Do you ever find yourself struggling to move forward in your business goals? Have you had that feeling of taking two steps forward and one step back every time you gain even a little momentum? What is the solution? How do you break out of the cycle and streamline your efforts? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott as he welcomes his guest, James Clear. In his conversation with Scott, James opens up about his experience learning from the habits of successful business leaders, what it takes to overcome barriers in your way, and much more. Don’t miss a minute of this powerful episode!
What would lead someone to write a book about habits? James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation. He is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Time, and on CBS This Morning. His website receives millions of visitors each month, and hundreds of thousands subscribe to his popular email newsletter. He is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies, and his work is used by teams in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Make sure to check out the link to his book, “Atomic Habits” located in the resources section at the end of this post!
Relative success is hard work.
How do people become successful? Does it all come down to luck or can you muster up enough hard work to be successful? According to James Clear, luck can and does play a factor in the success of many individuals. Ultimately, we can’t all sit around waiting for luck to strike! James says that “Absolute success is luck, relative success is hard work.” This statement means that all things being equal, your success is determined not by luck but by hard work. That’s great news! You have control of your desiney. What are you going to do with it? Learn more from James about this critical topic by listening to this episode of The Amazing Seller!
What it takes to break through barriers.
Every business leader has faced a barrier or roadblock at some point on their journey to success. What is your plan for overcoming the challenges that are waiting for you? Is your plan to cross that bridge when you come to it or do you have a plan in place ahead of time? James Clear says that one of the best ways to prepare for challenges and roadblock is to stay flexible. If you have a fixed plan in place that can’t handle any adaptation or changes, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Don’t let that happen to you! Give yourself permission to change and learn along the way. Make sure to listen to this episode of The Amazing Seller as James and Scott expand on this valuable subject!
Lessons learned from the habits of successful people.
What are some helpful takeaways and lessons you can learn from the habits of successful people? Which ones will you take and adapt as your own so you can move your business forward? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, James Clear provides several helpful lessons he has learned from observing the habits of successful business leaders.
- Make sure you get enough sleep each night.
- Exercise consistently, even if it's taking a walk every day.
- Keep a healthy diet.
- Take a break from your phone, try keeping it in another room for a few hours.
- Log out of your social media accounts to block out the noise.
- Never miss twice – if you mess up on a new habit, don’t let it keep you down! Try again!
These are just a few, brief glimpses into the wonderful insights and lessons that James has collected through his research. Listen to this episode as James and Scott dive deeper into the role habits play and much more!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [2:00] Don’t miss the great TAS Breakthrough U deal.
- [4:30] Scott welcomes his guest, James Clear.
- [11:00] Absolute success is luck, relative success is hard work.
- [14:00] Identity is shaped by your habits.
- [24:00] How do you push through barriers to change?
- [30:00] What led James to his work as an entrepreneur and writer?
- [36:40] Where does James get his inspiration?
- [38:20] Lessons learned from the habits of successful people.
- [42:45] How to connect with James and his writing.
- [44:30] Closing thoughts from Scott.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 605
TAS 605: How To Create ATOMIC Success Habits in Business and LIFE with James Clear
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 605 and today I am excited because I invited on a very, very successful guy here who's also very successful at…
[read more=”Read full transcript…” less=”Read less”]
…teaching people how to create their own habits. His name is James Clear and you might have heard of him before. If not jamesclear.com will tell you all about him. He is fantastic when it comes to developing success habits. And he's written a book about it called Atomic Habits.
I own it. That's actually why I reached out to him and I said, it's a long shot but I'm going to go ahead and reach out to him and see if I can get him on the podcast so I can ask him some direct questions about habits and how that can apply to us as e-commerce business owners and just business owners in general.
And how to go out there and create these success habits. So he's agreed. He's came on. I've already interviewed him. You guys are going to love it. And we're going to talk about mindset, self-doubt like how to keep a habit and not just develop one for the short term. How to get back on when we fall off. Like all those things that we've all faced in life but this is really powerful. I’ve listened to his book. You guys know I'm not much of a reader. I do own the book though. I have it in my bookshelf as a reminder. I usually get books to put on my bookshelf and then from there it will remind me to listen to the audio book.
So it costs me double but I don't really care because they’re so valuable. And this one here, the one thing that he said and we'll talk about it a little bit is like when you create yourself identity, like if you are now saying to yourself and others that you are a successful e-commerce business. You start to live up to that. You start to live up habits so you achieve that. So when he said that in the book like you need to create your identity of who you are and then you need to believe in that, then you need to start creating the habits around that. And he breaks it down a lot better than I just did.
But that really stuck with me and it's so true if you are the person that you want to be then you need to develop those habits to support that.
[00:02:03] Scott: And it makes a lot of sense. So I think you're going to get a ton out of this. So before we jump into this amazing interview I did want to remind you something that is going to be closing here soon. And that is TAS Breakthrough You, depending on when you're listening to this. I recently opened it up which I've never done before to the public. So this way here if you just wanted to join to be part of our monthly private calls and if you wanted to take part of some of our trainings, you could. But I've never done it this way.
