BiggerPockets Podcast 499: The Death of The “Entrepreneur”: Experience from an 8-Figure CEO

BiggerPockets Podcast 499: The Death of The “Entrepreneur”: Experience from an 8-Figure CEO

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Many people call themselves “entrepreneurs” nowadays. Essentially, anyone who can make some kind of income on their own is an entrepreneur, but there is a big difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner. While an entrepreneur can start businesses, a business owner can build, enhance, and delegate out a business. This is something that today’s guest, James Wedmore, is proficient at.

James’ experience in this field speaks for itself, he’s an 8-figure CEO, a highly sought-after coach for successful business leaders, and runs the Mind Your Business Podcast. He has a unique viewpoint when looking at growth, which allows many business owners to take a step back and think “what is truly achievable?

James helps business owners grow their businesses into scalable, profitable, and successful operations. He focuses on building a “machine” that can run as a business, as opposed to a business owner doing 10+ different tasks, solely because they can. He also talks about the importance of having urgency in your product offering and giving your business what it needs to thrive, not just trying to extract what you need from it.

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Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 499.

James:
When people don’t get this, they end up walking around having this experience of saying, “I am so busy,” which is really funny, right? Because people say business gives you freedom. “Why did you start a business?” “Oh, so I can have more freedom.” Then of course we say, “How’s that working out for you?” The reason why so many people don’t get freedom from business is because when you don’t know how to run a business, a business runs you right into the ground.

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 my partner in crime, Mr. David Greene. What’s up, man?

David:
Not a whole lot. Actually, there’s a lot going on. I always say that, but that’s never true. There’s never a ton-

Brandon:
That’s never true.

David:
… [crosstalk 00:01:00] stuff going on [crosstalk 00:01:00]

Brandon:
You’re a liar. You’re out of integrity with yourself, man.

David:
Yes, and that will make a lot more sense after today’s episode that our listeners get to hear.

Brandon:
All right. Listen, guys. I know I say this a lot. I’m always like, “That’s one of my favorite episodes ever,” but I’m not kidding, this is one of my … I say that all the time. But literally this is one of the best episodes I think we ever recorded on the BiggerPockets Podcast, and it has everything to do with real estate and nothing to do with real estate, all at the same time. You’ll see what I mean, but you’re going to love listening. How’s that for a build up? It’s so good.

David:
You just-

Brandon:
Consider that-

David:
… did a political thing where you say a lot of words, but didn’t say anything.

Brandon:
No, it’s so good. I want people to make sure to listen to this whole episode, especially the part about integrity, which we’ll talk about later on in the show. Our guest today is Mr. James Wedmore. James is an internet entrepreneur. I shouldn’t say that. An internet business owner. You’ll hear the difference later in why the entrepreneur is maybe a bad title to give yourself. But James has been in the internet business for a long time, over a decade. I first found him over … Before even finding BiggerPockets, I found James Wedmore. He was hugely instrumental in the growth of BiggerPockets at the beginning and the things that I did.

Brandon:
The very fact that this podcast, YouTube, he was helpful in all of that because I followed him so much. I’ve been keeping track of him over the years, and he is phenomenal in teaching how to be a leader, how to be a entrepreneur or turn into a business owner, and again the difference there. We talk about a ton of good stuff today. Eight figure business owner, he’s got a podcast called Mind Your Business Podcast with almost 500 episodes, and just a really, really good dude. You’re going to love it. But before we get to the interview with James, let’s get to today’s quick tip. David, why don’t you give us today’s quick tip because I didn’t have one?

David:
Today’s quick tip is try to push yourself-

Brandon:
Much better on the fly. You’re much better on the fly than me.

David:
They call me David-

Brandon:
They call you David-

David:
… David McFly. [crosstalk 00:02:51]

Brandon:
David Marty McFly. All right, [crosstalk 00:02:55]

David:
Hello, McFly.

Brandon:
Sorry. Go.

David:
That’s not the way that guy [crosstalk 00:02:57]

Brandon:
Speaking of it, do you know Relient K’s song, Hello McFly? Have you ever heard that?

David:
I know Relient K, but I don’t know that song.

Brandon:
That song was … It came out when I was in high school. If you guys want to listen to a great song, go to Spotify, listen to Hello McFly by Reliant K. That song was legit. Anyway, sorry, keep going. Yeah.

David:
McFly. Today’s quick tip is put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Just take a minute to stop the natural response of human nature to try to share our own perspective and even scream our own perspective when we don’t feel heard, and ask yourself how somebody else feels. If you’re the boss, think about how your employees are feeling, and if you’re the employee, think about how your boss is feeling. It will give you the superpower of shooting yourself to the top of the list of either being the person someone wants to work for or being the person that that boss wants to promote. I don’t know if there’s a better practice that people can develop than thinking about the situation they’re in from the other person’s side.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s a great quick tip, man. Very deep. Well, today is a deep episode. But before we get to it, let’s hear from today’s show sponsors. All right. I think that’s it. I think it’s time to get into the episode was with Mr. James Wedmore. Anything you want to say, David, before we jump in?

David:
No, this is so good. It’s a long episode, but it’s full of a lot of really good content.

Brandon:
All right. James, welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast, man. It’s good to have you here.

James:
Hey, I’m here. Thanks for having me.

Brandon:
Yeah. Side anecdote about my involvement with you in life is I actually learned two things from you specifically that I can pull out. I’ve been following you online forever. But the first one is, back in the day, you did a video, years … This is probably 10 years ago now, maybe nine years ago, on how to do jump cuts with YouTube videos. Do you remember the jump cut video?

James:
Oh yeah. I do. Yep.

Brandon:
Everyone in my early videos on BiggerPockets YouTube channel, everyone was just copying exactly what you taught me to do. Jump cuts, that was amazing. Thank you. Save me so much hustle-

James:
Wow.

Brandon:
… back then. The second thing, you once used a … I don’t know even know where this [inaudible 00:04:48] It was on Instagram or Facebook. It was years ago, and maybe you still use the analogy today. But you were the original guy that I heard the analogy that I use all the time now about building bridges. You said something like, look, if you’re building this bridge from here to financial freedom island, or wherever you want to call it, wealth island, people build way too many bridges over there. If you just stop building so many bridges and you focus on one, you’ll get there. David, this is the guy who introduced me to that concept.

James:
Well, just a subtle distinction of that, I’m all about having-

Brandon:
Yeah, for sure.

James:
… multiple bridges. But building multiple at the same time, I found myself doing that, and that was my first huge productivity breakthrough, is that as soon as one project, as soon as one business revenue stream that you’re building, as soon as that gets hard or challenging or outside your comfort zone, that’s when people switch to the next one and to the next one, the next one. You wake up, you have seven or eight bridges, none of them are finished. You’re not going to get any single result no matter how hard or how long you’ve been working. Yeah, powerful [crosstalk 00:05:52]

David:
No, that-

Brandon:
How do you overcome that? Go ahead, David.

David:
You just said exactly [crosstalk 00:05:55]

Brandon:
Okay. Yeah. I feel like all three of us are probably the type that are a little more visionary. We get excited about new stuff. How do you fight against that to actually finish a bridge?

James:
Well, the overly simplistic answer is you need a lot of discipline. I started talking a few years ago about the idea, the death of the entrepreneur. I think people get so excited and passionate about labeling themselves as an entrepreneur, but there’s a lot of a shadow side, untrained bad habits that the newbie unseasoned entrepreneur has, and one of them is that they’re constantly … Because how many people are just saying, “Follow your passion, follow your passion?” Not that that’s bad advice, but left to your own devices, you just do whatever you feel excited and passionate about today, and I see a lot of people just getting distracted.

James:
I think one of the habits characteristics or ways of being that I had that really assisted me, and I think it’s something we all need to have, is the discipline, the habit of discipline. That, in the most simplistic sense, is the ability to say no or to say not now. Newer entrepreneurs think that opportunities are rare, right? There’s, “Oh my gosh. I got an idea, and this is probably the only great idea out there,” and so they start to say yes more often than no. The seasoned entrepreneur will tell you, time and time again, opportunities, they’re everywhere.

James:
They’re everywhere, and really, it’s the habit of saying no or not yet or not right now. The biggest way to manage this whole or curb this multiple bridges syndrome, or trying to create 10 businesses at the same time, is first to understand the consequence of doing that. There’s a real phenomenon, you can Google this, called context switching. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with this. It basically says for every project that you add to your list, you lose up to, I think, it’s 10%. 10% of your time is wasted going to switching in and out of flow, switching from project A to project B.

