BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast

BiggerPockets Podcast 431: How to Make Trade-offs in Your Life (Before Others Do it For You) with Greg McKeown

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Your agent is calling you to show you houses, your boss is emailing you about some work to do, your partner wants to grab dinner, and you want to take a nap. How do you prioritize things in your life when everything seems so important? The key is essentialism.

Joining the podcast today is Greg McKeown, Author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Greg relates to the struggle of many entrepreneurs and investors: too many options, not enough time. Instead of telling you to wake up at 5 AM, take a cold shower and work until 10PM, he presents a far more effective (and simple) approach.

What Greg suggests: pick the things you care most about, do them, and don’t worry about the rest. But how do you pick when everything seems essential?

The answer: almost everything else besides your core cares/needs aren’t essential. If you begin to treat the non-essential as essential, you stretch yourself too thin, not allowing you the time to accomplish what truly is…essential.

In the modern age, many of us feel like we don’t have time to accomplish everything we want. When we get laser-focused and put the principles of essentialism in our daily lives, we can accomplish more than ever.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets podcast, show 431.

Greg:
Non-essentialism only has one real defect that’s that it’s a lie. The idea that you can do everything for everyone at all times and that will lead to success, everything about it is not right. Everything about that equation isn’t valid.

Intro:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets radio, simplifying real estate for investors large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing, without all the hype, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned, and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from biggerpockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon:
What’s going on everyone, it’s Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets podcast, here with a phenomenal show, with my cohost, Mr. David Greene. David that was… We just got finished recording and that was crazy and kind of humiliating, but kind of amazing.

David:
It was humiliating for you, it was awesome for me to be a fly on the wall, watching you be tortured by this guest.

Brandon:
Torture.

David:
If anybody wants to see Brandon squirm, you’ve got to watch this one on YouTube.

Brandon:
Torture. I was just glad when I pulled my phone up, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. That’s all I’m going to say, is I felt a little vindicated right then. And then, kind of a cool surprise came at the very, very end of the show, that was very fitting, so hang tight for the whole show. You guys are going to love it, but before we get to that, let’s talk about today’s Quick tip.

David:
Quick tip.

Brandon:
David, I’m going to give you today’s quick tip ability, what you got?

David:
Well, this is very similar to one that we just talked about recently, when we gave our take time to think challenge. So when we interviewed Nir he spoke about what was [crosstalk 00:01:39]-

Brandon:
You don’t want to try the last name? You don’t want to try his last name?

David:
Eyal. Ayall. Hey y’all. It was something like that, right?

Brandon:
Something like that sure, yeah.

David:
What was the name of the-

Brandon:
Indistractable.

David:
Indistractable, yes. And by the way, I’ve gotten rave reviews on that podcast, everybody really, really liked it. He spoke about finding ways to focus on what really matters, and today’s episode is in that same vein, so Brandon and I issued the take time to think challenge, because what we want the listeners who are… in some degree, we’re all struggling with how we can move our businesses forward or our goals forward, nobody’s completely oblivious to that struggle. But take time to think about where you’re trying to go and what you can do to fix it. So if you haven’t done the take time to think challenge, do so today. When this podcast is done, let yourself think about what is essential in my life? What would make my life look the way I want it to look? Or make me feel the way that I want to feel? And start thinking about things that you yourself can eliminate to make that happen.

David:
Today’s guest made amazing points, but one of the biggest one, is we’re always tempted to do more, but usually the answer is cutting out things that we’re already doing that we shouldn’t be.

Brandon:
Yeah, yeah. Really good point. Now, it’s time to bring in Greg. Greg McKeown, I hope I’m saying his name. Am I butchering that. I kind of butcher everyone’s last name, McKeown, I think that’s it. McKeown, I’m going to go with that, Greg McKeown. He wrote a book called Essentialism, and it is one of my favorite books of all time. I love it. I’ve read it numerous, numerous time, and it’s so important… So here’s what this show is for, it’s for anybody who feel like maybe you are overworked, there’s not enough time in the day or in the week, that you feel like you get distracted too easily, using social media or anything like that, you feel like there’s a lot of different types of maybe business or real estate investing you want to get into and you can’t really chose which is the right one, and for anybody who just feels like their life is not exactly the way they want it to be.

Brandon:
So that’s who this show is for, and again, pick up a copy of Essentialism, it’s just awesome, but that’ our interview. And like was said earlier, Greg puts me in the hot seat at some point, for the last third of this show, and it is humorous and humiliating, it’ll be great.

David:
So check out the show and then make sure you stick around for the out show, where Brandon and I are going to break down specifically how this material would apply to real estate investing and business in general.

Brandon:
There we go. And without further ado, let’s get to the interview with Greg McKeown.

Brandon:
All right, Greg, welcome to the BiggerPockets podcast, man. It’s a huge honor to have you on the show today.

Greg:
It’s great to be with you Brandon, thank you.

Brandon:
Like I mentioned earlier, before we started recording, I think I’ve read your book 10 times now. It’s one of those books that I revisit. There’s like a handful in my life, whenever I’m in a spot, where I’m like, “I need to be reminded of this,” or to get back in that mode, Essentialism is one of those books for me, and they got… the highlighted and underlined and everything here. So I’m excited today to dig into this thing, so why don’t we start? Go ahead.

Greg:
No, you-

Brandon:
I felt a breath coming.

Greg:
No, you’re the pro man, you need to do this podcast. I’m going to listen while you do it, because you’re-

Brandon:
There we go.

Greg:
… a master at this.

Brandon:
Well, it’s funny actually. I’ve been doing a lot of, not speaking, well, yeah, I guess you can call it speaking, podcast for other shows lately, and I realized a lot of my things I’m talking about when I’m doing other people’s shows, I’m like, “Oh, man, I got that from Essentialism. Oh, yeah, I pulled that story from you.” So I’m just pretty much stealing everything from you anyway, so we’re all good.

Greg:
Well, I’m glad to hear that it’s been relevant for you and it’s been useful, and that’s always an honor for me.

Brandon:
Yeah, well, good. Well, let’s get into it. For those have not read the book yet, what is essentialism? What does that mean?

Greg:
It’s a way of thinking that you focus and figure out what is essential, and you eliminate everything you can that is non-essential, and then create a system to make it as effortless and easy as possible to do what really matter most. So that’s three things” explore, eliminate, and execute. That’s essentialism.

Brandon:
So it’s not productive. It think there’s often a belief that it just means get more stuff done.

Greg:
No, that’s the distinction exactly, is that productivity’s about getting more stuff done, like you’re in a coal mine, you’re trying to shift as much coal from point A to point B, get it out. I don’t think of essentialism, really, as productivity in that sense, at all. Essentialism’s not about doing more stuff, it’s about doing more of the right stuff. And that distinction’s everything, because going back to the coal mine, it’s like waking up and discovering, “My goodness, we’ve been in a diamond mine this whole time.” It’s how do you find the diamonds, so that you can harvest that instead of just more is better.

Brandon:
We have this analogy we use all the time of the show about building bridges. If you’re on one island over here, reality island, and you have success island, you got to build a bridge to get there, whatever that is in life, whether it’s financial success or whatever. And so many people are building way too many bridges. There was a time I was trying to [crosstalk 00:06:32]-

Greg:
I like it.

Brandon:
Yeah, it’s crazy how many people build these bridges.