I’ve always done it where you invest in one of our trainings and then we have that as something you can add on. But I've recently done it where you can just join. I've opened up enrolment, you can join but I'm going to be closing that on the 20th. I'm not going to be reopening it that way. At least in the near future. But what I am going to be doing is working on a brand-new training which is going to take the place of Private Label Classroom which you guys have probably heard me talk a lot about. And the reason why I'm doing this is because things have changed.
Not in the sense that Private Label Classroom isn't still really great. It is. You can go over and go through that training and you can launch your product on Amazon. But what we're doing here is we're going to be building our e-commerce business not just our Amazon business. And we're going to talk about how to go out there and find that market and how to really take over that market and own that market and then how to diversify. All of those things I'm going to be doing in a brand new.
I'm going to be covering in a brand-new training and I'm not going to reveal the name as of yet. But I'm going to be doing a beta class and everyone that's in TAS Breakthrough You is going to be able to go through that beta class. When I do open it up to the public as a beta even, this is going to retail between $1,500 and $2,000 is the investment that it will be to be part of that. But if you join TAS Breakthrough You by December 20th, you'll be part of that beta. So you won't pay that. And you'll get everything else that's included in TAS Breakthrough You.
So if you're interested head over to theamazingseller.com/training for all the details.
[00:04:01] Scott: I shot a video there actually explaining it in a little bit more detail. Check it out. If you think that it will benefit you and it will help you moving into 2019 then come along for the ride and I would love to help build your future proof business with you in 2019 and beyond. So the amazingseller.com/training. That will be open until December 20th. So definitely head on over there and check that out.
All right guys. I'm going to stop talking so you can enjoy this interview and start to develop these atomic success habits. So sit back, relax, enjoy this interview with my friend James Clear.
[00:04:38] Scott: Hey James, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. How are you doing man?
[00:04:42] James: Yeah, you bet. I'm doing well. Thanks for having me on.
[00:04:45] Scott: Yeah, we're right on the holidays. So interesting. We're probably both busy Are you spending time home? Are you guys traveling?
[00:04:53] James: Yeah, we'll be traveling to my parents but they don’t live too far away.
[00:04:58] Scott: Okay, that's nice. That's awesome. All right, cool. So the reason I wanted to get you on obviously you have a new book out. I've been following your work for a while jamesclear.com. Done some really great stuff and I got to be honest. I read the very first part of your book and it related to me so much because we both like baseball. We both got hit in the face with a baseball bat. My nose didn't get shuttered but my tooth did. Actually my tooth got knocked out of my mouth. I think I was 13 and we were playing pickup in the yard.
And my buddy swung the bat and I was catching and he threw the bat back, hit my face, my baby sitter was looking for my tooth. She actually picked up my tooth and put it back down because she didn't think it was a tooth. It was literally roots and everything. And so then they actually took the tooth, they stuffed it back in my mouth and then they said we'll see if it sticks. It's been over 30 years and it's still in my head. It's not the best color but it will do. It was crazy.
[00:06:01] James: That's a strange connection to have. So I'm glad you're doing all right.
[00:06:06] Scott: When I heard that I'm like oh my gosh and then everything through baseball, I mean you led everybody through your story and through baseball and then how that got you into the habits and all of that stuff and it's funny. I've got a 20-year old son wo I've taken from t-ball all the way up through travel baseball so we've done the whole circuit and I played up until high school, and then I didn't go to college. So I didn't play college ball. But big fan of… What's your baseball team by the way?
[00:06:33] James: Well I was born and raised in Cincinnati so I always want the Reds to do well but I grew up in the mid-90s when the Indians were doing really well and so I was a huge Indians fan as a kid. And still enjoy cheering for them.
[00:06:56] Scott: So do you follow it pretty closely? You're still pretty much a baseball guy?
[00:06:58] James: You know what's funny, I follow other sports much more closely than baseball.
[00:07:04] Scott: Which ones?
[00:07:06] James: I'm a huge Ohio State football fan and then I really like the NBA. I think the NBA is the most fun professional league right now. Anyway so obviously when LeBron was in Cleveland like those last four years were a lot of fun. And anyway, I enjoy following those sports more. Baseball is funny because I would go for practice and be out there for like three hours and then I come back and spend some of my teammates would turn the game on for whatever their favorite team was. I was just at the field for three hours. Like I don't want to watch now, like I got other stuff to do. But I mean I loved it in baseball playing is a very key part in my story.
And obviously the book is not a book about me. But the introduction is about my story. And anyway….
[00:08:02] Scott: I thought the intro was great by the way. I read books, I do a lot of audio books. I'm more of an audio guy than I am a reader. But your story right out of the gate kind of got my attention obviously because it was very similar to my story. But I seen how you led people from like that time in your life, you could have given up and then you started to kind of develop these habits and then that's when you got like kind of obsessed with like learning about that. And I think that's interesting to see how people kind of get led through their story to what they are doing now.
And then you never, like you said in your book, you never thought you were going to be like teaching people about habits.
