How to Live a Happier Life by Writing a Personal Manifesto

the playlist I use to relax and write. Crazy that the 1st song is relaxing to me but oh well...

the playlist I use to relax and write. Crazy that the 1st song is relaxing to me but oh well...

If you want to live a happier life and learn how to be happy then you should to write a personal manifesto.  A personal manifesto is something that you can use to self-regulate your life, guide your actions and bring clarity to the craziness of every day.  A personal manifesto helps you determine what you want, what you don’t want and how you choose to direct your own life.  It gives you the power whether you’re a recent grad or starting over in life.

In this podcast we talk about how to write a personal manifesto and what to include.  I also go through my personal manifesto and the different sections that you should include.

Check out the images to see each page of my personal manifesto and feel free to steal some ideas/copy it 


How to stop negative self-talk

This isn't me, this is Rich Froning. Unlike me, HE can do pistols...

This isn't me, this is Rich Froning. Unlike me, HE can do pistols...

"F*ck!!!, I'm doing this all wrong. What the hell happened, did I get weaker in a week?"

We were doing box pistols at crossfit the other day and I couldn't do them at all. The other 10 people in class did them pretty easily and I was struggling. I ended having to do them assisted and I could still barely get them done.

From there we did Romanian deadlifts, standing single leg deadlifts and finished with a pretty intensive leg-heavy metcon piece.

I came in dead last.

Everyone else was done and sitting around talking while I was still grinding out the final burpies.

I felt totally demoralized & completely bummed out about my performance.

I tried to rationalize it by thinking that most of the people in class were younger than me, had fewer knee/back surgeries than me and were more experienced.

It didn't work.

I still compared myself to them and felt shitty and embarrassed about myself.

Shit, it's embarrassing to even write about this now. I cringe when I remember looking around the gym and seeing everyone doing it easily while I was dying.  

In fact, at one point I just closed my eyes while I was lifitng because I couldn't bear to witness how shitty I was doing compared to everyone else.

It was my own personal hell.

And I know what I'm supposed to think in that situation:

"You only compete against yourself so don't worry about anyone else." (easy advice to give, hard to take)

"I'm sure it wasn't as bad as it looks" (It was)

And then a beautiful thing happened.

Eric, one of the coaches/owners of the gym came up to me after class and complimented me on the depth of my squat.

Yes, the 'depth of my squat'.

 He said my squat was looking solid.

[Let me back up.  When I 1st started crossfit 2 years ago I was insanely inflexible and couldn't squat at all. And after two years of working at it I got better.  I can now go below parallel- a big deal for me and am stronger than I've ever been.]

Eric is a great dude and I've learned a ton from him and Blake, the other owner/coach of the gym. They are both mid-20s and very knowledgable about crossfit.  

So anyway, Eric tells me how he was watching and how impressed he was at the depth of my squat and how he was stoked about the progress I've made.

I was completely blown away.

I would have been less surprised if he told me he was moving to Africa to start a dance troop with Miley Cyrus.

In a Usain Bolt millisecond I went from feeling all-time shitty to crazy proud.

That happened last Friday and it made my whole weekend.

I no longer looked at myself like someone who had failed at something, I was now the guy who did something right.

Before I get into the lessons I learned, let's talk about Eric.

Eric coached that class and no doubt saw me struggle through 59 minutes of it.  He saw me f*ck up the pistols, come in last on the burpies, etc. Yet he was able to find one good thing I was doing and focus on that.

One good thing.

He saw one good thing, anchored to that and decided to forgo the rest.  Maybe he did it unconsciously, who knows, but it doesn't really matter.

He completely flipped my self-talk & I went from feeling like a loser to a hero instantly.

It was the most powerful example of leadership and coaching I've seen in a long time.

And it took him less than a minute to do it.  It was sincere, direct and inspiring.  

I've seen him and Blake do this before with other people in the gym and it's no less astounding.

I once saw Blake complement a woman in front of a class for 5 minutes because she did a pull-up for the 1st time.

It's funny because I've seen CEOs with Ivy league pedigrees not possess the same level of people skills as these two dudes from Sacramento.  

What if we all did that?  

What if we all looked for one good thing in everyone we dealt with on a regular basis? 

I don't know about you but it might change my life completely. I find myself bitching about the dumbest shit sometimes:

On the road:

"Why are you driving so slow lady??!. Blinkers are free, feel free to use yours when you turn!"

In a meeting:

"If this engineer doesn't get to the point pretty soon I'm going to lose my mind"

What if we focused on the one good thing and forgot about everything else. Sure might make life easier and less stressful.

The other key thing this experience taught me was that, like you probably, I'm incredibly hard on myself and completely unforgiving. 

Do you ever feel that way? 

Like whatever you're doing just isn't enough or as good as your friend/neighbor/co-worker?

Believe me, I know the feeling. Feeling you suck while these thoughts cycle through your head:

"What is wrong with me, why can I do this?"

"He/She is way more successful than me"

"He/She would is better looking/in better shape than me"

I've been there and I still fall into that hellhole occasionally.  

I don't have all the answers (and this isn't a rah-rah post anyway) but here's what I learned from this experience:

1. In context, you're probably not doing as bad as you think you are. It's very likely that most people aren't holding you to the same standard that you are.

2. Negative self-talk can be completely immobilizing. I don't necessarily have an answer for this yet but wanted to throw it out there because it seems pretty f*cking dangerous. I am going to write about this in the future because it's important.

3. It only takes one person to notice one good thing about you to change your image of yourself. It can happen to you and you can be that person to someone else.

4. Box pistols and my inability to do them doesn't define me a human being. 

5. We are all way more valuable/cool/awesome than we think we are. 

6. There are way more awesome people in the world than bad people.  There's no empirical proof to this but I'm going to choose to believe it.

At the end of the day, as shitty as this workout was, I'm really glad I got to experience it.  It taught me a lot and I am forever grateful to Eric for being a great coach and giving me the ability to give myself a break and not be so hard on myself.  

Very cool experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Build Confidence

Who’s cooler, you or Clooney? If you want to learn how to gain confidence in life then your answer is very important.

Your answer to that question may hold the key to your ultimate happiness since how you think about yourself can be the number one predictor of your happiness.

And how you think about yourself is largely based on your self-confidence. How to work on confidence is one of the biggest challenges we all face.  More on that in a bit.

The way you look at yourself drives everything.

If you think you’re awesome, chances are you are. And if you think you suck, well….

Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. 

And you know who taught me that? The person who gave me such sage advice?

I did.

Well, it’s not like I woke up one day and said it to myself, that just didn’t happen (I’m not that smart)

But what happened is that I started taking a good look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw.

It’s not that I didn’t like my life or my potential.

Quite the opposite, I just didn’t like how I felt about myself and how I felt about me:

What if my work sucks?

What if no one gives a f*ck about my message?

These fears are directly related to lacking self confidence in that moment.

One thing I finally realized is that I was asking the wrong questions that were leading to a flawed belief system and a lack of self confidence.

And guess what?  That f*cking blows..

Have you ever done this?

Just get totally spun out because you don’t think you’re worth shit in the world. Well here’s the thing:

You’re probably wrong (just like me).

Two things I’m pretty sure we have in common

1. We both create value in the world even though neither of us is perfect.

2. We both have done awesome things for others and probably didn’t even realize we were doing it.

In regards to #2, I had a crazy experience a couple of years ago when I went back for my high-school reunion. At the reunion (in the gym) with the 80s music playing (of course) I talked to a woman who was in my homeroom. 

She was quiet in high-school and I didn’t know her very well. She told me about a time she was really upset & crying at her locker (I don’t remember this at all) and I was walking by in the empty hallway.

Apparently I stopped and asked her if she was ok and if I could do anything to help her. (I don’t remember this at all)

So here we are in this reunion with Carless Whisper blasting away, eating bad food & drinking Coronas’ and she’s telling me how much I helped her then.

How she was in a really bad place and just me talking to her for a sec helped her feel a ton better.

Again I have zero memory of this. And I’m not pointing this out to make myself look good (maybe a little), I’m doing it because we ALL do shit every day and never realize it. 

Here’s how it usually goes

  1. You do something small (it’s not) for someone else
  2. It leaves a huge impression on them
  3. You forget it happened
  4. They never do
  5. Something shitty comes up later and you think you’re shit

So let’s you and I stop doing this, ok?  Seems counter productive.

I’ll make you a deal:

If you’re willing to work on this with me, I’ll work on it too.  I’m a pretty confident guy but I’m always interested in learning more self confidence boosters too.

Together, let’s stop questioning our value to the world.

Together, let’s build a belief system that serves us and doesn’t work against us.

Let’s drive with the emergency brake off.

We need to build our beliefs around our successes, not our fears, insecurities and self-criticism.

So here’s how to gain confidence in life:

Complete these statements:

“I believe I am  ___________________”

(Mine: I believe I am a good person who honestly tries to help others)

“I believe in ______________________”

(Mine: I believe in the goodness of people and the beauty of the world)

“One thing I know I’m good at is ____________________”

(Mine: One thing I know I’m good at is inspiring/coaching others)

“Two things I suck at completely are ____________________”

(Mine: Two things I suck at completely are accounting & yoga)

“One good thing I did to day was ______________________”

(Mine: One good thing I did today was I fed the dogs and didn’t yell at the woman on the road who cut me off”)

2- Stop expecting to be perfect and be surprised when you f*ck up.

3- Stop comparing yourself to anyone else.  This. Is. A. Losing. Proposition. Completely.

4. Hold the possibility that you’ve done great things for others and don’t even know about it.

5- Celebrate small victories. “I woke up today and didn’t break any dishes! Awesome-sauce!!”

6- Entertain the possibility that YOU are someone else’s role model. This is probably more real than you think.

I hope that short list is helpful for you.  Let me know what’s worked for you to build confidence as well, ok?

I firmly believe that self-confidence drives most of what we do in life.  That’s probably why I write/podcast/talk and think about it so much:)

Talk soon…

How to be a better man and release your inner hero

“Waste no more time arguing about

what a good man should be.

Be one.”

- Marcus Aurelius

Everything you need to know about how to be a better man is summed up in that quote. Be a good man and start right now.

If only it was just that simple…

Being a real man today is not easy, regardless of your age. We have work commitments, relationship commitments, etc, etc.

And if I’m describing your life, I feel your pain, bro, I do.I’ve been there and it blows.

Being a real man in 2016 is complicated

  • You need to be masculine and tough but still be able to connect and show your feelings constantly with your woman.
  • You must be an absolute killer at work but jesus, don’t crack an off-color joke or HR will be all over you.
  • You need to provide for your family (and kids if you have them) in an ever-increasingly competitive world that gets more expensive every day.
  • You face constant pressure at work and at home
  • You get way too much f*cking email.(This is a given even if you’re a basket weaver in Bangladesh)

Does this sound like your life?

  • You are struggling to find a meaning and a purpose to your life.You spend a lot of time wondering, “Is this all there is?”
  • You don’t workout nearly as much as you want.
  • You feel overworked, under appreciated and underpaid.
  • Your relationship is good but could be much better.
  • Sex life is ok. Not bad but not winning any awards either
  • The most peaceful part of your day is when you’re driving home and you’re all alone in traffic with nobody bothering you.
  • You have very little life balance
  • In the time it took to read this far you got three new emails that aren’t important.

Now that I’ve depressed the hell out of you (more than a typical Alice in Chains song) let me tell you that there is good news.

You CAN create the life of your dreams and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train).

You can blow up the shitty parts of your life and create something awesome.

So let’s blow it up.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.47.25 AM

You deserve a life with:

  • Purpose & Meaning
  • Fantastic sex and an awesome relationship
  • Health and vitality
  • Fun and adventure
  • Life Balance
  • Freedom and control of your world

But before we get into how to get on a path to having it all, let’s define what a real man is. 

For our purposes a real man is:

A man who controls his own destiny, knows his purpose in life and in confident in his place in the world.

A real man is a great father, fantastic husband and knows how to throw a spiral.

He treats his woman with respect, reverence and honesty. He holds the door open for everybody and isn’t afraid to go after what he wants.