Greg:
Yeah, exactly. They aren’t over to where they want to be, and so they just think, “Oh, I’ll do another one. I’ll do another one. I’ll do another one.” And they keep starting more and more things, and they’re making a millimeter progress in a million different directions around that island, expecting somehow to get to the next place. And it just doesn’t work that way. I’m with you.

Brandon:
Do you ever go to a carnival where they have those… and I hope I didn’t steal this analogy from you, metaphor, but I don’t know where I got it originally, maybe I made it up. We’ll assume that I made it up.

David:
He’s got priors for this Greg, don’t worry. He’s got a rap sheet a mile long because of stealing ideas.

Brandon:
No, man. No, no, borrowing, borrowing. The carnival where you have a dozen people lined up and they all have these little squirt guns and everyone has their own target to shoot at, this little round red target, like a Target logo. And if you shoot in the middle of it, your little horse moves across the thing, have you guys seen that before? Am I just crazy?

Greg:
Yeah, yeah. It’s in chapter 14.

Brandon:
Is it really?

Greg:
No, I’m just kidding.

Brandon:
Okay, geez.

David:
Oh, that was so good.

Brandon:
I was like no. Okay, good.

David:
I have seen that before Brandon.

Brandon:
You have seen that. Okay, right.

David:
I won one of those when I was like seven years old-

Brandon:
Did you?

David:
… with my grandpa. I still remember the frog toy that I won.

Brandon:
There you… That’s funny.

David:
It was very cool.

Brandon:
Okay, good, so I’m glad… Okay, so the idea that I’ve always used in my head, now, is even the bridge thing, I like that metaphor, but I like this idea of you have one squirt gun, that’s all you have, you can shoot out a certain amount of water out of your gun at one time. And so when there’s 10 targets, you shoot the top one, then the next one down, next one down, next one down, next… That little horse moves across so slowly, but if you just pick one target and just hold on to that thing, that thing moves a whole lot quicker. Now, we all know this stuff intuitively. I don’t think anybody listening to the show right now, is going, “What, I’m doing too many things?” So my question for you Greg is, why is this so difficult? You’ve talked to a lot of people about this over the years, why does everybody have this problem and it’s such a big one?

Greg:
Well, first of all, basically, essentialism is addressing a problem that you don’t normally think of as a problem, and that is success. So most of what’s been written about in the success literature and research is about how to become successful. Very little has been written about what you do once you are successful. And essentialism is in that, I think, rarer category. What happens if you have too many options and opportunities to be able to do them all? And that sounds like a nice problem to have, and it is, but it doesn’t make it less of a problem.

Greg:
And so, what my observation is is that even when people don’t exactly feel successful, we are all living in an age of the undisciplined pursuit of more, because there’s so much success that’s happened. So whether you wake up this morning going, “Oh, I’m ready to feel successful.” That’s not the point I’m making, but do you have a lot of options? Do you have a lot of choices? The answer is, yes, to almost everybody, and certainly everybody that’s at least able to get online. You can learn anything. You can connect and contact far vast numbers of people compared to how it was before.

Greg:
And so, that’s the challenge we’re up against. That’s the C change that’s taken place over… it depends how you want to date it, but from the Industrial Revolution that was a tremendous increase in options and opportunities, but then even over the last 10 years as we’ve gone from being connected to hyper-connected. There are these big shifts in the number of options and opportunities and choices that we will have. We want that problem, but we haven’t yet developed the skills to manage that positive problem. That’s what I think makes it so hard, is that we’re unprepared for the exponential increase of choices and options that have come our way.

Brandon:
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So what’s your background in this? How did you… Was this something you were just one day woke up, you’re like, “Man, I’m way too busy, I’ve got to figure this out.” How did this become your… I don’t know if life mission is too strong of a word here, but how did this become your thing?

Greg:
Well, one of the things that happened to me was on a personal basis, when I got an email from my boss at the time, it said, “Look Friday between 1:00 and 2:00 would be a very bad time for your wife to have a baby, because I need you to be at this client meeting.” And I’m sure they were at least semi-joking about that, but as it turns out, we are in the hospital Thursday night and then into the… My daughter was born in the early hours, and there we are Friday, still, of course, just barely in recovery. And instead of being focused, present on that clearly essential moment, I’m feeling pulled in… I’ve got my laptop open, I’m trying to… How do I navigate all the different competing demand on my time, all the options, all the choices, and to my shame, I go to the meeting.

Greg:
And I remember even after the meeting, as we were driving back, my boss said, “Look, the client will respect you for the choice you just made.” And the look on their faces, I don’t remember [inaudible 00:11:50]that sort confidence, but even that was right, it was clear, to me, in hindsight, that I’d made a fool’s bargain. That I had violated something more essential for something far less essential. And what I learned from all that was a simple lesson, which was if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. And so, I think that’s true for a lot of people today, and whether it’s just because you’re in a zoo, eat, sleep, repeat type of model, where you in Groundhog Day and everything’s the same and you’ve just got all this digital distraction and incoming meetings… That would be maybe the present version of this, but the end you’ve got to take control of the prioritization of your life. This is one of the key stories behind why I wrote Essentialism.

Brandon:
So what are some symptoms that someone could recognize when they’re not in control of prioritizing their own life?

Greg:
Yeah, I mean, I think somebody could just simply ask, “Look, have you ever felt stretched too thin at work or at home?” Which, of course, now, is often the same thing. “Have you ever felt busy but not productive? Have you ever felt like someone was constantly hijacking your day with their agenda?” Those to me are questions that people can ask to quickly ascertain whether they are in charge of it or whether other people are in charge of their life.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good, it makes me think about in business when you first start, like let’s take my business for example, I’m a real estate broker, your goal in the beginning is, “I’ve got to find clients.” You just run around trying to find as many of them as you can. And you get a couple clients, and now you have to service all of these clients. You have a million different tasks… well, maybe not a million, but many different tasks that you’re doing for them. And at a certain point, you lose control of your own schedule and your own life, because your phone is ringing and demands are coming in, and you’re trying to keep up with this crazy monster that you built. At that point, you start desperately looking for help, “How do I get someone to plug in to help me with some of these tasks, so I can step out?”

Brandon:
And the game of what you’re trying to accomplish is exactly what you’re talking about. It’s, “How do I replace myself with the tasks that need to be done that are not essential to growing the business?” And the better that you do that, the faster your business grows, the happier your clients are. The worse you are at that, the slower your progress is and the more happy you are. Would that be a fair assessment of how this works in the world of business?

Greg:
Yeah, I love that description. And there’s just two additional cautions I’d put on that, which is the first is to be careful as you get into that transition mode, as you’re about to shift a gear, is to not delegate what should not be done at all. So sometimes, there’s a risk, I remember talking to a small business owner, he had six, seven people in the business or something, and then for a variety of reasons, they reduced it down to a couple of people again. And their comment to me was like, “What was everyone doing?” Right, they didn’t know what value these people had been creating. They were all busy doing something, but when they removed four or five people from the equations, nothing changed.

Greg:
There’s a caution in that which is be careful that as you scale, you aren’t just giving away tasks that could just eliminated all together. That’s the first thing. And I think the second cautionary tale is just to do with hiring so carefully. It’s another essentialist principle, is less but better. To me, to principle that I came across… it sounds a bit harsh when you first hear it, but I’m not sure that it is. And it’s hire slow, fire fast. And so, it’s yes, scale, but don’t scale as a non-essentialist would scale, “Oh, I’ve got all these people and all this stuff, and I’m just going to expand and expand.” And this is the fastest way to die. Growth is one of the fastest ways to die in my experience.