[00:08:40] James; Yeah, I didn't have a language for it at the time. Like I was just doing it. You just show up for practice and you try to get a little better each day. Like I never would have said, oh I’m just trying to get 1% better or I'm just trying to build better habits or that wasn't part of my language until years later when I was kind of connecting the dots and working in writing about this stuff in the last five or six years. But that was where I practiced the ideas.
And I think that background or that backbone of like implicit knowledge and having to put the ideas to work in the real world has been an important part of my story. It's a lot of work to have a good opinion on something. You need to be well researched, and well written and so on. But at the end of the day, anybody can have an opinion and where the rubber really meets the road is can you apply these ideas in real life? And that was one of the core things that I wanted to get out and build when I wrote ‘Atomic Habits' is I feel like people need a framework that they can apply in the real world, that they can apply in life and work.
My hope is that the book was able to achieve that.
[00:09:39] Scott: No, it's great and like I said, that's a book that you're probably going to go to back and you are going to want to even just go back and just dig into a few chapters. The Compound Effect I've read that book by Darren Hardy. I love that book and that's one I kind of go back and I just kind of, if I need a little boost or I need a little refresher I'll just go through and blast through a few chapters. And it gets me to say, ‘Oh yeah, that's right. It's simple, just small things.’ Like just do them over and over again. Cool, so yeah what I want to do though is I really want to dig into….
Because I have my philosophies on it and I just want to hear from out that's done a lot of research on this, like I want to go into people in business in general. Like so many people they are like Scott, I come to the podcast, I listen to your podcast, I read some of your stuff or I watch some of your videos and it's awesome, your energy is there but just for some reason I don't feel like I can be successful. Like I don't feel like… Whenever I start something I don't finish it or I don't believe in myself. I kind of want to dive into like maybe the mindset piece of why people don't become successful.
Is it just because they're not born to be successful or do you feel like lot of it does have to come down to just like sticking to the plan or creating those habits and then not worrying about the result right away.? I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
[00:10:59] James: I mean that question about why or how do people become successful is a massive question with a lot of different answers. We'll spend a few minutes here talking about it. But this is something we can talk about for literally for days or weeks but just first of all before I get into what I think is the practical answer or the useful answer, certainly there are a lot of factors outside of your control like luck and randomness. That definitely plays an impact. I wrote an article called ‘Absolute success is luck, relative success is hard work.’
And one of the core ideas there is that if you're comparing yourself in an absolute sense to the rest of the globe like what is the difference between you and someone who was born in a slum in India then that's mostly luck. But if you compare yourself in a relative sense what is the difference between your outcomes and everybody you went to high school with? Or everybody you went to the same schools as you, lives in the same neighborhood or has similar levels of education or grew up in a similar type of household or was raised in a similar religion and so on.
The more similar the comparison becomes, the more relative it becomes your success is determined by hard work because the levels of luck and randomness experienced by you are similar to the people who have similar background experiences. So now often times when we compare ourselves, and we do this all the time even though we know that maybe we should not compare ourselves often as we do it's a relative equation. We're thinking about how come the person down the street gets X and I get Y? So luck definitely plays a role. I think the more global your comparison becomes the more luck plays a role.
And the more local your comparison becomes the more it’s about hard work. The second factor is genetics and you said like some people just destined to not be successful or whatever don't have in them and I think we all know like genes matter. It's very obvious in physical places. Like LeBron is a better basketball player than me. I can work equally as hard as him because ceiling is so much higher that if he puts in even anywhere similar to the amount of work I would put i, he's going to be massively beyond me. And we have less information about how genes influence psychological characteristics but it's definitely still there.
So anyway, that's just a kind of a precursor to say what I'm about to say, which I think is the useful answer is not the whole picture. There's definitely other factors. Your question was more about mindset, more about approaching this problem of I have seen like every time I start something I fail, seems like I can't follow through on the business projects that are important to me. And that I think is a little bit of a consequence or a side effect of your identity, of your beliefs, your self-image, the way you look at yourself.
[00:13:59] James: And identity and this is where the useful answer comes in is shaped at least in part by your habits. So in many ways your habits are how you embody a particular identity. So like every time you make your bed you embody the identity of your someone who's clean and organized. Or whenever you go to the gym you embody the identity of someone who's fit. Or each day that you make sales call for your business you embody the identity of someone who sells. And doing it once is not going to radically transform how you look at yourself but it's kind of like every action you take is a vote for the type of person that you believe that you are.
And as you do these little actions, perform these little habits it's like casting a vote for that type of person. And you build up a little bit of evidence of having that identity. I think that this is actually like a key point at one of the things that differentiates my philosophy and I talk more about this link about habits and identity in chapter two of ‘Atomic habits' but one of the things that I feel like differentiates my philosophy from other things like fake it till you make it is that fake it till you make it asks yourself to believe something without having evidence for it.
