Starting up is always rough
Especially when you're a small business that at first has no clients and no credibility.
In this episode, a 5000bc member, Christopher C talks to Sean D'Souza about how to get over the inner chatter.
How to get past those starting blocks and whether it's possible to be superhuman.
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: Why Roadblocks Are Universal
Part 2: Why Talent Is Not Inborn
Part 3: How To Successfully Get Rid of Self-Doubt
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This is indeed The 3 Month Vacation and I'm Sean D'Souza.
Back in the year 2000, I was still a cartoonist and I was doing both cartooning and marketing at the same time.
At that point, I decided that I wanted to be the best in the world at marketing, but that meant that I had to start up. I had to start up all over again. I don’t know much about marketing. I hadn't read that many marketing books and this whole factor of starting up was hard enough just as a business. I was also new at New Zealand. I just moved in from India and so it was like a double start up.
Often people ask me this question, “How did you manage? What was the start up like? Does this internet marketing thing work just for some people and not for others? These are the questions that Christopher C was asking me and this interview is about that. It's about debt start up, the obstacles. It's a whole bunch of questions that Christopher C decided, “Let him answer it,” so here I am answering it.
Interestingly, as I was going through this whole interview and listening to it, it seemed like almost a compellation of many of the podcasts that I have done before. We're covering topics like roadblocks and mindset and routine and you probably heard it before. It's just a different version of it you could say. It's on Skype, but it's still live and we started out with roadblocks. Christopher asked me what the roadblocks are, what do I see as roadblocks in day-to-day life.
The thing with roadblocks is that most people think that it only happens to them and it's not true at all.
Part 1:Why Roadblocks Are Universal
The first thing is that roadblocks are universal. They don’t care about you and don’t care about me. Their only real purpose in life is to teach you a lesson. When people don’t learn the lesson the roadblocks pop up again and again and again. When you learn that lesson, they disappear and other roadblocks show up. If you don’t deal with the roadblocks in the first instance, they pile up and they become bigger and bigger and bigger and that’s the part that people don’t get. They think that somehow the roadblock is going to disappear and it doesn’t disappear. It's there specifically to teach you a lesson.
I'll give you a simple example. We have several websites. Over the years, we've made them very popular or they've become popular and so they attract hackers. In 2014, 3 of our websites attracted hackers. They didn’t really tear it down, but they created enough havoc so that we had to change our whole system. We had to from Dune to WordPress. We had to move all the stuff across and now we're in the process of redesigning all 3 websites, which is it might seemed like just a simple project but considering the size of our websites that’s about probably conservatively a year, a year and a halfs' work and this is working very quickly.
We ignore that. We ignore the hackers. They’ve been sniping away and then we'll just fix it, a little bandage here and there. Then eventually they came in a big way and got us blacklisted on Google and all those kinds of things. That’s when we had to pay attention and this is what I see as roadblocks. I see that everyone has them and if you don’t do something when you have the time to do it, which of course we don’t, then they will come back again.
Part 2: Why Talent Is Not Inborn
The second question is something that I've heard many times before and that is, “You, Sean, have natural talent and skills and I don’t have these skills and I don’t have this talent. If you've been following me for a while, you know that I don’t believe in inborn talent.” That’s a completely different topic, but the question was, “You seemed to be superhuman that is Sean, you are superhuman. You get so much stuff done. You draw cartoons. You cook. You write books. You do workshops. You do all of this stuff.”
This is not me praising myself. This is just what Christopher brought up. He said that at some level it's intimidating. At some level it feels like only some people can do it. Is it true that just some people can do it or can anyone do it? That’s when I launched into my answer.
They're exactly right. The reason why I said they're exactly right is because the person I am today was not the person I was 10 years ago or the person I was 20 years ago. When I look back at what I could do 10 years ago or 12 years ago, it was a lot less than I could do today. I knew a lot less than I know today. I'm not just saying I read more books or did learn some more stuff and went to more seminars. What I'm saying is that even a simple task like writing an article, a simple task like writing an article would take me 2 days, 2 whole days. I don’t know many people that take 2 days to write an article, but it was sure frustration for me.