Greg:
Now, of course, you want growth, of course, you want expansion, so it's all about, how do you do it in a disciplined way? How do you do it in a way that you can be around for a long time, and you aren't just part sort of a whiplash boom and bust approach. And I think real estate is actually is especially vulnerable to this. I lived in Arizona in the time… in 2007, '08, right before the… Well, '05, '06, '07, '08, where everybody is giving up careers to be in real estate, everybody. Everybody, it was the weirdest sensation. No matter how effective they already were in their careers, how competent they were, how… Everyone's got a house here and a house there and they're flipping this and they're flipping that, and it was such a bubble. And so, it's how to be careful that you don't either get a victim of your own bubble, that you get too big too fast. Or then, the bigger challenge I think even is when the whole market or whole industry starts to take on a certain set of norms, and you expand just because everybody else is. FOMO is driving you and fear is driving you, and greed is driving you, instead of what is actually the essential next thing to do.

Greg:
And my wife, who’s a better essentialist than I am, saved me from that, literally, in Arizona. I was about to buy another, totally, unnecessary house. I just loved it. I was like, “That’s be so great.” And I got almost… I got, as it were, to the altar on that one, and then it just was like, did not feel good about it, didn’t do it, and this was right before the bust. And her feeling the whole time was just like, “We just don’t need to do this. It’s just not needed.” She wasn’t caught up in the furor of it all, and that’s really what an essentialist can do is, “Let’s not worry about what everybody else is doing. I’m going to have my own strategy, the thing that makes sense, the thing that’s working, and be careful and disciplined in that way.” So I say, disciplined, expansion, and growth is the way to actually break through to the next level.

Brandon:
It’s that word that you’ve used a couple of times that’s on the cover of the book, the disciplined pursuit of less. So can we talk about… What did you mean… When you say disciplined, why did you choose that word and what does that mean, in terms of essentialism?

Greg:
Well, I’ve mentioned the alternative just briefly, but the undisciplined pursuit of more is the thing that otherwise successful people, teams, and companies have to be careful of. It’s that success cannot be properly trusted. Or said differently, success is a very poor teacher, and as Bill Gates used to say, and I love that he said it, and I love that he’s credible in being able to express that, that you’ve got to not get caught up in the hype of success and opportunities, but then you over extend yourself, and you do too many things, and you take on too much stuff, and it starts to blow up.

Greg:
The disciplined pursuit of less, is the antidote. Everybody, just about, uses the strategy of the disciplined pursuit of less in a calamity. Just about everybody in the real estate industry was an essentialist the day after the bubble burst. Now, suddenly, “Oh, no, no, we’ve got to be careful about where our expenditures go. We’ve got to be careful what we invest int. We’ve got to be careful of what… and we’ve going…” Everybody’s an involuntary essentialist when everything’s burning, when their house is burning, when the industry’s burning, and so on.

Greg:
But that’s the most expensive time to start to be an essentialist. What you want to be able to do, is to do it when other people are all going crazy. I’ll give you an example, a tech example, you’ve HP, Hewlett-Packard, is… one of the founders of HP said, that a successful venture is more likely to die of indigestion than starvation. He understood as he was building this company that he wanted to last for a 100 years, he just went, “We’ve got to do it carefully,” and so on. But then those two founders left the company and over a generation it became, for HP, the problem he had predicted, is exactly the biggest problem for them. They started investing in everything. They started in all these different, too many, directions. They came out, for example, at one time with a touchscreen interface laptop, basically. It was really beautiful, it was done really well, it was designed really well, everything about it was great, but the problem is is that that product came and went, and even to this day, people in HP don’t all know that it existed.

Greg:
So you launch a major product, or at least something that could be really big in the marketplace, and people inside your own company don’t even know you launched it. That is a fundamental example of indigestion, rather than starvation. You just did too many things, and that’s just one illustration. And I’m contrasting that now to Apple that shown a much more disciplined pursuit of decision making. And they’re one of the really clever or insight stories about their culture and mode of decision making is that they were working on the iPads, so the equivalent product as the one I just mentioned at HP, and as they were working on it, they’re making lots of progress, they’ve put lots of energy into, and then, they decide, hold on, really there’s a phone market, and now we’ve got the phone market and we’ve got this iPad product, not markets, just products.

Greg:
And what they did is they didn’t do what I think most companies would do with the resources that they had, “Well, we’ll just do both.” They paused on one, and they said, “Okay, we’re not going to do the iPad, we’re going to do the iPhone. If we do the iPhone first, maybe we’ll end up with both markets. If we try to do both at the same time, we may lose both.” And so, at a very similar time as HP comes out and loses this product, Apple’s choosing not to do it yet, do the iPhone, and then, later, got the iPad market. That’s a case study contrast in what it is to be undisciplined in your decision making, “Well, I’ll just do both. I’ll do everything.” And a disciplined pursuit, where you’re saying, “Which is the trade off I need to make in order to get to the results I really want down the road?”

Brandon:
So this is really good and really applicable to a lot of people listening to this show right now, who… again, our audience is largely real estate investors or they want to invest in real estate. They want to be that guy back in ’08 that can quit their job and flip houses, or whatever, buy rental properties, whatever. But the problem is, and this applies to every business, is in the beginning, people don’t know what that line is. They don’t that the iPhone is better to pursue than the iPad, because they’re bot established yet. So how do you recommend or how do balance the idea of… When you’re just beginning something, the idea of being open to lots of things versus being focused, how do you balance that?

Greg:
Yeah, so I think this is what I would say, in the early days of any venture… So there are these three principles that I’ve mentioned, but let me mention them again: explore what’s essential, eliminate what’s not, and execute by making it as easy as possible. I think in the early stage of any venture, you just flip the order, you explore, execute, eliminate. So you’re exploring is like you’re setting a hypothesis, you’re saying, “Well, what could be the essential way?” And I think the primary way you do that is actually by just asking people, learning from people, and admitting, as fast as you can, your ignorance.

Greg:
Not pretending you know anything. Just telling people, “I know nothing about this. Can you tell me everything that you know about this? Can you assume I know nothing and go…” And just keep on being in that state, so you’re accelerated your learning. Then you quickly execute, and you’re going to try something out. Small bet, fast, then you eliminate, also fast. So you’re making the cycle small as possible in the early stages, you’re reversing that order as I just mentioned, and you’re just in this rapid learning process. This isn’t real estate, and obviously, it is different in kind, but I’ve spent a day skiing in my life, and I just decided, “Okay, I’m going to set up a sky trip for our family, and we’re going to do some learning, we’re going to do this.”

Greg:
And so, I’ve been on the phone over the last week talking to different people. And every person I talk to, I just give that speech to them, “I know nothing. Everything you know, and everything you think I know, I don’t know. So just tell me everything.” And if I hadn’t done that, my learning would have been so much slower. I would have learned the hard, expensive way. I’d have bought the ski passes directly instead of getting the icon passes, which I didn’t even… I don’t know about that. Anyone who knows anything about skiing knows about this, but I didn’t. So you’ve just got to keep on admitting your ignorance so that you can learn really quickly. If you pretend to know and act upon that pretension, you’re going to make expensive mistakes. And maybe you just kill your whole opportunity, so that’s what I would say.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good. Yeah, admitting your ignorance. I really like that. That’s one of those quotes like I want to blow up on a sign and put up on my wall, just to remind myself. Even like, hey, I’m successful in a lot of areas, right now. But there’s a whole lot of areas I’m not successful in. And even the ones that I think I’m successful at, it’s only because I’m comparing myself to somebody who’s not as successful, not as far down the path. So in reality, the more we can do that, the more we have that attitude.