Like you start with the belief and then later you hope things will change. But we have a word for beliefs that don't have evidence. We call it delusion. Like at some point your brain doesn't like this mismatch you're trying to convince yourself of something. And so I think the most useful way to change your self-confidence, your self-image to upgrade and expand your identity to shift away from believing whenever I start something I don't follow through to a new belief of I am a finisher or I'm the type of person that gets things done.
The easiest way or the best lever that we have for doing that is by changing your habits in a small way. By casting those little votes for a new type of identity because if you do that and this is what's different than fake it till you make it you actually have evidence by acting that way. If you want to become a meditator and you meditate for 60 seconds and you do it just for that one minute but you done it for like ten of the last twelve days.
[00:16:05] James: Well you turn around and you're like hey, I have like ten little votes for me being that person. I'm not trying to fake being a meditator, I actually have evidence of it. And this is one of the reasons why I think the small habits are so useful is that even if they don't deliver the exact result you're looking for in the moment, even if you haven't doubled the income of your business overnight or you hadn't radically transformed your productivity with this one small habit you are casting a vote for being that kind of person.
For being an entrepreneur, for being productive, for being a finisher and the more that you cast those votes the more that you have something to root that identity in. So I think that's the useful answer to how do I change and be successful although there are other secondary things that influence…
[00:16:48] Scott; So there's a difference because some people could be thinking this and I wouldn't even think this. It's like okay, okay I'll just do positive affirmations and everything is going to work. Because I'm saying like you are…. Like what's the millionaire mindset? You say the affirmation, I have a millionaire mindset, like you touch your head and you do the whole thing. I get some of that but then some of it is hard to wrap your head around because you're like, it's kind of like, ‘Wow, wow you read if I think it, it's going to be.'
I look at it more as though like are you actually… And kind of what you're saying I think is you're proving to yourself on a small scale that you are actually doing that thing versus just writing down, ‘I'm a meditator. I'm a meditator. I'm a meditator.' You're actually doing the action. The action you're more believing in yourself because you're actually doing it even if it's only for a minute.
[00:17:37] James: I had a coach in high school, basketball coach who’s told me confidence is just displayed ability. And his point was like if you want to be confident as like a free throw shooter, then shoot three free throws and once you make ten in a row, then you're going to be confident in your ability because you just did it. You just proved it to yourself. I think that's a true form of confidence is knowing that you're good for it. Knowing that you can do it. Knowing that you display that ability.
And if you do that, even if it's in a small way with little habits, then you actually have real confidence, you're not just trying to fake it or to repeat something or convince yourself of it. Now, I will add a side note here which is that some of that stuff like I have a millionaire mindset kind of thing, I haven't read that book, so I'm not familiar with that particular one. But my point is some of that is get similar to visualization and visualization can be useful.
There are plenty of performers that use it like Kevin Garnett famously would visualize how each game would go before he’d step down on the court. You'll hear from a lot of the comedians who will visualize like what the performance is going to go like ahead of time. It's a useful tool in the tool box but the thing is that visualization and incantations and repeating affirmations like that are short term strategies, not long term ones. They get you motivated in that moment but it doesn't last because they don't provide evidence. The only way that they last is if you have evidence of being that kind of person of having a type of confidence.
You need to prove your ability. And that's why I think habits are the more sustainable way, and the more reliable way to change how you view yourself in the long run because every time you do them, you develop evidence of being that kind of person.
[00:19:15] Scott: Yeah I agree. The visualization for me I look at it as it's a reminder of why you should get up and do your stuff. It's like, ‘Oh, I want that.' Like and not even like physical things like I want to be able to work from home and have freedom like so you see like a picture of you working in your home office. Like it's a reminder to me personally of what you're working towards and why you're working. It's just a reminder to take action in my book versus it just being, ‘Ooh I'm going to close my eyes and everything is going to happen because it's going to magnetically be attracted to me.’
And some people would argue and be like, ‘No that can happen.’ I'm like I don't know. I need some proof on that. But…
[00:19:52] James: The other thing it does is it primes you to see opportunities in your environment and we all have opportunity around us but life… Each of us we can be any of the billion different things. Like right now I can choose to start doing pushups or I can jump or I can push my chair back or I can run down the stairs. There's like literally an infinite number of options of things I can choose to do. But I only choose to do one of them which in this case is sit here in front of the microphone and talk to you.
And that version, that one version of the billion options available to me is the life that I live. And so I think sometimes when you visualize or you imagine what you want to achieve you clarify which of the billion opportunities you want to focus on and so it becomes easier for you to take action in the next moment that moves you toward that thing. So it's almost like the law of attraction is like the wrong phrase for it. It should be called like the law of attention. Because the way that you, when you think about something, you allocate your attention toward it and when you allocate your attention toward it you're more likely to take advantage of that opportunity.
There's nothing magical about it. It doesn't like bring things to you. It clarifies which direction you should act in of the billion options that you have.
[00:21:04] Scott: Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it. I just want to go back to what you had said about like giving yourself a vote or kind of like voting, and how many votes. I love that part of the book by the way. Because it actually did make me see something differently. I'm like, ‘Oh, that makes sense. If you want to be a neat person make your bed,’ and then you're going to be like, ‘Oh that was neat there. So maybe I should be neat here.'