A real man in generous and focused on success and has failed many times in his life.

He always gets up & he grinds hard for what he believes.

His values are immovable and his close friends know they can count on him.

Character traits of a real man

  1. Confidence. Like Muhammad Ali level confidence. Believes he can do anything.
  2. Committed. All-in on what he believes. Doesn’t matter what it is, he’s all in regardless of what anyone else thinks.
  3. Generous. Like Bill Gates giving away $1B, a real man leaves money on the table for the other guy, over-tips and thanks everyone.
  4. Values all equally. Treats the CEO and the janitor exactly the same.
  5. Loyal. Faithful to his woman, his family, his values and his close friends.
  6. Honest.Willing to be brutally (yet tactfully) honest with everyone.
  7. Legacy driven. Focused on leaving a legacy in the world.
  8. Scarred up. Has had tons of failures and continues to rebound.Like Kiedis from the Chili-Peppers, a real man has been through some shit and wears his scars proudly.
  9. Great father. Know it’s more important to speak time with than money on his kids.
  10. Focused on a purpose. Like Tom Brady doing 2-a-days in the off-season on a diet so strict that avocado ice cream is a luxury, a real man is focused on his purpose.
  11. Unafraid to be a rock star.Has Tupac-esque fearlessness and isn’t afraid of the spotlight or the critics that come with it.
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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.49.23 AM

Now you may be thinking (I would) “Who the f*ck is the guy, I don’t even know him”. And you’re right to ask so here’s quick summary:

I’ve been married to my wife for 13 years, have 2 beautiful daughters, run my own business, I’m in the best shape of my life and I couldn't be happier.

It wasn’t always this way though. My life has definitely hit some low points:

  • I was sexually abused by my Uncle V. from the ages of 10-14. Asshole. took me a long time to see sex as anything other than a power move.
  • Mom divorced my real dad when I was 4, didn’t see/hear from him again until I was 36. Met him once before he died.
  • Have had 3 major surgeries- 1 on each knee and 1 on my back/spine. Makes doing anything besides lying down perfectly still ache.
  • Have failed in a couple different business ventures.
  • Went through financial hell 2008-2013 and lost everything while my marriage was falling apart.
  • Watched the Patriots lose 2 different SuperBowls to the f’ing giants.Jesus, Welker, catch the damn ball…
  • Used to suffer panic attacks on a regular basis up until a few years ago.
  • Used to think these thoughts on a regular basis:
    • “I’m not good enough”
    • “I feel like a total pussy sharing my feelings”
    • “I have no idea how to share my feelings”

My guess is that you can relate to some of the stuff above. 

We have all been there together and although my examples are probably different than yours, the feelings and scars are the same.

So embrace your scars and let’s get rolling.

6 STEPS ON HOW TO BE A BETTER MAN

ASSESS YOURSELF

The first thing to do is to assess your life right now.You don’t need to spend 10 hours doing this but take a quick assessment of your life right now.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would the 15 year old version of yourself think?Would he be stoked at where you are in life right now? Or would be like, “Dude, why do you sit at a desk so much all day?”
  • Are you ahead or behind right now in regards to what you want out of life? For example in my life I am way ahead in my relationship with my wife (never though ti would be this good) and way behind in my net worth (thought I’d be a millionaire by now)
  • Do you have life balance or are you completely overworked?Can you take a vacation whenever you want or do you find it hard to get away?
  • Biggest question, on a scale of 1-10, how happy are you?

By doing a quick assessment you’ll get a feeling of where you are right now and the areas you’d like to improve. Pretty simple and you don’t have to attend a 3-day Tony Robbins seminar to figure it out.

BUILD CONFIDENCE

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.06.34 PM

I firmly believe that the more confident you are, the more shit you get done and the more cool stuff comes your way.

The lack of confidence is arguably the biggest reason people fail in life. It’s not intelligence or lack of effort, it’s a lack of confidence.

Why is this? It’s because

Confidence inspires action. 

And taking action usually leads to more success than sitting around and doing nothing.

[Plus wouldn’t you rather go into every date, meeting or social encounter brimming with confidence thinking, “I got this, no prob…”

Here’s how to build confidence:

Know the Captain

You and you alone are the Captain of your ship.This is your life and while tons of people may give you advice just remember that no one knows you as well as you do.No one has your unique DNA and no one knows what you’re truly capable of.

So, act accordingly and remember that you’re the Captain of your life.

Shoot for success not perfection 

Instead of trying to do everything perfectly focus on being successful.Be outcome driven (did I bench 200 lbs?) not process driven (I’m going to do every rep perfectly and work out from 4:10pm to 5:25pm every other Tuesday).

When you focus on success everything else becomes easier. You gain back the energy you spent on the minutiae and are able to apply it in the right areas.

Say “f*ck it” more

Yep, I’m serious, say “f*ck it” more. When you say “f*ck it” it usually means you’re stepping into action.And as we’ve said before action leads to success more often than in-action. It doesn’t always work but it’s better than not doing anything.

Some of my personal examples:

“F*ck it, I’m asking out that girl I met yesterday” (15 years later I’m married to that girl).

“F*ck it, I’m quitting and starting my own company” (1998, quit my corporate job and launched my entrepreneurial streak which continues to this day. Best career decision I ever made)

“F*ck it, it won’t kill me” (2000, made the decision to run a marathon even though I have numerous knee and back surgeries. One of the best experiences of my life)

So say “f*ck it” more, you’ll be glad you did.

“Our fears are always more numerous than our dangers”

- Seneca

Create a Highlight Reel

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.08.20 PM

One of the quickest ways to build confidence is to remember past victories. Tom Brady doesn’t win SuperBowls just because he’s a stud QB. He wins SuperBowls because he confident that he CAN win them. And he’s confident because he’s done it in the past.He builds on his past success.

So here’s what to do:

  1. Get a pad of paper and number it 1 to 100
  2. Write down any/all successes you’ve had that you can think of
  3. Don’t judge your list, just write down anything you can think of
  4. Refer to this list everyday for 21 days

It may be hard to get past the first 20-30 things but keep going until you hit 100. Everything counts, even getting elected to Student Council when you were a freshman in High School.

What we’re conditioning your brain to do is to think of you as someone who’s used to being successful.Once you get that ingrained in your brain your confidence will soar.

BE LOYAL

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.10.23 PM

It’s sad but true that finding true loyalty in this world can be difficult.Quite frankly, most people aren't loyal anymore and it’s not a quality that many people aspire to.

Well that’s bullshit because if you want to be a real man you have to be loyal in three specific areas:

Your word

Your woman

Your circle (close friends and family)

Your Word

When it comes to your word, do what you say and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

You know who breaks their word constantly and we all just let it slide?

(No, not politicians I’m talking about actual real people) In fact, someone’s probably doing this to you right now.

So you know who this is?

People who are late.

Yep, that’s right, people who are late break their word every time they do it.

If I tell you I’ll be there at 1pm and I show up at ten past, I’ve broken my word to you.You may not mind it or notice but the fact remains that I committed to 1pm and I didn’t do what I committed to doing.I broke my word.

This happens all the f’ing time and no one makes a big deal about it.

Don’t be that guy, show up on time.

Be loyal to your word always.

Be loyal to your woman, treat her right and don’t cheat.Cheating takes many forms so don’t do anything you wouldn’t be totally comfortable doing in front of her.If you want to be a real man a real man is faithful to his woman. 

And if your relationship is bad and you want to cheat at least get out of the relationship first and then do what you want.

I’ve done this both ways.

I’ve had girlfriends and cheated on them. I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that but I it’s true. I was a total idiot in my 20’s and I regret it.

As I got older if I knew a relationship wasn’t working out I’d wait until we’d broken up before I hooked up with anyone else. Not exactly a knight in shining armor but better than before.

And when it comes to kids…

Be loyal to your kids (if you have them).Loyalty might be a strange word to use when it comes it being a good Dad but here’s the deal:

Kids usually don’t want things, they want you.They want to spend time with you. My youngest daughter would rather sit on the floor playing “Lego Store” with me than doing anything else.

The way to be loyal to your kids is to choose them over almost everything else.Over watching TV, over SportsCenter, over going out with the guys.

Choose your kids first and be loyal to your role as their dad.For those of us who have kids, it’s an honored bestowed upon us from God, let’s not squander it.

So be loyal and be there for them. Don’t miss anything that’s important to them. Even if it’s a play they’re putting on after dinner, just be there and don’t rush off to check your email.

After having two daughters I can honestly say that the most important part of being a Dad is just showing up. 

[I’d say more but I’m off to play “Lego Store” with Noa]

And now I’m back so let’s talk about your circle.

Your circle is the small group of family and friends that are most important to you.It doesn’t have to be the ones you’re biologically closest to either.

I am way closer and would do anything for my buddy Johnny who I’ve known for 3 years than I would for my Uncle Johnny who’s been a shitty uncle since I was born. (Sorry, Mom, I know he’s your brother but he’s kind of a dick)

Be loyal to your circle. Don’t judge them and always be ready/willing to help no mater what.

And by close friends I mean they’re should be 3-4 friends that if they called you, you drop everything to help them out and vice-versa, no questions asked.Any more than that and they’re just Facebook friends or acquaintances.

Run this conversation in your head and see what 3-4 friends you’d do this for:

FRIEND:

“Jim, I’m stuck in a Mexican prison and I need $20,000 bail right now and need help.We also may need to bury a body”

(John C.; Scott L.; Jim E; Brian P)

ME:

“I’ll be there in 3 hours and I’ll bring a shovel”

So be loyal to your circle.It’s the right thing to do and all real men do it.

BE HONEST

A real man is honest in all situations.Honest, but tactful.

One of the cool things about being honest is that you never have to remember what you said.So in some ways, being honest lets you be lazy and that’s pretty cool.

Now sometimes it’s not easy to be honest and you might think that telling a small quick lie isn’t a big deal.

Well, it is. 

It will always come back to bite you trust me, so don’t do it.Better to be honest and deal with the short-term consequences. Remember:

“Cutting corners is always the LONG way around”

BE STRONG

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.15.48 PM

You can be gym strong or you can be functionally strong.Being functionally strong means that at any given moment you can:

  • Pick up and carry someone to safety from a burning building
  • Run a 5k
  • Play 2 hours of hoop without dying
  • Wrestle with your kids without gasping for breath

So go for being functionally strong.And for my money, the absolute best workout you can do on a regular basis is crossfit.

Before you automatically think that crossfit is for powerlifting aggro lunkheads, hear me out.

Crossfit works on many levels because it combines strength & power with flexibility & endurance.

5 biggest benefits of crossfit:

  1. You get an awesome workout in 60 minutes
  2. Variety- every workout is different so you don't get bored
  3. Every workout combines flexibility, strength, stamina and endurance
  4. Good crossfit coaches (like ours at @crossfitsociety) make sure you’re always in the right body position when lifting so you don’t get hurt
  5. You keep score and write your results on the board at the end of every class. Always nice to see how you did so you can track your improvement

Some workout resources for you:

  1. All about crossfit - my podcast interview with Blake Bender and Eric DePaula of CrossfitSociety
  2. NerdFitness.com - Cool fitness site for guys like us (meathead-free)
  3. The best article, bar none, you will read about weightlifting, written by Henry Rollins: http://www.artofmanliness.com/trunk/1748/henry-rollins-iron-and-soul/

MASTER SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS

I have written about this topic in great detail so I’ll keep it brief.  If you want a copy of my ebook, “How to Master Love, Sex and Relationships” Click here.

For now, here’s a primer on what you need to know. 

First some sweeping generalizations about being a guy in a relationship:

  1. You are not naturally inclined to share your feelings with your girl.
  2. #1 pisses your girl off on a regular basis.

If this is you, don’t sweat it, you’re not alone and there is an answer.