Greg:
I just had… I’ve got to know Arianna Huffington over a period of time, and she was one of the first people I had on the What’s Essential podcast, and it was still in the midst of COVID, so I definitely did not know anything about podcasting. I had partnered with a company, Wheelhouse, to do this, and then, suddenly COVID happens, I’m literally using the worst equipment, I know nothing about… this is definitely like a starting from scratch thing. And when called her to record her that day, she just admitted ignorance, instantly. Because she was in a similar situation, even though she has a successful podcast, and so on, she was not used to doing any of that from home, and she just was like, “Oh, hey, listen, I’ll just learn from the best.” Which, of course, wasn’t me, but the fact that she says it that way, implies something really positive that she’s not going to pretend to know something that she doesn’t know.

Greg:
You just ask the obvious question, ask the dumb question, just keep asking, you can learn… I think you can 10X your learning, speed, your capacity, not by being more intelligent, but by being more honest about your ignorance.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good. I’m going to let you jump in David. I’ve been hogging the mic here for too long.

David:
One thing, as I’m listening to you talk, I’m realizing a huge piece of doing this successfully, has to do with maybe having the courage to say, “No.” And I always think about, “Well, what would make that hard?” And I’m sure that there’s some psychological traits, where if, maybe, you were in a situation in life where you did not have a lot of opportunity, let’s say, you grew up without any food, gluttony would be a much bigger struggle for you, once you get around there’s good everywhere. Because you’re in this scarcity mindset of, “If I don’t eat it now, maybe, it won’t be there tomorrow.” And like you mentioned, the problem becomes indigestion not starvation, so having studied this, do you have any advice for people who maybe struggle with fear of missing out or FOMO? It’s extra had for them to say, “No, I will not take that opportunity, because I have faith that if I say no to the wrong things, the right thing will come.”

Greg:
Yeah, there’s two things that you made me think of. The first is just, every time you mention FOMO now, anytime anyone says that to me, I just had Patrick McGinnis on the show and he’s the person who came up with the term FOMO, so that’s a pretty good mic drop moment right there. He’s the first person to publish that term online, and now it’s in the dictionary.

David:
That’s awesome.

Greg:
But he had some really great insight about FOMO and also a similar thing, which is FOBO, which is the fear of better options. Where you’re always looking for something that could be better than the one you have and you’re worried that somebody else has that option, and so you’re just in this endless unhappiness cycle, because something better exists in the world. And it probably does, but you don’t want to have to spend your whole life in indecision or chasing everything. So anyway that’s sort of my FOMO thing.

Greg:
Your question is more subtle though, if I understood it right, which is just, if somebody knows hunger and that literally hunger you specifically said, bu also just other kinds of hunger, where there wasn’t money growing up, other people seemed to be able to go off and do things. Other people could have new shoes, new cool, in England, trainers, that creates a hunger in you, and I know that hunger, so I know what you’re talking about. And I think it’s a really positive thing, in that it gets you up. I started my first business when I was 10 years old washing cars because I want… because I was hungry, that I did not want to not be able to get those things or do things that I wanted to try and do or go to where I wanted to try and go to. So it’s a very positive trait, helpful, but it makes a good servant, and a poor master.

David:
Yes.

Greg:
It out lives its usefulness. You’ve got to have something else to guide you. Now, I was taking to Steve Harvey about this, because he read Essentialism and he just… he blogged about it, that’s how I even know about it, that it changed his life, which I thought was great. And we talked a few times about this, but one of the things he told me is that he hadn’t taken a break, he hadn’t taken a summer off since he was 16 years old, and he was 60 when he was telling me this story. Not one summer off, he just worked the whole time, flat out, nonstop, and that’s how he came to Essentialism is somebody said to him, “You’re the busiest person I’ve ever met. You’ve got to do something different.” And they got their assistant to go buy that book over lunch, give it to him before the end of the day, and read it that night, and that’s what he was doing.

Greg:
He’s running. That hunger you’ve got have it serve you. And so, I’m trying to think really about how do you get out of it, I’m trying to work out whether I’m out of it.

David:
Well, that’s exactly why I asked the question, because as you’re talking, I’m thinking, “Man, he is speaking to the challenge of my life right now. Which is, how can I get better at saying, no, so that I can focus on what my businesses really need or what my life really needs?” But there’s always an obstacle, there’s a guilt I feel that if I tell this person, “No,” that I’m a bad person because I didn’t… that was my friend from when I was in sixth grade, they’re not really serving me now, they’re not essential, but it feels wrong at times. Or when I was a kid, I didn’t really feel like anyone was paying a whole lot of attention to what I was doing. I was just desperate for some older man to see me and say, “I see something in that kid. I’m going to take him under my wing,” and no one did. I never felt like I really got opportunity.

David:
So when I got into a position as a man where there was so much opportunity that I couldn’t say, “Yes,” to all of it, I was always fighting this internal struggle to think, “Oh, if I don’t say, yes, it might not be there tomorrow.” But the catch-22 is that that then prohibits me from actually being successful, because I’m trying to download 12 movies on my laptop at the same time, and none of them are getting done. So I find myself resonating so strongly with what you’re recommending and I was wondering if, in your experience studying this, if you’ve come across certain traits or a way of looking at it that helps somebody who’s in my position, where they think, “I’m hungry, I have to get it all,” but that hunger is also then becoming an obstacle to their success?

Greg:
Yeah, something occurs to me is that really, you might be able to hold on to the drive and the hunger, but it’s changing the mindset. The non-essentialist believes that almost everything is essential, and so the answer to meeting that hunger is eating more, right? Is saying, “Yes,” to-

David:
Right.

Greg:
… everything. They’re trying to associate the hunger through a strategy, because they see it a certain way. And I think the essentialist is just a higher level mindset, where you realize, not everything is of equal value. In fact, it’s incredibly disproportionate. That a few things are incredibly valuable and essential, and most of the other stuff is non-essential. I see it almost opposite to a non-essentialist sees it. A non-essentialist thinks everything is essential. An essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential. And so, as you start to adopt that mindset, keep the hunger, but apply a new mindset, a new strategy, “What are the few things that are really going to help me make the highest contribution?” In my business, but also I sense in your just general sense of life mission to make a difference to people. You’ve got to be selective. You have to make trade offs.

Greg:
And here’s why, because you can’t not make trade offs. So when I say, you have to make trade offs, all I’m saying is be conscious yourself and intentional about it, because otherwise, other people will make the trade offs for you. Other circumstances will make it for you. And by other people I don’t mean your sixth grade friend, although that could be true. I mean, some super powered executive team in Silicon Valley who is hijacking you day 20 times a day with notifications on your phone to get you to be on that social media platform or on ESPN or whatever the app of choice is. I mean, these people are spending 100s of billions of dollars, collectively, to hijack your day. So we don’t have to go to the highest guilt trade off first, there’s lower hanging fruit than that. And we can start with, “What are the non-essential stuff in my life that I know I’m over investing in?”

David:
That’s really good.

Greg:
Let’s start there. What comes to mind when you say that now, David, we’re going deep now?

Brandon:
TikTok.

Greg:
Oh, yeah, Brandon, you’re saying TikTok. Is that true for you?

Brandon:
Yeah.

Greg:
Really?