And then you're starting to believe in that. And it's like you just have to create your own identity. Like who do you want to be? And then just start having these small votes that say that is who you are because you're living it. Even if it's in a smallest way, you're voting… I love that analogy when you put that into the book.
[00:21:44] James: I like the using the question, ‘Who's the type of person that could do XYZ?' So it's like, I want to build a million dollar business. Okay, who's the type of person that can build a million dollar business? Like what are they actually doing each day? And maybe you realize oh they're the type of person who is always running a split test on their website and so you're like, okay, the way that I foster that identity then is I need to set up a split test. It helps scale it down to what the next action is rather than thinking so much about, ‘Oh I just wish I a million-dollar business.'
So it like transfers it from being about the outcome or the result to being about the identity or the habit in the moment. And now you know, okay, each time I set a split test, I am in that small way reinforcing the identity of someone who has a successful business. I like doing things like that. Same thing with like going to the gym. A lot of times people would be like, okay, what I really want is to lose 40 pounds in six months. Which is kind of the body or personal equivalent of build a successful business.
But the question I ask is, ‘Who's the type of person that can lose weight?' And then you're like maybe it's the type of person who doesn't miss work outs. And then you shift your focus to just making sure you show up and you don't miss workouts even if they don't get you the result you want right away. You're just trying to foster that identity and be that kind of person. And then once you have that identity, once you're showing up at the gym every week well now you have options for expanding and improving.
[00:23:14] Scott: I think that the challenge is for people that, and including myself, I mean I've done it. You do the work for a result. Like I'm going to the gym so I can build muscle. If I don’t see the gains or if I don't see… I'm trying to shed my winter weight because I want to get slim for the winter or for the summer and I bulked in the winter and I want to shred for the summer and then it's not coming off. I'm like, ‘Ah screw it, I'm not going to do it then.' It's not just working. Or it's taking too long. How do you get through that type of stuff whether that's losing weight or whether that's I haven't seen…
I'm making 1,000 bucks a month, I want to get to two but I'm not getting there. I'm not seeing the gains. How do you push through that?
[00:23:53] James: That's a good question. So first of all, sometimes we should just say sometimes strategies are ineffective and that one of the challenges is knowing like when do you stick with something or when do you move on. And the answer to that, especially with business I've noticed, I've been an entrepreneur for eight years now. And there's always some, strategy… It's very rare to find a strategy that works forever. And so you need to be willing to experiment and continue to try things new. And I have a section in the book where I talk about the explorer exploit trade off.
And I think that that applies pretty well here which is the basic idea is in the beginning of any process, project, building a business, your career, you can look at it on different time scales, there should be a broad range of exploration. And so for me, I tried like three or four or five different business ideas for the first two years with my career as an entrepreneur. And most of them didn't go anywhere but then eventually I figured one out that kind of worked for me. And so I needed that period of exploration. But then after you explore for a little while you need to start to exploit the best option that you found.
Same thing can be true for any individual project. Early on you explore, explore to try to figure out the best way to do this but then as you get closer to the deadline you need to shift your focus and start to exploit the best thing you found so that you can actually get it done. And so that approach, I think is useful for people who are dealing with some kind of sticking point in your business which is maybe that's a period where you need to explore a little bit more. But at some point you need to just shut up and stay focused on whatever is getting you the results and move forward.
And in most successful entrepreneurial cultures there's some kind of combination to this. Like Google for example famously has their 20% time model where every employee works 80% of their time on their actual job and then they have 20% time where they can work on anything of their choice that excites them.
[00:25:57] James: And so that's kind of like 80% exploit what we know is going to work, what your role is, 20% explore to see if you can figure something out. And that exploration time Google Adwords came out of that, Gmail came out of that. There have also been some fantastic failures that came out of it like Google Buzz, Google Wave. Those came out of those. But the point is that exploration period is important. So I think for people who've already gotten to $1,000 a month they are succeeding to a certain degree, like going from zero to $1,000 is not an easy thing to do.
And so you should probably spend, let’s say 70%, 80% of your time exploiting that and then maybe 20% to 30% of your time exploring a new option. So that's the first piece.
But the second piece is that when, in many cases especially when you're already getting some results, you're getting a little bit stronger at the gym, you're making $1,000 a month a lot of the time you just need to shut up and put the reps in. I use this analogy in the book of heating up an ice cube. So imagine walking up to a room, room's cold like 25 degrees. You can see your breath. Ice cubes sitting on the table. You heat it up, 26 degrees, 27, 28, 29. Ice cube still sitting there.
30, 31. And then you get to 32 degrees and this one degree shift, no different than all the other little one degree shifts that came before it but suddenly the ice cube melts. You get this phase transition. And a lot of the time the process of making progress in a business or in life is a lot like that where you're putting in work for weeks or months and it’s like these one degree shifts. It's like heating ice cubes from 25 to 31 degrees. But that work was not being wasted. It was just being stored.