Here’s the thing, all great relationships have a few things in common:

  • Balance- you’re both independent and like being together.You don’t have to spend every waking moment with each other
  • Respect - you respect her, she respects you.This doesn’t mean you can’t get into some really kinky role-play sex, it just means you respect each other
  • Connection - You are able to connect on a quality basis, not quantity.You both understand that a solid 10 minutes of connection is better than 3hours of distracted hanging out.
  • Phone death - great relationships don’ let the distraction of smart phones come between them. You’re not always checking espn.com and she’s not always on Instagram.You both have the power to put the damn phone down.

THE TWO BIGGEST HIGH-IMPACT/LOW-EFFORT THINGS YOU CAN DO TO DRAMATICALLY CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP FOR THE BETTER IN LESS THAN 1 HOUR:

1. Be a 2- question Lover

Tell your girl you want to talk and ask her the two questions that will ultimately change your relationship for the better.They are:

    1. What is the MOST important thing to you in our relationship?
    2. What's the LEAST important thing to you in our relationship?

Quite simply, these 2 questions allow you to understand what you should be focusing on and what you don’t have to worry about.

Some examples:

1-

“That we do one date a week, just you and me. I don’t care what it is, I just want to do something simple and hang out.”

2-

“While I like that you get me flowers, I’d really just appreciate it if you emptied the dishwasher every day. That would be so much better and I’d know you were actually thinking about my needs”

These questions work because they give you the answers to the test and the ability to really make your relationship easy.

I used to make my relationship way harder than it had to be and had no idea what made my wife happy.I was clueless. Until I asked her.Talk aboutarea change in awesomeness.

AND, if by chance your girl says that the most important thing to her is expensive jewelry and the least important is sex, then you know it’s time to get out.

THREE WAYS TO MAKE SEX AWESOME (TOTALLY FINE IFYOU SKIPPED TO THIS SECTION)

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.16.53 PM

Start foreplay early

Know what she values and what is most important to her (see above).Do that on a regular basis and you’ll build up enough sexual momentum to really connect and ultimately have better sex more often.

Schedule sex dates

If either of you has kids, a job or any kind of life then you’re probably pretty busy.There are probably plenty of times you’d like to have sex but your schedules don’t align.

So keep it simple and schedule a weekly sex date during a time that works for both of you. Monday at lunch at home maybe while the kids are at school?Wednesday night after going to the gym? 

Doesn’t matter when it is, just that you get it in (get it?)

More talk = Better Sex

It may seem counter-intuitive but the more you talk about sex, the better you’re sex life will become.

They key is to get into the psyche of your girl so that you can understand her views and beliefs about sex.Once you understand that you can forge a deeper connection and enjoy a sex life even better than you could imagine.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sit down with her and let her know that you’re interested in making her even more happy in the bedroom.
  1. Ask her these six questions about sex:
      1. What do you like?
      2. What don't you like?
      3. What really turns you on?
      4. What time of day is better for you?
      5. When are you most likely to want to fool around?
      6. When are you least likely?

The logic on this is simple: the more info you know, the easier it will be for you to have a deep connection/great sex with your girl.

One of the coolest things about this method is you may find out is that she wants to try something you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid to ask and now it’s on the table.

And holy shit, that’s like finding out the Red Hot Chili Peppers need a back-up singer for their next gig and you’re it.And it’s the Super Bowl halftime show.

That. Is. Epic…..

I wrote a whole ebook on How to Master Love, Sex and Relationships, you can get it by clicking here

THE TIME TO START IS NOW SO LET’S GET ROLLING

I sincerely hope this post has been helpful to you.I also recognize that this is an incomplete list but I do believe it’s a great place to start.

Let me know in the comments any other areas you think should be on this list.

Life is short and the time for you to take action is right now.

Assess yourself - where are you right now?

Build Confidence - confidence inspires action

Be Loyal - your family, your circle, your word

Be Honest -

Be Strong -

Master Sex & Relationships -

Let’s go, dude, let’s f’ing go.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.21.59 PM

How to gain confidence in life

Who’s cooler, you or Clooney? If you want to learn how to gain confidence in life then your answer is very important.

Your answer to that question may hold the key to your ultimate happiness since how you think about yourself can be the number one predictor of your happiness.

And how you think about yourself is largely based on your self-confidence. How to work on confidence is one of the biggest challenges we all face.  More on that in a bit.

The way you look at yourself drives everything.

If you think you’re awesome, chances are you are. And if you think you suck, well….

Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. 

And you know who taught me that? The person who gave me such sage advice?

I did.

Well, it’s not like I woke up one day and said it to myself, that just didn’t happen (I’m not that smart)

But what happened is that I started taking a good look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw.

It’s not that I didn’t like my life or my potential.

Quite the opposite, I just didn’t like how I felt about myself and how I felt about me:

What if my work sucks?

What if no one gives a f*ck about my message?

These fears are directly related to lacking self confidence in that moment.

One thing I finally realized is that I was asking the wrong questions that were leading to a flawed belief system and a lack of self confidence.

And guess what?  That f*cking blows..

Have you ever done this?

Just get totally spun out because you don’t think you’re worth shit in the world. Well here’s the thing:

You’re probably wrong (just like me).

Two things I’m pretty sure we have in common

1. We both create value in the world even though neither of us is perfect.

2. We both have done awesome things for others and probably didn’t even realize we were doing it.

In regards to #2, I had a crazy experience a couple of years ago when I went back for my high-school reunion. At the reunion (in the gym) with the 80s music playing (of course) I talked to a woman who was in my homeroom. 

She was quiet in high-school and I didn’t know her very well. She told me about a time she was really upset & crying at her locker (I don’t remember this at all) and I was walking by in the empty hallway.

Apparently I stopped and asked her if she was ok and if I could do anything to help her. (I don’t remember this at all)

So here we are in this reunion with Carless Whisper blasting away, eating bad food & drinking Coronas’ and she’s telling me how much I helped her then.

How she was in a really bad place and just me talking to her for a sec helped her feel a ton better.

Again I have zero memory of this. And I’m not pointing this out to make myself look good (maybe a little), I’m doing it because we ALL do shit every day and never realize it. 

Here’s how it usually goes

  1. You do something small (it’s not) for someone else
  2. It leaves a huge impression on them
  3. You forget it happened
  4. They never do
  5. Something shitty comes up later and you think you’re shit

So let’s you and I stop doing this, ok?  Seems counter productive.

I’ll make you a deal:

If you’re willing to work on this with me, I’ll work on it too.  I’m a pretty confident guy but I’m always interested in learning more self confidence boosters too.

Together, let’s stop questioning our value to the world.

Together, let’s build a belief system that serves us and doesn’t work against us.

Let’s drive with the emergency brake off.

We need to build our beliefs around our successes, not our fears, insecurities and self-criticism.

So here’s how to gain confidence in life:

Complete these statements:

“I believe I am  ___________________”

(Mine: I believe I am a good person who honestly tries to help others)

“I believe in ______________________”

(Mine: I believe in the goodness of people and the beauty of the world)

“One thing I know I’m good at is ____________________”

(Mine: One thing I know I’m good at is inspiring/coaching others)

“Two things I suck at completely are ____________________”

(Mine: Two things I suck at completely are accounting & yoga)

“One good thing I did to day was ______________________”

(Mine: One good thing I did today was I fed the dogs and didn’t yell at the woman on the road who cut me off”)

2- Stop expecting to be perfect and be surprised when you f*ck up.

3- Stop comparing yourself to anyone else.  This. Is. A. Losing. Proposition. Completely.

4. Hold the possibility that you’ve done great things for others and don’t even know about it.

5- Celebrate small victories. “I woke up today and didn’t break any dishes! Awesome-sauce!!”

6- Entertain the possibility that YOU are someone else’s role model. This is probably more real than you think.

I hope that short list is helpful for you.  Let me know what’s worked for you to build confidence as well, ok?

I firmly believe that self-confidence drives most of what we do in life.  That’s probably why I write/podcast/talk and think about it so much:)

Talk soon…

Swear More!

“f*ck this." Kel is going to kill me but I think swearing is pretty cool.

From the 1st time I said ‘f*ck’ when I was a kid I have always dug swearing. I know, I know, I’m a Dad, husband, respected member of the community, etc, etc but face it, swearing is fun and a little more interesting. For those of you who never drop an ‘f-bomb’ or are mortally offended by the word ‘mother*cker’ you should stop reading now. I’m probably not your guy anyway.

Swearing is a component of life and face it, and sometimes it makes some things you say more interesting. For example:

“I love this sandwich"

vs.

“I f*cking love this sandwich"

I’d much rather hang out with the person who says the latter.

I don’t think we should all walk around screaming “Motherf*cker!” at the top of our lungs but I don’t think we should hold back either.

What’s the point? If someone thinks less of me because I swear then I shouldn’t be hanging out with them anyway. And anyone who wants to lay that “swear words are hateful and cruel” argument on me, I think that’s crap. The most hateful and cruel words to say to someone in the English language are:

  • Dumb
  • Fat
  • Stupid

I wouldn’t care if my 6 year old daughter dropped a “mother*cker” but I would be forever pissed if she used one of those three words. They are the most hateful words we have and are 100x bad as any common swear word. Do. Not. Use. Them. Ever.

That said, I’m not a complete barbarian and do think there are definitely times NOT to swear:

  • around small children and/or 80+ year olds. Basically don’t swear around anyone in a diaper
  • in church, during a dentist appointment or in the middle of a parole hearing

Swearing is used in the ultimate highs and lows of life:

“That crossfit workout was a mother*cker"

Stub your toe? “F*ck!!!"

Win the lottery? “F*ck yeah!!!"

Stuck in traffic? “Sonofabitch…”*** (***although this is barely a swear anymore, it’s so mellow. It probably was a big deal back in the day, but not now. Kind of like the Rick James song SuperFreak when he says, “she’s got incense, wine and candles, its such a freaky scene!” Really Rick? My chiropractor has that in his office)

My favorite swear words:

“Motherf*cker” - great all around swear word, can be used fittingly in almost any circumstance. This is my go-to swear word and I love it.

“F*ck” - The ubiquitous swear word. used as a verb, noun. Most common prefix, “what the____?"

“Horseshit” - I love it for it’s old-school bravado. I clearly don’t use it enough but I love it and wished I used it more. I bet my grandfather used it a ton.

So don’t stress if you swear a little bit. I firmly believe you can live consciously, be a good human, revere the earth, eat organic and still drop a well timed “F-bomb” when you want.

Luckily we now live in a time where our world is becoming more accepting. And if we’re just going to accept the dude in skinny jeans and ironic t-shirt at the coffee shop, then I think we can all accept a little swearing now and then.

And finally (and this is for selfish reasons) please let me know your favorite swear words in the comments as I am always looking to add to my repertoire.

Six ways to build Confidence and Self-Esteem

With confidence and self-esteem the world is yours.

Almost anything is possible, puppy dogs & rainbows follow you everywhere and life is fantastic. Everybody loves you, your dog thinks you rock and you love and respect yourself.

Now, there are some people who are born confident and overflowing with high self-esteem.  They are naturals and always seem to look at ease in any situation.  Think Michael Jordan, Angelina Jolie and Tom Brady. They cruise through life seemingly without a care in the world and their hair always looks perfect. They look cool, sound cool and seem extraordinarily confident.

This guide is for the rest of us.

If you’re totally confident and overflowing with self-esteem, stop reading as this really isn’t for you. This is a confidence building, self-esteem game plan for non-supermodels and normal people.  This is for the flawed, the scared, the unsure and the ones who don’t look cool all of the time.  This is for people who have suffered through trauma, self-doubt, anxiety and could use a plan to build up confidence and self-esteem.  This is for you if you’ve ever:

  • Felt ashamed for being you
  • Thought you weren’t good enough/rich enough or just plain ‘enough’ enough
  • Felt like you didn’t matter at all in the world
  • Thought you were unloveable and undeserving
  • Felt abandoned and scared shitless

First, who am I and why should you listen to me?

Well, I’ve felt the same way and battled those same feelings. I’ve been exactly where you are today and I’m lucky to say I don’t live in that place anymore.

I am a perfectly flawed man, father, husband, entrepreneur, sexual abuse survivor and positive contributor to the world. I am strong, happy and very comfortable in my skin. I’m proud of the man I’ve become and feel confident in myself and my place in the world.  And now I want to help you get to the same place.