It sounds like marketing, because I sell an article-writing course and it sounds like a good thing. You take 2 days to write an article, now you do it in 45 minutes. It was a reality and the problem was I didn’t know how that article would turn out. The question of me doing any podcast, the question of me doing any webinars, any speeches, anything of that sort it was totally out of the question. The first time I spoke when I got to Oakland I forgot what I had to say. We had to take it in mid-break.
When I wrote my first book, it was only 16 pages. We put some cartoons in it and it became 20 pages. When I look at all the cartoons that I did back then, they were pretty amateur and people say, “Yes, but at least you could draw.” Sure I could draw, but I couldn't write. I couldn't speak. I couldn't do a lot of things that I can do today. Not only am I good at what I do today, but I can be very quick and very effective so I'm not the same person.
When you say someone is superhuman, it means that along the way that person has spent a lot of time and a lot of effort and continues to spend a lot of time and effort to get to that superhuman status. You know this to be true because you look at top performers. You look at the top tennis player in the world, the top swimmer, the top runner. You can say you can go blue in face saying that they have natural abilities, which we will talk about, but look at what they're doing. They're still in the track 4 or 5, 6 hours a day. They still have coaches. They still have all kinds of training.
Then you look at yourself and you think, “I manage to get half an hour of listening to a podcast last week because I was too busy.” I'm sorry but it's not going to happen by magic. The way to get to that level where you are superhuman is to be able to do something that superhuman people do. The reason why they got to superhuman and I'm sorry that I'm referring to myself as superhuman; that was not the goal, the point is that I see myself completely differently from 6 months ago or a year ago or 2 years ago or 10 years ago.
As much as I like, what I'm doing right now I like the articles that I write. I like the cartoons that I draw. I like the stuff that I do. I know that it will be totally crappy in my own eyes 10 years from now. I know that because I've learned so much I will change so much, everything will change. Everything has to change because that’s how it works.
At this point in the interview, we shifted into the key elements or keystone. Keystone is the foundation on which a lot of things are built. The question was, what keystone elements do you need to be superhuman? I'm still not comfortable with superhuman but since that’s the term being used in the interview, we continue with the term superhuman. I'll go and get my kryptonite on the side.
I think the first element is that it has to be daily. You have to take an analogy of brushing teeth. You can brush once a week. You can brush once a month. You can brush once a year. It totally depends on you. What sets in is a factor of decay and your reign is exactly the same. It's not going to turn on lights and keep them on if you decide that you're not going to learn. It just going to switch them off or it's going to put them in dimmer setting. You know this because you can learn something and you can forget about it and then you learn it again and then it comes up a little brighter.
Unless you keep adding to it, unless you keep polishing and unless you have what is called a daily routine it's not going to work. There is no way on earth that you can be where you want to be unless you have a daily routine. It might be just 15 minutes. You might just take a walk for 15 minutes and listen to something and you never remember anything. You don’t have to remember anything. You just have to listen. Just listen to it like radio, just like you went for a walk with a friend and you listen and you can’t remember 99 percent of what they said.
That 1 percent when you add it up, add 1 to 1 you think they would end up as being 2, but it doesn’t end up as being 2. Eventually, the 1 percent plus 1 percent plus 1 percent becomes exponential and suddenly you jump up 20 percent and then 50 percent and that’s how it works. The first thing is definitely that you have to do something on a daily basis. How long? I can’t say. I spend at least an hour learning every day if not longer and I have a very busy day, busier day than most.
The second thing that you have to look at is a teacher. You have to. You can waste so much time trying to work your way through a system that if you don’t find the right teacher then you're just wasting time. The point is how do you find the right teacher. It's the same thing as trying to find the right spouse in life or right girlfriend or boyfriend or friend for that matter. You have to reject a lot of people. If you go out there and say, “I'll go to the first person that’s promising me all these instant happiness and riches and stuff,” that’s what you get. You get no instant anything. The teacher makes a huge difference. The daily stuff makes a huge difference.
Part 3: How To Successfully Get Rid of Self-Doubt
The third thing is just that a lot of people have to get rid of the self-doubt. It doesn’t matter who you are and how successful you are. You are going to have self-doubt. There is no one on the planet who doesn’t have self-doubt. The doubt performers they all have self-doubt. What they do is they have to work out a system to get rid of the self-doubts so that when they run their next race, they're thinking, “I might not win this race,” but they still end up with the gold medal or the silver medal. Maybe they showed up in that race, but the next race and the next race and the next race.