So you just need to continue to work until you get to that next phase transition. And coming off writing this book, Atomic Habits felt a lot like that for me. I mean it took me three years from start to finish and had I stopped at say one year and seven months, then I would have had that ice cube sitting at 28 degrees and I would have felt like, ‘Ooh, I wasted all that time.
[00:28:01] James: It's so annoying,’ but I needed to keep going for another year to get to that phase transition, then release the potential of that work that I had been building up. And so that's why in the book I call it the ‘plateau of latent potential’ because a lot of the time in a business you have all this potential energy that you've been building up. And if you quit too soon you don't get to the point where you get to release it. So there's a balance there between exploring new things and putting in the reps but a lot of the time, especially if you already getting a little bit of results, you just need to keep putting in reps.
[00:28:36] Scott: You're exactly right. It's a matter of like, ‘Am I almost there? Like I don't know. It's hard to tell. I love it that you're saying too like you got to explore. You have to explore, especially in the beginning like if you're coming from corporate world then you're getting into the online space, you're learning. Like you're learning the landscape, you’re learning… You know. I'm curious…
[00:28:56] James: The first two years I would say at least. And for many people it's longer than that. You need a lot of exploration early on to see what… You're really trying to find. It's really like a matching problem. You're trying to find which avenues in business overlap with your particular skill sets. And sometimes you need to build new skills but there's also just like people are naturally inclined to certain areas. And it takes a while to find that fit. You have to explore broadly early on.
[00:29:29] Scott: Yeah, let me ask you, let me go back. Let's go back to those couple of years that you were exploring yourself and then you kind of started this blog and that's to what it is now. Like what was it like getting to that point but then when did you that you wanted to go deeper in this area? Were you seeing results? Were you seeing traffic? Were you seeing there was potential? Where did it click for you?
[00:30:00] James: Yeah, that's a good question. So I think there are kind of two stages to this answer. So the first stage is before I was even writing consistently. The first stage was I just knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and so I tried a bunch of different stuff. The first company that I started was an iPhone app company and that basically just completely flopped. I think I spent like $1,500 on the first app. And then put it up in the app store and it made like $17 net revenue.
So like a $1,400 loss off the bat. Anyway there were just a lot of things like that. I tired an app company, I tried this like basically it was called Puppypresent.com but it was this breeders could list their puppies on it and you could rent out time to pet them or play with them. And so I thought it was a good idea but it went nowhere. And then I had a couple other blogs and websites that were like about small businesses, marketing or freelancing and things like that. And anyway, my point is I tried these ideas over the first year or two.
And nothing was clicking and I got a good piece of advice I thought from a friend who said, ‘Try things until something comes easily.' And that idea of trying things until something came easily was something I internalized and thought about a lot. Like I just need to keep exploring, keep experimenting and it wasn't until I started Jamesclear.com and started writing about habits that things finally clicked. I was using all of these skills that I had built, like I had to teach myself how to build a website, how to code, how to launch an email list, and all those stuff that everybody does early on.
And so when I started jamesclear.com I at least knew how to do that stuff. So I was starting from zero but I like knew what to do now so that's saved me time. And then I started writing about it and it was like compared to other stuff I had done it was like a rocket ship. It was just obvious that like people were way more interested this, more email subscribers, more traffic, easier for me to pitch things to outside outlet or partners.
[00:32:01] James: Like you're getting more yeses than no's. And so in comparison to all these other things I had struggled on that took off. And so part of the reason I decided to focus on it was because the results were better. So that's the first part of that answer.
And the second part is just that as I wrote I paid attention to what feedback was from the audience. And so I gradually started… Early on I wrote a lot about like strength training and health stuff and medicine in addition to habits and performance and all the habits stuff did better and better. So I gradually slid down the spectrum toward those topics.
[00:32:39] Scott: So like when you started that… Because there's people in my audience right that… I mean for us to really be competitive in any market, to me it's all about building out the brand. And building out like content so you're attracting the right potential customer and then getting them in and creating that bond or relationship. I mean you know all about that. But for someone starting out, like even like yourself like was it crickets at first? Were you writing to like your mom and someone that was maybe casually? Or did you post something and it went viral and that's how you got like the attention. Like what was the initial fire?
[00:33:13] James: That like three-minute summary that I just gave actually took like two years. It was definitely much longer. The very first sale I made online I was super excited about it and then I checked and it was my dad. That’s like incredibly sweet and supportive of him. But also I was like well, I thought I actually had something but nothing is actually working. It definitely took a while. I think early on, and still now one of the big pieces of the puzzle is you need to get in front of eyeballs. You need exposure, the attention. And so the way that you do that when you don't have any attention, you don’t have any traffic to your site yet, is you need to partner with people.
And so that's what I tried to do early on was partner with different outlets that did have readers and then whether that was a guest post or an interview or something like that, use that to drive traffic back. And then now, today I partnered with Penguin to write this book and they helped me get distribution and 600 barnes and noble outlets and all that type of… And those are not eyeballs, those are not people that I had access to or exposure to but now I do through this partnership. So it’s the same strategy, just kind of try to continue to upgrade those partnerships so that you are getting more and more reach, more and more exposure for your brand and your products and so on.
