Determination eats passion for lunch…

That’s what I’ve learned this week reading a Pink Floyd biography, listening to dozens of podcasts, and reading countless articles (it’s been a productive learning week for sure!)

You know what these determined, successful folks all had in common?

A champion or cheerleader in their corner pushing them forward.

Lisa Price founded Carol’s Daughter – a homemade beauty products line later sold to L’Oréal for $$$ – and had her mom, Carol, in her corner. Whenever Lisa felt down, she’d call mom and they’d talk things through. Mom was her biggest cheerleader and gave Lisa the fuel she needed to persist.

Tony Hawk, the greatest skateboarder ever, had his dad rooting for him. For years, his dad drove his son all over southern California to skate parks and events. Without his father’s support, Tony may have drifted off in other directions, but thanks to pops, he was able to continue his professional skateboarding dream and become THE face of the industry.

I could go on…

BUT what’s also interesting are those who championed themselves. They were their own cheerleaders because few believe in their dreams.

Brian Scudamore started 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and never finished college (or high school for that matter). He was one year away from graduating and decided to go all-in on the junk hauling business. He told his dad – a liver transplant surgeon – who advised him NOT to pursue his dream.

Brian turned used that as the catalyst for his success. Defy the objectors!

Aporva Metha founded Instacart, now a company valued at $4.3bn. Billion!

Instacart is the app that will do your grocery shopping for you.

He proved the model in a small market and then knew he needed to raise money. He needed funding from people who believed in him. He figured that getting into the Y-Combinator competition was the best way to meet quality investors, and get the IP support he needed.

Except, he missed the application deadline. He called up and they said “too late!”. Instead of being okay with that, he used his app and sent beer to the Y-Combinator folks. They drank the beer, thought it was a great idea, and let him in the incubator.

Apporva was his own champion. He believed in his company more than anyone else and KNEW it would succeed if he got a break.

Rideshare company Lyft’s founder John Zimmer dressed in a frog costume to hand out flyers at colleges all over the count marketing his idea.

Be honest, would you rent a costume and stand in the street promoting your company? That’s determination right there.

Listen, some folks have other people supporting their dreams. Others don’t. There’s no right or wrong way.

The only thing required is that SOMEONE is a stubborn, hard-headed, gritty cheerleader for the dream.

Let Me Introduce To The Baddest Man On The Planet



David Goggins is the baddest man on the planet.

He came from nothing. He was abused mentally and physically growing up.

After high school, he decided to become a Navy SEAL. Unfortunately, the SEALs don’t accept 300lb men.

He returned after shedding 110lbs in 3 months.

He survived the hell week and became a Navy SEAL. Oh, a little side note, he’s also the only member in the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, U.S. Army Ranger School and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. Why not, right?

Pro tip: a resume like gets you bodyguard gigs for Prime Ministers too.

After some of his buddies died in a special operation, he decided he would start raising money to benefit fallen soldiers’ families.

Goggins chose to run long distances to raise the cash.

The problem?

He had never ran long distance before.

Not one to do anything half-assed, Goggins decided to do the Badwater 135.

If you look up the Badwater 135, you’ll see it’s considered the “toughest foot race on Earth”. It starts in Death Valley, below sea level, and ends 135 miles later at an elevation of 8750′. Few ultramarathoners can finish it….


Because it’s held in July when temperatures top out at 130 degrees.

He tried to sign up but was denied. It was invitation only. He was redirected to a qualifier race in San Diego – a one day, 100 mile race.

He signed up. He showed up, and didn’t stop until he was done.

After 19 hours, on two fractured ankles, Goggins limped over the finish line. Not bad for a guy who had never ran a full (26.2 mile) marathon before.

Shortly after, he was invited to the 2006 Badwater 135 and, despite all his injuries, placed 5th overall.

To put this into perspective, most of the racers are elite ultra runners. His achievement was spectacular. Not satisfied, he returned in 2007, and placed 3rd.

Back to 2006….only 3 months after finishing Badwater, he entered the Ultraman World Championships. It’s basically a double Ironman. Over 3 days, each participant completes a 6.2 mile (10 K) open ocean swim, a 261.4 mile (421 K) cross-country bike ride, and a 52.4 mile (84 K) ultra-marathon run.

Fact: Goggins had never ridden a bike competitively before the Ultraman.

He didn’t even own a bike. So he rented one. Let that sink in for a second.

I wish I could say that he dominated the race, but he barely finished….

I’m joking. He came in 2nd. On a RENTED bike!

Guess who holds the record for the most pull ups in 24 hours?

Yep, he broke the old record and ultimately hammered out 2588 of them in 13.5 hours. He stopped because he had a bulge in his wrist that looked like it was going to explode. It was a medical decision.

David Goggins…there should be a photo of him in every dictionary next to the words Grit, Perseverance, Goal Setting, Achievement.

There is no tired in his vocabulary. Only done.

Do you stop the things you do in life when you’re tired, or when you’re done?

How do you know when you’re done?

Do you have goals written out, dreams to fulfill, or do you just wing it?