I wasn’t always like this.

I was a train wreck waiting to happen- using sex for power,  feeling ashamed and unworthy/unlovable most of my waking hours.  I was sexually abused by my uncle from when I was 10 until I was about 15 years old. I didn’t care whether I lived or died. That shitty experience could have ruined my life but luckily it didn’t.

Living as a sexual abuse survivor (I refuse to call myself a ‘victim’ and so should you- more on that later) has alternated my life in numerous ways.  In my 20s I thought sex was all about power, love didn’t exist and that I had to hide my secret. I lived in LA, slept around and really didn’t live a conscious life. I remember once I had sex with a Playboy Playmate (which had been a major goal of mine for some dumb reason) and afterwards all I felt was empty and hollow inside.

“Is this all there is?” I remember thinking.  I made a ton of money, had cool clothes, ate at the best restaurants and hated my life.

So that’s my story, thanks for listening, let’s get into the game plan.

INTRO

This is a game plan to build confidence and self-esteem but it many ways it’s a game plan for life.  These are the steps, tools and methods I’ve used to turn my life around.  I’m not a therapist, scholar or guru so this isn’t theory.

In fact, I am living proof that you don’t need a guru to change your life, you need direction and action.  I put this game plan together to help you do just that.  This is all based on what worked for me- a regular guy with flaws and scars.

Let’s get rolling and let’s start with some undeniable truths and the theory of crossed wires as they relate to confidence and self-esteem.

THE TRUTHS

•    Confidence is your belief in yourself. •    Self-esteem is how you view yourself. •    Confidence and self-esteem go hand-in-hand. You cannot have one without the other.  In many ways confidence is the result of high self-esteem. They are building blocks of each other, the more confident you are, the more self-esteem you have and vice-versa. •    Confidence and self-esteem can be built, you do not have to be born with them. •    Confidence and self-esteem are not set in stone. You CAN develop them even if you’re a shriveling mess right now (like I was). •    They do NOT have to be based on a crappy childhood or what people have told you. •     YOU are the only person who can build confidence and strong self-esteem in yourself. No one else can (or should).

THE CROSSED WIRES THEORY

To successfully build confidence and self-esteem you first need to understand the roots of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.  They are usually the result of:

• Trauma/abuse • Bullying • Negative childhood/adolescent experiences

Notice what they are NOT the result of:

• Your value as a human being • Your abilities, skills and intelligence • Who you are as a person

They are the result of things that you’ve experienced, not who you are as a person.  It’s all in how you look at it. Consider the two statements:

“I fail all the time. I’ve failed in relationships, in business and in friendships. I must be a failure.” (Low confidence/self-esteem)

Vs.

“Every time I fail, I learn something. Because of that I am a success.” (High confidence/high self-esteem)

GAME ON!

So let’s get started with the game plan to build confidence and self-esteem. These are the six steps you need to build confidence and self-esteem.

MEET THE CAPTAIN

The very first step in building self-esteem and confidence is to know the Captain.

On every ship, on every plane and every team there is a captain.  While everyone may work together there is only one person who is directly responsible for everyone else. That person is the Captain and the buck stops there.

In your life, the Captain is you.

You are in charge. You are in charge of how you feel, who you surround yourself with and what you think.  It’s your ship and the sooner you realize that, the better.

This is the crucial step in building self-esteem and confidence because it gives you power. If you have low self-esteem you often feel powerless, right? Ok, well then the first step is to gain some power in your life. That is the thing that will kick everything off and help you start building momentum.

Remember that no one is you. No one knows exactly how you’re feeling or exactly what you’re made of so why should anyone but you be in charge?

This is your DNA and yours alone.  You're the Captain, you’re driving the damn boat and don’t forget it.

BUILD YOUR BELIEFS

A lack of self-esteem and confidence often occurs when you really don’t know who you are. If you don’t know who you are and what you believe in, how can you really feel good about yourself or confident in yourself since you don’t have anything to base it on?

Your beliefs are the foundation upon which everything else is built.

If you’re like many people, you’re probably not sure what you believe. That said it’s important to identify your core beliefs right away. Here are two things you can try right away to get started:

1. Get a journal and write in it everyday for 2 weeks. Write down the emotions you feel, what happened in your day and what you did, etc.  After two weeks read it and see if any themes pop out at you.

2. Make a list of things you believe about yourself. Some examples:

“I’m poor” “I’m rich” “Nobody loves me” “Money can’t make me happy” “Money can make me happy"

Your beliefs shape your self-esteem. If you think only money can buy happiness and you don’t have any then that’s going to lower your self-esteem.

You build your beliefs based on your experiences and observations.  They form the core of you for better or worse.  And the funny thing is your beliefs can change on a dime after powerful experience.  I had this happen to me about 16 years ago.

From Bacon to Fakin’: About 16 years ago I ate meat three times a day.  Breakfast meant bacon, lunch = turkey and dinner meant steak. I would accidentally eat a vegetable only if it was hidden in the chili. And then my girlfriend (my wife now) showed me a movie called The Witness, which was about factory farming.  After that movie and seeing the horrors that farm animals went through, my entire belief system changed completely. I decided that I could not support that industry and would not be a part of that world and so I decided to never eat meat again. Remember that at this point I ate meat 3 x day so this was quite a decision. It was extremely difficult at first because I hated vegetables but I was committed to my new belief.   And to this day, sixteen years later I still don’t love vegetables and I still don’t eat meat.

That is the power of belief.  Once your beliefs are ingrained in you and you can feel them at the cellular level, they’re a powerful source of confidence and self-esteem.  When I went through this I didn’t care who thought I was right/wrong or crazy, it didn’t matter.  The only thing that mattered to me is being true to my beliefs.  It has given me untold confidence and self-esteem over the past 16 years.

SHOOT FOR SUCCESS, NOT PERFECTION

The drive to be perfect is one of things that crushes self-esteem. If you set perfection as the bar, you’re going to fall short. A lot.

Rather than shoot for perfection, shoot for success.  Success as a goal allows for failures and setbacks along the way. Perfection does not.  Plus, being perfect is boring as hell. Perfect people never have any good stories, cool scars and they usually don’t appreciate their success.

Stop setting such a high bar for yourself. Use success as your marker and don’t  worry if you’re not perfect along the way. Most, if not all, successful people brimming with confidence and high self-esteem aren’t perfect.  They’re ok with being imperfect.

Shoot for success and let the other guy kill himself to be perfect.

SAY “F*CK IT” MORE

Clearly you won’t hear this in any textbook or typical self-help book but I firmly believe one of the keys to building confidence and self-esteem is to say ‘f*ck it’ more. Now, I don’t think you should walk around Target blurting this out but I do think this little two word phrase can be extremely powerful.  Here’s why:

It inspires action and inspires taking risks.

Action and taking risks are key components of building confidence and self-esteem. You cannot be something if you do nothing. You have to take calculated risks and you have to take action. You cannot raise your confidence and self-esteem without doing this.

Most people overthink everything (myself included) and don’t take action when we should. We wait. We think about it. We talk about it and we think about it some more.  By the time we’re ready to do something the opportunity has passed.

Using this phrase spurs us into action. It may sometimes get us into trouble too but probably far less than we think. Personally, the times I’ve just said, ‘f*ck it’ and moved from indecision to action have usually been successful.

Some examples:

•    “F*ck it, I’m moving to California” (1993, moved from New York to California, met my wife, had my daughters and built a life) •    “F*ck it, I’m quitting and starting my own company" (1998, quit Sprint and started my 1st company. That started me on my path to entrepreneurship which I remain on to this day). •    “F*ck it, it won’t kill me”. (2000, made the decision to challenge myself and run a marathon.  For a guy with a history of surgeries on my back and both knees running 26.2 miles didn’t seem like a great idea.  I did it anyway and it was one of the great accomplishments in my life)

So take some risks and say the magic phrase once in a while. Do’t be reckless, (“F*ck it, I’m driving home drunk tonight”) be smart and don’t be afraid of taking some calculated risks.  You will fail and get scars but the successes will be worth it. Besides life isn’t about being perfect, it’s about success.  Bringing us to the next point, which is:

IGNORE THE NOISE

People love giving unsolicited advice (hell, I do it all the time:) but that doesn’t mean you should listen to it.  If you want to build confidence and self-esteem you’re going to have to learn to press the Mute button.  You have to learn to ignore the noise that bombards you on a regular basis and just listen to yourself. Don’t fall prey to conventional wisdom or the tried and not-true, “we do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” BS.

Think for yourself and get used to trusting your own instincts and your own opinions. This is crucial to building your self-esteem up- you have to get used to pressing the Mute button on other people and just listen to yourself. And when I talk about other people I mean anyone who’s not in your close circle.

In your close circle you should have no more than 2-3 people.  For me it’s my wife, Kelly, my friends Jim Eagen and Scott Laing.  If any of them questioned something I was doing or thought I was going in the wrong direction, I’d seriously listen to them.  I might not change my mind but I would definitely listen.

In my career I’ve had to raise millions of dollars for my different companies.  I’ve pitched tons of investors and had plenty tell me my ideas were not good, albeit politely. I’ve had people question my skill set, my market knowledge and my team.  If I listen to every person who told me no or that I was wrong I’d be cooking french fries somewhere right now.

In fact, just about the only two people you should listen to outside your circle are your doctor and your lawyer. One can potentially keep you alive and the other can keep you out of jail. I’d listen to them.

CREATE A HIGHLIGHT REEL

One of the best ways to start building confidence is to create highlight reel of your past successes.  Not an actual highlight reel, mind you, but a list of 50-100 of your top successes in your life so far. These can be anything from running a marathon to graduating high-school.  We’re not judging on difficulty, we’re looking for quantity.  The idea here is that by doing this you’ll prove to yourself that you have a history of being successful. So here’s how to create it:

- Get a pad of paper and number it from 1 to 100 - Write down any/all success you’ve had that you can think of - Don’t include the birth of your children or getting married/meeting your partner- those don’t count on this - Don’t judge your list, just write down anything you can think of that you successfully did. The first 20-30 will be easy, the rest will require some thought

When I did this, the first 20 were obvious (ran a marathon, started a business, learned how to surf, for example).  After that it got tougher and I had to dig back to high school and college.

I remembered that I was elected to the student council freshman year in high school, won 'Poem of the week' in my poetry class in college, and started a band in college. Other things like my team won the SuperBowl in my football league a few years ago and my business won an award given by a local non-profit.

You will be surprised by what you remember and put on your list.  So now you have your list and you can see that you have a pattern of success. By referring to this list often you start changing the view of yourself.  you start thinking, “Hey, maybe they were wrong, I’m not loser and a total failure because I’ve done all of these things”. It is extremely hard to think something (I suck) when there is a ton of concrete evidence (your list) proving otherwise.

Now once you’re done with your list think back to each moment of success you had.  How did it feel?

Before you go into any challenging situation run your highlight reel back through your mind. Remember those moments of success.  Where were you? What time of day was it? Were you outside, inside?

My example:

As you may know (since I talk about it constantly)  I play in a football league for guys over 35.  Although it’s touch football it’s very competitive and at the end of the season the two best teams play in the Superbowl. Two seasons ago we played in the Superbowl and were heavy underdogs.  No one watching the game game us any chance to win.  The other team was dominant and we also had a couple of our guys injured.

Long story short, we beat them and won the championship.

I played well, scored 3 TD’s and made a bunch of plays on defense.  I distinctly remember each of those touchdowns and they are all on my personal highlight reel. I know what part of the field I was on (right sideline) and what route I ran (stop & go). I remember that it was sunny and cool out and that it wasn’t too hot.

So now when I play any sports whether it’s pick up hoops, football, softball or surfing, I think of that game and how well I played. I play that highlight reel in my mind and it pumps me up.  It gives me additional confidence because it proves to me that while I might be the oldest, shortest guy on the court I have a history of success and a history of exceeding expectations.

That is what my highlight reel does for me and that’s what it can do for you.

