“Failure for many of us was a B-“

In the wee hours of the morning I completed my first blog post. And as promised I completed what I set out to do in that post. To re-review Ramit’s Staying Motivated lesson which is part of his exceptional Earn1K program.

I’d like to use this blog as a forum for me to explain what I have learned from the various things I’ve listened to and will be listening to going forward. For far too long I just consumed information without taking notes about what I found relevant to me from the educator. In 10th grade this was called Active Reading, I never knew how important it was until I set out to learn new non-technical skills.

Ramit explains that most of us face difficulty experiencing failure. We don’t know how to react to it and seem to just shut down and move on to the next shiny project. He discussed how Seth Godin rarely commits to ideas but when he does, he relentlessly pursues them and brings them to market. I’ve been doing more of that since Fall 2011 and have brought to market projects that are contributing to my recurring revenue bottom line which has enabled me to take on less one-off client work.

Yet I still feel that I am not able to surf the motivational wave well enough and sought out to determine the underlying conditions as to why I am struggling with staying motivated.

Ramit suggests that by responding to the off days using systems and positive work, I’ll be able to maximize motivation and productivity. I do not want to regurgitate his lesson, I am going to recap the segments that I found relevant to me and show you how I am applying his concepts to my case.

Dealing with Low Energy: Ramit simply accepts that some days he is going to have low energy. I’ve done the same lately but I knew that I was not following the lesson properly. It’s because I did not think about why I choose to deal with low energy periods incorrectly… To maximize productivity during peak motivation periods he recommends understanding the timing when you are most productive.

When am I most productive?
– 1 hour after waking up until lunch.
– 90 minutes after lunch until dinner or
— 90 minutes after lunch til lull then nap for 30-90 minutes, shower, then experience productivity until dinner

My day is over after dinner. I’ve accepted that. In fact I did not have dinner yesterday until 130AM which is why I churned through so much material and got this blog up on my server. For me, in periods where a high amount of work needs to be accomplished, I should consider snacking and pushing the dinner meal out as far as possible.

Being Overwhelmed: For client work I’ve been able to break things down into bite sized chunks for my team and for myself. When I do this occasionally for my own products it’s been helpful to get through the list. I look forward to making more bite sized items for my own products to keep them moving forward.

Inertia: He talked about Jerry Seinfeld’s don’t break the chain tactic. He also said that sometimes you need hacks to help you get started but to not go crazy trying to find the perfect hack, just pick one that works and move on. Inertia has got the best of me with respect to exercise, I wonder if the Jerry Seinfeld technique can get me out of this behavior…

Forgetfulness: He says that humans are not good at complex memory tasks. I agree and I’ve been using systems to keep my clients happy and their work moving forward. While my client work has not faced setbacks my product work has – he suggests weekly reviews on Sundays to look back at the prior week and look forward at the week ahead on what you want to accomplish. I used to do this with Anil Chawla but his availability dried up… that leads into the next item Ramit covered…

Lack of Urgency: He started off by talking directly to me… It’s hard to have urgency when you have no boss breathing over your shoulder. He suggests finding an accountability partner – someone you trust and respect – who you can send a commitment to that you can’t easily get out of such as “I’ll contact 30 leads by Saturday and send you a list of those leads by 9am”. A close friend has agreed to be my accountability partner on this.

Discouragement: Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. Ramit talked about how Howard Schultz overcame discouragement. I haven’t read his book but I was able to find a relevant quote from Pour Your Heart Into It:

Fear of failure drove me at first, but as I tackled each challenge, my anxiety was replaced by a growing sense of optimism. Once you overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, other hurdles become less daunting. Most people can achieve beyond their dreams if they insist upon it. I’d encourage everyone to dream big, lay your foundations well, absorb information like a sponge, and not be afraid to defy conventional wisdom. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Ramit recommends a quarterly review to where you write:

– What you have you learned?
– What have you accomplished, however small?
– What are you long term goals?
– What are your short term milestones and when do you plan to accomplish it?
– Am I focused on a good market?
– Am I doing the kind of work I love?
– Am I adding value to people?


And staying true to my intentions of this blog, I’m going to use this area to do my quarterly review right now:

What you have you learned?

– I’ve learned that I love immersing myself in copywriting and sales psychology.
– I’ve learned that delivering on promises is the most important thing, ever.
– I’ve learned that taking time out of my day to do research is worth its weight in gold.
– I’ve learned that it’s extremely important to understand who your customers are before they buy and to use the words they would use themselves in the sales messaging is the best way to craft the offer to them.
– I’ve learned that benefits not features sell products and services.
– I’ve learned that people will pay for peace of mind and a frustration free experience.
– I’ve learned that metrics is critically important and using the right strategies is more important than using the right tools.