I hate to nail anything down to keystone stuff but this is it. If you find the teacher and the teacher will have a system, they will have a group and you do something daily that helps you get rid of the most critical element that stops you, which is self-doubt.
This took us at the topic of daily routine, what I do every single day to make sure that my daily routine stays daily. The thing that you have to do is when you create a habit, you've got to understand that there is a cue, routine, and reward. These 3 elements have to be in place. Cue is like an alarm clock. You wake up on cue and then there's a routine. You put on your shoes and you go for a walk and then there's a reward.
The point is that without that reward in place, the cue and the routine are not going to happen. You decide I'm going to listen to podcast every day or I'm going to read every day. What's the reward? That’s what I would ask first, what is your reward? If you don’t have the reward every single day, there's a very good chance that’s it's going to fall by the way. There's a pretty good chance that your cue will set up, your alarm will set up, you'll get into your shoes but then you'll decide it's raining I'm not going to go. Cue, routine and reward have to be in place but first you have to ask yourself what is the reward.
Some people say, “I don’t need the reward. I have to be self-motivated.” No, no, no, that’s not how it works. You first figure out your reward if you want to learn something what happens at the end of that something, if you want to do something what happens to the end of that something. When people do courses, for instance, the first time we did a workshop that’s speaking engagement very early in our career in 2002. I spoke at this event and there were about 30 people in the room and most of them bought this PDF from me. Right after we did that, we went out. We bought a bottle of wine and we celebrated and I still have that bottle with me; the empty bottle obviously.
The point that the reward matters, every time when you have the reward in place you know. This is what going through this whole routine. Once you have that in place you then have to seek out what is called group, because an individual is not usually capable of going by themselves. When you have a group, the other persons buzz you on. They say, “Are we going for a run today?” You go, “We'll go.” Having these elements in place make a difference. This is how I go for a walk every day. When I go for a walk, I have my iPhone with me so I listen to podcast or I learn languages or I do stuff like that. I listen to audio books so for 1-1/2 hour I'm learning.
Some days I'll just speak to my wife. We'll brainstorm, but at the end of that there's a cup of coffee. Then I have my cup of coffee and I come back and I've learned something and I've done something and that’s the reward. You have to determine the reward and that’s my routine. That’s how I go about stuff.
At this point in the interview, Christopher brought up something that I'd mentioned when I just started doing watercolors. You may or may not know the story but in 2010, I went out to learn watercolors. I'd gone to several courses and learn anything. I went to this guy Ted and he told me that I should practice every day. He said, “Get watercolor book and just paint every day.” I decided to paint what I did every day, which is just my life.
When I started, I mentioned in 5000bc, which is the membership site, and in the forum I said, “I'm starting on this watercolor journey. I'm not very good at it but I will be in 2 years' time.” That is what Christopher brought up. He said, “That mindset stayed with me the fact that you said you will be good in 2 years' time.”
I'll give you a better thing than that. I'll give you an analogy. Imagine for some reason you went blind. It sounds terrible and I wouldn't want to be blind, but lots of people go blind for whatever reason. What's going to happen in the next year, for one, you're going to be able to find your way around the city almost by yourself. That’s the first thing that’s going to happen. The second thing is you're going to learn a brand new language that you've never encountered before, which is braille. Third, you're going to be able to hear stuff. Because of how your brain functions, you're going to hear stuff more profoundly than ever before because you can’t see anymore.
When you look at the mindset of what happens to a blind person in a year's time, they have got 3 sets of you can call them skills that they never had before. It is beyond any doubt that if you decided that you're going to do something and you do it on a regular basis, you will be better in a year's time. You don’t have to do much. You don’t even have to have a great teacher. You don’t have to have a great system. You can get there, say, record a podcast everyday. You can, say, do a drawing every day. It's not going to be very fulfilling because what are you going to do. No one sees it. No one looks at it.
The point is that after a year you will be better. If you find a good teacher and you find a good system and you do all that other stuff then you will be a professional in year's time. It's not an if or a but, but it is a guarantee. You will be professional in a year's time. That’s how blind people learn to type. That’s how they learn to write. That’s how they learn to read. That’s beyond any doubt.