If it’s the latter, then you’ll stop when you’re tired because you have no idea when you’re done. You need a finish line.

It’s why marathons and Ironman races are so pure, and why I fell in love with them.

Everyone who does them gets tired and wants to quit at some point. They hurt at times – your body wants to shut you down.

But you know at the end of 140.6 miles, there is line to cross. A medal to receive, and family to hug. You’ll crawl if you have to. I’ve seen it first hand. People literally crawling on all fours to finish.

They are tired, but nowhere near being done.

A Survivor Lesson



I love the TV show Survivor.

It’s a human chess game. On the surface it looks simple.

20 people or so. Don’t get voted out.

But like most things, things are easy to understand, but tough to master.

Contestants are deprived of food for 39 days on a hot, windy island. They have to win “reward challenges” to get a decent meal. They go days without anything more than a bean or two.

They form alliances, or voting blocks, to ensure their survival – it’s basically a way for them to hedge it’s not them who gets voted out…

Each day, the game gets tougher. As players are removed, there is less wiggle room. The person you trusted starts looking sneaky. Do you take them out before they make their move? Too early, you’re a traitor. Too late, see you later.

It’s brilliant. And this year was no exception. Every member was a return player so the level of play was even higher.

This year, my favorite player, Sarah, won. She’s a cop – an undercover cop – who lured people in through textbook persuasive behavior, and then discarded them when she no longer needed their loyalty.

She was masterful.

After she became the Sole Survivor, she talked about why she won.

I think it’s a great reminder about what needs to get done to succeed in life.

She said, “I made moves that others were scared to make. I made moves that I was scared to make.”



Friday Four 04/07/17

Dear Friend,

I hope you had a great week and ready to roll into a killer weekend.

Let’s boogie…

In this week’s Friday Four we discuss getting some attention, the power of because, heartworms, and a compartment (or two).


People who state their position effectively and persuasively rarely have to yell to be heard.

Audiences listen when they know they’ll likely to learn something from a different perspective, even if it doesn’t agree with theirs.

If you find yourself screaming to get your point across, you’ve already lost the attention game.

Article:  The Five Most Persuasive Words In The English Language


There are certain words in our language that hold tremendous power over us.

They motivate us to do things – do things that other people want us to do.


Let’s start with (advertising legend) David Ogilvy’s famous list:

During the 1960s, David ran hundreds of marketing campaigns and A/B tested ads that used these words, and those that didn’t.

The ads that used a combination of those 20 words way outperformed ads that didn’t. I mean, crushed them.

In simple terms, those words make us take action – do what the advertiser wants us to do.

Fast forward 50 years…website Copyblogger released their 5 words:

When I read their article, one word stood out over the rest –because.

Why? We (humans) love reasons.

Copyblogger elaborates….

In a study from the classic book Influence by Robert Cialdini, tests were conducted on requests from a person in a hurry to use an in-office copy machine. The tests examined how different requests might affect people’s willingness to allow this person to “cut” in line.

In the first test, the participant simply stated:

Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?

In this scenario, around 60% of people allowed him to cut in line and use the machine first.

In the next scenario, the request was slightly tweaked. This time the participant said:

I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?

Did you see the ever-so-subtle difference between the two?

Let’s break this down: Not only was the request only minimally changed, but the “because” (his reason) was barely a reason at all! “Because I’m in a rush” wouldn’t stand up as a good excuse for most of us, right? Isn’t a majority of the working world in a rush?

Despite what we might like to believe, around 94% of people allowed him to cut in line this time! If you think that’s strange, check out the request used in the 3rd and final test:

Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?

That went from having a barely passable reason to absolutely no reason at all for letting the man cut. In spite of this, 93% of people let him cut on this third trial, only a 1% drop from when he had a weak reason (“I’m in a rush”) and a 33% improvement vs. the first test.


That’s a whole lot of improvement right there.

The key, actionable takeaway: if you want something, provide a reason. Even a weak reason is way better than no reason.

Music: Heartworms by The Shins

James Mercer, the singer/songwriter for The Shins, is one of the most talented artists in music today.

It’s hard to corner his music into a certain genre, but Rolling Stonedid a fine overview when it was released last month.

Heartworms has more of a home-brewed feel, heavy on Beach Boys grandeur, New Wave kicks, squiggly synth-pop and warm-weather soft rock – with lyrics tenderly balanced between midlife malaise and youthful romanticism. The result is some of most charming music he’s ever made.

If you’re looking for solid, great-for-driving, albums to put in the rotation, check out the entire Shins catalog, especially 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow.

Thing: Running Belt

Runners, you’ll love this product because it’s cheap, well made, and makes carrying all your stuff easy and comfortable.

Travelers, you’ll like it too. More on that in a bit…

I run a decent amount on a weekly basis.

Usually I have my phone, some earbuds, maybe an energy gel, and some cash.

Over the years, I’ve tried half a dozen belts.

What makes this one so good?

Dual pockets.

Keep your phone and earbuds in one compartment. In the other, store your cash, gels, whatever. Never again will you pull out your phone and have a $20 bill float away in the wind.

