You’re Just One Person. Stop Comparing Your Work to Big Teams and Deep Pockets

I just launched the Lifestyle Business Weekly show, and I’m happy with how the first two episodes turned out. I’m hungry to make it better, but still happy with episode 1 and 2 as a starting point.

But damn, it’s soooo easy to look at all the amazing videos out there and feel silly for even trying. Last Week Tonight is one of my favorites lately. It’s so well produced, and such fantastic research goes into every episode.

John Oliver and his team spend 15+ minutes covering a single topic and keep my attention every step of the way. These aren’t fun/fluffy topics either. His best segments are on meaty topics like net neutrality, the wealth gap and nutritional supplements.

But something really struck me as I watched the last episode of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart as host. Watch the episode if you haven’t already. There are amazing insights into what a great boss Jon Stewart was, and how The Daily Show had so much stamina and stayed so relevant for over 16 years.

Later in the episode, John pays tribute to all the people behind the scenes of each episode. A camera tours the offices in a long single shot and they call out all the people and departments and contributions that go into each show. There must have been over a hundred people on the team.

On shows like this, you sometimes see just one person plus a guest on camera for 20-30 minutes an episode. The shows are amazing, but they should be. There are 100+ people on each staff, and they all work 60+ hour weeks putting the show together.

You, on the other hand, are ONE PERSON. You spend maybe a few hours on each blog post, or podcast or video. Yet, you compare your work to work produced by teams and deep pockets.

Does this seem like a fair comparison?

I’d say you’re doing pretty damn well, actually, when you consider how few resources you actually have.

Your goal isn’t to produce Last Week Tonight. Your goal is to produce the best content one person can, the best content you can produce right now, given your other responsibilities.

You’ll get better over time. If you want a fair comparison, look at what up-and-coming YouTubers are able to do with a team of one or two. That will give you something to shoot for over the next year.

And then, stop comparing yourself to others for a while. Put your head down and do the work. Look up in a few months to see how you’re doing, then get back to work again.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Put your head down and do the work.


NEW! Introducing Lifestyle Business Weekly The Show

Publishing the Lifestyle Business Weekly email has been so much fun over the past two months. You’ve given me fantastic feedback, and the subscriber base is growing by leaps and bounds every week.

Now we’re taking the next step. Lifestyle Business Weekly is now a weekly video show, and you can watch the first two episodes today!

Episode 1: Finding Yourself & The Truth About Passive Income

Episode 2: Humble Beginnings, Business Plans and 100 Days Without Fear

If you want to support the new show, here’s how you can help:

1) Please watch an episode when you have time (episodes will be 10-15 minutes long) and send me your feedback. Just leave a comment on an episode and tell me what you’d like to see me do with the show.

2) Please subscribe to my YouTube channel, and share the show with someone you think would love it.

New episodes will be published weekly. If you’d like an email with a link to each week’s show, signup for the Lifestyle Business Weekly newsletter.

Thanks for watching!


I’m LOVING this new show for entrepreneurs from the @fizzle guys. Lifestyle Business Weekly:


Toxic Culture in a Company of One

In the past couple of weeks since the big story about Amazon’s broken work culture, the web has been abuzz with stories of big companies with long hours, demeaning politics and impossible standards.

As you may have read in the articles like Work Hard, Live Well, “the research is clear: beyond ~40–50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative.Long hours backfire for people and for companies.

In other words, working more than 50 hours a week can lead to negative productivity.

Many big companies have a BIG problem when it comes to culture. That’s the main reason I left the corporate world over a decade ago.

However, the same culture problems can and do affect tiny companies as well, all the way down to companies with just one person.

Maybe this describes you. Are you building a business all by yourself? How honest are you being about the culture you’re building for yourself?

Don’t fall for the idea that you can “out hustle” everyone else month after month. Even hustlers need a break, and when you don’t take time off, your business pays the price when you eventually burn out.

Work hard, but be smart. Be honest with yourself about how much time off you’re taking, and how much you need to perform at your peak.

Respect the research and your limits. There’s an optimal amount of time to work, and that amount is much less than the “hustle” crowd preaches.

Don’t Find Yourself. Create Yourself.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
– George Bernard Shaw

This is so true.

It’s ridiculous to think each of us has just one perfect passion in life, or that there is only one thing that we’re on this planet to do.

Finding yourself or finding your passion is a misnomer. You can find a passion or a version of yourself, but ultimately you have to create the person you want to be. You have to pursue something deeply before you know if it’s right for you.