Brandon:
I have to uninstall from my phone, and then a week later I’m reinstall it, because I’m bored, and I have to uninstall it because it just kills me. It sucks me in. I don’t make videos, I just like… it sucks you in.

Greg:
You’re right. And of course, it’s addictive, of course-

Brandon:
It is very addicting.

Greg:
And TikTok has been built upon the learned addictiveness of the other platforms that came before them, so they’re just a smarter addiction than the one before.

Brandon:
Agreed.

Greg:
And it’s going to be like this for here on out, because the learning capacity of AI is so much more advanced than our learning capacity that we are going to have not just addictions in our lives like it always has been. These are personalized addictions. These are exactly what… If you go on YouTube, because it’s learning from the last thing you went, it just serves you up more and more of exactly what it is you’re into right now. So I think is why it’s become so urgent to take responsibility for prioritization. It’s like, “I’ve got to take back control of my life.”

Brandon:
Two quick thoughts come to mind, first of all, you said earlier about prioritization, and I remember having that circled in the book as well, if you don’t prioritize your life, somebody else will prioritize it for you. So one thing that I do, just to… and maybe I got this from your book, maybe I’ve been doing it longer than that, I’m not sure, but every time somebody asks me to do a commitment now of some kind, there’s two things I do. One, I know I took from the book, which is the buffer zone, adding the buffer in between, but the second thing I do is I always… I actually phrase it like this, “If I say, yes, to that it’s going to be robbing time from my wife and my two kids.” I like literally, in my head, I say that.

Brandon:
I love doing the podcast, I love doing other people’s podcasts, but I have dramatically slowed down, because if I’m out here doing a… Right now, you two are robbing time from my kids and my wife. And that’s okay, we make that trade off, but I made that trade off. I didn’t let somebody else make the trade off for me. So that’s just one little thing that I do. And when I say, the buffer zone, I just mean like I add in space in between me saying, “Yes,” to stuff. I add in space between committing to things. I just try to add that zone in there, so I’m not sucked into the moment. But anything you want to add on those two things?

Greg:
Well, I like what you’re doing because you’re restoring reality to your mindset. When we have limited mindsets, when we think we can say, “Yes,” to something without having an impact, without saying, “No,” to something else, we’re just in a great big con. We bought into… We’re being conned. We’ve been sold a bill of goods and we’re buying it. Non-essentialism only has one real defect and that’s that it’s a lie. The idea that you can do everything for everyone at all times and that will lead to success, everything about it is not right. Everything about that equation isn’t valid. You cannot do everything for everyone, and so your attempt to do it will not produce the outcome it’s promising. It will not live up to what’s promised on the packaging. So you saying to yourself, when the request comes in, and I want to, again, emphasize it’s not just when the request comes in, but when the TikTok comes in-

David:
Yep.

Brandon:
Yeah, I hear you.

Greg:
… it’s… When somebody emails you, okay, that’s one thing. “Oh, can you help me with something?” Okay, but then, when the TikTok notification comes in use that same sentence in that situation. If I watch TikTok, I am taking time away from my wife and children, because that’s exactly what’s happening. And so I really try to encourage people to do… And we can do it right now, if you’re interested. Do you want to do a little intervention?

Brandon:
Sure.

Greg:
Should we do a live intervention?

Brandon:
Let’s do it right now. I’m up for it.

Greg:
Okay. Here we go. So Brandon, I want you to tell me what is something that’s essential for you right now? High important that you’re under investing in? First thought? Go, you’ve already had it.

Brandon:
Okay, I was going to say my daughter’s ballet.

Greg:
Good.

Brandon:
I was going to say I should be more involved with her [crosstalk 00:39:28]-

Greg:
Okay, and why does it matter to you so much?

Brandon:
Because I will never get that time back and I’ll regret that.

Greg:
Yeah, why? Why will you regret it?

Brandon:
I will regret it because at the end of my life, when I look back, I’m never going to… I don’t know if this answers the question, but I’m never going to say, “I wish I would have worked more.” I’m never going to say, “I wish I would have even surfed more or walked more.” I’m going to say, “I wish I would have spent more time with my family,” because that’s number one.

Greg:
You’re worried at the end of your life, this will be like actually life regret, if you don’t-

Brandon:
Yes.

Greg:
… spend this time now with your daughter?

Brandon:
Yeah.

Greg:
Why? Why will that be something that you would regret in that moment?

Brandon:
I would say, because I value being a good father above almost everything else in my life. That’s value number one.

Greg:
It’s really close to your highest value.

Brandon:
Yeah.

Greg:
It’s up there in your very top tier of what matters. Why is it so important? Why is it one of your top values?

Brandon:
Part of it is because when I was a kid… I suppose you could say, because… my dad’s awesome, but my dad worked a lot of hours, and so, one of the biggest things I longed for as a kid was for my dad to be around more, but he just worked 80 hours a week. And so I guess, I think, I don’t want to be that way with my kids, and so, therefore, that’s my value.

Greg:
The absence of that for you left some pain for you?

Brandon:
Yeah. Yeah.

Greg:
What would success look like for you in this area? When you say, ballet, what does it mean? Are you talking about talking once a day with her, asking how it’s going, checking in once a week? Is it going to something with her? What would the adjustment be concretely?

Brandon:
I’d say it’s probably going with her more often. I’m maybe once every other month now, going with her.

Greg:
Okay, so you’re at once every other month, what would success be for you? I don’t mean perfect, just what’s solid progress for you?

Brandon:
I’d say every other month probably, sorry, every other week.

Greg:
Every other week. Right, so you’re doing it once every other month, you’re doing it once eight weeks, you want to be doing it every two weeks. How long does it take when you go?

Brandon:
An hour.

Greg:
So you’re looking for an additional three hours?

Brandon:
Yeah.

Greg:
Over-

Brandon:
A two month period.

Greg:
Yeah. Three more hours over every two months, correct. Three more hours every two weeks to do it. Okay, tell me non-essential stuff that you’re over investing in. You mentioned, TikTok right off the bat before, how much time are you spending doing TikTok?

David:
The clock is TikToking.

Brandon:
Yeah, I don’t want to say that much.

Greg:
Yeah, nobody, including you believes that.

Brandon:
I was going to say, I’ll go like a week without it at all, because I’ll uninstall it. And then, I’ll be like 20 minutes a day.

Greg:
Anyone who’s-

Brandon:
30 minutes a day.

Greg:
… uninstalling an app from their phone, has a problem.

Brandon:
Let’s go 30 minutes a day, so that’s three to four hours a week, where I’m probably aimlessly scrolling either TikTok or Instagram.

Greg:
Could it be more than 30 minutes a day?

Brandon:
It could be, but I don’t think so. I’m probably afraid to look at my phone to find out.

Greg:
There is a way to tell.

Brandon:
There is a way to tell.

Greg:
Don’t worry, I don’t need to-

Brandon:
I could pull it up, but-

Greg:
All right, go on-

Brandon:
I would say-

Greg:
… then pull it up. You just offered it now.

Brandon:
I would say-

Greg:
Now, let’s pull it up.

Brandon:
Let’s pull it up right now. All right, hold on, pulling it up. All right, screen time, let’s go last week. We’ll go last week, because I think it was on there the whole week. Daily average, for my whole phone my daily average is only two hour 16 minutes, which is about the lowest it’s been in a while. Oh, but last week was much higher. All right, okay, it wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t terrible. Last week, total time on TikTok was an hour and two minutes, total. So that’s not terrible for last week. Instagram was three hours and 21 minutes. So maybe I’m misjudging what I’m spending my time doing.