So early on I took whatever I could get and it was often minimal but I just focused on that. And the other thing to add to this… It's so hard in the beginning because there are… You need to spend time build time building those relationships and partnerships. So that takes time. It's easier to build those relationships if your work or your product is great. So you need to spend time making something great because then that actually makes people want to work with you. So that takes time. And then there's this third cause that you don't have to….
Like I don't have to worry that much about now which is there are all these upfront things, these like one-time course that you have to pay. Like learning how to program and how to build a website and how set up email forms and which ones convert and what copy am I going to put on this particular form or whatever. There's all these like one-time skills that once you know it, like how do I set up and Amazon store? How do I set up fulfillment?
[00:35:38] James: How do I…? It's like all that stuff in the beginning nobody knows. And so you have this big bucket of time that is happening there as well. So you kind of have three different things. You got partnerships and marketing, you have product and you have these upfront costs. And it's really hard early on until those up-front course have all been paid. and you actually know how the thing runs. Then you can siphon that time back toward building a great product and marketing better.
[00:36:07] Scott: I love that. I think like you said, building out the relationships and again, it's like you've talked about like the habits. Like you showed up and probably wrote consistently. Even though we're like the traffic is like not 100% there yet. But you kept showing up.
[00:36:23] James: That's the thing that set my business on a different path. I wrote a new article every Monday and Thursday for three years. My articles tend to be longer. Usually takes me about… On the short end it would be like eight to ten hours but usually the average articles is probably like 15 to 20 hours. So two articles a week is… Those 30 or 40 hours so it’s a full time job there and then you got all the other stuff.
[00:36:44] Scott: Where do you get inspiration?
[00:36:46] James: It can come from anywhere. So like there's something that we mentioned this interview that sparks a thought then I’ll just jump little short idea onto Evernote after I get done. Evernote is kind of my central holding ground. So whether it's conversations with people or books I'm reading, an article I see online or a tweet. It could be anything. I dump it on there and then now I have like six or eight hundred different ideas that are just sitting on there waiting and every now and then, I don't do this as often as I should. But every now and then I go through that whole list.
And I start to look and say all right, maybe I have like five ideas that are related to sleep habits. And I start to link them all on big article that start to get flushed out. And most of the time once it gets that stage what I'm waiting for before I publish is I'm waiting to find the right story. I need a good story to kick the article off. Then once I find a story that matches up with the main idea of the outline then I can go ahead and write it up and get it out. So it's kind of, I have a lot of work in process I guess..
[00:37:48] Scott: Got you. That makes a lot of sense. So keep that bucket full so that way there you can pull from it when you want.
[00:37:56] James: So much easier for me to not start from blank page.
[00:37:59] Scott: I bet. All right, we're going to wrap up. What I did want to do though is like you have any quick little…? Like if someone right now if you were to say like and you've talked to a lot of successful people, like what are a couple of things that you see that's been a common thread through like successful people and like some basic habits that can like at least get them set in their life.
[00:38:21] James: Again I'll give two answers. So quickly for the habits I would say energy habits and focus habits. So energy habits would be things like making sure you get enough sleep each night, eight hours or so. Exercising consistently, doesn't have to be lifting weights. It can be a daily walk, it could be yoga, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, whatever. Whatever works for you. Whatever you're interested in. And decent nutrition habits, make sure you're eating well. those three. Sleep, nutrition and exercise.
Every human has a body. That sounds like so basic but if you don't keep your body running well you can't show up to do your best work. So those three habits tend to be a common denominator. And then so those are energy habits, then I would say focus habits and this could include things like this year I've started to keep my phone in another room until lunch each day. And so just gives me like three to four hours in the morning where I get a focus block and I'm not destructed, I'm not responding to other people's agenda. I'm just minding mine.
So that's like a focus habit. And things like that are helpful. Another one that I did while I was writing the book, my assistant every Monday she would log me out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and then reset all the passwords. And then I would work all week. And then on Friday she’d give them to me and I can log in over the weekend. And then on Monday we do it all over again.
[00:39:42] Scott: Well that's beautiful.
[00:39:44] James: So stuff like that helps maintain focus and so focus habits and energy habits. And then the second part of the answer is more of an overall philosophy but one of the key things that top performers do and this is true, not just of individuals, but also of teams and organizations is adhere to this philosophy that I’ll call ‘never miss twice’. So so often when people are trying to build a new habit they get into this all or nothing mindset. It's particularly true from like diets. But I had a had it happen for me with multiple things business related with like trying to implement a new profit plan or trying to implement a new kind of sale strategy.
It's like okay, now we're going to do three sales calls a day or something like that. And you start to do this, you stick to the diet or you stick to the sales call plan and you do it for like four or five or six days and then you turn around, like your friends want to go to happy hour or you binge eat a pizza or your kid gets sick or something crazy and you can't make your sales call that day. And then like this self-talk starts. And either it's like I knew it, I knew I was going to be able to stick to the diet so why bother?