James:
When people have four or five projects, 40% to 50% of their time is completely wasted. Imagine this idea of I’m hedging my bets, I’m being smart because I’m working on so many things that something’s going to work, something will pay off, except half of your day goes completely wasted and in the trashcan because you’re in that switching … We’ve been there, right? Like, “Okay, I’m going to get back into this problem.” I’m writing a report or a book, and you’re trying to get back into flow, you’re trying to remember where you left off, you’re going back and rereading what you already wrote, all that extra time and thinking, getting back into that state, wasted energy, wasted time, wasted resources.

James:
That’s where I found myself. If you could get present to how much it’s costing you, there’s just too many studies and evidence that shows if you were to go all in on one to completion, you’re going to get to completion far faster, you’re going to be far more efficient, and that’s really what I get passionate about, is performance and efficiency. I like to say what is the bridge, if you will, that is closest to completion? What is the one that’s closest to getting done? And just committing 100% of your time to getting that done. Then where it gets really exciting is you get to bring in a team, VAs, virtual assistants, to maintain or monitor that bridge, and then we go to the second. I think that’s what an entrepreneur is. They’re a bridge builder, not a bridge maintainer, but you got to get it done before you can get to the next one.

Brandon:
I’m actually going to fire the same question at you, David, in a second, but I want to bring us [inaudible 00:09:55] you just said, James, about the death of an entrepreneur. Where my mind went with that idea is when people have this identity that I’m an entrepreneur, is that what you’re … I don’t know if this what you’re saying or not, but this makes a lot of sense in my head. This identity of I’m an entrepreneur, I start things, versus you named your program Business By Design. I’m a business owner is somebody who continues things, right? That’s the difference there.

James:
I have found where all of my successes, I would say, today we have an eight-figure company, we’re doing multi seven-figure launches, a ton of success, very grateful, and I can attribute that the vast majority of that success is not because I’m super entrepreneurial, but because I developed more discipline and business acumen. So many examples of that. Let me give you one or two more.

Brandon:
Yes.

James:
I hear this all the time, “I’m bored in my business. I’m so sick of talking about real estate,” or whatever, right? Like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know your business’s job is to entertain you all day. Right? Get a freaking hobby.” But when I look at some of the things that I’ve done, consistency and rinsing and repeating, we have a launch that we run from my program every year, once a year, Business By Design. I show graph at our live events to really demonstrate this, but the graph is the launch and revenue numbers every launch over time. When I first launched it in 2016, it was a small beta thing. I made $18,000. Our last launch did just under six million.

Brandon:
Wow.

James:
You see this giant hockey stick. But that’s 2016, and I would do it two times. 2017, two times. 2018, two times. 2019, I switched to once. 2020, I launched it again, and we just did it again in 2021. It’s the same offer, the same message, the same content, the same strategy every single year, and it just continues to build momentum because everything I’m doing is I’m building off of what-

Brandon:
Yes.

James:
… works, enhancing things that will make it work more, and getting rid of the things that didn’t work.

Brandon:
Dude.

James:
That level of consistency has attributed to that huge hockey stick [crosstalk 00:12:19]

Brandon:
Dude, we totally find that in the real estate space, right? People will buy some property and then they get bored, and then they’re like, “Well, I’m going to try flipping houses. I’m going to go try to buy this thing, or I’m going to go build an online business or I’m going to go …” That’s exactly [crosstalk 00:12:30] that. They get bored. But if he says, “Hey, I’m going to be good at this one thing, I’m going to be good at buying.” For example, I buy mobile home parks. A couple years ago, I was like, “I’m just going to go all in on mobile home parks.” It’s a cool random niche. I’m like, “I’m just going to do it.” We just buy and we just follow this process. The thing that I do to keep out of this, I know this is something you talk a lot about as well, is I found a team to keep my bridge building. My team launches that-

James:
Yes.

Brandon:
… 99% of the mobile home park business. I get to have more fun doing podcasts-

James:
Wow.

Brandon:
… and I get to do all the pieces that I want to do, and then the team building stuff I get to do, which is fun, because it’s personal. But I don’t get bored of meeting with my team and talking about their struggles and how I can help them. That’s not boring ever.

James:
That’s a really smart thing, is that I think most entrepreneurs are very creative by nature, and they need that stimulus of creating something new and staying excited. The matured entrepreneur, the disciplined entrepreneur, the person who’s really killed off that entrepreneurial side and stepped in the business owner is more strategic, just like the way you’re describing, Brandon, of how do I infuse levels of creativity into the business without removing the model itself, without breaking it? Because that’s what the entrepreneur does. They say, “Oh, it worked,” because that’s a lot of what drives them.

James:
It’s like let me see what I’m capable of, let me see if it will work, let me see if I can do it. I need to prove it to myself, I need to prove it to the world or mom or dad or something like that. Once something works, they say, “Maybe I can make it better, maybe I could do it differently.” In order to do that, they have to break what already works. A lot of them stay in those beginning stages, that initial momentum inertia phase, and that’s the hardest phase. That’s what I noticed took the most energy from me. What we did to keep, because I’m a very creative person, and I do need that creativity cup filled, is …

James:
Like I said, it’s been the same thing over and over again. But I’ve been able to add layers to it. Instead of breaking it and doing it differently, add to it, enhance it. It’s a really silly distinction. Because to me, it sounds overly simplistic, but I teach this to my students and they’re mind blown by this. We do our launch consistently. I share a distinction between a change and an enhancement. I hope this can be universally relevant to a business owner in any area. There is a very important distinction between an enhancement to something versus a change.

James:
A change is anything that if you change it, it could decrease results. It could lower sales, lower conversions, lower performance. It could also increase it. An example for that would be if I’m doing webinars every month to promote my stuff, and then I say, “I’m going to do a challenge, or I’m going to do a live launch, or I’m going to do a video series,” a completely different strategy. I changed the strategy that could do better, it could be worse. Then there’s an enhancement. An enhancement is basically something that you do that there’s one of two things that’s going to happen.

James:
It’s either results are going to stay the same or they’re going to go up. Simple example of that would be if I wanted to add more testimonials or case studies to my sales page, or I want to have highly produced sales case study videos where we go out. We’ve done this before even. We film our clients in their own home office and stuff like that. That’s an enhancement. There’s no way that nicer or more testimonials is going to make your sales tank. We spend more of our time on enhancements and we don’t focus on changes because if it ain’t broke, why fix it? It’s boring. I think business is boring, but you there’s still ways you can play within the bumper lanes of your bowling alley, if you will, to create that creativity. I hope that makes sense.

Brandon:
It makes 1,000% sense. David, I’m wondering, I’m going to throw this at you. How does that apply to you, whether being a real estate agent or being a real estate investor, this idea of people getting bored and then trying to add on new things and change everything rather than just trying to improve? How have you seen that happen?

David:
My wheels have been turning ever since James started talking. You made me think, James, I had a thought to myself yesterday, where when I go through periods of depression, I will sleep a lot. I actually had a thought in my head where I said, “Dude, you’re abusing sleep,” and I took a minute to smile. That’s just a funny thing to say. How do you abuse sleep? Right? But what happened is I came up with this definition that abuse is anytime you’re using something outside of what it’s intended to be used for. It can be that simple, right?

David:
Sleep can become dangerous if I’m turning to it to find comfort instead of whatever it is that I should be doing instead. I think that what you’re describing, when people say my business is boring, business was never meant to be your purpose in life or where you get your excitement from. I think this is a problem a lot of people have where they quit their job because it just isn’t fulfilling type of a thing. That could be the move you need to make in life, but maybe the reason your job isn’t fulfilling is because it wasn’t meant to be fulfilling.

David:
It had a different purpose. You could have found fulfillment in your personal life, in your relationships and other things that you really should have been doing, and you were abusing your business using it in a way it wasn’t intended to be used. I think what I’m hearing you say is the reason this is so important is the rules that make business work do not care what personal issues you have that you’re trying to use that business for, okay? Your customers, your clients, they don’t care if you’re bored. What they want to know is does this service, does this product make my life better-

James:
Exactly.

David:
… than other options? You find yourself in dangerous waters when you’re making decisions based on is this exciting to me versus is this what’s best for the client? I’m just curious if you could run with that.

James:
Absolutely. I think people on the outside looking at someone else’s business or the idea of business, they get excited about that possibility of this could be my passion, this is it, and they falsely assume, I see this as the best way I can describe it, that one role that exists within the business is all you’re going to do. Let’s say for an example, I love coaching, okay? I love coaching. I think coaching is the difference that makes the difference. I think your business is a reflection of you. As you grow, your business grows. The amount of coaching mentor amazing coaches that I’ve received in my life that helped me get here.