If we’re lucky, each of us will have many things we’re passionate about in our lifetimes.

Finding yourself is the result of working hard, and creating the person and the life you want. Don’t worry about getting it right, just worry about doing interesting, important, epic, valuable work. The work will lead you.

Don't Find Yourself. Create Yourself.

Don’t Find Yourself. Create Yourself.

Little Wins Matter

When you’re in the middle of a big audacious project, it’s easy to get down on yourself. The feeling of finishing is renewing. Delaying any chance of finishing for too long feels like defeat. This is why it matters so much to break your projects down into bite-sized pieces.

If your project is feeling too long, take a minute to set yourself up for a little win. Could you ship a sneak preview? Could you take a quick detour to get something done from your list that matters? Little wins matter, if only because they make you remember how good it feels to ship something.

See You at Pioneer Nation?

I’ll be a speaker/coach/”trail master” at this year’s Pioneer Nation retreat, hosted by Chris Guillebeau and team on October 1-3, 2015. This year’s event is at The Resort at The Mountain, about an hour from Portland, OR.


Pioneer Nation is for independent entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelancers. It’s a 3-day business retreat focused on what your business needs next, whether you’re just starting at or have been working at it for a while.

Tickets aren’t cheap, but that’s because this is a true retreat, with all 250 participants staying at the same resort for the duration. I’d love to see you there. This is the perfect kind of event to make a real breakthrough in your business. Tickets just opened today and look to be selling fast.

Oh, and October 3rd happens to be my birthday, so you can help me celebrate :)

Full registration details for Pioneer Nation here »


How to Create a Vision for Your Life

I used to think it was a silly waste of time to think about a vision for my life. Who does that? It seems to touchy-feely, too Tony Robbins-ish.

But then, as I started learning how to change my life and my habits, I realized something: people avoid creating a vision for their lives because they believe the exercise is futile. Why make a vision when it’s impossible to accomplish those things anyway?

I’ve also noticed something over the past several years: the most interesting, accomplished people I know all have a vision for their lives. They seem to know what comes next, like they’ve seen the future.

On the other hand, people I meet or know who are stuck and have that hopeless look in their eyes, like they’re just passing time in life without joy or aspiration, those people don’t have a vision. In fact, many of them don’t even have long-term goals. This was painfully clear at my recent high school reunion.

Does having a vision make you better able to change your life, or does being able to change your life make having a vision possible?

Being able to change your life and having a vision for it are the yin and yang of living a great life. They’re interdependent and complimentary of one another. One will jump-start the other. Find the motivation to change your life, and you’ll be able to create a vision for it. Or, create a vision for your life and then learn how to change it.

What’s the difference between a life vision and long-term goals?

Goals are individual experiences and accomplishments you strive for. A vision is the bigger picture. Your life’s vision defines who you want to be, what you want to be known for and the set of experiences and accomplishments you aim for. Your vision helps define the goals by giving you a framework to evaluate those goals.

Your vision becomes your why.

Your vision should aim to answer questions like:

  • What life do you want to have lived at age 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80?
  • What kinds of people do you want to be surrounded by?
  • What do you believe you’re capable of in life? What are the greatest things you could accomplish, given the right circumstances, resources and motivation?
  • What do you wish you could change about the world? What could you contribute to the world that would make you feel proud and content?
  • When you die, what would you want people to say and remember about you?

In fact, start by answering those questions and your vision should be easy to create.

How to Create Your Life’s Vision

First, you need to identify what matters in life. This is where that college philosophy class should come in handy. You need to go deep and existential here. What is the real meaning of life? How should you live your life?

Your answer to “what matters in life” won’t be perfect, and that’s OK. The point is to put a stake in the ground to work towards, and you can change your answer whenever you review your life’s vision.

Regardless of your answer, there will be things you want to do or be, and there are resources needed to support those experiences and accomplishments.

Next, make a list of the categories of things that matter to you.

Here are the categories currently on my list:

  • Health — exercise, diet, mindfulness, perspective
  • Ability — skills, knowledge, character
  • Relationships — curate and cultivate them
  • Time — using what time you have wisely
  • Wealth — creating the value necessary to support goals
  • Experiences
  • Accomplishments
  • Contentment — being happy with who you are, perhaps the ultimate goal

Your list can and should look different. It’s all about what matters to you, and what you want out of your brief time on this planet.

Now, for each of your categories, write down what you want or need from each. Think about the things you want to accomplish or experience, and work backwards to understand how the other categories should support your life’s vision.