Greg:
Okay, so there we have four hours, but actually, you’re only looking for an hour. Is there any… what is the benefit… When you look at those two things, do you find yourself going, “But I like TikTok, it destresses me, so I do want a bit of that in my life?”

Brandon:
No, it actually makes me angry, most of the time. Most of the time, I get irritated after… Instagram the same way, especially, with a lot of the last few months of politics. It’s been-

Greg:
So you’re telling me that not only is it-

Brandon:
It’s not a positive experience.

Greg:
… unimportant, it’s actually negative?

Brandon:
Yeah. Yeah.

Greg:
So you could find… If we could find a way to make a trade off between Instagram, TikTok, you would have found vastly more time than you need to be able to make this time with your daughter.

Brandon:
Dramatically more. Yeah, dramatically.

Greg:
Is it a trade off that you would like to make? Or inside are you like, “You know what Greg? I want my vices. I just want this.”

Brandon:
No it is a trade off. I am very happy to make.

Greg:
So that’s like step one and two, we haven’t got to step three yet, that’s what we need to do. Step one is what’s essential, that you’re under investing in. Step two is what’s non-essential, you’re over investing in, so that’s the explore and the eliminate. Now, we know what the change is we want to make. So you move into execution, and what people normally do when they come to execution, when they normally think of the word discipline, they’re thinking, “Make a decision and force it, and do this. I’m going to do this.”

Brandon:
Will power, will power.

Greg:
And I do believe in the power of decision making, you can make a choice. I am confident that you could make a choice to go, “I am off this and I’m never going on TikTok again.” People can make those choices, so I’m not trying to diminish that to zero, but what I think is also important is stacking the decks in your favor, because as we mentioned before, TikTok and Instagram are, literally, hiring 100s of people 1000s of people now, who are targeting systems that target you. Personally, uniquely, and they are coming after you all the time, and in every possible way that they can come up with. Through other social pressure, other people mentioned, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been on TikTok. Did you see this thing?” And now you’re pulled back into it. Now, you’re curious again. Now, you sucked in.

Greg:
So they are creating huge webs to try and pull you in. So that’s the current system. Now, we want to try to at least create some system to weigh it back in your favor, so I’m going to put this over to David for a second. David, what can Brandon do to make this easy or at least, easier to make the trade off we just described?

David:
I think he could make a rule that he only looks at TikTok if he’s with his family, so maybe Rosie or Wilder has to be with him when he’s looking at it. And as long as their attention is there, he can do it, but when they get bored with it, he’s going to actually put it away, and go do something else.

Greg:
Okay.

David:
He could also schedule some time in his day for that. Whatever you want to do to recharge your brain… I thought you made a really good point, Greg, that there’s some time is some value to what we may call mindless scrolling or whatever. Because it’s like a recharge, you can’t just focus on business all the time. You can’t just lift weights all day, you have to regroup. And sometimes after I just watch YouTube for two hours, I’m in a much better mood and I’m way more likely to go on the forum of BiggerPockets and communicate with people, because I’m happy and I’m charged up. So he could look at, “If I do this, it’s for the purpose of destressing, so I can be a better more present parent to the things that matter more, and only using it for that purpose.”

Greg:
What about this, let’s go a little more extreme with you Brandon, what if you just give the password to David?

Brandon:
The password to open up different apps? Like put on the app [crosstalk 00:47:50]-

Greg:
Yeah, TikTok and Instagram and only he has the password.

Brandon:
I could definitely do that.

Greg:
This is literally based on experience with somebody that I was coaching who had… The way you said that, you were like, “No, way I’m going to do that.” The body language and tone did not support the action. But I worked with somebody who was-

Brandon:
I like the idea.

Greg:
… on Instagram 14 to 18 hours a week, and so he had a part time job being on Instagram, just scrolling. This doom scrolling. So what he did is he gave his password to someone else, and all through the week he couldn’t access it. He could only access it, I think, maybe on the weekends or something like that. And maybe that’s how it would be for you. So you’re already self-policing it right now, but maybe you just go, “These tools are too powerful for me. I don’t want to use up my precious discipline managing this and having this battle. I’m just going to give it to somebody else, so they are managing this for me. They just take care of it. It’s gone. I don’t have to think about it anymore.” Brandon, are you up for the challenge.

Brandon:
I’m up for the challenge.

Greg:
Would you give it for two months?

Brandon:
Up entirely, or up for unscheduled time?

Greg:
Yeah, that was amazing. Brandon, the fear-

Brandon:
Justifying that.

Greg:
… of God in you as you said that. You’re like, “Wait, wait, wait-

Brandon:
Hold on [crosstalk 00:49:19]-

Greg:
… hold on. What are we really committing to here?

David:
He’s going to start talking like Gollum from Lord of the Rings any minute now.

Greg:
Yeah, my precious.

Brandon:
I want my precious. TikTok, I would say, yes, I could give that up for two months, no problem. Instagram would be much more difficult to give up. Mainly, because [crosstalk 00:49:38]-

Greg:
Okay, we’re going to start with TikTok, because that was one the one that you first mentioned.

Brandon:
All right, we’ll try that.

Greg:
Even though your commitment to Instagram is much greater, I can tell-

Brandon:
It is.

Greg:
… the hours and hours are all there, and the addiction’s higher. But still, we’re going to start with TikTok because you’re only looking for three extra in a two month period. If you give up TikTok, and you reclaim the time to be able to spend doing this with your daughter. Now, that’s not the end thing. So are you willing to give your password up to TikTok to David for two months?

Brandon:
Yes.

Greg:
Okay, so we’re way closer to your goal now. David’s going to be your accountability partner. He’s going to help keep you to this, and if you’re listening to this, of course-

Brandon:
Let them hear it.

Greg:
… you’ve got lots of social pressure on your side. You have positive peer pressure, and that’s exactly what you want, because you want that to help you live by your values. When you get to the end of your life, you are going to be glad that you had social pressure helping you to do what you say, to me, is essential. So okay, what else can you do? Now, that got you the time rebate, but that’s not getting you the action to become effortless. We want this to be as easy as possible for you to actually fulfill your commitment to our daughter that you’re making here. What can you do to make it so that you will not break this commitment?

Brandon:
I live by my calendar, so if it’s on my calendar, I do it. I’m a slave to my calendar.

Greg:
So you can put it on the calendar.

Brandon:
I can put it on the calendar.

Greg:
Okay, that’s another step. What else can you do? I’ll tell you one thing you could do. You can talk to wife, yes?

Brandon:
Yep, wife, yes, Heather.

Greg:
You can talk to your wife, Heather, and you can tell her about this deal that you’re making.

Brandon:
Yeah.

Greg:
How would you explain that?

Brandon:
I would tell Heather just that, “Hey, I want to…” I’m going to do exactly what we just talked to, that I realize that-

Greg:
Put it into your own words.

Brandon:
Yeah. Kids and family is the number one priority, and I have not been living my values the way that I want to and the way that’s going to make me feel the best, so I’m going to be attending ballet, at least, every other week, if not every week, with Rosie from now on.

Greg:
Yeah, do you think your wife’s going to forget you mentioning that?

Brandon:
She will not forget that.

Greg:
She will not forget… You say that once, and that’s going to be another really important accountability partner to help you fulfill that. And I suspect… Assuming that she’s the one that’s going-

Brandon:
She is-

Greg:
… [crosstalk 00:52:03]every time.

Brandon:
She will have to trade off with me every other week, is what she’ll want.