James:
That’s the only way I’m here, to be able to let go of so many of the stories and the BS and the crap of who I thought I was versus who I thought I wasn’t has allowed me to get here. I love that. But if I was starting a coaching business today, I would be under a very false notion to think that that would be my business, is just coaching all day. Right? There’s a very simple principle that we say over and over again inside my programs, which is the role that you fill determines the results that you receive. To be a coach, let’s say I have a coaching business, that is one role, and that’s wonderful.

James:
There’s time in which I’m in that role, there’s time in which I’m in the role of hanging out with you guys on a podcast. But to think that the entire business is collapsed into that one and only role is a very ignorant notion to believe because the moment you say I want a business, the moment you say I have a business, it actually is an entire entity, an organization that exists with multiple roles. When people don’t get this, they end up walking around, having this experience of saying, “I am so busy,” which is really funny, right? Because people say business gives you freedom.

James:
“Why did you start a business?” “Oh, so I can have more freedom, and then of course we say, “How’s that working out for you?” The reason why so many people don’t get freedom from business is because when you don’t know how to run a business, a business runs you right into the ground. If I just look at a digital product based business, I can create an org chart for digital product based business. Usually someone gives me a few details about their business in 20 minutes. Even if they started their business six months ago or less, you’ll find that this org chart, and this is sobering news for a lot of people, already has 10 baked in roles. 10, at least, different roles and positions.

James:
You have someone who’s your copywriter, your social media manager, the content producer that’s creating the content, the marketing department, the sales, just basic admin, customer support. All of these are different roles, and most people bootstrap in it, solopreneur is wonderful. That’s where we all start. But they’re filling every single role individually, but has collapsed them all together and is completely unaware that they’ve done so. They’re jumping from role to role to role to role to role, and maybe only spending a few hours in each one, but each one, three hours, 10 rolls, that adds up really fast.

James:
But the real problematic nature is that what tends to happen is the roles that are the highest value, usually at the top of the org chart, are the most neglected. People spend more time in those technician-based roles, those doing-based roles than the business itself roles. I believe it’s because, these are my crazy thoughts, that we are much more conditioned in this society to be employees.

David:
Yes.

James:
Our whole life, I believe, we’ve been trained to think, act and be an employee, and so we become the employee in our own freaking business. What a lot of people are doing is when they show up as an employee in their own business, they believe that the way to make more money is to work longer because that’s what you would do if you worked for somebody else. Hey, you’re going to pay me hourly, and I want to make more money? I’ll work more hours, I’ll work weekends, I’ll take the night shift, I’ll work overtime. We do that in our own freaking business, and the problem with that is it doesn’t matter how long or how hard you work in your own business. If you’re spending all your time in the low value bottom of the org chart roles, you’ve provided the least amount of value to the business.

David:
That’s so good.

James:
If those roles are not revenue generating activities, how are you ever expected to make money? That’s why we say the role you fill determines the results you receive. What a lot of people are doing instead is they call themselves an entrepreneur, and they believe that their focus is to work harder to make more money. Then some of them just were focused on just trying to make money any way that they can. Maybe someone says, “Hey, will you do this thing? I’ll pay you this.” “Okay, yes,” and they just say yes to anytime someone will give them money. But what I figured out a long time ago, and I know it’s so simple but we’re not always thinking this way, is that I don’t focus on making money in the business, I always focus on making a machine-

David:
Yes. Yes. Yeah.

James:
…and that machine is something that makes money. We can use synonymously with that bridge analogy. It’s like each bridge is getting you from where you are to where you want to be, and a completed bridge is a completed machine. Today we have multiple completed, and I can go into detail if you’d like, machines. Yes, now we’ve built out an entire Airbnb business. We have four properties.

David:
That’s awesome.

James:
Each one of those is a separate machine. When people come to me and they say, “I’ve just been working so hard on my business,” the first thing I ask is, “What are we working towards?” Because I like working less. I’m not a lazy person, but I don’t want to just be trading time for dollars and I have to work 12 hours a day just to get paid. But I’m willing to put in whatever work it takes to get the machine running, to build the machine and get it up there. But if I’m not building that end vision, that end game, and I’m just … If I stop the business stops, then I’m doing something wrong. I hope this is [crosstalk 00:24:49]

David:
We’re getting into gold [crosstalk 00:24:51] with what you said. Brandon, you originally said, “David, how does this board thing playing to your business?” Right? James, you made a one point where we tend to gravitate to the roles that we like without recognizing that you’ve signed up for several roles. That makes me think of the person who has a kid and they love being a parent when they get to dress their kid up in cute Halloween costumes and show it on Instagram, they like that. But they don’t want to have to deal with the day-to-day crap that comes with being a parent, right?

David:
In my world as a real estate agent, this is the person I hire that loves making people happy. They love to give you your keys on closing day and drop off the gift, and they get to be a part of this whole thing. But when I’m like, “Look, now you got to go lead generate, you got to go take that energy, and you got to go talk to more people about real estate.” “‘I don’t really like that.” What happens is they show up for me if I do the hard part and they get to go have fun, but they don’t show up when they have to do the rest of it, which is that problem you’re describing in business where we like to do the things that are fun that energize us, and we just stay away from the rest. But you signed up for all of it when you became a business owner, right?

James:
Exactly. Exactly. But I’m just so passionate about those-

David:
Yes.

James:
… things, David. It’s like your business doesn’t care.

David:
That’s right.

James:
It has needs just like kids have needs, and you’re either fulfilling on the needs of the business or you’re not. I’m all about goal setting, personal growth. I love all that. A lot of people, it’s really interesting, they don’t like goal setting. I’ve had a lot of people say, “Oh, I don’t do goals.” Well, why not? I just get all wonky and weird. When you dig in, it’s because they don’t like that feeling that comes with, for most people, not hitting your goals, which is the feeling of disappointment. Disappointment leads to failure, the identity of I am a failure, of giving up. What’s the use? What’s the point?

James:
There’s a lot that needs to be rewired there because I’m all about living your life with intent. Where are you going? You don’t get to an airport, and like, “Where to, sir?” “Oh, I don’t know, surprise me. I don’t really like setting destinations in my life.” No, you’d say where you’re going, and then you end up there, and I think life is the same way. When we say … Most people don’t have goals, right? But then you have the personal development entrepreneur all about vision boards and all that stuff, and they have goals. You say, “What do you want?” They’ll tell you what they want.

James:
But I think there’s another level to this, which is what I really got obsessed about, which is once you say, “This is what I want, this is the goal I have, this is what I want,” you have to be willing to ask another question that most people have never thought of asking. This thing that I want, what does it want from me? Or rather, what does it need from me? You’ve heard those things like the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

James:
I believe every goal that we have, every wish, desire, outcome that we want but don’t currently have exists outside the box or normal paradigm of how we think, act, operate in the world, which means it will require a new indifferent version of you. People don’t think that way. They just say, “Well, I think if I just work a little harder or hustle a little more, push a little more, I’ll get this new goal or outcome.” Instead a different way of it is saying, “Now that I’m clear on this outcome, what does it need from me? Who do I need to be? How do I need to show up differently? What do I need to let go of? What new actions, habits, traits do I need to possess to make this happen?”

James:
This is a reverse engineering way of looking at the outcome, that … This is so simple, but I’ve been doing this for years. We had a crazy goal. Our business was at three million in revenue back two or three years ago, and we had a crazy goal, we wanted to go to 10. No reason other than, hey, why not? We can say we’re at eight figures and all that nonsense. I started every single day, and I said, “What does a $10 million a year business look like? What does it mean for me? What does a $10 million your CEO do? How does he act? How does he make decisions?” I think one of the most valuable questions I kept asking myself if the quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions that you ask, is where would my value be best placed as a $10 million year CEO?

James:
What is the value of a $10 million a year CEO? When I share stories like this and people try this on in their own business, they come back and they’re like, “That’s really hard,” because I keep asking these questions and I don’t know the answer. Obviously, how would I know the answer? The first thing is there’s this notion that your subconscious mind has to answer any question that you ask it. The problem is that people don’t like not knowing the answer to questions. When it’s met with an I don’t know, we tend to shut down a new way of thinking. I don’t know, therefore, I can’t. Usually that’s how it goes.