BONUS - JOURNAL WRTING

One of the best things you can do to build confidence and self-esteem is to buy a journal and write in it every day.  Even if you’re not a writer this simple daily habit will force you to see your greatness and inspire you in many untold ways.  I’ll have more on this in a subsequent post but for now, head out to Staples and get a journal and start writing in it.

All in all, having self-confidence and high self-esteem will serve to make you happier and more successful.  Even if you think you can’t do it, try these steps and email me and let me know how it goes.  I’m here to help and read and respond to every email I get.  I’ve been in your shoes and I was able to make it work so I know you can do it too. And if that sounds a little ‘ rah rah’ for you, I get it but please know that I believe it.

Good luck!

Jim

How to quit your job and start a business you love

Do you dread Mondays?

Put simply, have you ever wanted to say, “f*ck it" and quit your job?  

Do you want to make more than just money?

If so keep reading to learn how to quit your job the right way and start a business you love.

This post is less about quitting your job and more about getting your life on the right track.  Discover your passion and feel fulfilled with your chosen profession.  Find meaning and purpose everyday, every email, everything you do at work. Yes, a lofty goal but one worth pursuing.

Do less 'work' and more 'mission'. 

After all, Job < Career < Passion < Mission

This post is for dreamer and idealist in you. This post is for the 10 year old you who collected matchbox cars and dreamed of being a professional baseball player or a fireman.  When you're 10 you probably didn't dream of working 8-5:30 everyday in a cubicle, did you?  I’m pretty sure you didn't think wearing khaki pants, black socks and shoes in 85 degree August weather was going to be awesome.

There is reason Office Space is a cult classic.  It's not just that Jennifer Aniston looks great or that the guy from The League is awesome in it. It's that we've all been there, we've all had a job like that and known a Lundberg (talking to you, David Chang, LA Cellular circa 1994. Worst boss ever).

Don’t even read the rest of this unless you're a little crazy and a little weird. You need to be a little rebellious and nuts to quit your job. Face it, it's easier to turn your brain off and coast through Corporate America for the next 30 years. If you're smart and easy to work with, a corporate job is a relative cakewalk. 

Here’s the thing, most likely you're on the upswing in your career.  You probably make good money and your job security is relatively intact. You don’t bank millions but you don't sweat going out for happy hour or buying a new bike when you want one. Your life probably has it's stresses but compared to the dudes in Russia waiting in line for 2 hours to pay $17 for a Big Mac, you're good.

But (this is a big 'but') if you cannot turn off that nagging feeling in your brain that there must be more to life, then you’re in trouble. If you're a little crazy and a little weird like me and think that your life (gasp!) should have purpose and meaning then you're just like me. And, my friend, once you turn on this part of your soul, it's impossible to turn it off.

It's like the roller coaster at the park.  Once you see it you have to ride it. You can't not go on. Not going on just isn't an option anymore. And everybody has seminal moments like this. For me it was when I was 10 years old and first visited California.  I saw the Pacific Ocean and knew that living anywhere else in the world when I was older just wasn’t going to be an option.

I will not insult your intelligence by listing the common benefits of quitting your job and going out on your own.  Plenty of other people will waste your time, I'm going to avoid that here. However there are some lesser known yet more impactful benefits to going out on your own, including:

  • Accountability: When you're successful, it's because of you.  When you fail, it's because of you.  You no longer have a corporate veil or someone else to blame.  That's both exhilarating and frightening.  Just like shopping for an engagement ring*

* I remember walking down a street downtown Los Angeles in 2001 with $12,000 cash in my pocket. I was on my way to buy a diamond from a Hassidic Jew in an unmarked storefront in the heart of the Diamond District. After going through 2 levels of security and haggling with the guy for 20 minutes I left with a diamond in a small velvet bag.  The entire process took abut an hour and I remember thinking that if I got robbed I would lose either most of my savings or a $12,000 rock. It was frightening, exhilarating and awesome all at once.

  • Peace of Mind: When you go out on your own, you have peace of mind because you're doing what you want to do. Yeah, it's stressful and can be really hard but it's totally worth it. You sleep great because you're not worrying about wasting your life away.  You're not tossing and turning thinking about a job you don't like but you're afraid to leave.
  • You're generally happier.  It's not easy but you're generally happier because you're fulfilling your life's purpose.  Your life has meaning and quite honestly that feels even better than it sounds.  It's like eating that first fish taco after surfing.  You're out of the water, you caught some fun waves and the sun is going down and you know that taco is going to be good. Then you take a bite and it's even better than you thought.  It's like that.
  • Limitless potential.  When you work at a 'job' you really can only make so much and be promoted so far.  When you're out on your own, money comes in waves and the potential for huge windfalls of cash is much greater. [See also founders of Facebook, see Goggle, see Under Armor who all skipped the corporate route to do their own thing]

With that all in mind let's get rolling and I sincerely hope you like scars...

Quitting your job requires a plan.   This is not something you should so hap-hazardly, like drafting a kicker too high in your fantasy league.  You need a plan.  Luckily I left the corporate world to go out on my own so I am going to give you the answers to the test.

First some background:

I moved to San Diego in 1997 from Los Angeles (where I had lived for 4 years) after moving out west from New York. I interviewed with Sprint in June of 1998 and Don McGuire (one of the best bosses of all time) offered me a job soon thereafter.  My friend Eric and I drove to Mexico from LA for 4th of July and stopped in San Diego.  Right about that time I had to decide whether to move to SD and take the Sprint job or stay in LA and try to work it out with my then girlfriend.

I was standing in the ocean in Pacific Beach, tons of people were around and I remember looking to the sky and asking God for some sign as to whether I should move to SD. Just then, a dollar bill floated right in front of me in the ocean. It seemed to just float there and stay in front of me even though waves were crashing all around.  I took it as SD was good place for me and I moved a week later. I still have that dollar bill too.

After working at Sprint for 18 months I really wanted to go out on my own.  I loved my team, made great money and Corporate loved me. Still, I had an itch to run my own gig.  So I got rolling and set the plan in motion to start my own company.

------

There is a simple four step plan to follow to quit your job and start your own gig.  The steps are:

  • Decide
  • Test
  • Plan
  • Go

DECIDE

Deciding to leave is the first and most important step.  This is the one you really can’t get wrong because you can’t ask for your job back after you quit in a blaze of glory:)

It takes a special type of crazy person to want to go out on their own, so ask yourself if this is you:

  1. Do you have the right mindset to be an entrepreneur?
  2. Are you comfortable being uncomfortable?
  3. Will you do the extra sit-ups?

You need to be really clear about your mindset* before you quit your job.  Are you mentally strong enough, determined and willing to work your ass off to make this successful?  Are you cool with dialing back your lifestyle and eating Mac & Cheese for a year to get everything rolling?  

When you go out on your own, you’ll be uncomfortable a lot of the time so figure out if you’ll be ok with that. Are you willing to put the time in and ‘do the extra sit-ups” and work hard for this?  Muhammad Ali once said that he never started counting sit-ups until they started hurting and only then did he keep track.  Sound like you? Do you finish the WOD strong or do you fade out at the end?

If you’re unsure, look to past events in your life.  Were there any times when you persevered and accomplished something you didn’t think you could?  Have you ever really wanted something so bad that you grinded it out until you had it? If so, good!  That’s a good indicator of future success.

*There is a great book about mindset, called (wait for it) Mindset book link  

Moving on...

TEST

Ok, so you have the mindset and you’re a young Jay Z in the making.Now let’s make sure you’re not thinking Pets.com.  In the Test phase you want to test your idea and see if it’s worth pursuing.  The worst thing you can do is feel completely inspired, ready to roll and take on the world and launch a business selling sweaters to German Shepherds

That’s just a bad idea all around.  

You need to make sure that whatever you’re doing has a reasonable chance for success.  The easiest way to do it is to see if there are competitors out there doing what you want to do.  If yes, then good; if no, then bad.

You also want to make sure your idea passes the common sense test.  Does your idea make sense to the typical person?

Consider these examples:

“I want to sell organic cat treats to teenage reality TV star celebrities” Bad idea-  no market, no competitors and really?

“I want to sell flip flops made out of recycled plastic bags to millennials” Great idea-  huge market, enough flip flop competitors to make it viable, sounds pretty cool too. I’ll buy a pair!

PLAN

If you’ve ever seen any of the Mission Impossible movies you know that having a plan is a huge key to success. While it’s less dramatic than Tom Cruise crawling through an airshaft, you still need a plan to quit your job.  You need to plan out:

  1. Money: Saving enough money to live on while you get your business rolling.  Whatever you have budgeted for business expenses, double it.  And whatever you have planned for incoming revenue, reduce it by 50% and expect that it will take you twice as long to hit that number.  
  2. If you think you’ll make $30k selling flips over the next 6 months and it will cost you $10k; assume it will actually be $15k in a year and the costs will be $20k. I know that sucks but trust me, better to assume that now then get it wrong in 6 months.
  3. Set-up: Office, computer, business licenses, business cards, website, corporate entity determined and formed, these are the essentials to have in place before you launch.  
  4. Executive Summary: Write a quick 1 page Executive Summary to vet your idea.  Does the idea make sense? How will you make money? Who are your customers? How will you reach them?  Be crystal clear on these points before you move forward.

When I was leaving Sprint, I knew who my future customers were, had my vendor relationships set up, website set up, business cards done, office space leased, 1/2 my team recruited, business licenses in process, corporate entity in process. So when I told my boss on a Friday, I was literally ready to go to my new office the next morning.  Yes, I worked on Saturday, I was pumped to start and didn’t want to wait unit Monday (more on loving Mondays later).  I was as prepared as I could be and you should be too.

Think of being Batman. You wouldn’t go out and fight crime without putting your Bat Suit on, right?  Same thing here, get everything in order and then roll out.  

GO

You’ve made the decision, done the planning and tested the idea.  You’ve gone over it in your head 1000 times and you’re ready to roll.  You’re like the Seals going after Osama Bin Laden, you’re packed and ready to roll.  If so, then this last step is easy.  You’re parachute is on so you need to jump out of the plane. Time to make your mark on the world and bring some meaning to your life.  Let’s go, man.

When you actually leave and tell your boss there is a good way and a bad way to do this.  Don’t pull a Bill Simmons, piss off ESPN and leave on bad terms.  Bad idea.  Leave on good terms and don’t leaving your boss hanging anymore than you need to.  

Have you seen the movie, “The  Way Way Back?”  Great coming of age story, takes place on Cape Cod in the summer, Steve Carrel is the bad dude. Highly recommend it.  The end scene is when the kid is leaving his mentor/hero and they are both genuinely bummed to be separating. You can feel the sadness and appreciate the bond that these two have.  That is exactly how you should feel when you tell your boss. Here’s how to avoid f*cking it up:

  1. Tell your boss only, don’t tell anyone else. Don’t let him/her get blindsided.
  2. Explain that it’s more about you pursuing a dream then the job sucking.
  3. Tell him/her on a Friday.  That gives them the whole weekend to figure out how to spin it to Corporate and everyone else in the office. 

Wrong way to quit (Monday, 9am): “Today is my last day.  I can’t stand this job and want to get the hell out of here.  Also I had sex with your intern on your desk.”

Right way to quit (Friday, 4pm): “I love you, you’ve been the best boss but today is my last day. I’ve always had the dream of running my own gig and I’m finally ready to take the leap.  Thanks for everything and if you need my help transitioning to a new person, just call me.”

See the difference?  Make it painless and smooth and it will go way better.

SUCCESS STORIES AND MASSIVE FAILURES

So now you’ve decided to leave and now you have a plan.  Right on! We could end right here and you’d be all set to roll but there’s more stuff for you to know.  I want you to give you a Lindsay Lohan-ish cautionary tale about mistakes I’ve made and how to avoid them.  Then we’ll get into some success stories and how to maximize your chances of getting it all right.

MISTAKES

I have made more mistakes in business than you probably ever will. Just like Nicolas Cage has never said no to script, nor have I to a business mistake.  Here are some great examples of what NOT to do.  Please don’t tell my dog, he still thinks I’m perfect.