Greg:
She will trade off with you every other week, and she’ll be happy for that. And even though t he first time you do it, you might be like, “Oh, dog gone it Greg, essentialism. Where’s my TikTok?” I think it’s the kind of thing as soon as you start doing it, you go, “Yeah, I’m where I… I want to be here. I want the advantage of being here.” And essentialists embrace and love trade offs, because if allows them to have strategic advantage. It means that you can have the benefits of all that ongoing relationship with your daughter that will build and build and build. And as someone who’s just… My youngest is 11. I have four children, so now, basically, all teenagers. There’s not one day I regret now… Even now, so not end of life, having made specific, deliberate intentional trade offs, which I know you’ve made, I can tell you’ve made already. But watching them now, we’re like really good friends, all of us. We really enjoy being together.

Greg:
We have deep relationship. When travel was a thing, back in the old days, about 80% of the time, I’d travel with one of my children, and we just have these amazing memories, traveling all over the work together. And we didn’t have to do that, but those investments have just created this goodness that I think would have made it so much harder if we hadn’t done it. Okay. Still, one more test for you here, to help make the system work for you. Is that, I’m gong to suggest a $100 challenge, which is that you put a $100 bill up on the fridge or up away in your office or wherever it is that’s helpful, but somewhere public. And that $100 you’ve got to decide what to do with it, but it’s there if you don’t fulfill the commitment. So if at the end of two months you haven’t gone four times, then that $100 will be either… these are some of things I know of people that have done this. You could, and this is awful, but you could just rip it up. That could be your thing. If you don’t do it, you have to rip up a $100 bill, throw it away.

Greg:
That’s just so offensive to people, that’s why it’s helpful. Or you could say, “Okay, I’m going to give it to…” Some people say, “Okay, I’m going to give to the political party I don’t subscribe to.” So they give it to some other cause, or just even give it away to some other thing, but either way, it sits there, exists there as a perpetual reminder of the commitment that you’re collectively making. Thoughts on that? You willing to take the $100 challenge?

Brandon:
Here’s what I’m going to do Greg. I’m going to send you a $100, because I really don’t want to send you a $100, if I go [crosstalk 00:54:46]-

Greg:
That’s what they should do from now on.

Brandon:
From now on, you could make a lot of money this way.

Greg:
From now on, I’m going to have the $100 challenge come to me.

David:
That’s funny.

Brandon:
So actually there’s an app out there, I think it’s called Stickk, S-T-I-C-K-K-

David:
Yeah, there is.

Brandon:
Right? Yeah. It’s you take the money and they hold it for you, and then, you have an accountability partner. I did that a couple years ago, and it worked. I lost like 20 pounds. It was a challenge with a buddy of mine.

Greg:
I thought you were going to say I lost $20 just like that.

Brandon:
No, we put like a 1000 bucks up me and this buddy about who could loss… I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t 20, but 15 pounds something like, this is several years ago now, yep, it worked. We both lost the weight we wanted, both got our money back and didn’t have to go send it to whoever it was at the time.

Greg:
Yeah, yeah. So I love that you had experience with it. That’s the process. We’ve just gone through the explore, eliminate, execute. It doesn’t have to be that you start with the hardest trade offs. The hardest trade offs are the ones where you’re choosing something really essential and something else that’s important, or something else that’s somewhat important. That’s more painful, but if you start with the total trivial, the non-essential, the bottom 10% of stuff on the one hand, and the top 10% on the other, you have no-brainer trade offs. And that essentialism 101, that’s the place to start.

Brandon:
That’s cool.

Greg:
And so you’re saying no to the stuff that just shouldn’t even be in your life at all. And so, that’s what we just did.

Brandon:
That’s awesome, man. Yeah, I appreciate that. And I had not thought about it from that perspective, because even just like yesterday, I had a long conversation with one of my buddies about how I really want to launch another podcast. I’ve got another podcast idea, I want to launch another show, but I’m already doing two a week of this one, and I’m like, “Oh, man, a third…. that’s another hour a week. I just don’t have time for another hour a week.” But the truth is, what we just talked about, “What’s more essential an hour of TikTok or launching another podcast that’ll reach another quarter million people a week?” Now, that sounds like a pretty stupid thing to say, “I don’t have time for another podcast.”

Greg:
Well, and just building on that, you say, Instagram, which on is more valuable to you? Now, you may, again, have some value on Instagram. I get that there could be things that you’re learning from there, from your audience, you could be learning from other people, but people know when they’re past the point of usefulness, where they’re past the point of this actually adding value. And I think that happens pretty fast. I think if you’re past sort of five minutes, you’re probably past the point of real value addition. And so, maybe that’s where you can get the time you need to be able to do the second podcast.

Brandon:
Well, it’s funny, if I were to use it… My argument my head wants to go to is, “Well, I use Instagram for work. I reach a lot of people that way. It’s good for me.” But I’m remind of Tim Ferriss, Four Hour Work Week, he has a section in Four Hour Work Week, where he says, “If there was a gun to your head and you could only work hours a week, what would you get done?” And I like that question, because it’s kind of an essentialist type of question. It’s like, what are the essential things. It kind of helps you prioritize, but when I think about, okay, fine, if Instagram’s important for my life and for my business, and I raise a lot of money for my real estate fund on Instagram, great. If I had five minutes a day for Instagram, what do I got to do? And that’s a much easier question, and actually, “Oh, I guess, I would post something. I’d probably comment on a number of people’s stuff. I’d check if anything important came in the DMs and then I’d log off.” I could do that in five minutes. I don’t need 30 minutes a day.

David:
Or you’d get somebody else managing it.

Brandon:
Or I’d get somebody else to manage it for me. Yeah.

Greg:
Exactly. Somebody else can manage it, and if you just use one of the social media platforms, the management systems, you never have to go on there and scroll pointlessly. You can still post. You can still respond. The system I use, you can still write in response to people on there, and never have to get dragged into the pool of distraction that exists on there. Or you could just never do the second podcast.

Brandon:
Yeah, yeah. If that’s not-

Greg:
Right?

Brandon:
Yeah.

Greg:
Or could not see you kids and family. My point is you can continue to make the trade off you’re making, that’s great. If that works for you, and this is what I always say, it sounds like I’m picking on you and I’m not, I’m just saying-

Brandon:
I like it.

Greg:
… just in general, if non-essentialism’s working for people, by all means continue with it. If people are happy with the way they’re spending their time and energy, if they feel like their life, in its current system, is producing great relationship with the people who matter most, that it’s producing great overall mental, emotional, physical, spiritual health, and it’s helping them to make a great contribution out there, and even in a way that’s increasing over time, the positivity they make out into the world, keep doing it. But on the basis that non-essentialism doesn’t deliver what it promises, on the basis that it just introduces a waste of time that actually stresses us out, well, let’s consider an alternative path, an alternative strategy. That’s like perfect timing.

Brandon:
That’s was good time. My daughter Rosie just walked in. Hey, babe. Well, on that note.

Greg:
No, you should explain to Rosie right now, what you’re going to do.

David:
Oh.

Brandon:
Hey, Rosie. Guess who’s going to start coming to ballet with you more often? Who? Uncle David? Oh, me. She whispered. Yep, I’m going to start coming to ballet with you more often. Okay? Is that exciting? Yeah, you like that. All right, well, I’m going to make a trade off right now. We’re going to kick you out of here Greg, and I’m going to go play with my little girl for a little while. Greg, where can people find out more about you?