What have you accomplished, however small?

– I’ve built my first landing pages, got smacked across the face with criticism, and rebuilt it to glowing reviews.
– I’ve written persuasively using Joanna Wiebe’s Copyhackers book series.

What are your long term goals?

– To shift my business to cater to entirely high value clients that appreciate what my team provides and shed clients who are cost conscious and are not value conscious.
– To offset revenue losses from this shift from one-off revenue to valuable, sticky, recurring revenue products.

What are your short term milestones and when do you plan to accomplish it?

– To launch my first internationally useful consumer product-service by October 15

He ends with “there are no secrets to staying motivated”. If you’re interested in self improvement, even if you are not a business owner or free lancer, the Earn1K course is brilliant and provides detailed strategies and tactics to help you build the right systems for mastering your own life.

You might be able to get a glimpse of the psychology behind motivation through one of Ramit’s older monster posts.


Staying Motivated Is Not Possible

I recently met with Emory MBA students who wanted to interview me for their entrepreneurship class. In order to prepare for that interview I had been in a introspective mood during my trip to California last week. I was thinking primarily about what it was that motivates me to do what I do daily. I’ve always been extremely introspective and quite self-critical. In my experience. being critical of yourself is helpful but can also make you feel disappointed that you were unable to achieve certain goals that you laid out for yourself in your head but never put on paper. My poor friend Jai has witnessed these wild swings where I appear to be at the top of the world when my productivity is maximized and my goals are being realized. He’s also witnessed my frustrations when I’ve been down in the dumps because some artificial goals centered around not having “made it” yet have not been met.

I’ve always wondered why those swings occur. I’ve always wondered why I’ve been unsuccessful at counteracting the downward swing. I’ve attempted to prop myself up with videos (mostly of Steve Jobs or re-watching The Social Network) and by browsing books during the lull but the downward slope doesn’t change. It seems that I can’t reverse it midstream.

Tonight I saw a video explaining why this happens.

I consider myself a high performer and generally a high achiever. I’ve been following the most awesome ABCD in the world since 2005 – Ramit Sethi. Ramit has been talking about top performers, high achievers, and motivation for years. I’ve taken his Earn1K course and re-taken it a few times when I am jonesing for guidance. His material is just amazing. Everything he does is extremely well thought out and is exceptionally executed. How is he able to execute so consistently? And like my mom would say if my mom knew his parents: “WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE HIM?”

Well god damn it, I am going to figure this out. I’ve been watching his interviews closely. He’s got something up his sleeve… it’s his systems approach to life. His material covers systems for personal finance but he also revealed in his Staying Motivated lesson in Earn1K how he accepts the downward swing and how he tackles whatever he can during the lull. I heard the lesson but I didn’t listen. I probably was going through the lesson during a high motivational period and didn’t find that planning for the lull was relevant. So I probably just filed it away in my back of my head – because I didn’t understand why it was important at the time.

Today I found his source for that lesson – He built that lesson around his mentor’s findings… One of Ramit’s teachers/mentors at Stanford was BJ Fogg. I only started reading about BJ tonight and I’ve watched only two videos so far. In one of these two videos I heard Ramit’s favorite word of late: Disproportionate. Since hearing Ramit use this word, I’ve also fell in love with it. His sales pitch for his No Stress Negotiation class was centered around how top performers get disproportionate results and therefore deserve disproportionate pay. I couldn’t agree more.

BJ’s video on motivation explained the peaks and troughs: The periods of extreme productivity and the periods of sorrow where I bitch to Jai. BJ says that he’s not a fan of amp-ing motivation during the downward slope. There’s my answer to why I too can’t reverse the lull once it’s underway. He explains that he likes to do things that reduce barriers during the highs so that in the lulls you can execute on tiny steps and baby steps. That big leaps almost always fail… Ramit goes into a lot more detail in the Staying Motivated lesson. For whatever reason I had not put the tiny steps list together yet. And since I am now in the highly motivated zone it’s time to plan for the lull to keep pushing forward.

I started this blog to help me with a few things. I want to improve my writing (copywriting and general writing), I want to organize the ridiculous ideas in my head which I think will help me generate even more revenue, and I want to become more accountable to my boss – myself.

Tomorrow I plan on re-listening to the Staying Motivated lesson and will put together 5 baby steps that I can execute on when the lull comes. That lull is forecasted to arrive in 2 weeks.