1. Not watching the money closely enough.  In my 1st business I got a big office, hired an admin and generally didn’t watch my operational costs closely.  I let my admin buy supplies and never really checked to see how she was spending the money.  Consequently we burned through cash and almost went out of business several times. LESSON: Watch what you spend like a hawk. 

2. Paying for advertising. I spent a ton of cash on ads, web ads, etc without ever seeing much of a return.  I learned quickly that paying for advertising is stupid as it is expensive as there is no barrier to entry.

Meaning that if my grandmother wanted to run a full page ad in the New York Times about her ability as a breakdance instructor, she could do it as long as she had the cash.  Never mind that she can’t breakdance. Advertising is not trustworthy anymore because anyone can buy an ad.  Better to use social media, speaking engagements, etc to build a tribe and trust with that tribe. LESSON: F*ck Advertising.

3. Hiring wrong. I’m good at hiring people now but I’ve made some major mistakes along the way. I’ve hired incompetent people, lazy people, people who interviewed awesome but sucked at the job.  LESSON: Interview right.  Make sure you hire right but asking a few simple questions, like:

  • “What in this person’s past leads me to believe they will excel at this job?”
  • “Can I trust them?”
  • “Are the above average intelligence/work ethic?’ 

If you can’t answer these questions with a resounding YES then don’t hire them.

4. Wasting time on bad deals/bad customers. I’ve pursued wrong deals with the wrong people and it ends up being a waste of time. LESSON: Make sure you like your customers and your vendors.  Whenever possible don’t work with a**holes.

5. Don’t chase money.  Almost every bad decision I’ve made in business was done chasing money.  I worked with a hellacious private equity group out of another country that gave me $15M to launch a division for them.  If I stuck it out 1 year I would have made a cool million.  I quit and returned their money in 120 days.  They sucked.  LESSON: Don’t chase the dollar.  Chase your passion and the money will follow.

SUCCESSES

1. Since 2002 I’ve been out on my own and been able to support our growing family.  When I started it was me & Kelly and 2 dogs.  Now it’s me, Kelly, our two daughters, two dogs and two cats. It’s like Noa’s Ark around here. Funny because Noa is my daughters name.

2. I’ve worked with some great people who’ve become lifelong friends.

3. We’ve made it through the tough times.  2008-2012 were brutal, just awful years.  Remember that scene in Lone Survivor where the guys are getting shot at and they tumble down a cliff?  The get all torn up, break some bones, etc and when they come together Axe says, “That sucked”.  That is exactly how I feel about 08-12.

4. I have never missed an important day/event/party/recital/gymnastics/musical/etc of my daughters.  I make my own schedule so I’ve never missed anything that they’ve done.  I feel very lucky to be able to say that because I have tons of friends who’ve missed birthdays, important events, etc due to their high powered job.  My most important high-powered job?  Being a dad.

5. I make my own schedule.  In any given work week I go surfing, play hoop, play football, play softball and go to crossfit.  Fitness and being active is crucial to keeping me somewhat sane so I schedule it in.  When I worked in the corporate world it was a miracle if I went to the gym 3 times a week.

6. This is from the shallow end of the pool but my office reflects my personality and what I like.  The walls are painted blue, there are surfboards, money tree plants, whiteboards, pictures of Buddha, prayer beads, family pics and a life size FatHead of Gronk in the back room.  I have Chili Peppers and Muhammad Ali posters up and a guitar 10 feet from my desk.  This is less an office and more a upscale man cave without the pizza boxes and beer lying around. (Beer, champagne and wine is all in the fridge).

So with all of this in mind, here’s some general advice in no particular order:

1. Quit gracefully with class

2. Save your money when you first start out and learn to love Mac & Cheese

3. Don’t stress the business plan but make sure your idea is strong

4. Make your brand personal to you

5. Be someone you can depend on.  Work your ass off and do what you say you’re going to do

6. Celebrate your early successes

7. Embrace your streaks.  When you get on a good streak (writing/marketing/sales) do everything to keep it going. Sleep at the office, forget to eat, whatever, keep it rolling!

8. Get a dog* if you don’t have one.  You need to be able to come home and see someone who loves you no matter what.  Plus, they’re fun to take to the office. 

*And for you single guys out there, there is no better way to meet an awesome girl than if you have a dog. I know this firsthand because I met my wife of 13 years through my dog.

9. Evolve*.  Respect that your business will evolve.  When NWA came out, Dr. Dre was a rapper.  Now he’s a media mogul producer with a line of Beats headphones. He discovered Snoop, Marshall, 50, Kendrick, etc. He evolved so don’t be afraid to evolve.

10. Know who your champions are. You need people around you who support you unequivocally.  Times can get tough so know who your support system is and lean on them.

11. Make it fun and make it awesome.  Start a softball team. Institute a weds night happy hour. Do some volunteer work together.  And if you’re working for yourself set this all up with other solo entrepreneurs.

12. Make some t-shirts you can wear around town.  We’ve had a few made including a Be Happy shirt and a Be Epic shirt. Everyone loves them and they really get us some nice brand recognition.  Plus they look cool as shit, if I do say so myself:)

13. Ge the right office supplies.  I’m a freak for the right pens and paper so get yourself something that you dig.  Yellow pads are everywhere in our office.

14. Adopt a meditation practice.  80% of the most successful people have some sort of meditation practice.  Who can argue with that?

15. Read a ton.  I read a ton of books (see below) usually about business, motivation/inspiration or fiction.  The more the better.  My college philosophy professor, Billy Jo Lucas said the best education you could have is if you read 10,000 books in your life.  He should know, he house was filled with books and he even had bookshelves in his bathroom.  He also had a great wife (who was super cool) and cooked a mean gumbo.

BOOKS TO READ

*Disclaimer: I’ve read all of these books and the links you see here are not affiliate links.  [I should probably set up affiliate links but am too busy/too lazy/too not tech savvy to do so.  Either way, enjoy.]

1. Think like a freak, Levitt & Dubner

2. Finding Inner Courage, Mark Nepo

3. The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz

4. Mindset, Carol Dweck

5. Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis

6. Way of the Superior Man, David Deida

7. Sacred Hoops, Phil Jackson

8. 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene

9. Paddle your own canoe, Nick Offerman

10. The Monk who sold his Ferrari, Robin Sharma

11. Thrive Fitness, Brendan Brazier

12. Rework, Jason Fried

FINAL THOUGHTS

Quitting your job isn’t easy, it can be nerve racking and anxiety provoking.  But it’s worse to stay in a job that you don’t like and doesn’t fulfill you. This isn’t Mad Men- you shouldn’t be so cynical and unhappy with your job that you dream of  drinking whiskey at 11 in the morning.

If you’re truly looking for purpose, fulfillment and direction in your life, I hope this post was helpful.  I know that when I quit the corporate world I was scared out of my mind. I was scared I was going to lose all of my savings, never be successful, etc. 

WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you're ready to seek a life of fulfillment, purpose and passion then here are a few great ways to start:

  1. Email me directly with any questions. I'm here to help and I've probably gone through what you're going through right now. Email: jim at jimsimcoe dot com
  2. Send me your business ideas, no matter what they are and I'll give you my honest opinion of them. Email: jim at jimsimcoe dot com
  3. Find a mentor who can help you plan out your life with you.
  4. Start thinking about the ideals and values that you believe in and write them down.  Check them against your job, your friends, you life and see where you're in alignment and where you're off.

Luckily it all worked out for me.  I believe it will work out for you too. I strongly believe that if you’re committed to a specific ideal or specific vision you can manifest it in your life. 

You’ll have to work your ass off, grind all the time but you can do it. Along the way, you’ll get scarred up. You’ll go through hell, people will screw you over and you’ll make some big mistakes.  You’ll be wrong a lot and you’ll eat a ton of Mac & Cheese. You’ll have to check your ego at the door and be ok with sweeping the floor and getting copy paper at Staples.  Some people will love you, some won’t and some won’t care at all.

But after all of this, you’ll love your life.  You’ll love your place in the world and you’ll make more than money.  Your family will be proud of you, your friends will be stoked (and a tiny bit jealous) and your dog will think you’re a superhero.  Best of all on Sunday nights, when it’s really quiet and you’re lying in bed ready to fall asleep, you’ll think:

“Tomorrow is Monday, f*ck yeah

10 ways to tell if your life is epic

In the glorious pursuit of an epic life it is crucial to know how you’re doing. Are you on track, way off track, close or nowhere near where you should be? Like it says in the Bible, if you don’t have Google maps enabled how will you know how to get to the coffee shop.

That said, here are 10 ways to tell if your life is currently epic or on the right track:

  1. Health is optimal.  You could run 5 miles right now without dying.  You’re not overweight or anorexic and your body is not pear shaped.  You don’t have any major food addictions and you could give up sugar, coffee, alcohol without too much of a problem. You eat healthy (low red meat, high veggies, low carbs) 80% of the time. If you binge on pizza you make it up the next day by having kale sandwiches. That last sentence was a joke because I would never eat a kale sandwich.
  2. Money is good.  You have enough money to support your life and you put cash away into investments and savings. You may not own a villa in Monte Carlo but you wouldn’t sweat buying a Vespa if you wanted one. You have enough money to live, go on vacation and you’re saving for retirement and kids education.
  3. Your career gives you freedom and fulfills you. You drive the bus and and no one owns you. You do meaningful work that makes a positive impact on the world. You love who you work with and while work is challenging, you have frequent successes. And you love Mondays (I’m serious).
  4. You have a fantastic relationship with your partner/spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. Your values align, the sex is awesome and you bring out the best in each other. Very little nagging and nit-picking occurs. You are friends, lovers and confidants.
  5. You consistently make a positive impact in your community.  You volunteer, run a non-profit or do work that lifts up our society in some way. This is a regular thing for you, it’s not just writing a check, it’s all about being involved and contributing.
  6. You are optimistic and happy 90% of the time.  Things happen, stuff goes wrong, people are late but overall you’re generally happy.
  7. Your values are rock solid and untouchable. You know what you believe in and no amount of societal pressure is moving your rock.
  8. You don’t have “busy” days.  Busy usually means you’re doing too many things that are un-important (and not enjoyable) every day.  When life is epic you have “active” days filled with meaning and fun.  You’re active not busy.
  9. You have 3 solid friends that would do anything for you.  You may not talk to them everyday but you can always count on them. In a Mexican jail and need bail money and a plane ticket?  You call one of them and they show up, no questions asked. Jim Eagen, John Copyak and Brian Pinheiro are my three, thanks boys…
  10. You love and respect yourself. Life is on the upswing, you strive for success (and not perfection) so you’re happy about the person you are.  You may not be totally satisfied but you can look yourself in the mirror and feel proud.

Hurtling around the sun at a billion miles an hour can be quite a ride sometimes.

I truly believe we are all here to have epic lives.  I don’t think we’re supposed to shrink from the spotlight and live quietly, I think we’re really here to do some amazing things.

So check out the list and see how you’re doing.  Keep in mind, no one, not even Tom Brady or Oprah are hitting all ten perfectly.  We are all works in progress.  More power to you, my friend.

How to sell your ideas to anyone

Nothing happens, no careers are made, no iPhones sold until someone sells an idea to someone else.  It all starts with the ‘sale’ whether you think of yourself as a salesperson or not.   We are all in sales.

From the first girl you kissed to your last career change, you’ve sold someone else on your idea.  You sold them on, “kissing me right now is the best choice for you”.

Obi-Wan sold Luke on the idea that a life of adventure, danger and purpose was a better alternative than what he was currently doing.  He reached into the core of Luke so thoroughly that what seemed out of the question 24 hours ago (leaving home) soon seemed impossible NOT to do.

And here's what happened next:

Obi-Wan knew instinctively what Luke’s emotional triggers were so he knew how to craft his idea so it would appeal to Luke.  If he had told Luke, “Hey, take a trip with me, you might die but you’ll meet Han Solo and he’s pretty cool so why don’t you come along?” Luke would have said no.