James:
It’s like, “How could I do this? I don’t know, therefore, it’s not possible, therefore I can’t.” If you’re willing to have the courage to sit in a question, get curious and be okay not knowing the answer, which is what I did, you’ll notice little by little answers start coming. I obsessed over that question, a series of questions for an entire year. Little by little, I started noticing things. The team would come to me with a big decision and say, “Well, how would a $10 million a year company decide? What would they do?” We’d start to crowdsource the answer, and say, “Well, I think they do it more like this,” and duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. We started aligning our actions, our decisions more with the company we were becoming versus who we’d been.

James:
One of the things I noticed was my entire value as the CEO, the owner of the company completely shifted, which means the role shifted. The value and the role go together. They’re together. The role that you fill in your company is what you are responsible for in terms of value to the company. That role shifted, and it completely transcended if you went hire, and the number one answer I got and the number one place I spent time in the business was I became more of the mentor and coach to my team. What we tend to notice as entrepreneurs, it’s called the death of the entrepreneur, is that we have so much ego and identity wrapped into that that we have these things like if you want it done right, you got to do it yourself, or because you need to prove it to dad or something that your ego really flares up if you try to give it to somebody else.

James:
No one can do this as well as I can, no one can write copy like me and my voice and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s so nonsense and so much arrogance that we don’t recognize is ego, and I started to tell myself the true mark of mastery is if I can train somebody to do it as well or better than me. That’s where my time went. I obsessed with investing back in my team, training them, coaching them, and getting them to be even better A players than they already were. What that allowed me is I actually got to spend less time. An hour training somebody to be a better copywriter so that I don’t have to write copy is the best use of my time, and I get a ton of my time back, and sure enough, massive breakthroughs in the company. We didn’t hit 10 million that year. We went from three to 9.4 million, which I’ll take that. I’m pretty happy with that. It was because that became my guiding question for the entire year.

Brandon:
There’s so much to unpack there. But just to relate a little bit back to our listeners who might be thinking, how do I apply this to my real estate? You mentioned earlier the org chart. I’ll pull out a few things you said. One, the org chart. I’m the same way. If I sit with a real estate investor in about a couple of minutes, I can get there. This is the org chart of a real estate business. It’s pretty simple. It’s like somebody’s in charge of finding property, somebody’s in charge of maybe raising money or going to a bank. There’s these roles. Now maybe they’re all you at the beginning, nothing wrong with that. But when I started thinking this way is I had a gentleman. I’ve said this on the podcast before, but I had a gentleman who was basically the chairman of the board of all BiggerPockets.

Brandon:
He said to me, when we were explaining all the things we had at BiggerPockets, the digital business, right? That I’m a part of here. All these we had. This is how many developers we have, this is how many this and [inaudible 00:33:39] this, and he holds up his hand, he’s like, “Stop telling me what you have and what you can do with it. Tell me where you want to go and what resources you need to get there.” That concept just blew my mind. I applied that same thing that day to my real estate business. I said, “Okay, what’s possible?” Well, owning $50 million of real estate. okay, that’s my vision. That’s where I’m headed and I had a goal for it. What are the roles needed?

Brandon:
I defined the five people I’d have to have in my life to better run that. I then went and found those five people. Again, they could just be all you. If you’re listening right now, in the beginning, that might just be you or maybe their partners or maybe they’re third parties or whatever. But found the five people, and then it … In other words, I built the machine that transformed me out of I’m buying real estate to I’m building a machine. If there’s one thing people take from this episode, I hope it’s that. It’s we are not buying real estate, we’re not building an online business. We are building a machine that then therefore does those things. That’s just [crosstalk 00:34:32]

James:
Yes. Just to double scoop on what you said, I really hope people don’t say, “Well, it is just me, so there’s only one.”

Brandon:
Yeah, it’s not.

James:
No. There are the amount of roles that exists, let’s say five, and you’re either in all five of them or someone else’s, or they’re being completely neglected. But how many team members you have is irrelevant to how many roles exist within your company right now, because those functions exist whether you have you or 1,000 other people working for you or not.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good. I actually know a guy who … It was a joke, but he actually did it. He made a bunch of hats that he would … Baseball caps with different names of each role, and he would put them on when he was doing that role as a visual reminder. I’m sure he didn’t do it for long, but it was a visual reminder to himself that I am playing a role in this moment, and at some point, I will not be playing that role anymore, somebody else would be playing that role. Man, also, I love … That was so convicting when you said the true mark of mastery is whether I can train someone else to do it better than myself. That’s so good. That applies to so many things in my life. When I hire employees, I’m … Yeah. Keep going.

James:
Like I said, I love coaching, and that was where the biggest bottleneck was. My entire online business is information education, it’s coaching. People will come to me, they’re like, “Oh, James,” and I’m not saying this to brag or anything, “Oh, James is such a great coach,” duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, and I’m noticing, being a business owner, that this will be the biggest bottleneck because there’s only so much with me to go around, and do I really want to build a business where it’s, well, I just get in line, I got to get to the front line so I can be coached by James and all that. It’s like I can’t. When we have thousands of customers go through our program every year, what am I going to do? Do you book thousands of hours individually to people?

James:
I said I have to be able to find a way to unbottleneck this. What helps, that’s similar to the question that you just brought up, is I operate from a call me … People call me a overly optimistic Pollyanna rose-colored glasses all the time, and I think it’s the biggest compliment. Thank you. Because where I operate from is that there’s always a way. For every problem, the solution comes right along with it. Anything is possible 100% of the time, it’s just up to us to find a way. I looked at that as that’s the opportunity for the next breakthrough. I’m the bottleneck right now. Me having this specialty of being the coach, that is the bottleneck, and how can I figure this out.

James:
I went to work and I developed the coaching methodology, and that took a lot of time. I think that goes back to that’s one of the highest values in this business that I can place my time and attention. Because when I finished that coaching methodology, it was December of, I want to say, 2017 or 2018, and I brought in five or six coaches, people that wanted to work with me. We sat down for two days in an office building in Newport Beach, it was raining. For two days, we stayed in that room, and I taught them that entire methodology and spent two days practicing it with them. Every single one of those people, those coaches, are still with me today. We’ve now brought on a team of over 30 coaches.

James:
It’s created offers and opportunities where we actually have opportunities where people can hire a coach, work one on one. Actually, here’s a great example. Inside my program, I do live training calls, and then in between my live training calls, we have office hours and we have three different sets of live office hours with a coach every single week. Any one of our clients needs support, they can hop on one of these calls, and my coaches are there to coach them through our methodology and support them every step of the way. The joke today is, and it’s funny, because there’s a lot of truth to it, is a lot of our members like our coaches better than they like me.

James:
If that bothered me, that’ll just be ego. It’s they’re getting help, they’re getting support, so why does it need to be from me? Why does it need to be my credit or anything like that? But it’s allowed me to remove myself more, but more importantly, it has scaled support. It has scaled the unscalable. It is scaled coaching and community, and that just provides more value to our members.

Brandon:
You mentioned earlier you only launch the business, I’m assuming whatever the largest one is, that Business By Design?

James:
Yeah, once a year.

Brandon:
Once a year. Can you explain that?

James:
Once a year.

Brandon:
That seems crazy to, I’m sure, people listening.

James:
Crazy.

Brandon:
Yeah, why would you no launch it … Why launch it at all? Why not just have it open 24/7?

James:
Exactly. The only thing I would not … why I wouldn’t recommend doing this is if you ever took a college class day one, and you come into the class and the professor tells you your entire grade comes down to one paper or one test, I canceled those classes because that was too much pressure, and that’s what it does feel like, so it does take a mental emotional toughness that I have today because of the experience of 14 years of doing this. I also will say that even though we have a $6 million launcher, so once a year, I still don’t want it to be the 90% of our revenue stream. It’s roughly about 50% of our total revenue. It’s not a do or die thing. Here’s how this works, and we tested this. It was really interesting. We’re going to invent a concept called an Energon Cube.

James:
An Energon Cube is how I would measure effort or output. It’s like time and energy. When we would do a launch, we used to do two launches, and if I did two launches in one year, it took the same amount of Energon Cube. We’ll just say 10 Energon Cubes for each launch. It takes time, it takes effort and energy and output. You’re tired after it, there’s a time needed to recharge and recoup. We did two launches one year, and each launch did about $2 million. It’s $4 million in revenue, but that’s the input, or what we got out of it, I guess. Let’s call that the output. What we outputed was $4 million in revenue. But the input into the machine required 20 Energon Cube. We have this 20 Energon Cubes gets us four million, right?