Oh, travelers…use it as a hidden belt to carry emergency cash, or your passport. When you have it on, it has a slim profile and is hard to see when it’s under a shirt.

Well, that’s it for this week folks. See you next week!

ps…you might enjoy the Facebook group Growing Not Dyingbecause you like a cool place to hang out.

Friday Four 03/17/17

Dear Friend,

First of all, thanks for reading this. I’m truly humbled by all the great feedback I get.

Secondly, I would be grateful to all of you who haven’t already done so, to please head over to our new Facebook group, Growing Not Dying, and join 400+ other people, by clicking here.

If you enjoy what you read here, you’ll LOVE that group.

Plus, it’s full of experts who can help you out if you need some guidance or want some feedback.

And without any further ado….

In this week’s Friday Four we talk about saying NO, a guy called Noah, storing stuff in your pocket, and the soul of success.


Hello my name is James and I’m a recovering YESaholic.

I said YES to so many things over the years that I had zero interest in doing.

I couldn’t say NO to people.

Then I felt bad when I didn’t put my heart into it and, ultimately, let myself and those around me down.

It’s an important skill to develop – saying NO. It allows you to say YES to things that matter. Things that are impactful.

Winston Churchill said: “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

Successful people know this.

They ignore the barking.

App:  Pocket 

If you’re like me, you see something on the internet that you want to read and either a) copy the link and email it to yourself (cluttering up your inbox in the process or b) print it out and have a pile of unread stuff on your desk (cluttering up your workspace in the process).

Then I found Pocket….

Download this free app to your phone and add the extension to your Chrome browser.

When you see an interesting page on your phone, hit the  (up arrow button) and send it to Pocket. Or, if you’re on your desktop, send it by clicking on the Chrome extension button (btw, here’s a Chrome extension demo if you’re not familiar).

Voila! It’s all stored as a gorgeous list in the app for you to read at your convenience.

Truly a game changer.

Book: Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

What is this book?

Is it the story about one of basketball’s greatest coaches, and his ascension to 11 NBA championships?

Perhaps it’s a management book? Or even a philosophy course instead?

After all, it starts with a Rumi quote: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

That doesn’t sound particularly sporty now, does it?

Phil coaches differently than most leaders. He’s not a task master, or a sideline screamer.

He teaches by using words like compassion, bonding, love, connection, harmony, oneness, and honesty, to turn egoic athletes into team players.

One of the chapter titles is: LEAD FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

He really believes that.

Here are some (of the many) takeaways that you can apply to your personal and professional life (interchange coach with business leader, manager, etc. and players with employees, kids, etc.)

1) Understand what drives people – “What I do know is that the art of transforming a group of young, ambitious individuals into an integrated championship team is not a mechanistic process. It’s a mysterious juggling act that requires not only a thorough knowledge of time-honored laws of the game but also an open heart, a clear mind, and a deep curiosity about the ways of the human spirit.”

People aren’t robots. They have desires and dreams. Spend time understanding what drives their will to succeed and leverage that.

2) Lead from the inside out – “One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that you can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.”

It’s important to note that you are leading from THEIR inside out. It’s not about you (as the leader). It’s about them tapping into their potential.

3) Always create buy-in to your vision – “The essence of coaching is to get players to wholeheartedly agree to being coached, then offer them a sense of destiny as a team.”

Focus on that agreement, then lead them towards the vision.

4) Let go of the outcome – “The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome.”

Do what you can to put yourself in the best position to succeed, but understand that what happens is out of your control. If you’re a future based thinker, you’re focusing on things that probably won’t happen anyway (we are terrible predictors), and will most likely live an anxious life.

5) Delegation equals power – “What I’ve learned over the years is that the most effective approach is to delegate authority as much as possible and to nurture everyone else’s leadership skills as well. When I’m able to do that, it not only builds team unity, and allows others to grow but also – paradoxically – strengthens my role as leader.”

This is HUGE. Probably the most important takeaway. Give up control to others and focus on their growth. A by-product is that your leadership role within that group grows too.

It’s a great read. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t like basketball (I’m not a fan).

As a side note, I started this book by listening to it on Audible. I was running and got about 10 minutes in and was trying to memorize multiple passages. I got overwhelmed quickly, so I turned it off and decided to buy the book to take extensive notes. It’s packed full of wisdom nuggets.

Podcast: Noah Kagan Presents….

Noah Kagan is very successful.

He was Facebook employee #30. He was #4 at personal finance site, and now is the founder of that offers tools to help you drive traffic to your website (I am a customer and their products are terrific).

And, he’s a funny guy with killer contacts. So when he recently launched his podcast with online superstars like Tim Ferriss, Jason Fried, and Brian Dean, I knew it would be worth the time investment.

Topics include life hacks, marketing tips, and book reviews. All great content to feed your brain while you exercise, or drive. You’ll probably have a laugh too.

Tip: for any of you online marketers/bloggers out there, definitely check out the Brain Dean SEO episode ASAP.

Well, that’s it for this week folks. See you next Friday.

Remember, if you liked what you read today, you should join theGrowing Not Dying Facebook group by clicking here.