Instead he said, “Come with me, it’ll be dangerous but never boring, you might save the world (or die gloriously trying). Either way, you’ll leave a monster legacy and meet some hot intergalactic chicks. And I’ll drive.”

So get clear on what idea you’re selling and why it is the best alternative for whoever you’re selling.  Think of their needs and emotional triggers and don’t sell them on why your idea works for you.  Sell it on why it works for them.  Whether you’re selling Congress on a plastic bag tax or your wife on watching Monday Night Football, always sell to people’s emotional triggers.

I’ll have a ton more on this in a future podcast episode as well.

The launch...

I’m a firm believer that your life, my life are supposed to mean something.  We’re here to do epic things, wondrous things for the world and for ourselves. We’re not here to toll endlessly in cubes in a soul sucking job until we die.  (yes, I know that sounds dramatic). I also believe:

We’re here to be epic.  To have an epic life.

To me, there are three key factors in creating an epic life. They are:

  1. What you do
  2. How you live
  3. People in your life

It’s literally* as simple as that (please picture Chris from Parks and Rec saying that).

So while there are tons of gurus, programs and people who give all kinds of advice on being happy, I think it’s as simple as mastering these three areas.  These are the areas I focus on and these are the areas I want to help you with.

So who am I?  I’m not a psychologist, preacher or TV personality. I don’t have  PhD, am not a multi-millionaire and I don’t have 5 million followers on Twitter. I’m just a guy named Jim.  That said, I have a pretty happy life.  In many ways I have an epic life in progress.

  1. I have a beautiful wife and two thriving, fantastic daughters. After 12 years of marriage, I still love and am in love with my wife.  My daughters rock and I get to spend tons of quality time with them.
  2. I love my work and feel good about what I do.  I genuinely believe that what I do is making the world a better place and setting the example for other entrepreneurs.
  3. I am surrounded by fantastic people. People who support me, my vision and who are also out there doing great things in the world.
  4. I have stress and problems like everyone does but I believe in myself and sleep great every night.
  5. I have coached people off and on for years both professionally and personally.  I like giving advice and like helping friends when I can.

In the next few months I’m going to roll out a few programs designed to help you create an epic life based on these three areas:

  1. What you do
  2. How you live
  3. People in your life

We’ll do some online training and some in-person events.  All with the same goal in mind.

The Goal: Help you make your life epic.

I look forward to our journey together. 

Jim

**This picture was designed by my nine year old daughter, Kaya:)

An Epic life...

Hi, I’m Jim.

I’m a man, a husband, a father, a social venture entrepreneur.  I’ve enjoyed huge successes, colossal failures and I can’t stand artichokes.  I am a football fanatic, have two daughters and run marathons (slowly).  I love surfing glassy waves in warm water and searching for the meaning and legacy in my own life.

Marcus Aurelius, Michael Jordan and Anthony Kiedis are a few of my biggest heroes. Expect to see a lot of references to them on this site.

What I believe:

  • We all deserve to live epic lives.
  • Inside each one of us is the ability to be a hero to someone else
  • Life should be enjoyed, not slogged through
  • Work should be fun, meaningful and profitable
  • Grinding (working hard) can be it’s own reward
  • We are all building our legacy right now
  • Marriage should be a sex-filled, joyous partnership with the occasional to-do list in there.
  • Children are people and should be treated with love, respect and not coddled
  • I was born to help others do great things, be an example to my daughters and a great husband to my wife
  • My mission for this site is to help heart-centered people lead epic lives
  • An epic life comes down to: how you live, the work you do, the people you love, the legacy you leave

Those are the four areas I focus on in my life and the focus of this site.  This site is for heart-centered people who want to do great things.  People who want to leave a legacy and want a fulfilling life of love, success, health, wealth and aren't’ afraid to grind for it.

Let’s get epic…

Lessons from a corporate burnout turned social entrepreneur

The emails kept coming.

Ding.

Ding.

Ding.

It was Sunday morning and my email kept f’ing dinging. 

In 2004 I was a sales director for CareerBuilder.com. I was 34, made great money, had a whole bunch of cool dress shirts but there was one problem.

I was a corporate burnout.

I had a great team, fantastic boss and was doing really well but I was completely burnt out.  Burnt out from the emails, the CC’s, the powerpoint decks and the meetings. Burnt out from the travel, the flight delays and the endless conferences.

The crazy thing I actually had it pretty easy, all things considered.  I loved the company.  Careerbuilder was a wonderful place to work.  I loved my boss (Jamie Pachter-Crosbie, you are awesome!), my sales team and colleagues were fantastic and my reputation was solid.  I made a ton of cash, was newly married and life was good except for a minor detail:

I was completely unfulfilled.

I wasn’t unhappy necessarily, I just wasn’t fulfilled at all. I didn’t feel like I was really contributing to the good of society or making any difference at all. I kept thinking, “Is this all there is?”. I kept asking myself was, “How could this get any better?” 

Again:

  • I made great money
  • My team was killing it, sales-wise
  • Everyone loved me
  • My job was relatively stress-free
  • I had a fantastic boss
  • I loved the company I worked for

How was this going to get possibly better for me? I was 34 and facing 20 years of a career that was probably only going to get worse, not better for me.  Plus there was that whole not-being-fullfilled-thing hanging out there. 

Being a corporate burnout with a dream is a unique position to be in.  If you’re anything like me you’ve probably faced similar challenges. Tell me if any of these sounds like you:

  • You make great money
  • You get a sh*tload of emails
  • People in your company love and respect you
  • Money has replaced meaning for you
  • “Next year I’ll…” is a popular refrain

I know, I was there too.  Faced with a life of quiet desperation and meaningless work, I did the only thing a reasonable person would do.

I quit.

One week later, with no job, and no set plan, I found out my wife was pregnant with our first daughter. What a week that was…

Fast Forward to 2014

I remember those early days fondly.  I still have friends at Careerbuilder.  I still help out my past employees when they need job recommendations. And now I have two daughters.

In short, I am living an epically awesome life (as I would define it).

My life is epic in many ways including:

  • My relationships with my daughters and my wife are great. I honestly think if I was still in the corporate world, it would be much weaker.
  • My career has meaning for me. I love what I do and love helping the social entrepreneurs that I work with.
  • I do what I enjoy.
  • The people I work with inspire me.
  • I feel lucky and honored to be making a difference in the world.
  • My time is my own.  Sure, I have meetings, deadlines and customers but if I want to leave early to go to my daughter’s swim lesson, I leave.
  • I leave my office early when I want and I stay late when I want.
  • I love Mondays.
  • I work ridiculously hard but love it.
  • I do well financially and am 1000x happier than when I was in the corporate world.
  • I surf, play basketball or football 3-5 times a week.
  • I get no more than 10 crucial emails per day.
  • I do fewer meetings and don’t waste as much time.
  • I wear jeans and my beloved Pumas almost everyday. I wear suits when I give speeches but that’s about it.
  • I don’t own khakis’ or business casual clothes.
  • I sleep great.

For me, that’s an epic life in progress. I’m not perfect, have my share of bad days but overall things are awesome.

I’ve learned some lessons along the way that I want to share with you.

  • Being unfulfilled is different than being unhappy. In many ways, being unfulfilled is harder to deal with.  If you’re unhappy because your boss sucks, you’ll eventually do something about it. If you’re unfulfilled, you’ll either learn to deal with it or you’ll do something about it (see below).
  • You can waste time, you can waste money but you cannot do both.
  • Taking action is greater than having a perfect plan.
  • You are greater than your greatest idea.
  • Seek success, not perfection. The former will get you to launch faster while the latter will drive you nuts.
  • The biggest lesson I can offer if you’re currently in corporate burnout mode and want more meaning and fulfillment from your career:
  • Make a decision. Decide to quit, decide to take a leap and launch or decide to do nothing.

Either way, make a decision so you can stop driving yourself nuts. Either blaze the trail forward or do nothing. And there’s no shame in doing nothing- tons of people shelf their dreams to keep a steady income, steady job. It’s not what I recommend but there’s nothing wrong with it.

If, however, you do have a little bit of badass in you and if you want to be truly fulfilled then do it.  Decide that it’s worth the risk, launch and join me and the several thousand social entrepreneurs who are changing the world.  You won’t regret it.

Let me know what you decide…Jim

“Do Good, Make Money” Mantra

goodmoney-illustration2
goodmoney-illustration2

If you think that Mark Cuban and the Dalai Lama have very little common, you’re probably right. However, they DO exist on the same continuum between altruistic motives and profit motives (they’re just on opposite ends). However, smart companies know that the sweet spot lies right in the middle…

The mantra for my company has long been, “Do Good, Make Money”. In 4 words that encapsulates our goals, our mission, our vision and our purpose. A successful business cannot have one without the other. This is a revolutionary change that started less than 24 months ago. A look at what sold/mattered most in past decades:

1960′s: Music

1970′s: Sex

1980′s: Excess

1990′s: Grunge

2000′s: Web

The next decade will be all about Sustainability/CleanTech/Planet. We’re already witnessing a sea change in the way ‘big corporate’ (Fortune 1000) talks about sustainability. It’s on their radar because of 2 pressures:

Upward pressure from stockholders, customers, media to go green. Downward pressure internally to cut expenses/save jobs.

It’s a perfect storm of obligation for big corporate. More people become aware of ‘green’ issues due to media attention. These same people demand more sustainable answers/solutions from big corporate. Big corporate responds, thus creating more media attention. Rinse and repeat. The tipping point has been reached and it has forced big corporate to react.

This perfect storm of obligation is a perfect sea of opportunity for small/med sized businesses. I call these guys ‘quick corporate’ because decisions can be made faster and they are more nimble. Quick corporate can seize the opportunity of sustainability and become a market leader in their industry in little time.

For example, In The Now Investments is a real estate investment company that started 2 years ago. It’s run by Shanan and Ryan Burk, a husband and wife team out of Irvine, California. They purchase dilapidated foreclosed homes, fix them up, get them rented and sell to investors as rental income property. Over the last 14 months, they’ve done over 90 deals. They recently hired me to be their Chief Green Officer to develop a green business strategy and green up the properties they purchase. We’ve been working together for 6 months and they’ve quickly become the market leader in their space. By becoming a ‘green’ real estate investment company, doors have opened for them that would not have otherwise. They’ve gained new partnerships, new clients, free press, and created new streams of revenue for their business. All of this is happening because they’ve seized the opportunity that sustainability offers to quick corporate.

In regards to the illustration above, the key is to operate your business in the sweet spot of doing good and making money. It’s crucial to not only pursue both but to let your prospects, vendors, customers, community, media, etc. know that you actively pursue both. A nice ancillary (or major depending on your perspective) benefit of this is that the more good you do, the more money you make, which allows you to do more good and make even more money.

That is good for you, good for business and good for the planet.

Some advice for ‘green’ businesses…

In business the key to success is not so much what you do, it’s the mistakes you avoid. Green businesses are not immune to this phenomena. With that said, here are the top 3 mistakes green businesses make and how to avoid them. Mistake 1 – Assuming prospects care about sustainability.

This is the biggest mistake (and most often made) I see when working with green businesses. Luckily it’s one of the easiest to fix. Contrary to what Al Gore may have you believe, people are mostly motivated by selfish reasons. Going green for most people is a great idea but is not going to trump paying the mortgage. In our current economic climate this is true more than ever. Numerous green companies completely miss the boat on this. They attempt to attract new customers through guilt. They try to convince their prospect that by using their product they will reduce their carbon emissions by X amount. They sell on how important it is to reduce our carbon footprint and use that as their main selling point.

The problem is that guilt doesn’t work in this economy. If this was 1998 in the middle of the dotcom boom with cash raining from the sky it would be a different story. Right now, people care about protecting their families, keeping their jobs and paying the bills. Any esoteric claims of reducing CO2 largely falls on deaf ears.

Fix this mistake:

Tailor your entire marketing/sales approach based on the assumption that your target clients don’t care about the environment. Assume they all drive Hummers, toss plastic bottles into the ocean and that every light in their house is on right now. Then, find out/figure out how your product or service will benefit them. If you can’t figure it out then you have a problem. You MUST be able to satisfy your customers most pressing needs, not the ones YOU think they have. Then, if they have any sensitivity to the planet, that is a bonus.