James:
The next year, which was me just been a little crazy, I said, “Let’s do one.” Interestingly enough, doing one is going to be half the amount of effort and energy, 10 Energon Cubes. But because we were able to spend more focus, effort, just on making that better so we could make an argument to say, “Okay, 12 Energon Cubes, a little bit more effort, we actually did 4.9 million and went with one launch. Then what we realized is we had an entire 90-day quarter and all these extra Energon Cubes freed up to add a new and different revenue stream to the business. That was the first initial thinking behind that. How were we able to double the launch by doing half? A few reasons. It’s a cumulative effect.

James:
Number one, we had more ad budget to go in towards one launch. Instead of sparsing it out into two launches, we took that entire ad budget and put it in one. Number two, we had affiliates come on board. By having affiliates, we could have more people, more affiliates support us, and then on top of that, I was putting more effort energy on the things, and this is a different topic, but the things that are the real launch performance drivers. The 5% activities that really increase performance. I was able to focus more my energy. Our philosophy today in the company is very simple. It’s do less, do it better. I believe that those aren’t separate statements, those are correlated.

James:
That doing less allows you to do what you do choose to do, allows you to do it better because you’re not tired, you’re not spread too thin, you’re not building 10 bridges at once. As soon as we saw those results, we said we’re never going to go back. Yeah, there’s other psychological elements as well. When we close down the doors, and I think if anyone out there does have digital products is one of the first things I say, is if you’re just sitting there on your website, and someone could buy 24/7, the amount of money that you’re leaving on the table is crazy because … I don’t know about you guys, but my guilty pleasure is buying stuff on Amazon. I have a wish list of stuff that I’ve said yes to, but one day someday. One day someday never come. There’s a wish list of just 100 items.

James:
But something happens when there is a deadline. A deadline, like doors, are closing and enrollment ends tonight, what that does is creates an environment for your prospect to make a decision. The brain burns more calories than any other organ in the body. We want to preserve those calories, so we don’t like thinking. We don’t like making decisions. If it’s not urgent, if we haven’t marked it as urgent, then we will put it off. We’ve all had that experience where we see, oh, I like that. Oh, yeah, yeah, I need to get that. But we don’t want to make the decision to do it right now, so we say, “Okay, yeah. I’ll do that later.” When you create that deadline, when you say, “You know what? Doors are closing tonight,” that marks it in the brain as, oh, this is important, I have to make a decision right now.

James:
We love that because a lot of the times the reason people haven’t started their business or they’re in the problem that they’re in, they’re struggling the way they are is because they’ve been doing that in their life. They’ve been deciding to not make a decision about solving the problem that they’ve been in because it’s not bad enough. It’s not painful enough, and a deadline creates that. We say, “Hey, doors are closing down tonight at midnight,” and people will ask us that question, when do they open back up? A year from now. When that’s your answer, the new question that people have to ask is, do I want to wait a year to join? But if I said, “Oh, no, we’ll be back open next week.” “Oh, Okay, I’ll join then.” Sure, you will, right? There were a lot of benefits to it. I got to save my team’s energy, working less, and definitely had a cumulative effect.

Brandon:
One way this translates to real estate I’ll throw out, there’s maybe a higher level real estate thing. But it also applies to the smaller deals. But we had this big apartment complex we were going to buy down in Houston, and we had to raise … I’m partnering with and I’m basically JVing with another real estate team out there called Disrupt Equity. Anyway, we’re on this one. We’re partnering, we had to raise 13 million ourselves, and they were going to raise, I don’t know, 10 million from investors. Normally, when we raise money, we have an open fund. People just give us money, and then we keep it open for months, maybe at a time until we’re ready to close it, and then we go on to a new deal. It’s like a private equity, I guess, feel.

Brandon:
This one, we had a specific deal with a specific timeline that we had to raise the money for. We raised more money in six days than I had raised in the past year and a half in one shot, because we had … It was like, “Hey, this closes Friday. We’ve got six days to raise the money, we’re going to do it.” We raised not 13 million, we raised $22 million in six days. We have 250 people on our waiting list after that that didn’t get in, which is potentially another $20 million that didn’t get in that wanted to get in because it was a specific timeframe. Even if you’re working on your first-

James:
Yes.

Brandon:
… deal or you’re trying to get something, having a deadline and not manufactured. The great thing about real estate is there are real deadlines. There are real urgency like this deal has to close on this date. Utilize that to your needs. It works.

James:
I think that’s a universal principle that you could apply even with your team, giving them deadlines, doing these Airbnbs, the adventures and contractors and handyman. One of the best things I did was because … I just noticed performance would just drop.

Brandon:
Always.

James:
We’re out here in Sedona, Arizona, and one of the nicknames we have for it is Slowdona, and it’s pretty accurate. But when we do things like have deadlines and penalties that they agree to for how late they are on a project, you’ll be amazed at how fast people get their butt into gear.

Brandon:
Yeah, we don’t-

James:
It’s powerful.

Brandon:
You don’t pay the contractor until the job is done. It’s amazing how much faster they get it done on time. Yeah, I got this contract [crosstalk 00:47:46] right now. We paid him by the hour, which I really hate doing, but it was one of those things I did it. Sure enough, the first week of that project went so well and so fast. The second week, half as much got done. The third week, half again as much got done. Now here I’m five weeks into the thing, and the guy shows up for a few minutes here and there, and I’m like, “I can’t get him to show up because there’s no carrot at the end. There’s no deadline for him.” It’s just frustrating. Yeah. Deadlines, they work.

James:
It is so frustrating. You guys, the last year, the amount of … Oh my goodness. I’ve had crazy crazies. I had a guy basically embezzled $18,000-

Brandon:
Oh man.

James:
… from me. The amount of stuff. I had the cops call on us one time. The guy called the cops on the other guy, they were getting in a fight. The craziest stuff that has happened, but I laugh at all of it. You’ll learn a lot.

David:
You know what?

Brandon:
[inaudible 00:48:37] Yeah.

David:
One of the reasons that Brad and I are so passionate about this type of content is because there’s a huge disconnect from people that are “on the bottom” trying to get to the top, who feel like there’s no opportunity, nobody’s going to give me a shot, the CEOs of the world are these rich money-hungry people that don’t want to share any of their wealth, and the little guy can’t get ahead. Then you talk to the CEOs and they’re like, “I am desperate for anybody that gives a crap, that will just show up and try hard,” and we’re like, “We’re showing you guys the map. Here’s the roadmap. James needs people that can do these things.” Then we’re saying here’s what stops people from actually getting the most out of themselves. Right? I really feel like in business, 95% of what I’m doing, I thought it was just building systems. Man, that part came so easy. It’s fighting with the worst parts of human nature that stop people from showing up and giving their best and realizing their potential.

James:
Yeah. We’re also, a little side fun fact note, building a camper van-

Brandon:
Oh, nice.

James:
… in my spare time. What a blast that’s been. You’re building an entire home in a moving vehicle. I have two handymen that are helping me. If I’m not on the bet … I don’t know nearly as much about any phase of construction than they do, but it’s very interesting that I’ve been able to bring a level of efficiency and productivity that was massively missing. Even today is a great example. They’re working on the ceiling, and each section of the ceiling, they were doing differently. They cut one piece, sand, paint, install. Next piece, cut, sand, paint, install. I’m like, “Guys, that’s the least efficient way to do it. We need to make an assembly line here. We cut all the pieces, we sand all the pieces, we paint all the pieces, we install them together,” and all of a sudden it’s going twice as fast. Yeah.

Brandon:
By the way-

James:
Even when you have a skilled person to have that level, it’s challenging.

Brandon:
It’s because most skilled people are not business owners. This is what I find fascinating last few years, is when you get good at business in any business, you’re good at nearly all business. You know what I mean? You know those skills-

James:
Yes, yeah.

Brandon:
… and they translate so well. I feel like the things that-

James:
So well.

Brandon:
… I think I know in real estate now, I go build an online … I do. Actually, I would say it’s the other way around. I got good at online business, especially following people like you for years. I got good at this, the webinars and the deadlines and all that, and then I just applied it to real estate. I don’t know why it took me a decade to apply to real estate. All of a sudden, I’m like, “Whoa! This works over here too.” That’s why David and I spend so much time on this podcast teaching this higher level stuff because I wish somebody would have sat me down when I was 20 and been like, “It’s not about how to paint a wall or put in a toilet. That’s such a lower level job. You need to work on this level, read these books, listen to these podcasts, and that’s going to help you get to that level in anything you do in life.”

