This is a post that has been in my drafts for over a year and it’s been drastically altered many times. It is something I should actually write a book about because I am so passionate about it and I feel it’s the true secret to success. I could easily write 60,000 words about it and that is on my list of things to do… someday… Until then you can read my autobiography here =).
Many times in your life you have heard people say “Why Me?”. Usually, every time I have seen this is when someone contracts a horrible disease, is going through crazy times, or has hit some other rock bottom moment in their life.
Now everyone knows I am pretty humble…
So, what I am NOT going to do is tell you that in the last decade I have established myself as the undisputed greatest Internet Marketer in the world winning every major award in the internet marketing industry, become the top affiliate for every major network at some point, sold companies for millions of dollars, been mentioned in every major publication and magazine, been named the most influential person on the internet by Fast Company Magazine in 2010, wrote one of the best selling self-published books of all time, and have accomplished hundreds of other amazing things.
I mean, I just don’t need to say that. There is no need. (yes i know you saw what I did there)
Turning 40 last May was a massive thing for me. It hit me hard and made me reflect on a lot of things that really changed the course of my life. I mean in high school I was a shoe in for the award to most likely to epically fail in life.
SO, wtf happened. Why me?
It really boils down to one thing. I took it. And thats it. The biggest thing that I have learned in this life is that you don’t get what you have earned or deserved. You get what you take. Period.
I’ve heard many times that I am lucky. Luck is for losers. Go buy a lotto ticket and hope you win if you believe in luck.
I don’t have what I have because I earned it, deserved it or got “lucky”. I simply took it.
Looking back at all the big wins or all the hard hours of work I put into a particular item these were never the real “keys” to success. It was simply jumping on the opportunity. And many times it was a very specific, minuscule, and VERY overlooked item that others were too risk averse to take.
The truth is anyone can work hard. Anyone can have a good work ethic. I would say I am average in both. It doesn’t matter though. Keep reading.
I can’t tell you how many times the things I have done that have led to my success. I was scared shitless to do them.
- Do you think I wasn’t scared shitless before giving a keynote talk in front of 5,000 of my peers?
- Do you think I wasn’t shitting bricks when I was sued in federal court by Nextel?
- Do you think I wasn’t worried when every lawyer I found told me to stop my ringtone website immediately before I got sued?
This list could literally be many pages.
I don’t care what position in life you are in right now. I know EVERYONE reading this right now was thinking very recently, “I want to do X but I am scared of X but I am afraid X could happen”.
I can’t tell you how many times this happens to me when I reminisce with friends about the past and they are like, “Damn man I remember that. I should have jumped on that. I was just scared of X.”
And thats what it all boils down to. God damn emotions.
The key is to take emotion out of decisions. At first it is a VERY hard thing to do.
From fear to happiness – Emotions are your biggest enemy and will hold you back from ever reaching your potential.
Yes. All of them. On every side of the spectrum.
- Fear to me is a key indicator of an incredible opportunity.
- Happiness to me is a key indicator of complacency.
So, how do you do it?
When you are thinking about or presented an opportunity get out a piece of paper or use your phone or whatever and make a list of positives and negatives. DO NOT LIST EMOTIONS. LIST facts!
For instance, lets take my first thing that made me a multimillionaire, my ringtone website. My ringtone website contained a lot of copyrighted content. I was on unemployment when I started making money with it. Yet every lawyer I talked to told me to stop immediately and that I would get sued. Although all agreed from past precedence very little chance of going to jail.
There it is in black and white. What would you do?
Sure there is one big negative. But was it? I had no money to lose… so wtf?
Now while everyone at home, in hindsight, is saying it’s a no brainer… let me tell you what did actually happen.
What many people don’t know is that I had a partner… a brilliant programer that came a long right when it started making money. I was cutting him checks per month that were more than he had ever made in a year… but after talking to his law school friends he was scared shitless of the legal risks. At times I talked him down but his friends were relentless in instilling fear in him.
So, much to me trying to convince him otherwise, he paid me back every dollar he ever received from me and had me sign an affidavit stating I assumed all legal risk (the affidavit was more complicated than that but thats the jist of it).
Fast forward 10 years… Just a couple months ago my old partner spoke publicly about it and said what a mistake it was and how we would have done amazing things together, of which I have no doubt. He also talked about how only now, 10 years later, does he realize that his very risk-adverse nature has held him back in many areas and prevented him from taking opportunities.
Now that was just the start… but many many many times this has happened.
If you ask anyone that has worked for me or partnered with me on a company they will all tell you I made a business decisions that made them very worried or uncomfortable.
Hell, start with Tigh Buckles or David Dellanave who played key roles in my company at different times. I guarantee they would they have countless stories of sleepless nights and were made very uncomfortable by my business decisions… although most would end with “but it worked”. And I am certain they will admit the scariest times were the most successful. Although, not sure they have recovered yet from some of them =P.
So, am I a cold hearted emotionless prick?
I am glad you asked because that is a VERY important piece to this puzzle. There are lines that everyone must find for themselves. Where does emotion stop and where does it need to kick back in. I can’t tell you what you should do or where that is for you.
I have pretty much covered the when it kicks in part… But there is a point where I pull back.
To Steve Jobs – one of the most successful, innovative, and iconic businessmen of our time: he had lines that FAR exceed mine. He was willing to screw over friends, abandon his girlfriend, kid and several other things that are past my line. All with zero regrets.
Mine lines are pretty simple. Family and friends.
Most of the decisions are around my family and friends, whether it is business or personal, are heavily based on emotion vs fact. There is no black and white when it comes to that. Sure statistically odds are my kids won’t get run over by a car but I still make them wear a helmet out of fear it could happen. The list is endless. I am ultra risk averse with my family and friends.
Where this really gets complicated is when you become close friends with employees or business associates. Of course there are golden rules like don’t do business with family (which I have) has made many decisions to keep people employed (who shouldn’t have been), hire people for roles that they are best suited for don’t just give them a job just because and that they have no right being in (which I have also done), or don’t do something (that made no sense from the beginning) from a black and white perspective but you let emotion drive the decision.
But I have very few regrets.
Actually, if I do the math… 94% of the people that have worked for me would say I am one of the most generous people they have or ever will work for. There are a couple though that wouldn’t… but they are lazy shitheads so whatever.
So thats basically it. The secret to my success. I hope you enjoyed this post… it was long overdue.