I guess I wasn't cut out for this. Or you just kind of forget, let it slide. But the difference between people who have that happen and the top performances, top performers never miss twice. They get on track really quickly. So maybe I wish I hadn’t binge eaten but never miss twice so let me make the next meal, let me make sure breakfast is healthy in the morning. Or it's too bad that I wasn't able to make those sales calls yesterday. Never miss twice so let me make sure I get back on track tomorrow.
The key inside here is that it's almost never the first mistake that ruins you. It's like the spiral of repeating mistakes that follows. It's like this thing once is just a mistake but missing twice or three times or four times now it's like the start of a new habit. And so you're really trying to cut that off the source and make sure you get back on track as quick as possible. So it's kind of like ditching this ‘all or nothing' mindset and realizing that if you can get back on the wagon quickly then in the long run those mistakes are just a blip on the radar.
[00:41:49] James: It doesn't mean anything. If you look back at the course of the year but that's only true if you never miss twice and you start again quickly.
[00:41:56] Scott: That's huge because like you said, I see that a lot where people will, they will get off track and then be like, ‘Screw it I'm off track. I'm just going to go off track for the entire week,’ and then the entire week turns into two weeks and then a month. And then so much harder to get back because you feel like you lost all of what you’ve already worked for. I've done that on the gym. I'm like oh my gosh, like I was so consistent then all of a sudden, ‘I went off on vacation, I got back. So hard to get back in. Then I'm like, I just lost four weeks.
You know how much harder it's going to get back to where I was.’ And then you start playing that whole mental crap in your head. So I totally get it. I love that. Never miss twice. I love that. It makes a lot of sense. Hey man, I appreciate you taking time out of your day. I know you're super busy. How can people get hold of the book? How can people learn more about you?
[00:42:41] James: Yeah, thank you so much. So if you just want to check on my writing, feel free to go to jamesclear.com. If you click on articles I've got them organized by different topics so you can just poke around to see what's interesting to you. For the book, it's called Atomic Habits and you can go to Atomichabits.com and on that page I also have like some bonus materials. It's like a guide on how to apply the ideas to parenting, how to apply the ideas to business. There's a template for tracking your habits, some other stuff too but anyway all of that is at atomichabits.com.
[00:43:12] Scott: Awesome. Hey James I really appreciate you taking the time. This has been awesome and hopefully we will not see the back of a baseball bat ever again in our face.
[00:43:22] James: Yeah, I hope so.
[00:43:24] Scott: You play softball at all?
[00:43:27] James: No. I will stay away from bats for now.
[00:43:29] Scott: All right man. I appreciate it.
[00:43:31] James: Yeah great. Thank you so much.
[00:43:32] Scott: All right. So there you have it. Another great interview and I'm telling you what, like this stuff here never gets old to me. This to me is always something that we're going to be working on. How to develop these habits. How to get more clarity. How to get focused. How to know that we're moving in the right direction. And this book really does outline it and this interview did a really, really good job of kind of highlighting some of those points that I found useful from the book. But I'd definitely go out there and grab the book. Jamesclear.com, you'll find it on his website.
I definitely, definitely highly recommend that you check this out. This stuff is something that you're going to want to use now but also continue to go back to time and time again because life changes and maybe our goals change and we want to set up new habits around those. Just a really great interview. And I want to thank James once again for doing that. So jamesclear.com. Go check him out. And oh, one last thing. I forgot. I want to make sure that I remind you just in case you skipped the beginning which you shouldn't have.
If you did shame on you. But we are going to be closing TAS Breakthrough You on December 20th. Again I've never opened this to the public this way. It's always been a part of one of my trainings, that you pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for. But what I'm doing is I'm giving you access to all of the trainings that are currently in there plus two monthly coaching calls in my private community and discounts on upcoming live event tickets. But I'm also going to be doing a brand new training that going to be all about building your e-commerce business not just launching on Amazon.
That will be part of it so Private Label Classroom has always been my flagship training. This is going to take the place of that. And I even don't want to call it Private label Classroom 2.0 because it's more than that. We're going to do it in two parts. Two phases. We're going to build that part of the business but then we're going to also build the brand part of the business and the content side and how to get all that traffic so this way here we can build a really solid future proof brand. So if you want to be a part of that beta class that's going to be started here very soon, then you're going to be a part of TAS Breakthrough You before the doors close on the 20th.
[00:45:40] Scott: So head over to theamazingseller.com/training for the details and if you are going to be signing up later after we close I will be opening up a beta class which you can become a part of but I just want to let you know this training will retail for between $1,500 and $2,000. It's going to be a full out training, it is going to have everything you will need to start your business but then grow your business and build that brand. So again, if you want to jump in and get that early access and not have to pay that, then head on over to theamazingseller.com/training.
You can get all the details on over there. So the show notes to this episode can be found at theamazinseller.com/605. And with that being said guys let's wrap this up.
Remember, I'm here for you, I believe in you and I'm rooting for you. But you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- James Clear's website
- Atomic Habits
- The Compound Effect
- Absolute Success is Luck. Relative Success is Hard Work.
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