Finally, craft a statement that describes what your ideal life looks like. I know, it might seem cheesy, but this entire exercise can be incredibly fun and rewarding. I just refreshed my life’s vision while on vacation in Hawaii for 10 days. It was the perfect setting to get all introspective.

Your vision statement will consist of an overall description of your ideal life, combined with a list of areas that matter most, and high-level goals for each area.

What’s next?

If all you do is this exercise, you will likely see some benefits, as your vision will stick in the back of your mind and you’ll unconsciously work towards it.

However, if you want the best chance of making your vision happen, you’ll need to go further.

You need to build a system for yourself, where you review your vision and goals regularly, and update your action plan for accomplishing those goals.

Your main priority should be making your system a habit, something that you do no matter what, that you don’t have to think about or remind yourself about. Start with calendar reminders and task list items and build life planning time into your daily and weekly routines until it becomes habit.

Further Reading

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
–Marcus Aurelius

When Your Product Doesn’t Sell, Here’s Why

When you launch an online product, like an ebook or a course and get no real sales, the first step is to diagnose the problem.

Generally, either:

  1. You didn’t have enough people visit the sales page, or
  2. People visited your site, but they weren’t convinced enough to buy, or
  3. Some combination of the above (not enough visitors combined with low conversions)

From a totally-ballpark-sales-conversions-perspective, you might expect 1 out of every 50-200 people who visit your sales page to purchase something (a 0.5% to 2% conversion rate).

If your numbers were better than that, you just need to drive more visitors to your sales page (via blogging, podcasting, social media, advertising, press, etc.).

If your numbers were worse than 1 out of 100, you need to improve your sales page/offer and your product. Learn about effective copywriting and sales page conversions. Talk to prospective customers about what they like and don’t like about your product. Consider installing a “live chat” service on your sales page so you can find out what objections or questions people have that your page might not be answering.

If your product doesn’t sell, it really boils down to one of these two problems. Think systematically about solving your low sales problem and you should be able to earn some sales by addressing these two issues.


8 Standing Desk Options Under $639

I have used some form of standing desk for a little over four years now. I wrote about my experience for Zen Habits back in 2011 in this article: My Standing Desk Experiment.

My “standing desk” always consisted of some half-assed desktop solution, first just stacked boxes, then a clever device called The Stand Stand. I got the benefits of standing, but the setup was always a little bit of a hassle.

This week I found a much better solution on Craigslist. It’s a motorized desk that extends anywhere between 22″ and 48″ in height:

Being able to raise and lower my entire workstation at once (including monitor, microphone, etc.) is amazing. Now I find myself switching between sitting and standing much more naturally, instead of either staying seated (laziness) or standing (fatigue). 

This particular desk came slightly used out of a corporate environment. It measures 29″ x 70″ and gives me plenty of room.

highly recommend standing if you haven’t done it before. I feel much less sluggish during the afternoon if I stand instead of sit. It helps thoughts flow more freely and I just feel more fit/active in general after a day of mixed sitting/standing.

If you’re looking for a similar standing desk, the UPLIFT is pretty close to the version I found on Craigslist, for around $650. This Erector Desk also looks pretty nice, but doesn’t include an electric raise/lower motor. If you’re super budget conscious, you can buy a kit to build a model similar to the Erector.

IKEA has an electric version called BEKANT, although I saw it in-store and thought it felt a little flimsy. One issue with bigger standing desks is stability at full height.

Here’s the full list of options mentioned in this article, and a handful of others from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Stacked Boxes — whatever you have around the house (free)
  2. The Stand Stand ($69)
  3. The UpStanding Desk ($199)
  4. DIY Pipe Desk Kit (~$250 + table top)
  5. Used corporate desk like mine ($250 to $600 on Craigslist)
  6. IKEA BEKANT Desk ($489)
  7. The Erector Desk ($599)
  8. The UPLIFT Desk (starting at $639)

While you weigh your options, someone else is already taking action.

Here’s the problem with carefully considering your options. No amount of thinking or research can ever ensure an outcome.

We play this story in our minds, that we’re searching for answers and looking for the right path. But what are we really doing? Thinking can’t take you very far without action.

Some people take a more action-oriented approach. Instead of waiting to feel 100% certain about a decision, they take action sooner, realizing that taking action is the only way to know for sure. Instead of trying to arrive at the perfect mental answer, these people say “let’s try it and see what happens!”

While you weigh your options, someone else is already taking action. Action isn’t always the right answer, but most of us could use more doing and less thinking.

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