Mistake 2 – Killing softly with technology

I recently observed a solar sales rep’s pitch to a new prospect and was blown away by how technical it was. The rep explained in great detail why her panels were superior to her competition and bandied about terms like thin-film technology, Azimuth Angles, etc. The prospect had no clue what she was talking about but did at least nod politely. Suffice to say, the rep didn’t close the deal. Compare that to another appointment where 2 prospects asked me where the solar panels (we were discussing) were made. I asked them if they wanted all of the technical details of the manufacturing process of the panels. The main decision maker thought for a moment and said she didn’t care as long as they worked. I assured them they did.

We assume that since we know a ton about our product that our prospects want to know everything. More likely, they don’t. Since we spew tons of info on them, they feel like they have to listen and the true message gets lost. We have all made this mistake. The more info you give a prospect, the longer it will take them to make a decision. At the end of the day prospects want to know 3 things about your product or service:

How will it better my life? Is it the best solution for me? Is it reliable/Does it work?

Fix this mistake:

Leave the powerpoint slides at the office. Deliver your message at the simplest terms possible to your prospects. Remember that the Wall Street Journal is written at a 6th grade reading level. If you are prepared to answer the three questions above, you’ll close more deals than if you have a slick power-point presentation.

Mistake 3 – Leaving Green undefined

Since being green and sustainability are relatively new concepts to the general public, they are loosely defined at best. Contrast this to being a lawyer for example. Most people have a general knowledge of what a lawyer is and the steps to become one (college, law school, pass the bar). Green is newer and defined in a multitude of ways. The mistake that green companies make is not determining (and communicating) what green means to them. This is more a mistake of lost opportunity than anything else.

Once you’ve communicated your belief of green to your employees, customers, prospects, media, community, etc you’ll enjoy numerous benefits including:

You are now seen as an expert in the field (You’ve given your prospects knowledge they previously didn’t have) You can clearly communicate how your product/service compliments your definition of green You gain a huge competitive advantage because your competitors aren’t doing this*

*An ancillary bonus is that once you’ve defined ‘green’ to your marketplace, your competitors have to cede to your definition. Talk about a home-field advantage.

Fix this mistake:

Pull your team together and define ‘green’ for your company. Keep it short (the less complicated the better) and put it on paper. For example, my definition of green is anything that:

1. Creates a healthier environment. 2. Is more environmentally friendly than the alternative. 3. Makes or saves you money.

Once you’ve defined green, communicate it to everyone. Tailor your sales approach and marketing messaging and positioning so that it compliments your definition.

Avoidance of these mistakes will go a long way to help your business enjoy tremendous success. In our current climate (no pun intended) there is a fantastic opportunity for green companies to fundamentally change the way we all live and work. I applaud your efforts to that end.

I WANT YOU (to take my money)

There are obvious reasons green is good for business: Increased profits Lowered expenses New customers, new revenue streams Increased branding, etc.

However there are 2 other reasons that make getting money very compelling to pursue. It’s important to note that we’re not talking about getting 20 bucks to replace your light-bulbs. Think in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The reasons are:

1. The government wants to give money to ‘green’ companies. 2. Their definition of ‘green company’ is very loosely defined.

It’s #2 that’s most important to businesses right now. There is no national certification or designation to qualify a business as a green business. Here’s an example on a personal level:

To be an attorney, you need to graduate law school and pass the Bar. Those are the standard requirements that are part of the definition of ‘attorney’. I am an eco-consultant and green business strategist. Although I have several certifications (Energy Star Partner, Certified Green Building Professional, etc.) there isn’t a national test or designation for my line of work. Thus anyone can call themselves an ‘eco-consultant’, regardless of their experience or qualifications. Thus a grey area exists since a standard has not been set.

This grey area is one of tremendous opportunity to many businesses. If you are greening your business or committed to ‘green’ you might be able to take advantage of this current climate. In fact, there are rebate programs out there that let the customer decide how big the rebates should be and the terms. There are also programs that let customers submit a proposal to receive an incentive that isn’t offered yet. Here’s how that works:

Let’s say you run a printing business out of a small warehouse. A new printing press is invented that costs $300,000 but will reduce your energy use by 40% and your carbon footprint by 70%. You can petition your utility company and/or city to receive a rebate, tax credit or incentive to purchase that equipment. Because your city just received $50M for energy efficiency measures from the Obama administrations stimulus package, you could get a $250,000 tax credit or they may subsidize the purchase of the equipment.

So, how do you leverage this opportunity? Here are three places to start:

Contact your local utility and city offices and see what rebates/incentive programs they offer businesses in your area. Check out Recovery.gov to see how much money your city has received. I live and work in Encinitas, California (population 58,000) and we received $8,526,582 in stimulus funds. Determine what energy efficiency equipment or processes you need that would be best to petition for rebates/incentives.

This can be an arduous endeavor but the returns can be fantastic. You might be able to green your entire operation on Uncle Sam’s dime and increase revenues and positive branding in the process.

For more information or to see which programs might be available for your business, email me at jim@simcoegreen.comuncle-sam-wants-you

Share Why hiring a ‘green’ intern can be good for business

john-belushiYou know that pimply-faced 22 year old guy with the ‘Go Green’ t-shirt you see in the coffee shop every day? Well there’s a good chance he could do wonders for your company’s green business strategy (maybe not John Belushi, though). Put simply, having an intern help with your green business initiatives can be an inexpensive way to move your business forward. Here’s why:

College students need experience (especially in this economy). Students passionate about ‘green’ are usually fanatical. Like Boston Red Sox fan fanatical. They know more about ‘green’ then you do. (This is a good thing).

I have used ‘green’ interns successfully for the last 4 years. Green interns can be crucial to handling the tactical part of your green business strategy. Once you’ve determined the strategy, they can help you execute it. Because they are typically so passionate about sustainability they are enthusiastic and hard-working. Unlike other members of your company who may feel the boss’s green business “inititiave” was thrust upon them, Interns welcome the work. The typical reasons clients have told me why they have NOT pursued getting a green intern:

“I can’t afford it” “I won’t find anyone good/qualified to hire” “I don’t know what to have them do/My company is too small to need one”

Allow me to tackle these one-by-one based on my experience:

“I can’t afford it” – 95% of the interns I have hired over the last 4 years have worked for free. Most did it to get credit at school or for the experience. Few do it for money (surprisingly). “I won’t find anyone good/qualified to hire”- I received over 65 applicants in 2 days for the last unpaid internship ad I posted. Many had college degrees, some had masters, almost all were more than qualified. “I don’t know what to have them do/My company is too small to need one” – I run a one person consultancy and have had up to 4 unpaid interns working at one time for me. There is plenty you can have them do.

Some of the work I have had my interns do over the last several years (in no specific order):

Identify the number, type, size of every light-bulb and light fixture in a clients 70,000 square foot building. Research all applicable rebates and tax credits for a multi-family property client including landscaping, plumbing fixtures, HVAC, etc. Research my clients competitors to see their ‘green’ position so that I could give my client some unique competitive advantages. Twitter about my upcoming events, blog posts, etc. Create a comparison chart of the top 15 waterless urinals for a clients restaurant property including rebates, performance, ease of install, etc.This was a fun one… Compile a national list of green vendors that I recommend. Schedule and coordinate green speaking events and workshops I have conducted. Attended client meetings and taken notes. Research no-VOC paint manufacturers located in the US. Order green business cards, letterhead, etc.

So you can see that there’s plenty for them to do. More importantly, when your green intern is doing it, it means your staff is not. Their time, therefore, is saved. To find qualified interns I have posted ads through local colleges, Monster, Careerbuilder, local papers and Craigslist. Craigslist (by far) delivers the best applicants in the shortest amount of time. It is the only place I post now. I have also used the same ad for the last few years and have found it be extremely effective.

Green interns can be a very valuable tool for you to use to help your business go green. Used correctly, they will deliver tremendous results, work hard and thoroughly enjoy the experience. To say nothing of the positive branding you get by being a company that has interns solely dedicated to your sustainable business efforts.

For a free copy of the ad I use to hire interns, please email me at jim@simcoegreen.com

Focus on High-Performance (not green)

nike_swoosh Being ‘green’ is a by-product of a high-performance company. If you are focused on ‘green’ as a final outcome you’re taking your eye off the ball. I will not insert a Nate Kaeding (San Diego Chargers kicker) reference here. Green as a goal will cause you too:

Spend too much money Sacrifice too much time Lose revenue, lose focus on your most important business goals

High-performance companies ultimately become green as a by-product of their efforts because they pursue high-performance. By definition, high-performance companies are inherently:

Hyper-efficient Stewards of the environment- because it makes them/saves them $$ Resourceful- leveraging rebates/tax credits/incentives available to them

Thus, high-performance should be pursued. An example: Arden Realty is one of the largest owners/operators of commercial properties on the west coast. They operate skyscrapers, office parks, etc. I met with their VP of Engineering, Duane Lappinga, in 2007 to discuss how I might help them make their properties more energy-efficient and sustainable. At the time, I was one of the only people in the field of green business strategy/eco-consulting. After a long meeting and a walk to Coffee Bean with Duane, I came to the monumental conclusion that I could not help him. They were already doing everything available to be energy-efficient. Duane and his team were using the latest building technologies and most of their buildings were either Energy Star Certified or LEED Certified. In fact (like me) they were one of the few Energy Star Partner Companies in southern California. Again, remember that this is in 2007 long before Energy Star Certification was on anyone’s radar. What was illuminating about our meeting was that Duane and Arden seemed to pursue these efforts because they were focused on being a high-performance company. Sure, they were interested in being ‘green’ but their ‘green-ness’ was a by-product of their main goal: high performance. At the end of the day, they are green because they are high-performance and not the other way around. *Side note- This was the only time I have ever left a potential client meeting knowing that I could not help them. I have worked projects and prospects from Paris to Boston to the West Coast and this was the one time I was stumped. Congrats, Duane, you still owe me a latte, though… Sustainability is a wonderful by-product. Similar to Nike (the shoe co. not the winged goddess of flight) being a by-product of Bill Bowerman’s waffle iron, sustainability will be the natural result of pursuing of high-performance. Focus on high-performance and the green will come…

Attaining 10-to-1 Green

If you aren’t gaining a 10 to 1 return on your green business strategy then it’s time to change tactics. Now, your company’s green business strategy may involve nothing more than swapping out light bulbs and adding blue recycling bins to this point. With that said, let’s assume the following: You realize than sustainability is one of the great challenges/opportunities facing your company. There is no leader in your industry to mirror to determine your sustainable business plan. Your customers are beginning to question what you are doing about green.

The 10-to-1 return rule simply means that you should expect 10x return on every green business process/tactic/strategy you develop. When you look at sustainability through this lens, it will clarify what you should be focused on and quite frankly, what you can forget about. The 10-to-1 rule applies to the following:

The return on your investment (i.e. your profit) The environmental improvement you’re making (for ex- 10x reduction in paper use) Healthier workplace (for ex- indoor air quality is 10x better due to…)

The key to applying the 10-to-1 return rule is in asking the right questions. Consider 2 questions regarding solar:

“Should we consider adding solar to our building?” “What would we need to do to gain a 10x return on a potential solar investment?”

Most companies only ask Question 1 and don’t establish the right framework for making a decision. Question 2 starts at the minimum return you want and works backwards to see what you’d need to do to attain it. You’ll either find the efforts needed doable or too complicated/expensive to pursue. Then (and only then) can you make an intelligent decision.

In many ways, effective strategy is like a game plan for an NFL football game. The best teams put themselves in the best position to win before the game by asking the right questions. The Saints dominated the Cardinals in their recent playoff game. Instead of asking: “Should we run the ball or pass against the Cardinals?”, they asked “What do we need to do to get our offense and special teams in the right situations to score points?”

It’s a subtle difference, but asking the right questions and applying to 10-to-1 return rule can do wonders for your business.