David:
James made a really good point about this, I call it the W2 mindset, but it just comes from every job you’ve had in your past, you worked for somebody else, you didn’t have to care about how the business performed. You literally just had to care about showing up on time and being there and not getting fired. What happens is our mind understands incentive structure, and it organizes itself around I can only be late so often, otherwise I’ll lose my job, and I can’t leave early, otherwise I won’t get paid, and I have to do the minimum effort necessary to be able to keep my job. Then we just fall into this rut, and that’s what we do. We don’t even realize that that happened, okay? I got into that rut many times, and then you become a business owner, and none of that works because now the business will die if you bring that approach. I would like if you could just comment a little on what you’ve learned about how people have to shake themselves out of these bad habits that they don’t even know they have.

James:
Oh man. How to get out of the bad habits they don’t know they have? I think there’s a very simple, and hopefully people have done this here, practice that you can start doing. It’s very simple, but it seems very boring. It’s very similar to the gentleman you shared, who’s putting on and taking off hats. Because what it really is is a practice in awareness and presence to where your time, effort, energy is going. We are so much on autopilot, we are so half asleep, thinking the same thoughts, making the same decisions, the same default way that we did things yesterday, the day before, and you’re probably going to do it tomorrow. What I started doing, and obviously, I’ll skip over the aspect of having clear goals, knowing your outcomes. It’s not just enough when I say have a goal, to just have a financial number on a vision board and say that’s my goal.

James:
Every 90 days, in our business, we have a revenue generating activity that we hit, a revenue outcome, but we don’t just leave it there like $100,000. Where’s that $100,000 coming from? What offer, product, et cetera, are we selling, and what is the strategy that we’re deploying to get us there? Okay? That’s always in place. It’s like a baseline structure. Then what you can begin to do, as boring as this is, and because it’s not passionate or exciting, a lot of people don’t do this, but to actually have a journal or activity log and write down everything that you’re doing. It’s so simple, but we want to go a little further. I like to say identify how long you spent there, how many hours, what was the task? How many hours? Then to the best of your ability, you want to see if you can identify what dollar value did this task bring to the business?

James:
You can create a very general rule of thumb, like is this a $10 an hour activity? Is this $100/ Is this $1,000? Is this a $10,000 an hour activity? If you did this for even just a week or two, things become very simple because I started doing this, I’ve been doing this for 14 years, I spent a lot of years struggling trying to figure it out, I’d move back in with my mom and dad, I wasn’t making any money, they were buying me groceries and food and feeding me. But even back then, I knew a very simple thing, which is, if you really want this to work, I can’t do this myself. I hired my first virtual assistant from the Philippines. I went to a site called OnlineJobs.ph.

Brandon:
That’s where I get all mine.

James:
[inaudible 00:55:17]

Brandon:
That’s where I get [crosstalk 00:55:19]

James:
They’re amazing.

Brandon:
Yeah, love it.

James:
I still have my very first assistant.

Brandon:
Me too.

James:
$70 a week for full time work. We pay him considerably more now. He’s our top VA. He helps us. We employ half his family, we paid for their wedding and bought them laptops and resources and whatever they need, and now he’s been with me for all these years. But even back then, I was like, “I know I need to let go and delegate and outsource.” People say, “What do I outsource? What do I delegate? How do I know what to get off my plate?” The answer is it’s the most repetitive tasks that you’re spending the most amount of time on that have the least amount of value to the business. If you just started there, it would make such a difference. If you got an hour a day back, two, three hours a day, that makes such a difference. Now, the trick is when you do that, life doesn’t like a vacuum, it doesn’t like a void. It needs to fill it.

James:
People get really uncomfortable, especially entrepreneurs that have been addicted to busyness, get very uncomfortable in stillness, in the not doing. You got to be intentional about filling it. Now, what really starts to happen is a lot of people, and this was me, and there’s a lot of people, is there’s a level of seriousness that’s missing in their business when they’re starting out. It’s like ah. It’s what I call conditional commitment or dabbling. It’s a hobby, it’s not really serious. Something really interesting happens with a lot of people when they do hire that first virtual assistant. They start paying for a team member. They start going, “This is legit. This is real. This is happening,” and it can actually give you the opportunity to force you to say, “I have to spend my time and energy on the revenue generating activities. I have to put more of my time effort here.”

James:
We call it the 5%. We say that 5% of all the activities in your business are directly responsible for 95% of the results that you want. It’s the Pareto principle on steroids. The discipline is about if you can get those things off your plate, and then as simple as this is, at the beginning of each week, you’re identifying two, three, up to five of the highest value activities that you’re going to get accomplished that week, and that’s where you’re Monday mornings, Tuesday mornings, first thing in the morning, that’s where your time and effort goes. What I noticed is when we started teaching that, as simple as the structure is, I want to keep things simple. A lot of people say, “Simple doesn’t mean valuable. I need it to be complicated and confusing.” No. It’s simple because you do what’s simple, right?

Brandon:
Yep.

James:
What I started noticing is that the brain will … I don’t know id it’s the ego, but we’ll try to trick ourselves. I’ve noticed this, but if you’re not careful, your ego will outsmart you. Let’s see, the best way to describe this is people will say they’re going to do something like they’ll identify their target tasks, their outcomes, or what they’re going to accomplish for the week, and it’s very vague, it’s very confusing, it’s very nebulous in a way that you don’t know if you did it or didn’t do it. I’m going to prospect more, or I’m going to work on my lead magnet, or I’m going to work on this, I’m going to do more of this or do less of that, it’s very general and it’s very like you don’t know if you did or you didn’t. We came up with a very simple concept. It’s binary action.

James:
It’s when you start that week and you decide I’m doing this, it should be so clear that you know at the end of the week one or zero, I did it or I didn’t. I’m going to call five prospects or I’m going to post three times on social media. You either did it or you didn’t. I’ve really obsessed in a lot of ways about performance, team performance over the years. I love to brag about my team. I say my team can run circles around other teams. If there were team Olympics, my team would win. At that Foundation, which if someone said, “James, what’s the 90-5-5 of performance?” It comes in the most unlikely of places, and that’s the concept of integrity. Integrity is actually our number one core value in our company, it’s the thing that we focus on the most.

James:
I’ve done entire full day workshop training my team and clients just on integrity. Integrity is not a conversation around morality or ethics. That’s separate. Integrity is simply being your word, doing what you say, and honoring your word when you can’t do what you say. It is unbelievable what transforms in your life when you are operating in more integrity, when you speak your future into existence now, and then follow that up with action. Well, what people notice when they’re not doing that, when they’re out of integrity, even little things, and this is a holistic view of your life because you have friends that you say you’ll call tomorrow, or yeah, let’s let’s meet up, let’s do lunch. Or you say, “Let’s be there 12:00,” and you’re there at 12:30, right?

James:
Al these little areas in your life where you’re giving your word to something but you don’t follow through on it, people aren’t able to accurately correlate it back to the cause, but they begin to sense or feel a sense of a loss of power in their life. They feel less confident, less certain about themselves, and they rarely ever pinpoint it back to, well, I’m completely out of integrity, I completely overpromise and underdeliver to the people I care about in my life, most of all myself. I’m going to work out today. Oh, you know what? I don’t want to overtrain. I don’t want to work out too much, so I’m going to take the day off. We talk ourselves off and out of our actions and our words all the time, and here’s where it gets really tricky.

James:
The reason I can talk about integrity all day is because the integrity distinction veils itself in our life because the ego doesn’t want you to look bad or be wrong. Most of the times that you’re out of integrity, you don’t see it as an out of integrityness. You see it as a reason or a justification. There was a reason why you were late, there was a reason why you didn’t call that person back, there was a reason why you didn’t prospect, there was a reason why you didn’t go to the gym, and we focus on the reasons, and they are amazing reasons. They are so justified and logical and wonderful, and we’re off the hook. When in reality, it’s not about blaming, shaming, beating yourself up. It’s just saying, “Wow, I gave my word to this. I said I was going to do it, and I didn’t.”

James:
You restore that integrity, you begin to get that power back. It’s very simple. It is so simple, but what I’m saying here is that the biggest causation that I’ve seen, the biggest 80/20 of performance comes down to integrity, to the degree in which you can say if there is no integrity, self integrity, if your team doesn’t have integrity but you somehow want to increase performance, efficiency and productivity in your business, it’s not going to happen. It is not a guarantee, but it is a prerequisite. Some things like this are so simple, but this isn’t about learning new things. I think when I talk about coaching and get into coaching with people, I say, “As a coach, I’m not here to teach you anything new. It’s time to apply what you know.”

