. After two days of withdrawal, I noticed how much calmer I felt. I stopped compulsively checking to see if it were 7PM, or 8PM, or whatever time my favorite shows were on – a habit which took a while to subside.

I used my freed-up time to meditate. And write.

I never went out because I was too broke and shy. For several years, I didn’t see a single movie. No travelling except sometimes for Thanksgiving. All savings went towards business.

This was when I discovered a prison cell isn’t a panacea. Prison sucks because you can’t leave. It’s dangerous. And it’s not a meal ticket to productivity.

Because you can eliminate all your distractions and still steer clear of what you want to accomplish.

Think of it like a piece of paper for a writer or a canvas for an artist. If it’s already filled with writing or drawings, it’s useless for creating something new. But a blank page, or canvas, can be just as useless if you’re intimidated by it.

An inspired writer with fortitude can compose a novel during lunchbreaks. Or transform a line at the bank into a writing nook. A devoted artist can make a napkin worthy of framing.

But wannabes who’ve freed up all the time in the world, and eliminated distractions by going on a retreat? They can still fail to create. Just like someone can waste away in a prison cell, even with all the time in the world to practice mindfulness and meditation.

They’re both shackled.

If you can free yourself – and you’re on your own, there – then time restrictions or clutter are mere trifles.

With that in mind, here are three ways to deal with them:

  1. Ditch your television set

Before you do, list out all the positives and negatives of this action. On the positive side, you’re eliminating an expense and saving money as a result, you’re eliminating a source of disheartening and fear-inducing misinformation, you’re deleting a major distraction to more fulfilling activities, and you’re creating a more peaceful environment in your home. On the negative side, you’re… uh… well maybe you can think of some negatives.

  1. Stop visiting useless websites

I know it’s fun to read about sports or politics or gossip or whatever you humans enjoy. Arguing about them is even better. It triggers pleasurable brain chemicals in just the right way to keep you addicted. If you’re okay with being an addict, have at it. Otherwise, go clean and reap the benefits.

  1. Restrict your email-checking time

There’s rarely a need for some self-important “I’m only checking email once per day” message. Just check it only once per day. Observe how nobody cares.

Take a moment to consider how much of your daily time is eaten up by a cycle of checking your email… your social media pages… reading about politics and current events… arguing about politics and current events on said social media pages… and checking email and starting the cycle all over again. While your television is blaring in the background.

Actually, instead of just taking a moment to consider this, measure it in real-time. Write down how many hours (I bet it’s hours) you devote to this cycle. Then write down the benefits of engaging in this daily cycle.

Is this how you want to spend your life?

In the past, I meditated for 3-4 hours per day. Right now, I’ve cut back to just 1 hour. For now. I also write. Both marketing and a journal and various personal-development notes and this blog and correspondence and plans for my business. And research. And work with clients. And exercise every day. And read. And travel. And, more recently, go on dates. And I’ve got plenty of free time to relax.

Not having a spouse or children helps. So much so, that I’d feel funny preaching productivity tips to those raising a family, without acknowledging that damaging admission. So there you go. Still, if you have a family to take care of, then consider whether television, websites, or your emails are more important than cherishing time with them.

When you say, “I don’t have time” make sure you’ve already thrown your television in the garbage, stopped visiting useless websites, and check email only once per day. But that excuse will be dead to you anyway. Because you’ll be too busy experiencing the richness of life, for you to devote any energy to bullshit excuses like “I don’t have time.”

 

*Bonus tip: In the past, I’ve read articles like this and then stewed about how they didn’t apply to me because I had [insert seemingly special reason here].” I wonder how much time I wasted with those complaints?