Greg:
I think that if they just go to essentialism.com, that’s always a good place to start. Right now, they’ll be able to sign up for the one minute Wednesday, which is a newsletter I just started. They can read it in one minute each week.

Brandon:
One minute.

Greg:
So it’s just nice and concise, less but better. But also, what is coming there are a few really cool things. And a new paperback of Essentialism, people will learn about a new academy that I’m going to be launching. All of that will start at the hub of essentialism.com, so that’s the one place, if you’re going to go somewhere.

Brandon:
That’s awesome, man. Really, really appreciate it. This has been phenomenal. I knew it was going to be phenomenal, but it was even better than I thought, so really appreciate you coming on the show. David, anything you want to close with?

David:
I just want to thank you Greg for such a great interview. I mean, you not only shared the concept with us, but then you applied it to specifically something our listeners could benefit from, and then, to get into Brandon’s world, that’s an awesome example that everyone can take and say, “How do I do this myself?” And Brandon, thank you too for being so transparent with everything. We also did not plan for Rosie to show up like this. That was-

Greg:
No, no perfect timing though, it was, ooh, good.

Brandon:
It was awesome.

David:
Awesome.

Greg:
It’s awesome. Thank you everybody.

David:
Yeah, thank you Greg.

Brandon:
All right, Greg. Thank you very much. And that was our show with Greg McKeown. Awesome, awesome episode. I knew it was going to be good. I’ve heard him on a few other podcasts over the years, and this was the best. This was the best I’ve heard him. It was awesome. Of course, it’s the best. It’s us. It’s BiggerPockets.

David:
That’s right. The BiggerPockets the best.

Brandon:
It’s got to be good.

David:
Yeah, as soon as he started talking it just felt like everything he was saying was so applicable to my life. I knew this was going to be a really good episode. I’m hoping that everybody that heard it felt the same way.

Brandon:
Well, let me ask you, have you applied essentialism? How have you struggled, I don’t want to say failed, how have you struggled with essentialism? We’ll start with those two questions.

David:
All right, in my real estate investing business, I had a lot more success with this, and I don’t know for sure, but my assumption would be because I was investing long distance, it was much easier to get other people to do the non-essential parts that went into real estate investing. So I was never tempted to go fix the toilet or change the lock myself. I wasn’t tempted to go lock the property and rely on my gut. I turned everything into a system and found a person to do it, because I literally wasn’t present. So I think it kind of gave me an advantage into systemizing things. And my business grew because I just focused on finding the deals, putting in the contract, and letting everyone else do the follow-up, which was the essential part to being a real estate investor.

David:
Where I've struggled with this is in my real estate agent business. There's so many different things I could be doing every day, and I'm always tempted to jump in and bail out team members who are afraid to step forward or answer questions for clients that, if I just gave it a day, they'd probably get the answer that they needed and they'd calm down. But it's so tempting when you see people that are highly emotional or scared that you want to go provide comfort for them, and I end up running around all day long, focusing on putting out little tiny fires. Where what I should be doing is looking for my next hire, that will come in and be the person that puts those fires out for me. Or the next person then will be able to do the job the way that David does, so that I can serve a more essential purpose or a higher purpose of helping more people become a homeowner, helping more people save money through real estate. Training 10, 20, 30 of me to make a bigger impact than just me doing it.

David:
So when he started speaking about essentialism, I realized this is my every day, when I get out of bed. I’m going to work and I’m praying, “Help me to do this better,” and then I’m failing in different ways throughout the day as I don’t. It was so, so applicable to what I’m going through, and I realized what I did with my real estate investing I did this well, with my real estate agent business, I have not done this well. And when I look at the difference between my experience in those two things, it’s wildly different.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good, man. A lot of times we talk to real estate investors, up and coming ones, people who want to get into real estate and they say they don’t have time for it. I hope that more than anything else for you guys that are listening to the show right now, that that practice that I went through at the end there with talking about TikTok and my daughter’s ballet. I hope that you realize that applies to you as well, I’m sure, in some ways, is everything’s a trade off. Real estate investing does not take 40 hours a week, it doesn’t take 30, it doesn’t take 20, it takes a few. If you could work two hours a week on your real estate, you could start buying real estate, now. It doesn’t take that much work. If you are focused on the essential stuff, get a good real estate agent to hook you up with some good leads that come in, and then you just go and run the numbers on it. It takes like 10 minutes to run the numbers.

Brandon:
That’s an essential task. Maybe like having a sit down meeting with a local real estate investor. That’s a pretty essential task, do that. But there’s not that much involved here. Go call up a bank, get pre-approved, submit some paperwork. That kind of stuff doesn’t take much time. So, if you continually identify, what is the essential task that I have to do next? I call it the most important next step, always identify what that is in your real estate ambitions and you’re going to make dramatic and very quick strides toward your goals, if you just start thinking like an essentialist instead of like a non-essentialist. So I hope that’s what you take away from this show, and hopefully more. And of course, head to the show notes if you want to leave us some comments or questions, or if you’re watching this on YouTube, you can put the comments in the YouTube section below that. But, man, good stuff. Anything you want to leave us with, David?

David:
Just make sure you take time to think, because information like this can trick you into thinking that you benefited from it just hearing it, and be like, “Whoa, that’s really good.” But then, if you don’t take the steps-

Brandon:
People don’t do anything… yep.

David:
… to apply it, it didn’t help you. So don’t-

Brandon:
It’s like conferences, right? You go to a conference, and you’re like, “Oh, there’s so much good stuff,” and you go home and you don’t do anything.

David:
Yes, but you were tricked into thinking that something good happened, because you learned something new. So just don’t fall prey to that temptation. Take some time to think about what you need to get out of your life, take some time to think about what is essential, calendar it, tell somebody about it, find some form of accountability, because these goals are not going to meet themselves. You’re going to have to do something to get there, and it’s totally worth it when you do. That’s all I have to say.

Brandon:
Awesome man. Well, keep it up. Keep being an essentialist, and look forward to having you back on the show again next week, David.

David:
Thanks B, I appreciate it, man. And also, thank you for having the guts to just open up your whole life and let this guy pick it apart, that’s a lot harder to do in front of 300,000 people in one listen then the audience might think. So thanks for being a brave man.

Brandon:
Thanks, that’s why they call me Brandon the brave.

David:
Well, now they’re going-

Brandon:
They don’t call-

David:
… to be calling you Brandon no TikTok Turner for David Greene, signing off.

Outro:
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • What is essentialism?
  • How to designate the non-essential from the essential tasks
  • Why having too many good options puts us in a dangerous position
  • How to find out which tasks deserve delegation or deletion
  • Developing the courage to say “no”
  • Finding an accountability partner so you’re locked in for success
  • Why Brandon wants to spend less time on Tiktok
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

Connect with Greg:

Real strategies that work for real people seeking to build wealth through real estate investments. Co-hosted by Brandon Turner and David Greene, this podcast provides actionable advice from investors and other real estate professionals, who chat about failures, successes, motivations, and lessons learned.
    Casey Z. Investor from Wooster, Ohio
    Replied 17 days ago
    Long time listener, first time caller. I’ve been a BP member for a long time and a podcast listener even longer, from the beginning actually. The advice from BP can be life changing and my family and I are thankful for it, but the vulnerability of David and Brandon on this episode is remarkable. I believe their willingness to talk about subjects that may make them uncomfortable in front of 100,000s listeners demonstrates just how generous they are and how genuine the BP community can be. It’s shows like this that keep me coming back for more even after 400+ shows.