James:
There’s a big gap missing in a lot of people, and David was bringing up about when people say, “What about the little guy? What about the little guy?” A lot of times we’re not applying what those CEOs did in their life, we’re not applying integrity, we’re not applying commitment and discipline and doing those uncomfortable things. When you apply those simple concepts, that’s when things begin to change.

Brandon:
That’s so good man. Yeah. We talk a lot about here on the show, this idea of your identity, and I’ve brought it up a few times today. This is what I’m referring to, is when you have that … When you tell yourself you’re going to wake up at 6:00 AM and you hit the snooze button 40 times, you don’t get up until 7:00, you are reinforcing identity that you are a liar to yourself. You’re telling yourself, “I’m a liar.” Then the more you reinforce that identity … Forget about other people. You might be great with other people. I’m a high [inaudible 01:03:58] this profile, I want people to like me so I will do whatever I say generally to other people. To myself, though? It’s hard. I’m a liar to myself, and the more I know that, the more I become that, and it just reinforce that identity. It’s dangerous.

James:
I think it’s even more than that, Brandon. I believe, when you open your mouth and whatever comes out, I believe that’s the tool that we create our whole world with. If we are the author of our story, this is how we write it. When you no longer believe it’s powerful and when it comes to the things that do matter, you’re already have decided you don’t believe in yourself. You’ve already decided my word’s not really that powerful. Goes back to the goal setting. When I intend or I say we’re going to do this this year, we’re going to create this, but everywhere else in my life I’ve been saying I’m going to do things and I don’t, well, how you do one thing is how you do everything. I’m like, “I’m full of it. I don’t believe anything I say because I’m so out of integrity everywhere else.”

Brandon:
How do you get back into integrity? For those people who’re saying, “Yeah, I’ve been a liar to myself and I have not held-”

James:
Well, that is so beautiful. I had a client come to me, this is so simple, and she asked me the same question. I said, “Well, what have you been out of integrity about?” She goes, “For the last three months, I’ve been saying I’m going to work out every day and I don’t.” I said, “Well, for you, it was very simple.” [inaudible 01:05:23] have a specific example, I said, “You need to forgive yourself.” It just seems so simple, and oh boy, here comes James with his emotional stuff. But I said, “You need to forgive yourself.” Because what she was doing is every day that she wasn’t working out, she was taking that with her and shaming herself. She’s making herself feel like crap. She’s taking that with her. Where is it?

James:
It’s gone. It’s not even here, it’s in the past, so you’re dealing with all this stuff from the past. It’s a new day, and this is all you have, right now in this moment. When you can find a way to let any lack of integrity go in your life and start today fresh, because now is all you have anyways, it’s going to be a lot easier. That was in February, and she just followed up with me last week, and she’s like, “I’ve been working out the three times a week I said I was going to workout every single week since we had that conversation, non stop.” Now, that’s personal integrity. We get into self integrity, we get into a lot of shame, we beat ourselves up.

James:
But every day, it’s a new day because the past only exists in our minds as memories and emotions. But here we are right now in this moment. Now, when it comes to integrity, this is very important but it involves other people. This is especially important if I’m talking to anybody that has a team, because you have to demonstrate this type of leadership, and this is really one of the hardest things I had to learn, was this level of leadership. If you’ve given your word and it involves others, you have to clean that up. People are afraid to because the ego doesn’t want to look bad or be wrong. I wasn’t out of integrity. I was late because there was traffic. Yeah, but you said you’d be there at noon, it’s 12:30.

James:
Did you communicate? Did you let people know? You have to communicate and clean it up with the affected parties. I’m not of integrity all the time, and this is a really interesting thing, just a little side note. A lot of people when they hear this distinction, they think the goal is, well, I just won’t give my word to anything anymore. That’s not it. If you’re in integrity all the time, once you’re aware of this distinction, that’s an indicator that you’re not playing a big enough game. Because you should be out of integrity more often than not because you should be giving your word to new and big things that you don’t know how long it’s going to take, you don’t know if you can do it, you don’t know if you can do it in the timeframe that you’ve given yourself, but you’re restoring it, you’re honoring your word, you’re cleaning it up, and you’re cleaning it up with the parties involved.

James:
To be able to reach out and say to the affected members and say, “Hey, I know I said I’d have it by this time, by this date and I didn’t. I apologize. Here’s what happened,” and whatever you need to do to be held accountable for it, and then re-give your word to a new date and time. This is the most simple concept. But I harp on this so often because it’s so powerful and profound, and the moment you have a team, you want them to be in integrity, right? You want your team to do what they say they’re going to do. “Hey, can you get this report done to me by Friday?” And they say yes, that’s what they’ve given their word to. You want them to get it done by Friday, right? Well, the big argument I make is that as a leader, as the CEO of the business, if you’re expecting your team to have more integrity than you, it’s not going to happen.

James:
First thing I say is, especially to people who are looking for a team, and they say things like, “There’s no great team members out there.” Well, the stinging truth that I love to hit people with is that A players don’t work for B leaders. And A player, a natural born leader as an employee is looking to be led, guided and taught. They want to be groomed, they want to be pushed, and they’re interviewing you before you ever interview them. If you expect them to have higher levels of self integrity and integrity be their word and yours is non existent, they’re going to fall to your level. That’s just not going to work out very well. That’s what leading by example really truly is, is that you have to show what integrity looks like. You have to show your team what it looks like to honor your word, be your word and to clean up your word when you’re out of integrity.

David:
This is really applicable to a lot of our listeners, because I’ve noticed Brandon and I, whoever, will say, “Look, you got to take action.” That’s right answer. We’ll hit that home and then they won’t take action for whatever reason. They will say, “I’m going to take action, I commit to this,” and then distractions, fear, insecurity, whatever it is, stops them from taking action, okay? At that point, they’re out of integrity. But, James, what I love about the point you made is it does not benefit you to shame yourself or beat yourself up for being out of integrity. You think that beating yourself up will cause you to like, “All right, I’m going to get back in there tomorrow,” but you don’t. You’ll just avoid it.

David:
It’s not fun. You don’t like to failing. Then you get further out of integrity, and eventually you just disappear from the entire community, and you go try to find something that’s easier, that is probably also more risky, right? A lot of the people fall into cryptocurrency or forex trading because real estate, they just couldn’t make it work, and then they end up in a vulnerable position where they can lose money easier. The better responses to just say, without shame, without judgment, without wagging the finger at yourself, “Hey, you didn’t do what you said you’re going to do. What do we have to change so that you can do it?” Just be honest with yourself.

James:
Absolutely.

David:
Do I need to be in a better community? Do I need to listen to more podcast to get myself excited? How do I find that fire? I just want everyone who hears this to understand, James is a very, very prominent, top producing business person who understands human nature at a high level. That’s why I like talking to you. You’re telling your own employees, “Being out of integrity is not good, but it’s not something I’m going to sit here and make you feel horrible about it. I’m not going to roast you like a drill sergeant in the military because you did something wrong. We’re just going to talk about what do we have to do to get back in there?”

James:
Yeah. When it comes down to my team, if they said they were going to do something, let’s say by Friday at 5:00, and then that didn’t happen, and Friday 5:00 comes and goes, we’re going to have an important call and it’s going to sting. But the conversation I’m going to have has nothing to do with the fact that they didn’t get it done by 5:00. Because they could say, “You know what? It took longer.” Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. The conversation we’re going to have is, “When did you know you weren’t going to have it by 5:00 on Friday?” “Oh, by Wednesday, I was getting a pretty good idea this is going to take longer.” “Who did you tell?” “No one, I didn’t say anything. That’s the problem.”

David:
That’s exactly right. [crosstalk 01:11:51]

James:
They’re not in communication, they’re not honoring their word, they’re not calling me or whoever is their superior and saying, “You know what, James? I know I said I’d have it by 5:00, and right now it’s taking longer than I thought.” “Okay, that’s no problem. Can you do it by Monday, Tuesday, whatever?” Then we’re back in integrity. It’s like this is so simple. But it’s such a powerful distinction to live from, and there’s a really crazy notion like, yeah, we can talk about the fears and all the reasons why we self-sabotage and don’t take action all day long. But when you’re able to overcome those fears, and your life is built on a firm, firm foundation of integrity, that’s a game changer.

James:
What you should be more afraid of is being out of integrity. There’s one simple crazy visual to look at this, which I remember hearing this years ago, is that one individual was so committed to living their life from a place of integrity that they actually imagined that every time that they were out of integrity that they would lose a finger. It’s such an extreme concept, but it’s because the ego is really trying to downplay the importance of this. If you’re really sitting there saying, “Why is James talking about this for 15 minutes?” It’s because your brain, I have to counteract your brain saying this isn’t that important or I’ve heard that before. Oh, that’s a nice sentiment, or it’s an ideal. It’s a virtue to strive for. No, it is the fundamental prerequisite for any type of increase in performance. If you’re in business and you’re not operating here, you may have been pointing at everything else as to why things aren’t working, and it comes back to you and your word and what you give your word to.