Then we came full circle with the hardship bit. We talked about scarcity, about not having that skill or resources and how to still go forward. A lot of people they believe that they can’t make that they don’t have the skill. They don’t have the resources. Frankly speaking nobody does. A lot of people when they say they don’t have resources they don’t really understand what they're saying.
I didn’t grow up in a very poor family. I grew up in a middle-class family, but even so I didn’t have access to a library. I had to go out there and buy my books. My father had to subscribe [the stuff 19:44]. A lot of the things that people take for granted especially in western countries you can go to the library. You can get any book you want. You have an internet connection. You have all these things. Even if you just look at yourself going back 25 years, you didn’t have an internet connection. You didn’t have so many things like a mobile phone, all these things that you take for granted today.
In that sense, you are quite deprived. You may do with what you had and you were very creative. It's when a person becomes saddled, all those equipment and this excess that they become worse at what they're supposed to do. Probably the smartest people work with very little information. They work with very little resources and information is one of those very critical resources. One of the things that stop people consistently is this information. They go, “If I have more information about this house then maybe I'll buy it. If I have more information about how my business is going to go in six months then maybe I'll do it.”
The people who succeed on a consistent basis they don’t have this resource. They have the same resource as you. They have the same amount of information as you and what they do is they do it anyway. They go ahead anyway and then they keep going and they find the group, they find a teacher, they keep going, they keep going, they keep going. What happens over time is you just get very quick at something. As I said, I used to take 2 days to write an article, it takes 45 minutes. I now have one day and another 14 hours of whatever to play with. What you are really doing is you have to understand that to be very good at what you do you have to work with very little information and just keep going.
The second thing that I would add just to finish this off is that something that I had to learn which is rest. We've take three months off every year, but the point is that even so I wasn’t taking weekends off. Let me clarify what I mean by that. I wasn’t working the whole weekend but I'm going on a Saturday morning and then I'd work for a few hours and then before I knew it, it would be 9:00 or 10:00 and then someday maybe two or three hours.
The downtime is critical. You can’t compensate for downtime. If you don’t take a break, if you don’t disconnect your email, if you don’t disconnect your phone, you are going to find that your work is not as good. When people go and they say, “We went on a vacation,” and all they did was see 700 monuments, that’s not a break. When you were on your weekend and you just check email, that’s not a break. Your ability to work when you have to work goes down and you get more and more tired, more exhausted and then eventually there's nothing left. There's no energy left. That’s pretty much what I'd say.
That brings us to the end of this podcast. What we'd covered was the whole concept of roadblocks and how we think that someone else is superhuman. They're not really superhuman. They just started along time ago and what they did was continue. A lot of people stop. They pause. They think that the other people are somehow succeeding because they have some special gene. If that other person has special gene, it is just to persist over and over again until they get it right until they eliminate all the errors and that makes them what other people call them which is superhuman.
The second thing that we covered was this concept of keystone habits. We found that you have to have to work on it like your toothbrush. Your toothbrush does a job and it does it very well. If you can think of your learning and your application as a daily routine, then it changes everything.
The third thing that we talked about was the future and how you have to have a mindset for the future that you might not be very good at watercolors today, but in two years' time you will be. You might not be very good at podcasting today, but in 2 years' time you will be. It doesn’t matter what you undertake if you go about it with dedication and you find the right teacher. Even if you don’t find the right teacher you still in 2 years' time you will be far down the road than where you are right now. If you stop today, you've just wasted 2 years. In 2 years' time, you will still know nothing and that is the reality for most people.
That brings us to the end of this podcast. We still have the storytelling workshop in Nashville, Tennessee on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of December and then the 13th, 14th and 15th of December is in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. People wander why they have to tell stories and it's the flipside of the coin. You have logic and you have facts and you have to have stories, because stories they keep the audience alive and they keep things memorable. You can run on facts and logic alone, but who's going to remember your story? Who's going to pass it on?
Storytelling is incredible. You read The Brain Audit and you'll find that almost the entire book is one of storytelling. Read The Brain Audit and also join us at 5000bc.com. If you want to go ahead you need a group and that group is in 5000bc, we don’t have these spammers and these loud mouths. We largely have a group on introverts even though I'm an extrovert. Join us at 5000bc.com and if you like to come to the workshop it's at psychotactics.com/story-telling-workshop. That’s me Sean D'Souza saying bye for now and here's to your talent 2 years from now.