Brandon:
I love how this ties in … One thing I talk about a lot is how nobody wants to be a villain in their own story. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, right? Our ego tells us no. The street characters and story, there’s a villain, there’s the hero, and then there’s the victim. Most people, they just, “I’m not the bad guy. I’m not the villain here, so I’m clearly the victim of something that happened to me.” But the easiest way to become the hero is simply get back into integrity. Just do as you say you’re going to do.

James:
Here’s what you say because if you transcended blame and fault in every area of your life, it would enrich your relationships, it would make you happier, and things would work better. For me, I do not concern myself with blame or fault or shaming people or anything like that, within the team, with personal relationships or anything. It comes down to what were the causes, how could this have been prevented, and what can we do differently? There is a quote. Like I said, I got really passionate about team building, and we’ve built an unbelievable team. There was one quote. One quote, I read at the concierge desk at the Ritz Carlton in Miami. I’m sorry, in Maui, not Miami. Maui-

Brandon:
How nice.

James:
… years ago, and I was sitting behind her while she was like … We were at the concierge, I was asking her question, I just look past her head and I see this quote, and it changed the entire fundamental structure of how I look at my business. It was as simple as this. When a flower does not bloom, it’s not the flower’s fault. You blame or you focus on the environment in which it grows. That was the most simple and profound quote for me, because if you look at a flower, you look at a rose, any type of flower, its default intention is to bloom. If a flower doesn’t bloom, it’s not the flowers fault. It’s the environment. Maybe it’s not getting water, it’s not the right soil, right nutrients, not enough sun, too much sun, whatever.

James:
But we just go, “What’s wrong with the flower?” We do this as humans. We judge so fast, and when we do that, we label and put someone to a fixed box, and there can be no other way. Instead, it’s about getting curious and getting curious about what caused this? What was the environment like that would have produced this type of scenario, and could anything be done differently here before we start judging and labeling people? When you recognize that, as a business owner, the buck stops with you. You’re responsible for the environment. You can create a different environment where people are more creative, more happy, more in integrity, and more able to bloom. That’s where a lot of my focus went.

James:
That’s why I said my highest value with the coaching my team. When I started coaching them and teaching them, we attracted people that were more growth-oriented, we attracted people that were actually starting to grow, getting more excited, more passionate about their roles. When they saw I was invested in them, they saw that I cared, they cared about the vision, they cared about the business and we attracted A players. This is not how most entrepreneurs think, because it’s not the role of an entrepreneur. Being a CEO, a leader, a high level manager is very different role than the label and identity we give ourselves as that entrepreneur.

Brandon:
Man, that’s so good. Man, I feel like we can talk about this for hours and hours and hours. We got to get you out of here soon. Let’s move over to the last segment of the show, the part where we ask the same four questions every week to every guest. This is our (singing). A Famous Four. There we go. Question number one, is there a habit or trait that you’re currently working on improving in your own life?

James:
Always my habits are around spirituality and mindfulness. The more time I’m in silence throughout the day, the better. I try to live in a more meditative state. As much times throughout the day that I can find myself to be present, to be quiet, quiet the voice in my head. My mentor told me years ago, and this was my most simple and powerful things, answers come in the silence. How can we silence that mind?

David:
Next question, what is your favorite business book?

James:
Traction. Not my favorite, best business, most transformative, most valuable business book I’ve ever read in my entire life.

Brandon:
Gino Wickman?

James:
Traction.

Brandon:
Traction.

James:
Gino Wickman.

Brandon:
Yeah. All my companies operate on the EOS. It’s-

James:
Just how we came up and utilized the core values, that’s what creates your … That was game changer, having a weekly scorecard, but we’ve implemented all of it and it’s probably the most boring book to read, but it’s the most valuable book I’ve ever implemented in my business career.

Brandon:
All right, next question. What are some of your favorite hobbies?

James:
Favorite hobbies right now is van building. I’m loving any kind of handyman woodworking thing. I’ve been living in Arizona. I’m a California native. I used to surf twice a day every day. Just fell in love with Sedona. Now I’m in the middle of the desert, there’s no beach, there’s no surfing out here. I traded it all in for camping, building a camper van and mountain biking.

Brandon:
That’s great. Yeah, the camper van, the hashtag van life thing on … I love it. Yeah. [crosstalk 01:19:19]

James:
I don’t want to live full time in a van.

Brandon:
Yeah, no. No.

James:
Let me get that straight. I like to go do a camping trip. I’m so excited for it.

Brandon:
Yeah, every week or so, I tell my wife, “I’m buying one. I’m going to buy a van. I’m going to remodel it,” and she’s like, “When’s the last time you did anything handy because you’re still busy?” I’m like, “I know, but I’m going to do this one.” She’s like, “No, you’re not.” I’m like, “You’re right,” and then I don’t. But every week, it comes back up. Anyway, all right. Last question from me. What do you think ultimately separates … It’s a big questions, so I just want to see where you go with it. What do you ultimately think separates successful entrepreneurs and business owners from those who give up or they fail or they just plain never get started?

James:
I would say the biggest thing has to do with what’s going on in between the ears. I have a podcast, Mind Your Business. I think we’re 480 episodes or something.

Brandon:
Wow, yeah.

James:
I look at the mind, I look at our brain, I look at our thinking. Thoughts can be a huge hornet’s nest of nots, and we get so in our head and overthink, and in our fears and worries and concerns and the what ifs and all that stuff, and it drives so much behavior. Fear is your worst advisor, and so much of the stinking thinking that, as the kids say, is these what ifs, these unwanted futures. That’s all fear is. It’s an unwanted future that you think it’s actually going to happen. What if? What if? What if they don’t like it? What if it fails? What if I lose money? What if I waste time? All that type of stuff. Something I’ve been so grateful for is developing a level of mental mastery that allows me to move through fears, move through worries and concerns, and create clarity of intent, of outcome, of vision first in my mind so that I can create it in the world.

James:
Too many people are living up here, way too much. Just the amount of beliefs that we work through with clients that aren’t even fear-based, they’re just silly notions, for example … It’s just an example of when people say, “Oh, I’m not ready to launch my business because I don’t have an email list yet.” Or, “My list is too small.” People have all these silly beliefs about why they can’t start, why it’s not ready, why they can’t make money, why they can’t grow, all this type of stuff. So many of these are just silly thoughts that we just decided to be true, and we don’t question them, we don’t think about them. We don’t try on different perspectives. I think to the degree in which you have that mental mastery is the degree in which you can really accomplish anything in your life.

Brandon:
That’s a great answer. So good, man. Well, thank you. David, I’ll let you wrap things up with the final question.

David:
Last question of the day. James, where can people find out more about you?

James:
I was like, “Wait, that’s five questions.”

Brandon:
It’s Famous Four, and then the last question.

James:
It’s great. I love it. Yeah. My podcast is Mind Your Business Podcast. Like I said, we’re almost at 500 episodes. I’ve been doing this podcast since 2016. It’s weekly, my musings, my own thoughts about the inner game and inner struggles of entrepreneurship, overcoming imposter syndrome, and all those things that really stop us. I am very passionate about bringing a spiritual approach to my business. It’s very interesting. I’m very left brain strategic, but I have a very right brain creative spiritual aspect that I’ve brought in. It was like when I combined both of those was when I began to see a lot more success. I really love to bring both of those to my audience on the show.

Brandon:
Awesome, man.

James:
You can find that on iTunes or wherever you find podcasts, Mind Your Business Podcast.

Brandon:
Very cool. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been phenomenal, even better than I could have hoped, and I hope so. Yeah, exceeded everything. Thank you, James.

James:
You’re just saying that.

Brandon:
No, man. This is amazing. This is so good.

James:
Well, thank you. I appreciate you guys having me.

Brandon:
Thank you. David, get us out of here.

David:
This is David Greene, for Brandon Traction Turner, signing off.

Outro:
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • The difference between entrepreneurs and business owners
  • Why so many business owners get bored of their business
  • Addressing the needs of your business and asking “what does it want from me?
  • Letting go of technician roles in a business and delegating tasks
  • Getting rid of bad habits through mindful integrity
  • Forgiving yourself for mistakes, self-judgment, and blame
  • And So Much More!

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Books Mentioned in this Show:

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